Small Talk


July 29th, 2011

I was a nerd in high school. I'm not ashamed. I like being smart.

My friends were kids like the Math Club president, the Debate Team captain, the Honor Society students, the ones taking Advanced Placements courses in their senior year.

Freshman year, me in yellow

Freshman year, me in yellow

One of the guys in our group was the valedictorian who went to Harvard. Jen was the salutatorian who earned a double-Ivy league degree. Jen is one of my best friends today.

Di and Jen in chemistry class which I got a C or D and she got an A, per usual

Di and Jen in chemistry class; I got a C or D, and she got an A, per usual

Sure, we were nerdy. We didn't drink, smoke, have boyfriends, sneak out at night. We still had fun, and we are all still friends who see each other on a regular basis.

I was reading a recent Time magazine article about Life After High School and laughing as I recalled those four years. I actually had a good time in high school. I have a lot of fond memories of Kamehameha.

This article quotes a study that says "the higher a student's academic rank in high school, the lower the probability that he or she experienced health problems in late middle age." Great, I'm hopeful that applies to me.

Claus teen

On the other hand, my husband was a jock- a world-class swimmer who threw himself into the sport starting at age seven. The story says "male high school athletes make more money as adults than do men who didn't play sports." I'm going to have to remember to approach him with this article in hand, and ask when I can be a trophy wife.

Claus child

Here are tidbits about the two other archetypes: The class officer will grow up to be a person more likely to vote, volunteer, and be involved in social causes. The cheerleader/populars enjoy the "popularity premium," in which the more friends students had in high school, the more money they were earning 35 years later.

What were you in high school and where are you now?

Also reach me via

19 Responses to “Nerds”

  1. Ken Conklin:

    I was a nerd in high school. It was way overcrowded. During my junior year there were 5000 students, while waiting for construction to be completed on an additional high school. Our school was on double shift, with most grade 11 and 12 classes in the early part of the day so the older kids who had jobs could get out early. School was in session from 7 AM to 4 PM. I seized the opportunity to take 6 majors (plus mandatory gym plus mandatory study hall plus mandatory lunch plus science club plus student council) -- accelerated English 3, accelerated precalculus, accelerated physics, German 3, German 4 (yes, in the same year), and Russian 1. Whew! It was like being in heaven. What a wonderful opportunity to take lots of majors I normally would not have had time to cram into a regular school day. Later I breezed through college in 2 years instead of the usual 4, thanks to loads of college credit for high school courses plus taking 20-25 credits per semester.

    I became a professor of philosophy, and also had a period of time as a high school math teacher. As a high school teacher I enjoyed both general math (for "dummies") and accelerated or advanced placement classes. Teaching the "dummies" was especially interesting and challenging, as it made me happy to figure out how to help those kids and could see their joy when the light bulb went on (however dimly). Perhaps my favorite class was 9th grade accelerated geometry, because the kids were nerds, just like me. They often figured out new ways to do proofs or solve problems, and were very excited about their work.

    Some teachers begin class by saying "Good morning boys and girls" [3rd grade] or "Good afternoon students"; but I started every class by saying "Welcome to class, my fellow nerds!" That's the word I used, and we all wore that label with pride. The class snapped, crackled, and popped every day, and the atmosphere was like the movie "Paper chase." At this moment I can see the students' faces in my mind's eye, and remember their genuine excitement at things most people would consider boring or incomprehensible. I made a point of telling them when they thought of an idea, or created a way of doing a proof, that I had never thought of before. We were nerds, and proud of it.

  2. M:

    Hello Diane,
    I was not a good student in high school, almost didn't grad, I was a druggie. Today, I'm doing okay, have a decent job for 28 years with the same company.
    I'm glad my daughter and son didn't follow my foot steps, they both grad as honor rolls. My daughter graduated from UH Manoa on the Dean's List and my son is starting college this fall with $48,000.00 in scholarships.

  3. chawan_cut:

    Nothing wrong with nerds... We all find our paths in life in different ways.

  4. Titus:

    I was a nerd, too. I still consider myself a nerd.

  5. DIO:

    oh boy, you had to pull out the school pics, and school memories. Now you have me thinking...was the Harvard guy's initials, J.M.?

  6. Rosette:

    What were you in high school ...I was busy napping!

    and where are you now..I am still enjoying my napping! I figure whatever your luck ..your luck will lead luck is I am good at napping!

  7. Rosette:

    so far so good I have good luck......I can't swim..I can't run so I settle for napping! My aunt used to give me answers to test..she was teacher...I still fail! ..figure that brothers they just laugh ...I NAP!

  8. Rosette:

    I was given a chance to relax from school work my grandma gave up and my aunt gave up teaching me to this day I let my boys relax at school..I HOPE MY BOYS WILL HAVE GOOD LUCK with a mix of common sense they will get by in life !

  9. Ken Conklin:

    Today I proved my nerdiness once again. I went to a celebration of Milton Friedman's 99th birthday at the Japanese Cultural Center, sponsored by the Grassroot Institute. Speeches, slideshow, free-market individualism. Woo-hoo! I can hardly wait for the 100th birthday bash a year from now! Uncle Miltie. No, not Milton Berle. If you've never heard of Milton Friedman (or Milton Berle, either) run them through Google. Friedman wrote a terrific introduction to a short essay whose title is "I, Pencil" -- a story about how a pencil is made, written from the pencil's viewpoint. If you'd like a little adventure in nerdiness, read the essay and Friedman's introduction to it.

  10. Rosette:

    so hint hang around with different people with different skills invent pencil be rich...yes find your pencil guy you be the trophy wife DIANE funny.omg! SO LESSON ONE SPORTS and pencil who is worth more...funny I crack myself up! they should write if you invent you will be richer than the sport guy! So you still reading that article "male high school athletes make more money as adults than do men who didn't play sports." DROP THAT MAGAZINE ...funny!

  11. Rosette:

    who wrote that "male high school athletes make more money as adults than do men who didn't play sports." that why I am stuck washing my husband stinky hockey gear much for that rich crap...funny! LESSON ONE PICK A NERD WHO DOESN'T PICK STINKY SPORT GEAR....PENCIL WILL DO!

  12. Rosette:

    I pretty much hang around with everybody...I didn't belong in any group. I was sort of a butterfly I hang around here and there and I get along.

  13. Rosette:

    funny I married a guy that is mix nerd and I nap I let him do things since he has the energy and the brains...funny! I tell my husband what are you looking at since I am too stupid he can go to work..funny! I RELAX!

  14. RedZone:

    I was an athlete in high school but became a nerd in mid life.

  15. Kristiann:

    Yay, nerds! I wonder if my kids will be nerds? I don't even remember that old school photo. Man, im getting old. What was the event?

  16. KAN:

    I was a nerd in high school, and nothing's changed since then.

  17. Diane Ako:

    Freshman banquet?

  18. Diane Ako:

    Ken Conklin- funny! Yes, you qualify if a dissertation on free-market individualism is considered fun! You out-nerd me!

  19. Diane Ako:

    Jessie Minier!

Leave a Reply

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Star-Advertiser's TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email

Recent Posts

Recent Comments