WHY CAN'T WE ALL GET ALONG: Warwick graduates reflect on divisive school environment.
WHY CAN'T WE ALL GET ALONG: Warwick graduates reflect on divisive school environment. bokan76

The segregation stopping friendships between Warwick schools

WARWICK students have reported finding it almost impossible to make friends outside of school, and they say it all comes down to stereotypes and segregation.

Graduates from multiple high schools in Warwick have said they felt there were almost no opportunities to meet people and make friends with students from other schools.

Warwick State High School graduate Jacob Meiklejohn said the segregation between Warwick schools was an unfortunate issue that affected the whole community.

"There's this whole 'us and them' mentality that is really between all the schools," he said.

"When we were working on the Young Leaders program we found there was no communication between the schools in Warwick, it really seemed they would just stick to themselves.

"There is so many people that go to these other schools that you never got to meet."

Determined to promote inclusion, Mr Meiklejohn floated the idea of establishing a multi-school study group, but the idea was immediately "shut down".

"I asked 'why don't we study as a community, why do we limit ourselves just to Warwick State High School?'

"There are so many great people in the town, why don't we all get together and share our knowledge but immediately that idea was shut down because of this whole competitive attitude."

Mr Meiklejohn said the attitude stemmed from students themselves as well as a competitive attitude among staff.

"The is so much competition between schools these days for OPs and stuff," he said.

"But why aren't we lifting up the whole community and not just trying to make Scots or Warwick High better."

Assumption College graduate Jack Pickering noticed how stereotypes played in to the rift between schools.

"There were mentalities about different schools and stereotypes, for example everyone would think 'Warwick High, that is the school that has lots of bogans'," he said.

"It has sort of been carried through the schools and other people just took it on, even thought they didn't really understand it wasn't true."

But the real impact of segregation didn't dawn on Mr Pickering until after he graduated.

"If you only have that friendship group at school you spend all your time with that group of people, once you have graduated you realise you have very few friends," he said.

Being a non-sporty type, Mr Pickering said he would like to see more opportunities to meet other students in order to counteract stereotypes.

"Maybe like a multi-schooled talent quest - stuff like that could be an interesting way for people to meet others who have similar interests like playing music."

School of Total Education graduate Steven Fern said he was also aware of stereotypes surrounding his school.

"When SOTE was mentioned people would say 'I always thought those people were hippies'," he said.

"Schools are very easily stereotyped and this creates barriers and can have an affect on people trying to go outside their schools and make friends."

But Mr Fern said it was up to individuals to break the uniform barrier and make friends beyond the confines of their school gates. 

"Rather than going off what is said (about stereotypes) it's a matter of finding out for yourself what the students (at other schools) are actually like," Mr Fern said.

"I played a fair bit of basketball and when I got a job that helped me go out of the boundaries of schools," he said.

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