"Undercover Student" - Shann Nix - San Francisco Chronicle
Talking Sex: High Fives for Virgins
Tuesday, November 17, 1992
". . . The kids discuss sex with a degree of frankness and sophistication that would do Dr. Ruth proud. "Out of a group of seven seniors, it is established that three are virgins. They high-five each other, and everyone else agrees that they respect virginity as a choice. . . . "
Firsthand Look at an S.F. High School
". . . The principal, Al Vidal, is an imposing bulldog of a man with a kind face, creased by his long battle against discouraging odds. Teachers tell me later that Vidal is an exceptional administrator, loyal to his staff members and his school, determined to keep all of Washington's programs alive despite the fact that he has only $35.60 to spend on each student each year for books, supplies, everything except salaries. "A single textbook costs an average of $30. "The only person in the building besides Vidal who knows my secret is guidance counselor Linda Plack, a slender blonde with a sympathetic air and Susan Sarandon eyes. She arranges my schedule -- English Lit., American democracy, drama, auto shop, French 3 and art history. I would have liked to take P.E., but the tennis class is full and the weights class conflicts with English. No math -- I told my boss she isn't paying me enough to take trigonometry. "Erica, a petite, soft-spoken girl with shoulder-length dark hair, shows up to give me a tour. I try to make conversation as she points out the library ("It's usually closed") the cafeteria ('No one goes there') and the bathrooms ('Don't go in if you can help it'). . . . "
Why Chronicle Reporter Posed as a Student
"As The Chronicle continued to report on the growing crisis in the public schools and the crippling effect of the budget cuts on education, we realized that in September, thousands of nameless, faceless students would struggle to learn in crowded, ill-equipped classrooms with teachers who were in danger of losing their jobs. "We decided that readers needed to understand just how dramatically the budget crisis affects the kids. "But it would be difficult. Classroom visitors would be greeted by proud teachers putting on their best stiff-upper-lip performances, shy students and administrators complaining loudly. "Either way, I would never be sure I was seeing the unvarnished truth and readers would not get the accurate picture they needed to see. George Washington High School Principal Al Vidal agreed . . . "
How California Fell Behind
Hot Look: Baggy Clothes
How Teachers Battle the Odds; Creative Minds Try to Compensate for a Devastating Budget
"Someone threw a dead rat in a chow mein carton into Mr. Gregg's American democracy class today. "Mr. Gregg confesses that he wanted to scream, but didn't. "Later he uses the incident as an example of the importance of ''intention'' in the judicial system. . . . "
How to Talk Like a Kid
A Counselor's Overwhelming Battle
High School - The Social Scene: At a Party, Classmates Ask the New Girl, 'Are You a Narc?'
In Melting Pot Class, Everyone Hates Quotas
"I'm a Reporter - Not a Narc"
". . . Most of the kids tell me that they knew I didn't fit in. I ask what it was that gave me away. "'You wore your jacket collar turned up,' someone says. 'No one has done that since the '80s!' "'You wore the right clothes, but in the wrong way," another girl says. "Too formal. You weren't bummie enough.' . . . "'You throw your head back when you laugh," someone else says. 'You're too confident, too self-assured.' "There are things that you learn in life after high school, I decide as I listen, that mark you permanently. No makeup or jewelry, no Gap jeans or baggy T-shirts can hide the sculpting that experience gives you. . . . "