By Richard Kwon, 17
After a long night of working on an essay, I woke up late the next day and had only 30 minutes to drive through an hour-long traffic jam to get to school. Jumping out of bed, I threw on some clothes, packed my books, and dashed into my car. My hair was oily and frizzy. My eyes were half-open and I stank like hell.
My instincts directed me to run back into the bathroom and clean up. But then I remembered that I'm going to a boys' school. Forget it! There's no one there to impress!
Welcome to Loyola High, an all-boys Jesuit college preparatory school.
School without girls means I've had to join activities like choir, band, speech and plays, or participate in outside activities to meet girls. During sophomore year I started volunteering at a local hospital. Since then I've met plenty of girls, but no one I've dated seriously. It's just fun to socialize with the opposite sex every now and then.
Without girls around, there's a certain air of toughness at my school. One time a student in my class blurted out that he was depressed because his dog was dying from some disease. Some guys responded mockingly, "Awww ... poor baby."
I couldn't believe what I was hearing. "Man, his dog is dying. How is admitting his feelings unmanly?" I thought to myself. I wanted to say to the guys who said stupid things, "Get over it. It's not like you never cry." Many students have to pretend to be rough or they will be ridiculed.
And it gets worse. Those with soft voices or those who act "like girls" are called "gay" in and out of the classroom. Guys who participate in choir are called "choir fags." One time the choir director said it was nearly impossible to have guys join, because they're so worried about being ridiculed. Joining choir or theater takes courage, because it automatically means taking a big risk on your social life and friends.
But I believe that guys who think the fine arts are "girls' things" will have to learn the hard way after they graduate that men can be good musicians, artists or actors. Where would we be without Mozart, Picasso, or Shakespeare? What if they were intimidated about acting on their talents?
After three-and-a-half years in an all-boys school, I've come to appreciate it. It's been the experience of a lifetime.
But I'm definitely ready for a co-ed college.
(c) LA Youth, Los Angeles