Document Type

Capstone Project (Open Access)

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


Humanities & Communication


Humanities & Communication

First Advisor

Lee Ritscher


In a time where the public school setting draws comparisons to warzones—bullets flying, students barricading themselves behind desks—it is crucial we examine the landscape in which this unprecedented destruction is taking place. The current public conversations held in our democratic nation tend to surround gun rights, administrative procedures, and inadequate police responses. Finger pointing has been the fallback time and time again. As leaders of the NRA, local police forces, and legislating bodies stand at the end of our fingers, our children remain standing opposed to the barrels of loaded guns—often wielded by their peers. The conversation hasn’t ventured into why so many kids find themselves so distraught and hopeless that they would resort to such merciless violence. The conversation hasn’t gone near the reality that mental health issues of teenagers and young adults, such as depression and anxiety, is at an all-time high and continues to increase as the years go on. Should we be questioning a compulsory school system that was adopted from 18th century Prussia? A school system designed to produce herd mentality and a mass-producing labor force that simply doesn’t suit the times we now live in?

Through this collection of short stories, the landscape of the current public-school system is examined through the eyes of students subjugated to its subliminal conditioning on a daily basis. Class dynamics, curated curriculums, and the priority of obedience over autonomy all mix together to shape our youth into a mold that accepts dominance and the fabrication of ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’. This conditioning is at the core of the crippling isolation that so many students feel today. The feeling of having no control over your life, the feeling of living for purposes assigned to you, has been normalized. It starts with our children, to ‘prepare them’ for adult life. If they make it.