There are a lot of rumors going around about attending an all-girls high school. And like being in high school, only some of the rumors are true. I went to an all-girls Catholic high school in the Hudson Valley of New York, and while I didn’t have a normal high school experience complete with football games on Fridays and embarrassing run-ins with crushes in the hallways, I seriously think it was even better.
My Catholic high school wasn’t that oppressive. We had a good community of girls and our teachers were always there to support us, with their huge personalities, in anything we wanted to do. Sure, we had to take hella religion classes and half the teachers were nuns, but there were certain parts of being a student at this somewhat sheltered institution that made me who I am. This is what I want you to know about my high school.
The nuns were so cool
One of the English teachers, a sister, regularly roller-skated down the halls. Our principal was also a nun, and at our high school commencement ceremony, she sang Beyonce’s “Halo,” of course placing a religious spin on the lyrics, but also making it so relatable. The nuns were anything but out of touch, and they made our school that much more fun.
Some of the rumors are true
Sure—there were a couple of fistfights during my tenure, and someone may have lost an eyebrow or two. There was definite sex happening on the property, both homosexual and heterosexual, after school hours. But hey, that’s teenagers for ya.
The uniforms kind of saved your sanity
Who wants to wake up every morning and have to put together an outfit? Easily one of the best parts of the uniform was being able to roll out of bed, pull on your knee socks, hook on your kilt and leave the house, no problem. Bonus points if you slept in your knee socks. You’re doing it right.
Cliques will always exist, but so will girls who defy stereotypes
In my high school, there were definite cliques and friend groups: the athletes, the cheerleaders, the scene crowd, the drama kids (present), and the geeks, among others. And even though we didn’t all hang out on weekends, we all pretty much all liked each other, across clique lines and everything. I had friends from each step of the social ladder, and I can honestly say that they were all awesome girls. Which leads me to…
All-girls’ schools are not all filled with Mean Girls tropes and “catfights.”
The “popular” girls are not mean, and the dorks don’t all hate their lives. In an all-girls school, those high school stereotypes don’t exist (if they actually exist anywhere). And even though girls fight, we fight more within our own friend groups than outside them, and there were no wars a la Mean Girls. For the most part we all liked each other and all talked to each other, and we lived harmoniously in our little gross bubble. Because…
Teenage girls are often as disgusting as teenage boys
Guess what you never have to shave when you’re wearing stockings? At an all-girls school, we were given unbridled freedom to be as disgusting as we wanted to be, which was very. Often, girls would only shave their knees, because that’s the only part of our legs that ever showed. You don’t have to shower for school when no one cares if you stink, and 90% of the student body showed up with sweatpants on, hair thrown up in a bun, and not caring at all.
Also, girls shared everything, from Tylenol to tampons, and got used to changing in front of each other for gym class. And if there was a dress down day, chances are you showed up in your pajamas. Why change at all?
Lunchtime was particularly cutthroat, because those giant cookies sell out fast. Boys think they can out-eat girls, but they’re wrong. So very wrong.
The uniform policy was strict, but not body shaming
Every once in a while, the dean of students would enter the cafeteria armed with her weapon of choice: a yardstick. The ingenious way she concocted to measure the lengths of our skirts was to have us kneel on the floor and measure our skirts with a yardstick from the floor up. She had the sections of the yardstick colored with red and yellow marker—if our skirt was in the red section, it was detention.
And even though this policy was enforced, the whole process was still conducted with humor, as if even the dean and the principal thought it was not that important. And we got detention for breaking the rules, but we were never taken out of class or sent home to change. Detention was a penalty that taught us to fear authority, but not to make us shameful of our bodies. After all, who was looking?
The environment does foster creativity and independence from the male gaze
I rolled up my skirt because I liked it better, not because any guy was looking. When you go to an all-girls school, you’re not taught to achieve so you can keep up with the guys. You’re taught to achieve for yourself alone.
It’s a safe environment away from the male gaze where education is put at the forefront. We were taught to bolster each other, to support each other as a sisterhood, and to remember to respect ourselves, however you wanted to define that. Our teachers were buddies, and even though we counted down the days until college (a.k.a. the days we could actually have boys in classes and dress nice), I think now we all secretly wish we could be back there, in that huge slumber party atmosphere, no boys allowed.