Arts & Culture

“That’s So Crystal”

By Sarina D. ’19

A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the commons, half working on my college applications and half scrolling through conspiracy theories on Quora Digest, when I happened to overhear the conversation of a few students sitting at the table next to me.

“I need a fake ID,” one student said after looking up from their phone.

“Ugh, I feel you,” another replied.

I turned back to my “college apps,” unsurprised by what seemed like a typical teenage conversation. I assumed the students were watching a video from some concert and were lamenting the fact that they weren’t able to attend.

Let’s just say I was a little off.

“I just need to be able to vote in the midterms and there’s no other way,” the first student exclaimed.

“You want a fake ID so you can vote?” the third laughed. “That’s SO Crystal.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Since my sixth grade year at Crystal in 2012, this is a phrase that I’ve heard over and over again, whether that be because of a statement like this, something that would only happen in a Crystal classroom, or a tradition that is central to our identity but would seem crazy to another school.

But what does this phrase even really mean? What does it take to be “so Crystal?”

To find out, we sent a survey to all of you with only one question; what does that’s so Crystal mean to you? From your 100+ responses, we hope that we got to the core of it.

Now, believe it or not, one of the most common responses we received had to do with our commitment to our English books. It seems that Crystal students might be slightly more attached to their required reading than most teens. Here were the responses we got on this topic:

  1. Overheard in the library: “What do you mean you don’t like having English first? Nothing gets me going in the morning like a good book about society’s production of insanity.”
  2. “It wouldn’t be a day if I didn’t have to defend the Namesake’s merits to one of my misunderstanding peers. I mean, come on, Gogol’s identity crisis is just so relatable”.
  3. We get it, Elizabeth (Austen’s Pride and Prejudice). You’re not like other girls. You don’t care about society and propriety and accomplishments. You like to read. You’re deep. Ugh. I much prefer Lydia”.

But our culture isn’t just obsessing over English books. You may have heard of the oppression Olympics, but now we bring you version 2.0: the stress Olympics!  The conversation, stuffed with hyperboles and the word “like”, usually goes something like this:

       “I have like seven tests this week, I’m SO stressed”.

       “Me too. Except I have eight tests, a baseball game, three interviews, four club meetings, two essays, and a wedding.”

       “Well, I forgot to mention I have three seven-hour work shifts and a meeting with President Obama.”

There’s no doubting that we all do it. But after a while it’s important to realize that (A) Though we probably have a lot on our plates, it’s probably not as much as we say we do, (B) if we really do, it’s probably because we’ve procrastinated for the past three weeks, and (C) our stress is entirely valid, but relaying it to one another? Probably not the most helpful.

You guys also did not fail to notice that we do the same thing with sleep. Another student wrote, “True Crystal life is staying up until 5 am to finish an essay and then bragging about how late you stayed up the next day while simultaneously falling asleep in all your classes”.

But an overview of what makes Crystal unique would not be complete without an acknowledgement of our incredible food. We counted over fourteen responses that were a nod to our star-studded kitchen staff. Here are some of our favorites!

  1. “Complaining that our hot, fresh, gourmet meal of the day isn’t the exact hot, fresh, gourmet meal that we wanted on that particular day.”
  2. “True Crystal Culture is crowding around those two toasters and not using that other one because although we are a competitively academic school we haven’t weighed out the risks and benefits associated with traversing across the cafeteria.”
  3. “Working out a system with your friends so that they can take your stuff and you can leave Spanish early to get two chocolate chip muffins on Friday mornings at 9:40am.”

You might have noticed by now that our analysis is missing a key aspect: the tight-knit relationships our students have with our amazing teachers. Here are some of our favorite anecdotes you shared with us!

  1. “It wouldn’t be a day without venting about everything from my mother’s obsession with the Bachelor to my deepest insecurities to Mr. Huntoon on that unbelievably comfortable couch.”
  2. I lived in the math center last year. I’m pretty sure I saw Ms. Hurt and Mr. Diamond more than my parents.”
  3. “I miss Andy so much. I mean, who else is going to give me an honest rating of my outfit?”
  4. I aspire to work out with the math department. Those guys go hard. I mean, have you seen Dr. Parsons speed walking in her Lululemon apparel lately?”
  5. “One day I got to physics early and I got to hear Mr. Woosnam’s life story–from the stage to the classroom. When that guy is talking about magnetism and crankshafts, you’d never guess that he’s also a theater buff.”
  6. “I live for Mr. Huntoon sending me satirized fashion articles.”

