Does Popularity Matter at Tech?

By Olena Nazarenko

After living in the suburbs of Westchester for a brief time, I noticed a significant difference in the value of popularity there versus the value of popularity in New York City schools.

It seems that students upstate, attending relatively small schools, place more emphasis on being popular than students attending the larger schools in the city do.

How much more? And even more importantly, does popularity matter at Tech?

Jessica Zheng ‘16 says, “No, I don’t think it matters. It’s not like in a high school setting in the movies where if you’re popular everyone will know who you are. This school had so many students, we don’t know even a fifth of the students we past in the hallways. I mean, it’s nice to be liked, but being popular is not something that’s all that important here.”

Likewise, Anton Marku ’16 claims, “Depends on what you’re looking for. But I guess no. Popularity takes time from good grades. But it’s good if you want friends.”

While this is only the input of two students, it seems their opinions stand for a lot of those around them.

Tech is a massive school– over 5,000 students– so it’s not necessary to be adored by its entire population because let’s face it: it’s impossible to know all the students.

The school’s enormous size does not eliminate competition amongst students, but with the challenging courses and the mindset of college, most students compete academically or athletically; not for popularity.

Lucille Petriccione, an English teacher states, “I’ve been to many schools in my career and this school seems to have the most faculty and students who are open-minded. Popularity is not a top priority: students can see beyond the veneer and look for things of greater depth. After all, popularity rests on appearances, and the reality is, it’s important to look past appearances. Tech students seem to be willing to do that.”

John Cunningham, who teaches AP Capstone (a critical thinking course at Tech) offers a similar explanation for the BTHS rationale on popularity, “There’s something different about Tech. Perspicacity is the word. Most students don’t fall for popularity. I’ve seen some things that are very popular, but these things are usually not accepted by students at Tech.”

Seems like popularity really isn’t the most essential thing here, which is very contrasting from Westchester.

While there are popular kids at Tech, most students don’t focus on their social status in school; they have plenty of more pressing things to think about.


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