School supplies provide platform for expression

SENIOR+CHRISTINE+LAM+poses+with+her+textbook.+%E2%80%9CIt%E2%80%99s+really+interesting%2C+because+I+can+sometimes+read+the+articles%E2%80%A6+the+section+I+pulled+out+was+about+fashion%2C+which+is+interesting+to+me.%E2%80%9D+Lam+said.

Meghan Joyce

SENIOR CHRISTINE LAM poses with her textbook. “It’s really interesting, because I can sometimes read the articles… the section I pulled out was about fashion, which is interesting to me.” Lam said.

Sometimes the best way for someone to figure out who they are inside is to represent that person outside. One’s wardrobe or haircut or makeup are some of the more obvious canvases for self-expression, and there is plenty of room for creativity with those.
But some students at St. Paul Academy and Summit School don’t stop there. Everyone has to carry around the same aging computer and put it in the same gray-beige locker every day with the rest of their school supplies. Why not spruce those things up a bit with some personalization?
Senior Lexi Hilton’s water bottle is adorned with enough stickers that they have begun to overlap, if not obscure one another entirely. Hilton’s water bottle is growing with her, more stickers being added all the time to showcase the new things that matter to her.
“It started during Odyssey, Ella [Hommeyer, senior] gave me the idea of getting a sticker from every place that you visit, and then it just became lots of stickers. I could talk about each of them for an hour,” Hilton said.
Each of these stickers means something important to Hilton. There are stories behind them. 

I could talk about each of [the stickers] for an hour,”

— senior Lexi Hilton

 

“This one is a fox, and it’s on the little Patagonia mountain because my best friend Margo gave it to me before she left for Australia for a semester,” she said. “Her spirit animal is a fox, and it’s on the mountain because she’s backpacking in Australia.”
Sophomore Adnan Askari only has one small sticker on his computer, which he got from his participation on SPA’s debate team.
“Every time you win a debate you get six points, and then when you get some hundred points, you get a sticker,” he said. “In some ways, the stickers people put on the backs of their computers reflect who they are as people, because people tend to put things that they enjoy doing on their computer backs.”
Not everyone decorates their school supplies to show who they are, as Askari theorized. Some do it purely for the sake of decoration. Senior Christine Lam, too, has one sticker on her computer. It’s from the Internet Cat Video Festival, which Lam did not attend.
“But it’s really cute, and it makes me happy when I look at it,” Lam said. “It’s like my imaginary cat.”
Lam’s shining achievement is her Physics textbook; it is carefully wrapped with the New York Times’ fashion section.
“I can sometimes read the articles… the section I pulled out was about fashion, which is interesting to me. Now on the back of my textbook there is an advertisement, which I did not intend to put there, but it looks really nice,” Lam said.
Whether carefully curating a sticker collection, wrapping a textbook with newspaper from the library, or something in between, decorating school supplies is a process which creates an opportunity to share one’s identity, in a small way, with passerby.