High school yearbook students from five schools in a large suburban school system were surveyed and interviewed to investigate what was meaningful and memorable to them throughout their high school experience. The yearbooks they produced were analyzed to confirm their responses and gain more information about their interests and priorities. Chang's (1992) elements of adolescent ethos, including getting along, being involved, and gaining independence, provided a conceptual framework. Transcripts of focus group interviews, surveys, and yearbooks were examined and analyzed for references to rites of passage and intensification embedded in the high school program and described by Burnett (1969). Yearbook students in this study articulated the importance of the adolescent ethos elements described by Chang (1992). Relationships with friends and acquaintances emerged as students' primary focus. They equated growing up with accepting responsibility. Students identified markers of independence similar to those described by Chang (1992), including driving, having a job, and taking responsibility in extracurricular activities. Additional markers of independence suggested by these students were receiving mail from prospective colleges, earning the trust of adults, and experiencing the death of a classmate. Students' comments, supported by yearbook text and pictures, indicated the presence of and importance attached to high school rites of passage and intensification. Students demonstrated a lack of interest in their academic work through their oral and written responses and the minimal coverage they allotted to academics in their yearbooks. Students' descriptions of academic as compared to their yearbook classes, along with the importance of the adolescent ethos and rites of passage, offer clues for meaningful high school restructuring from students' perspectives.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 22-37
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.