November 18, 2020, 7:00pm

November 18, 2020, 7:00pm

November 18, 2020, 7:00pm

Location: The Principal’s Office. William Friedman is reclining in a leather upholstered arm chair, smoking a cigarette. Sal Levy is perched on the edge of Friedman’s desk, leafing through some papers Friedman has handed him. Music emanates from a pair of speakers, mounted on the far wall.

Sal: [Looking up from the papers] So, this is becoming a big deal.

Will: [Takes a long drag off of his cigarette] Apparently.

Sal: Do we want it to become a big deal?

Will: I think so…I mean, that was the whole point, wasn’t it?  To prove that this thing works and then replicate it.

Sal: Yeah, I know. It just seems awfully fast. We haven’t even finished the first semester.

Will: Well, mid-semester grades have come out, and we’re number one in the state. Ditto on PSAT scores. 

Sal: I just think that we need to have a full year under our belts, before we can say “It works. Go spend millions of dollars.”

Will: You know I don’t disagree with you. It would seem, however, that politics is more impatient than science.They need something to take to the constituency, Sal. Things are really going to shit out there. 

Sal: It’s precisely that desperate mood that worries me. It means that you can’t rely on the support you get. They might turn on you at any moment.

Will: [Draws on his cigarette again and then puts it out in the ashtray. Rises] Let’s have a drink.

Sal: But, the gang will be here any minute.

Will: One drink, Sal. I’m not lining up shots.

Sal: Scotch?

Will: Scotch.

Sal: The Bruichladdich?

Will: The Bruichladdich.

Sal: Alright, then. One.

Will: A double?

Sal: You’re a bad man.

Will laughs and pours the whisky into a tumbler. Hands it to Sal and pours himself one.

Will: [Holding up his glass] To New Ridgemont High, long may she reign.

Sal: [Clinking Will’s glass] To you, man. For putting this thing together and getting it right.

Will and Sal: Cheers.

There is a knock and the door opens. Chloe Gold and Tom Rosen enter.

Will: [Crosses the room to greet them] Chloe! Tom!  Welcome!

Chloe: [Hugs Will and Sal in turn] Good to see you!

Tom: [Shaking Friedman’s hand] Principal Friedman.

Will: Please, Tom. ‘Will’.

Tom: Are we the first ones here?

Sal: Yeah…we’re still waiting on Mitch and the other wizards from the NRH media empire.

Will: Can I get you guys anything while we’re waiting? Tea?  Coffee? I have some soda in the fridge.

Tom: I’ll have a Bruichladdich.

Sal: Why did I know that was going to happen?

Will: Alright. We’ll be here an hour at least.

Chloe: Me too!

Will: [Hesitating] Uh…

Chloe: I didn’t drive…Tom brought me.

Will: [Smiles] Well, then, by all means. [Pours the Scotch into two tumblers and passes them to Chloe and Tom].  Cheers!

Sal: I look forward to your next academic paper, Will, when you discuss this particular…er…aspect of social immersion.

Will: This is in the finest tradition of higher education. If we were at Oxford, we’d be doing this three times a week, in my rooms.

Sal: Oxford’s a university, Will, not a high school.

Will: Kids used to go to Oxford at thirteen years of age.

Sal: In 1260.

Will: What are years? You know we’re playing with time, here.

Sal looks at Will, his right eyebrow raised.

Will: Drink your Scotch, Sal.

Sal: Sic ut dicis, Domine.

Chloe: Mmm…this is absolutely delicious.

Will: That’s the best of the Islay malts. 

Tom: [Settling into Will’s chair and sipping his drink] So, what’s all this about?

Will: There’s news I need to share with you guys, but let’s wait until Mitch and the others arrive.

Sal: You gonna’ give them all Scotch too? 

Will: If they want it, yes. Don’t worry, I have another bottle.

Sal: That wasn’t really what I was getting at.

Tom: Good news or bad news?

Will: Interesting news. I’ll let you decide whether it’s good or bad.

The door opens and Mitch enters, followed by David and Laurie, with Lee, Lance, and Brian bringing up the rear. 

Lee: [His arms raised, pointing into the room] Yo! Yo! Yo!

Mitch: For God’s sake, Lee.

Lee: Chill, man, it’s cool.

Will: [Shaking Mitch’s hand] Mitch, Laurie, guys…it’s great to see you!

Laurie: [Kissing him on the cheek] Hi Principal Friedman!

David [Leaning in and offering his hand] Principal Friedman!

Will: [Shaking it] Please, everyone, call me “Will.”

Lee: Heya, Will!

Will: You are most welcome, Lee. [To everyone] Drinks?

Lance: What is it?

Will: Scotch. I also have tea, coffee, and soda…Coca Cola and Sprite.

Lance: I’ll have a Scotch.

Lee: Every day’s a surprise with you, lately. When did you become so exciting?

Lance: I happen to like Scotch.

Brian: Coca Cola.

David: Scotch.

Laurie: Sprite. [Looks apologetic] I only like foo-foo drinks, like Sea Breezes.

Lee: Scotch.

Mitch: Coffee.

Will: Cream and sugar?

Mitch: Black.

Friedman goes to the other room to get the coffee and sodas.

Lee: [To Sal] So, what’s up? 

Sal: Will has news. I’ll let him tell it.

Friedman returns, with a tray bearing two highball glasses, filled with soda, which he hands to Brian and Laurie, and a small percolator, with a cup and saucer, which he gives to Mitch. Returns to the bar, where he pours three more measures of Scotch into tumblers and passes them to Lance, David, and Lee. Refills his own glass and raises it.

Will: To New Ridgemont High!

All: [Raising their glasses] To New Ridgemont High!

