What Your Locker Says About You
By Olivia Stripling
Sydney Schmidt-Nowara, a senior art major at Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (FSSA), technically has three lockers. She has the one she was assigned in the beginning of the school year, the one she claimed for convenience, and the one she shares with five other students.
Her assigned locker was stolen—meaning someone put a lock on it before Sydney could claim it. Her other locker is on the fourth floor, and was originally a free locker before she took it over. Her first floor locker is communal, which has become a popular option at FSSA.
Sydney uses her fourth floor locker the most. She mostly stores clothes, and currently has three sweatshirts and two winter jackets stuffed into it. Over her four years as a high school student, Sydney has become a more lenient person, and this is reflected in what she puts in her locker.
What was once full of textbooks and notebooks has now become storage for tote bags of clothes, sweatshirts that are passed around, her laptop, and whatever her friends need to store that day.
“I feel like I don’t really need to worry about having my actual stuff in my locker. I think I’ve generally become a lot more laid back, less uptight, since freshman year,” Sydney says.
The locker is a crucial part of the American high school experience. Teen movies depict students hanging around their lockers after school, putting notebooks and textbooks into them before class. Movies like Dazed and Confused, Easy A and Mean Girls (coming of age staples that span generations) have vital scenes in which lockers are the focal setting. Additionally, movies like Grosse Pointe Blank show how it is to come back to your school after graduating, and of course a locker scene is included. TV shows about kids in high school, such as Boy Meets World and Degrassi Junior High, depict scenes of bullies shoving nerds into lockers, a trope that lives on as another staple of teen media.
However, are lockers such a telling sign of today’s American youth? Can you really identify the dynamics of a school from whose feet dangle out of a locker, and who put them in there?
At FSSA, the legacy of the high school locker seems to reign true. FSSA seniors got together to talk about their lockers through the years, how they use them, and what it tells us about them as people.
Sawyer Gabel’s locker is on the first floor, along with the other FSSA senior drama majors. Sawyer uses his locker to store his coat during his classes every day. He also uses it as a place to keep things for Stagecraft when needed, as Sawyer is a part of an after school class where he helps clean, set up, and work backstage during school performance. His locker is mostly full of random things, but not much of it is school related, as Sawyer only uses his computer for school.
Over the four years as a high school student, Sinatra has seen a shift from a physical to digital academic environment, and Sawyer’s locker reflects this.
“I did have more physical sheets and papers freshman year, I do so much online now. Sometimes I would leave books or textbooks in there, but we don’t use textbooks anymore,” he said.
While Sawyer says he rarely shares his locker, keeps a lock on it, and doesn’t decorate it, he still has some interesting stories regarding the internal functions of it.
“I have this cardboard box that’s been sitting in my locker. It had a bunch of Pringles in it. I never ate any of them. There was one time where I opened my locker and I’d pretty much forgotten the Pringles were there, and Mr. Frankel was walking by. He was like, ‘Let me have one’. I took a minute to process, and I was like… ‘Yeah, sure.’” Sawyer says.
Julia Konopski is a senior dance major who’s locker is located on the third floor at FSSA, right outside of the dance studio. Julia uses her locker to store her coat, and make sure the newest novel she’s reading is safe, as she’s an avid reader. The longest book in residency in her locker was Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy, and her AP Environmental review book, which she uses frequently to study.
Julia’s locker is full of her artistic talent, from pictures she’s taken to illustrations she drew and was gifted.
“The main thing in there is a poster that was given to me by Taegen, and it’s a frog print that he made. Everything else is either art that I made, or just pictures that I had of random things, usually like flowers or some other weird stuff,” she says.
Over the years, her desire to decorate her locker, and express herself, has grown. As a freshman, Julia had fewer decorations, and simply dumped her things into her locker without organization. Over the course of four years, Julia realized that she should embrace the legacy of the locker.
“This is my last year as a high school student with a locker so I might as well decorate it. You see it in all of these movies, it looks so cool, and you want to decorate your locker like that,” she says.
As for interesting stories regarding her locker, Julia’s are very studio-specific. As a dance major, more so in freshman year, she would experience other dancers going through lockers to get clothing for dance, so they wouldn’t get a low grade for being unprepared. That year, Julia got her leotard stolen, and since then has kept a lock on her locker.
As a senior dance major, Isabella Mayo’s locker is located on the third floor near the dance locker rooms. She uses it to store her jacket, and get snacks during the day. Her locker consists of a blank notebook and an organizer where she keeps her snacks. Isabella used to restock her snacks frequently and give them to the other dance majors to keep them fed after long rehearsals.
Isabella is a very prepared student, which can be seen in the contents of her locker, and how they’re all back up plans for any emergency situation. However, her locker is not without randomness.
“I do have random stuff in my locker. I have a Kinder egg, I threw out half the body so it’s just half of it. I have a bag of black masks from when we were filming our Halloween dance. I have little plastic tubes, they’re connected, and they’re filled with saline solution because I have really bad congestion,” she says.
Devin Moss’ locker is on the first floor, along with the other senior drama major’s. Devin uses her locker for storing her notebooks and coat during the day, along with her textbooks and posters she made for class. Her locker stores mostly school stuff, which is proof of how academically oriented Devin is.
In freshman year, Devin would visit her locker a lot more. She would go in between periods, and see other students who did the same. Before the pandemic, Devin had a locker shelf, a mirror, and magnets in her locker, all because she believed that as she grew up and became a high schooler she had to take advantage of having a locker.
As she grew up, Devin came to terms with being a high school student and becoming an adult. This can be seen through a shift in her locker, from using it less, to decorating it less.
“I think my obsession with school stuff has lessened, I only have a few notebooks now. There also is something about routine that changed with COVID, but also growing older, I think that I’m straying away from being attached to the material things that make up school,” she said.
Devin has had the same locker for all of her four years at FSSA. In the beginning of Freshman year, Devin took a picture of herself with her locker, and has continued this tradition for all of her high school years.
Devin will take a picture with it at the end of her senior year at Frank Sinatra.