I was part of this “magnet” magazine back in high school, called “Silver Quest.” It was a really small club/organization, and many of us had to pitch in areas that we weren’t inherently comfortable with. I personally volunteered myself to write an article but eventually failed to complete it. I had proposed to write an editorial or commentary (with some quotes by students) about why the backpacks that they carried around in high school were so ginormous.
The insane weight and bulkiness of high school backpacks aren’t exactly a national or international trend. Some students never carry a backpack at all. This is also true in College/University. Some courses don’t even require textbooks, so what would be the point in lugging so much extra weight only to cause potential harm to your spine? High school had it’s issue though, with some schools having all 7-9 classes every day (some had block schedules (alternating between even/odd periods by day)), basically inviting students to carry about eight textbooks worth of extra baggage. Granted, some classes like English had really small books, but they were still extra items that we’d have to stuff and put into our bags every morning (or at least, I never prepare my school stuff the night before).
I also wanted to figure out what people carried in the backpacks in addition to their textbooks. I, for one, was well known for carrying around an excessive amount of pencils and pens (b/c I lose them so often). If we tap the skip button on our imaginary remote and jump to the “High School Chapter” and check what everyone lugs on their backs every weekday, it might be surprising to see what a variety of “necessities” students in the magnet program carry. It’s interesting to observe how as we grow older, an increasing number of items become life necessities (relatively), cramming our spaces with binders, folders, papers, pencils, pens, erasers, highlighters, calculators, scissors, staplers, notebooks, textbooks, reading books, note cards, playing cards, flash drives, candies, gum, cough drops, chap sticks, first aid kits, dollar bills, water bottles, cell phones, headphones, Frisbees, and almost anything else you can find.
Reminiscing back to the time where we learned ABC’s and 123’s, if not nothing at all, we might look at our childhoods with nostalgia. Was it easier back then? Yeah. Life only gets harder, or so they say (and it’s probably true). Is the reason why many backpacks are filled to the brim because some have too much work? Or do people just heave 100 pound backpacks for no reason at all?
Being the lazy person I was, I shot people messages over gchat instead of properly interviewing them, and took a very selective sample of the students at my high school (resulting in basically all juniors (except one)), at the time. Here’s what some people had to say:
“My backpack is heavy with knowledge; my dictionary has a lot of knowledge as well as my test tubes.”
“I think people like to have all their stuff at once, even if they don’t really need it, just in case they might need those English worksheets from September or something”
“To put dead bodies in”
“I carry a heavy backpack in an attempt to fill the empty void that is my life there.”
“I don’t [carry a heavy backpack], but when I do, it’s to protect me from crazy people…who are out to get me.”
“I think others carry heavy backpacks because the teachers assign many materials”
“I carry a heavy backpack because I carry books and binders and they happen to add up to be very heavy.”
“I carry a heavy backpack because I never know when I need some notes or material from the past… especially in math.”
“A heavy backpack makes you prepared for anything.”
“Because they like to break their backs.”
“They need stuff in it and they don’t want to use a locker because that’ll waste time.”
“I use everything that I carry because it’s too much of a pain to stop by my locker, especially since it’s been on the 3rd floor every year, making it hard to get to between classes.”
“I carry everything I need, and that happens to add up to a lot of weight.”
“I think others carry backpacks because they’re too lazy to go to or even find their lockers. And they carry a lot of junk in their bags because they’re just messy and won’t clean up their papers.”