Another favorite of ours seems to be commenting on our insanely nice small class sizes. Here are two highlights:

  1. “‘That’s so Crystal’ for me is my visitor asking me where the rest of the class is, and telling them that we really only do have nine students in this class.”
  2. “Being the only student in my photography class and still not getting an A in participation.”

And of course, we can’t forget our love of learning, that perhaps defines our culture best. Here are just a few of the anecdotes you guys shared with us on our intellectual curiosity.

  1. “Homecoming was fun. I finished my MiFi problem and had a good debate about whether Michael Bloomberg would be a productive president. Oh, and I think the game went well too.”
  2. I love Friday nights. They’re the perfect time to get a head start on next week’s math concepts and soak in Holubar’s lectures.”
  3. This one girl on my tennis team brought her physics textbook to literally all of our games and tournaments. One time she forgot her tennis racket, but at least she had her physics book.”
  4. That’s so crystal is having competitions to see who can recite more digits of pi on the bus.”
  5. “On our first day after junior finals, my friend and I went on a nice hike in the middle of nowhere, and vowed not to talk about school. So instead we talked about the systematic codes of morals imbued in different religions and how they shaped our political systems. But you can’t blame us! It was seriously one of the most interesting conversations I’ve ever had!”

But along with that love of learning comes a desire to achieve high.

Here’s an anecdote that was very common in our survey results in a variety of different forms.

*Overheard on the field*

“You guys, I literally failed my bio test.”

“What’d you get? 92?”

“Worse, 89.”

“Yikes. Will that take your grade down to an A minus? At least you have good extracurriculars.”(I wish I was making this one up, but I promise I’m not).

And don’t forget about that struggle to meet the word count!

One student wrote, “That’s so Crystal for me is comparing how many words over the word count you are for an essay, and that feeling of triumph you get from the fact that you’re only 200 over while your friends are like 2000 over.”

This one is just too real. I mean, I personally derive so much satisfaction from writing less than Charlynn and Amy.

But I’m sure you’ve noticed that we’re missing a big category. Our Crystal traditions! You guys said it best!

  1. “That’s so Crystal is sitting in the theater during Knowledge Bowl and getting overly competitive, and assuring everyone that YOU knew the answer to that one and that you would have killed this round, but really knowing that you have no idea what’s going on.”
  2. “Having to convince everyone that Dave and Busters was way better than the ice skating rink at Crystal snow day when debating the best snow days.”
  3. “Not doing your homework for multiple nights in December/January because everyone has convinced you that is HAS to be snow day tomorrow.”
  4. “Needing a hot bath and some jasmine tea because lip sync is getting too stressful.”

Finally, there’s some aspects of our lives at Crystal that seem so normal to us now we forget their initial shock value.

  1. “That’s so Crystal is Mr. Kovas casually roasting a pig in the middle of the commons or teaching archery behind the mansion”.
  2. “I always forget that the fact that we go to school in a mansion is weird. I was telling my visitor that we had to head to the mansion for Spanish, and the entire way up the stairs she repeated ‘the mansion.’”

On a last note, we thought we should let you know that the most common word we thought I’d look it up. According to Google, quirky is defined as “characterized by peculiar or unexpected traits.” Though I’m not exactly sure if this word was used sarcastically given the received in that survey was “quirky.”. When I saw this word pop up over and over again, I numerous instances in which it was put in quotes in your responses, quirky makes sense to me. The conversations I have every day at Crystal and the passions and niches that each of my peers harness can definitely be can only be described as unexpected and peculiar–but always in the best way.

Over 100 responses later, we think we’ve got it.

“That’s so Crystal” means incredible food, close relationships with our teachers, competing in the stress-and-lack-of-sleep Olympics, high ambitions, a failure to be concise, small class sizes, an extraordinarily fit math department, strong opinions about English books, and a desire for fake IDs–well, for voting purposes at least.

But it also means a super tight-knit community where we know one another’s passions, little quirks, and favorite The Office characters, unparalleled intellectual curiosity, and the kinds of traditions that hold our community together.

Didn’t get a chance to answer the survey? What’s your that’s so Crystal moment? Let us know in the comments! If you liked this article and want to see more, give this article a thumbs up on our site, follow us on Instagram @gryphongazette, DM us, and share with your friends!  It’s a great way to procrastinate that English paper, math test, science worksheet, and language homework that you have left! That’s so Crystal!


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