What classic high school movies taught me

Emily Schmidt, Reporter

When flinging yourself on the couch to watch classics such as “Mean Girls” and “High School Musical” for the 50th time, it’s highly unlikely you’re watching to learn anything. Watching Troy and Gabriella sing karaoke just isn’t as intellectually stimulating as “Blackfish”. There are important lessons learned, however, as you flawlessly perform ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ with the Plastics.


Honesty Really Is The Best Policy

In “Bring It On: All or Nothing” (2006), a remake of the timeless cheer movie “Bring It On”, Britney Allen (Hayden Panettiere) would’ve saved herself a world of drama and trouble if she would’ve been honest with her old teammates about cheering again. Her team still would’ve been furious with her for breaking their sacred “never cheer for another team” rule, but it would’ve been better than them finding out on their own. It’s a bit like when you break your mom’s precious vase: it’s better to come right out and confess, saving your social life with a weekend grounding rather than a full week.

Do What Makes You Happy

People are many times so afraid of what people will think of them, they often aren’t able to do what makes them happy. Take “High School Musical” (2006) for example. Troy Bolton (Zac Efron) and Gabriella Montez (Vanessa Hudgens) enjoyed singing and really wanted to audition for the musical. If they wouldn’t have sang for Kelsi Neilson (Olesya Rulin) the musical’s timid composer, Miss Darbus wouldn’t have given them a callback and a chance to do what they truly wanted to. If Britney had given up cheerleading in “Bring It On: All or Nothing”, she would’ve been miserable. Not to mention, she never would’ve made friends at Crenshaw Heights.

Popularity Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

No movies capture the “dark side” to popularity quite like “Heathers” (1988) and “Mean Girls” (2004). Both movies tell the tale of a bright, young girl who becomes a member of the elite. While “Heathers” is significantly darker than “Mean Girls”, their stark similarities could be contributed to the fact that Mark Waters, the director of “Mean Girls”, is the brother of the writer of “Heathers”, Daniel Waters. Both Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder) and Cady Heron (Lindsay Lohan) are thrust into a regime of color coordinated outfits, unspoken rules, and backstabbing. The insane expectations take a toll on not only the newcomers, but the seasoned pros too. The two movies depict popularity as a never ending power struggle. One wrong move from Heather Chandler (Kim Walker) and Regina George (Rachel McAdams), and they could find themselves below Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty) and Gretchen Wieners (Lacey Chabert), who attempt to overthrow them.

Nice Guys Don’t Finish Last

Rich girl Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone) didn’t do anything that didn’t benefit herself until her role as queen bee is swept from under her by new girl Tai Frasier (Brittany Murphy) in the 1995 film “Clueless.” After some soul searching and the realization that she has feelings for her ex-stepbrother Josh (Paul Rudd), Cher begins collecting items for victims of the Pismo Beach Disaster. Her selflessness, dedication, and empathy for others catches the attention of Josh and he stops viewing her as shallow.

Grades Shouldn’t Be Your World

“Heathers” really puts in perspective how damaging your choices are. Sure, your parents are on your neck because you failed that Chem test (no matter how many times you explain you can retake it), but they should actually be proud of you. Ask Veronica, a D in any class is much better than having three murders on your hands. And if you’re anything like Cher, you can just find your teacher a love interest for your teacher to make them happier and their grading easier.


For everyone, high school is a time of learning: learning in classes, learning to drive, even learning your likes and dislikes. The knowledge you can gain from watching classic films such as these, while different from the learning we’re used to, is essential to growing up and discovering your values and morals. So much of our learning is based on being told by others what’s right and wrong. Self discovery has to come from our own trial and error and is usually corrupt when influenced by others. These movies provide not only entertainment, but examples of people going through the process of self discovery that can guide uncertain people through their own journey.