The Infamous Bristol High School Seniors’ Door

Bristol Eastern High School. Photo (c) Mike Uchalid

Back when I was in high school – which was either just yesterday or fifty years ago, I forget which – there was a tradition associated with a door.

The Seniors’ Door.

The high school was a low, 2-story sprawling structure. I don’t think it was all built at the same time. It looked to me like every time the city (Bristol, Connecticut) grew a bit, a new quadrangle was added. Certainly the classroom numbering was fairly odd – like someone made up numbers as necessary. It reminded me of adding a new exit on the highway, and instead of renumbering the whole slew, they just added some As and Bs… Exit 25A, Classroom 213D.

So it was a big school that never seemed crowded because of the long wide insane squares of hallways. But it was pretty big for a rather small city – there were 450 kids in my graduating class alone- and another couple of hundred at the crosstown rival school.

But back to the door.

A rambling structure like that – holding two thousand kids and maybe 100 teachers and staff – had a gazillion doors. Fire drills were chaos, but everyone got out fast. (Getting everyone back in was a different issue.)

But there was one door – facing the main parking lot – that was reserved.

Seniors only.

Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors used mainly the other front-facing door.  This lowly door  (in status only; it was huge) was just a couple of dozen feet away from the Seniors’ door. But there was no honor in that door.

I think about it now.

How crazy and useless the separation of those doors was. And who in the world decided to give such designation to doors?

But when my time came, how I loved the Seniors’ Door. Even if a different door was more convenient, I would walk to the Seniors’ Door. Opening that door conferred my specialness. Well, mine and my 449 classmates. It was as if that door opened into the world of adulthood. And we Seniors were ready.

But I remember a day – a year before, when I was still a Junior. I was working on a project (I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. I hardly ever volunteered for anything) with two other girls who were seniors. And we were leaving to go to one of the girls’ homes to finish up, and they were heading out the Seniors’ Door.

I made a dead stop.

“What?” they asked.

“I can’t go out that door!” I said. “I will go around and meet you in the parking lot.”

“Are you kidding?” said the girl whose home were were going to. A girl who – in our very ordinary, very middle class community was considered ‘privileged’. I think her father had a print shop.

“It’s the Seniors’ Door!” I explained.

“It’s a DOOR!” she said.

And held it open for me and I held my breath and walked through.

Holy shit. I went through a door I was not allowed to go through.

And the world did not come to an end.

I did not get arrested. I did not even get detention. I did not even get noticed.

And it felt AWESOME.

I would recommend that we all go through all the forbidden doors more often.

Not the ones with the alarms though.

The ones with rules. The ones with stigmas. The ones that only allow certain people to go through.

Go through.

Dance through.

Push the damn door open and run like hell – right through.

By Nancy Roman, WordPress writer


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