Cost of Fitting in at Staples

Sarah Ellman, Jess Gross, Staff Writer

Staples students are known for their academic excellence, stellar athleticism, artistic abilities and appearances. They are stylin’, whether they’re in the hallways, onstage, on the field or in the classroom.


But what does it take to be a student at Staples High School?


What do students have to sacrifice to feel that they fit in?


And is it worth it?


For Maggie Epstein ’16, the answers to these difficult questions are clear.


“I think fitting in at Staples is pretty much like fitting in at any high school, past or present,” Epstein said. “You have to look a certain way, dress a certain way, play certain sports and drink alcohol. A lot of kids who ‘fit in’ seem to fit the mold of the stereotypical ‘popular kid.’”


Gabby Perry ’16 agreed.


“Most people feel like they need whatever is in style,” Perry said. “For example, many girls have Lululemon leggings and Nike sneakers.”


But this can be difficult for everyone to achieve, as Perry noted, because “not everyone has as much money as others and it would be harder for some people to fit in than others.”


As the financial aspect of fitting in is pervasive, the physical costs of attending Staples start to rise even before school begins.


Starting in late August, the students of Staples head to the other Staples, where red shopping carts fill up with Colored pens, mechanical pencils, pocket folders, Five Star notebooks, neon highlighters, three-ring binders, Post-it notes and TI-84 graphing calculators, and students watch the price of their supplies hit triple digits.


Although school supplies can be expensive, it’s reasonable, according to Ben Schwaeber ’15, because it’s a necessity.


“Everyone needs a nice rack of pencils,” Schwaeber joked.


But does everyone need a black Northface backpack? Don’t be alarmed by the overwhelming number of these being carried through the halls. They are just a key item to own in order to fit in at Staples.


“I wanted a black one [Northface backpack] because I wanted to blend in as a freshman. But I regretted it quickly because it accidently got switched a bunch of times with other people during school,” Nicki Najarian ’15 said.


Once fully equipped for academic excellence, the next essential for fitting in to many students is a trendy look.


According to Lucas Jackson ’15, whose average outfit consists of khaki pants from J Crew, a Nike t-shirt, a black Burton jacket and tan Timberlands, Staples students do spend a lot of money on clothing. However, he also said, from a male standpoint, buying expensive clothing wouldn’t help one fit in as much as it would for a girl.


Ellie Aronson ’16 believes both genders are guilty of spending quite a bit on their daily wear “because clothes here (in Westport) are expensive.”


Aronson does not believe that there is a notable difference between genders, adding that “it honestly depends on the person. I know guys that wear t-shirts and shorts everyday and I know guys that wear strictly Vineyard Vines. And the same goes for girls.”


But she remains a little torn as to whether or not the pressure is the same on both sides.


“I think that girls honestly just like to put more effort in their appearances,” Aronson said. “At the same time, I do think we’re socialized to accept more flaws in the appearances of guys than in girls, and that’s why you might not notice acne on a guy’s face at all but a girl will spend hours putting on makeup to cover it up.”


Appearances must be maintained even on weekends, especially the weekends that host school dances: Counties and Red and Whites weekend, and the weekends of both Junior and Senior prom.


Based on responses from twelve girls, dances usually cost between $350 and $700. With four opportunities to attend a Staples-affiliated dance, it is clear that female students are shelling out hefty sums for their soirees.


Winged Monkey, a popular local dress store, currently has dresses ranging from $140 to $800 on their website. Add in shoes, hair, makeup, nails and boutonnieres and the price tag only goes up.


For guys, the cost of a dance includes either renting or buying a tux, shoes, a corsage, a ticket, and transportation.


“The cost of the dances is probably the worst because it is straight up expensive and for only a couple hours,” Trevor Penwell ’15 said.


However, according to Schwaeber it’s important to fit in at dances and not be caught wearing an “ugly inexpensive tux,” especially when taking pictures.


“I think it’s kind of crazy how much money is spent for just one dance but its also a necessity because you don’t want to feel uncomfortable all night,” Schwaeber said.


But costs extend beyond ensuring a sleek image in the halls and on the weekends, as another big part to fitting in at Staples is participating in afterschool activities. In fact, “fitting in” is sometimes the main reason why students decide to participate in certain sports or clubs.


Liv Smith ’16 decided to try out for lacrosse her freshman year because, “it seemed like everyone was playing it and it was fun.” Liv Smith continued, “I don’t even like sports at all so I would say it probably wasn’t worth it to just do it because my friends were doing it.”


Sports at Staples, like lacrosse, football and cheerleading, have a significant cost to them also.


Most athletes must purchase gear, shoes and logo wear specific to their sport. Football player Evan Gilland ’16 said that players usually spend money on cleats, gloves and other accessories prior to certain games. Gilland doesn’t think it’s too expensive because it’s up to each athlete on whether or not they want new gear for every year.


“It would certainly be nice to have to spend a little less money on gear, but junior and senior year really are prime years for playing time, so it helps to look pretty fresh,” Gilland said.

Cheerleader Sloane Cooper ’15 disagreed, stating, at least for cheerleaders, the cost is pretty astronomical.


“I’m not exactly sure the exact amount, but I would say I have spent $1,000 on cheer for the past two years,” Cooper, who began cheer as a junior, said. “That includes logo wear, makeup, bows, shoes, etc.”


Not only do Staples sports come with a price, but also being involved with Players can be expensive for students.


According to Claire Smith ’15, the preparation that goes into a production is extreme and oftentimes costly. Voice lessons, dance classes, head shots, dance shoes, leotards, tights, haircuts, eye shadows, fake lashes, foundation, blush, mascara and eyeliner are all a part of the picture and all cost money.


“If you don’t have the right style or heel height on your shoe, you’re required to get them some how. Often times that means buying them,” Claire Smith said.


Claire Smith said that being a performer of any kind is expensive, but ultimately believes that “if it’s what you love to do, it’s worth it.”


“I think we would all want things in life to be less expensive,” Claire Smith said, “but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen any time soon.”


In Sera Levy ’16’s opinion, fitting in at Staples is more trouble than it’s worth.


“I think that the atmosphere at Staples is that you should try to be like everyone else,” Levy said. “Get the same good grades, have a large group of friends, be wealthy, have success in your extracurricular activity, all of which can be a block to really being yourself and therefore being successful in your own way, and can block you from following the path that is right for you individually.”
However, Epstein acknowledges how these pressure to fit in aren’t only unique to Staples.

“It seems that there is a lot of pressure for everyone to be the same,” Epstein said. “That being said, it’s not exactly groundbreaking for a high schooler to feel that way.”