There are certain sounds you can expect within a high school–laughter, chatter, “Dirty Little Secret” by The All American Rejects. These are a given.
What we really forget about, though, is the shrieking and distant screams we hear throughout the day. In fact, these sounds have become so normalized, even the most blood-curdling screech barely raises our attention.
I have to admit, I am guilty of giving little thought to the source or cause of these cries. I almost lived the rest of my life like this. Until a few weeks ago.
Having missed a day of class, there I was, watching an old recording (2013, the dark ages) of one of Mr. Miller’s lectures to catch up. As he was talking, in the faint background, a sudden scream seemed to emerge from outside of the classroom. Hearing this in my headphones, I was pretty alarmed. Yet, Mr. Miller and his class of students in the recording continued on like nothing had happened.
As soon as I processed what I had heard, memories of hearing similar noises and brushing it off came flooding in. Luckily for you all, I have a gif of my actual reaction:
The phenomena of these largely ignored wails blew my mind. After paying more attention, studying, and collecting them, I have put together a brief list of some of my favorites:
The Excited Post-Lunch Squeal
Don’t lie, when it’s time for your lunch, you can’t help but feel way cooler than all the kids in the other lunch that are now sitting in class.
There’s always that one kid, however, that completely forgets that any class is going on at all in the entire building. They just had the most AMAZING lunch. They’re riding the bus home with their new crush. And they just got an A on their Language Arts (I mean English) test.
Life is too good for them, and before they even realize it, they can’t help but shriek with pure joy and excitement. It ricochets off every wall, but the creator of the glorious sound barely notices. Fortunately for them, it’s just another reason for a student to get up to close a classroom door.
Thanks to thin walls and a willingness to lose focus, basically everyone knows when a certain classroom is playing a movie in class. Usually, this entails merely the sound of muffled music and shuffled voices.
Every now and then, these muted sounds are speckled with the “overreactors.” We all know one. Sometimes chemistry safety or The American Revolution gets too overwhelming for these kids, and they have to let loose.
These sounds are usually your stereotypical “scream,” and they usually occur right as you can hear the muffled music begin to pick up the pace. And to be honest, these screams are usually extremely high-pitched, yet coming from a guy.
Other than a few side-eyes from students in the same classroom, these over-stimulated cries just add to the regularity of the day.
The Distressed Bellow
Does this need much explaining? Think about it. Really think about how often you are made aware of how stressed out we all our by the grunts, sighs, and whines that reverberate throughout the halls.
The Genuinely Scary Howl
This one really takes the cake. Pay close enough attention, and this sound can take you straight out of math class and directly underneath a street light flickering out in a dark alley after midnight.
There is no true explanation for this specific screech. It comes at no predictable time, and from seemingly no specific origin. It just slowly crescendos from its perpetrator to wherever you sit in the school.
Is it desperation? Despair? Loneliness? Physical pain? No one knows. And no one listens. The sound is simply dissolved into the stale air. Never to be understood.
To all of you screamers, howlers, shriekers, sighers, grunters, and screechers: someone is listening.