Unboxing Cedar’s Nerd Culture

Being “nerdy” used to be perceived negatively. However, in recent years, nerd culture has become more mainstream. With major movie franchises like Marvel movies and the Star Wars revival, people proudly sport their nerdy merchandise.

All those t-shirts and accessories are lucrative. According to Variety, following the release of The Force Awakens, the sale of licensed Star Wars merchandise rose by $251.7 billion from 2014 to 2015.

Attire from various nerdy franchises can be spotted throughout the hallways of Cedar Shoals as well as behind teachers’ desks.

English teacher Mr. Bryan Moore’s classroom is decorated with drawings of Batman, Batman movie posters, action figures, and other Batman memorabilia.

I have several kids ask about it, and that sometimes starts real conversations about comics and gets me ‘in’ with some kids who might otherwise be shy,” said Moore.

The realm of geek culture is inclusive at Cedar Shoals. Students’ interests range from tabletop games like Magic the Gathering to popular movie franchises like The Avengers. The wide range of interests makes for a diverse community of nerds.

“The geek culture at Cedar is fairly wide, but you kind of have to search for it. I think I found a small community to hang out with. I’m more of a low-key geek so you can’t really tell until a huge hint gives it away. The [geek] community I found [at Cedar] was from a friend and their friends just so happened to be geeks,” said Jenny Sanchez, 11th grade.

“I think the geek culture in general is a lot more accepted now. Most ‘geeks’ in school now seem to be anime and manga geeks, which isn’t really my thing, but I support all geekery,” said Moore.

The library does a lot to support anime and manga culture, and the fact that there are a lot of cliques makes someone who is a ‘geek’ feel at home,” said Henry Vencill, 12th grade.

According to a school-wide poll roughly 30% of Cedar Shoals self-identify as a geek. This provides a large pool of students that share similar interests.

Geek interests work just like other shared interests, said Sanchez.

“Just like anything (music, geek stuff, etc), if you and another person share a common interest, it’s easy to make them your friend.”

“It’s a really easy conversation starter. If you both know you have a common interest, you can talk about that and eventually morph that conversation into a real relationship,” said Vencill.

In addition, the geek culture among teachers makes students more comfortable to approach their teachers, especially for the more introverted students.

“[Teachers who are into geek stuff] definitely seem more relatable. Whenever a teacher opens up about that stuff, they seem less like a scary robot, and more like a person,” said Vencill.

However, not all students need geek culture to approach their teachers.

“Personally, I don’t think [geek teachers are any more approachable]. A lot of geeks are shy people and it’s hard to make talk with anyone really,” said Sanchez. “But with teachers, maybe the student would be afraid to make a mistake in their facts about whatever geek thing and make things awkward.”

“I think [it makes me more approachable] for certain students. Other students just think it’s weird,” said Mr. Gavin Matesich, social studies department.

Some of the geekier teachers incorporate their personal interests into their lessons to provoke interest from students.

“My semi-famous tangents are probably the best example,” said Matesich. Vencill recalled a class where Matesich went on a tangent describing his affinity for his action figures.

“In an attempt to explain the economic concept of Gross Domestic Product Mr. Matesich used Japanese action figures being imported to the US as an example of products not adding to US GDP,” said Vencill. “But instead of using it as a simple example, he went into hyper details about the action figures that he owned, including the specific model and the company that produced them.”

“Sometimes when discussing plot or characterization I make analogies to superheros,” said Moore. “Or, when doing something like Joseph Campbell’s Monomyth I use Harry Potter, Star Wars, etc. as examples of it in action,” said Moore.

Geek culture may not be the defining feature of Cedar Shoals, but it’s definitely an important aspect of the school. With such a large number of nerds in the building, the subculture has a strong influence, even if it’s not always obvious.

“I’m not sure geek culture influences Cedar overall, but I think that the subculture is good for those kids; it gives them some people like them that they can identify and hang with and may make them feel less alone,” said Moore.