What’ll it be: Plaid or a Blazer? An interview and discussion about Laurel vs. HB

By Lizzi Powers

Some of you out there may wonder what the difference is between Blazers and our plaid-clad Gator sisters down Shaker Blvd. To answer this question, I asked my very good friend and fellow senior, whose name shall remain anonymous, to give her input on her school and her perception of HB as a lifelong Laurel attendee. This is a student who takes multiple APs and is captain of a varsity sports team.

Q: What do you like about your school?

A: “I really like the relaxed environment. For a place with so much work and such a hard and rigorous academic standard, I like the relaxed lifestyle that includes wearing a uniform. The community overall is very relaxed, trusting, comfortable, and close.”

Q: Would you say that you are friendly with everyone in your grade?

A: “Yes.”

Q: Is there anything you don’t like about your school? Any room for improvement?

A: “I think they could improve on the homework situation. I feel as if every girl in my grade is sleep deprived and stressed all the time. I love the food, the kitchen staff is very accommodating.”

Q: “What are your perceptions of HB as a Laurel Lifer?”

A: “Well clearly athletic wise HB tends to dominate Laurel. I’ve never even come close to beating them in my sport. Common perceptions among some Laurel students are that HB girls are more pretentious. However the more HB girls I know the more I think that they are more similar than different. I do think that the uniform is huge difference between the schools and extends beyond just clothing. I believe the uniform puts all girls on an even ground. I think a big difference a lot of people don’t realize is that HB has a much larger class size. They differ by about 30 girls (HB averages around 90 girls and Laurel around 60). I also don’t think most Laurel girls think of HB as a rival school anymore, and I think academically they are really similar. I think Laurel has more options in advanced history. I’ve heard from my tutor that HB has a stronger a math program. However I think  [the schools] are more similar than different because they both offer such endless opportunities.”

Q: Does Laurel have any elective programs outside of the normal offering?

A: “We have a thing called Teach to Serve, which is social entrepreneurship. We also have May term, which is when we take exams basically a week after AP’s and get out early  to have a two week period where girls can either take fun classes such as “cooking” and other fun stuff. You can also take those two weeks and do an internship. Last May term I interned with a congressmen in Washington D.C. However I’ve also taken classes on quilting and the American Prison System in previous years. There are usually at least two field trips per May term class. You can also take a trip that spans the whole two weeks to Asian and European countries with focuses on art, service, and other things. I think May term is awesome and I love it.”

Q: Are you happy at Laurel?

A: “Yes very happy. I couldn’t picture myself anywhere else.”

Q: Can you talk about the disciplinary system?

A: “We are based on a handbook and an honor council. If it’s something small like tardiness or not signing out, an adult will just talk to you about it. However if you do something worse you will have to go in front of the honor council, which is sworn to secrecy. They decide your punishment along with a teacher advisor. So the head of high school has final say but almost always passes through whatever the honor council recommends, which is normally very reasonable. More than a punishment it’s about learning from the mistake you made.”

Q: Do you have detentions at all?

A: “No.”

Q: Overall, do you think you could attend HB and be happy?

A: “I definitely think I could. Since I’m a lifer I’ve gotten so set in my ways with the uniform situation and I’ve come to really really like it. So I definitely think I could be happy at HB but I also definitely prefer Laurel.”

Q: How would you describe grade relations?

A: “There are pre-existing notions of senior/junior areas in parking and it’s just how things have been. There is some tension when that type of stuff changes or is challenged”

Q: How are relations within your own grade?

A: “I think they’re pretty good. Our grade gets along pretty well. I would not say that our grade is cliquey because we all sit in one area of the hallway, all the seniors. There’s no one area I sit with my friends, and my friends sit all over. I think that since there are so few girls it’s hard to be cliquey.”

After hearing her input, I think it is clear to see that some of the major differences lie in the disciplinary system, the dress code, and the concept of Mayterm. But a big similarity includes the “constantly sleep deprived”. As an HB student, my perceptions of Laurel have been ( and I am by no means saying they are true) that Laurel is much more nurturing and community oriented, almost to the point of being coddling, which I think can be seen in their almost complete lack of a disciplinary system. As I thought about it, I believe the reason this perception of mine arose is because of their lack of Centers, which are a trademark of HB. I have absolutely loved Global Scholars and the Center for Business and Finance, and cannot imagine my HB experience without them. The global education piece is something truly unique to HB and is an undeniable advantage over our nearest girls school. Personally, the lack of uniform was a huge attraction to HB for me. Being able to dress yourself in whatever way you choose (within the boundaries of propriety) is an important life skill that can’t hurt to start figuring out now. However I can also see the attraction in rolling out of bed and wearing the same thing every day; however you can do that at HB too if you so choose as long as it’s colored jeans and an HB sweatshirt.

There is something to be said for Laurel’s tight knit community. Whether it be the smaller class sizes, the more relaxed and trusting discipline system, they seem to have much more integrated and friendlier grades then we do. Maybe it’s even the uniform. But that grade integration, or rather lack of, is definitely something our administration has noticed and taken an active effort to build in recent years through retreats. It also goes without saying that if you like to win in any sport, at all, ever, then HB is the place for you over Laurel. All in all, both HB and Laurel are phenomenal schools that take merely different approaches to girls’ education. Laurel appears to have more of a sense of equality while HB is a little more competitive. However, I would not be so quick as to cite HB for a lack of support or community. In times of need, HB will provide you with absolutely any type of help they can possibly get their hands on and it is a truly incredible effort. Don’t ever be afraid to tap into the support network around you every day;  can do some amazing things.

Overall, I’m proud to be a Blazer. Even though Gators are cool and all, I think HB is too unique in the sense that not only is it innovative, but it’s current. Up to date. And not stuck in the past. Plus I never liked plaid anyway.