Will: I hope that this will be the first of many informal meetings that we’ll have, over the course of the year. Their purpose, in part, is to allow us to talk business, without the hustle and bustle of the school going on all around us, but beyond that, I want to treat these meetings as an opportunity to speculate, theorize, and brainstorm. Each of you brings special abilities and talents that New Ridgemont High can benefit from.

Chloe: [Takes Will’s arm] Plus, it’s nice to see each other socially, isn’t it?

Will: [Beaming] It certainly is.

Tom: So what’s our business?

Will: New Ridgemont High is leading the state in mid-semester grade point averages and PSAT scores, and it’s causing a major buzz in the state Capitol and the Governor’s mansion. There’s talk about replicating the experiment; creating two new charter schools, based on the New Ridgemont High model, as early as next Fall.

Tom: I see.

Lee: Are you – are we – ready for that? I mean our school’s amazing and everything, but we haven’t even been in session a full term.

Chloe: It does seem a bit quick.

Friedman: Sal and I agree with you. In my gut, I’m sure that New Ridgemont High is working beyond my wildest dreams. But, scientifically? We don’t have nearly enough data to draw any inferences at all, let alone claim publicly that it works.

Brian: Yeah, I mean, your sample is skewed isn’t it?  Practically the entire student body is a massive exercise in upper class self-selection. They might’ve done this well in a garbage dump.

Will: That was always going to be a limitation, Brian. This is a practical exercise, using human subjects. I had to start with a population that was already high achieving. You can’t experiment with people like you do with animals.

Sal: One thing to remember about the social sciences: you can never apply the methodology too rigidly. It has to be elastic; to shape itself to the contours of things, as they occur on the ground.

Lance: I like that. Flexible science for flexible circumstances.

Tom: So, how do you intend to respond to this?

Will: I haven’t decided yet. That’s part of the reason I wanted you guys to come tonight; to take soundings. And to talk about the PR side of it. I know Mitch has a lot of ideas on that front.

Mitch: I do, indeed.

Tom: Well, it would seem logical to start with what our response is going to be and then move on to how we’re going to communicate it.

Will: Agreed. So, what do you think we should do?

Tom: Given the politics? We should get in front of it. Otherwise we’re going to be led around by people who don’t know what they’re doing.This way, at least, we’ll be in control of the process.

Sal: I wouldn’t assume we’ll be in control of much of anything outside these walls, but I agree that we can’t just sit and wait for it to go away. 

Will: It won’t go away. The situation in the high schools is reaching a crisis point. They want to do something.

Lee: You mean, they want to be seen doing something. 

Tom: Politically speaking that amounts to the same thing.

Sal: But are we prepared to do this [waves his hand around the room] publicly? It’d be one thing if we had a year’s success under our belts and a whole bunch of graduates going to Ivy League schools; hard proof that the NRH model works. But to let it all hang out now? I’m not sure the public is ready for it. In fact, I’m sure they aren’t.

Lee: [Bitterly] Yeah, people like lying to themselves too much. 

Will: Granted and granted. Still, we have to respond.

Mitch: I think it’s time for an information tour.

Chloe: What do you mean?

Mitch: We’ve got the media center set up. Let’s use it to teach the public about Social Immersion theory and to show them New Ridgemont High.

Will: What do you have in mind?

Mitch: Well, the student features, for one. We should run those every week. Let people see what the students are doing here; how the place works.

Sal: You’ll have to be very careful, in your editing Mitch. You can’t broadcast footage of kids smoking behind the building.

Mitch: Of course not. 

Tom: I can help with that. You and your team produce the features, and I’ll take the knife to ‘em, before passing them up for final approval.

Will: That should work. What else?

Mitch: I know you hate being on television, but we really should do some in-depth interviews with you. Provide the scientific context for the stuff the public’s gonna’ see.

Will: I’ll wear my best suit.

Lance: How about some walkthroughs with Chloe? Y’know, “Welcome to our school, I’m your tour guide,” that sort of thing.

Chloe: [Turning pink] Why me?

Tom: Isn’t it obvious? You’re good looking, articulate, and successful. People will buy anything you’re selling.

Chloe: Ugh.

Mitch: He’s right. You’re the best advertisement the school has.

Chloe: That seems awfully cynical.

Will: Dress down. Make it about the substance. You are the Student Body President. Who better than you to give the public a tour of the school?

Chloe: Hmm.

Mitch: You’ll be fantastic, Chloe, really. Your love for the school will come through. And there’s no one else who can speak for all the cliques. It has to be you.

Tom: Principal Friedman talking about the experimental side of New Ridgemont High and you showing it to them from the inside, at the personal level? It’s perfect.

Chloe: [Laughs and tosses her hair, the light causing her eyes and lips to sparkle] Okay! You’ve convinced me. I’ll do it! [Takes a long sip of her drink]

Tom: [Leaning over to Mitch and whispering] That, Mitch, was one of those heart bursting moments I was talking about the other day.

Mitch: I’m trying to ignore it. “Throw myself into the work,” remember?

Tom laughs and downs the remains of his drink. Gets up and crosses over to the bar, where he pours himself a glass of water.

Will: There’s one thing about this that I don’t like.

Sal: Just one? I could fill a yellow pad.

Will: It’s going to mean a break in immersion for you guys.

Tom: And that bothers you?

Will: Yes. Very much.

Tom: Why?

Will: [Looks down at his drink] Because this only works, if the greatest possible level of immersion is maintained. It means that you won’t be getting the full experience.

Tom: I understand.

Will: New Ridgemont High is my love letter to young people, Tom. The thought that you can only have part of it; that you have to go out there and promote the damned thing… I should be doing that for you.

Chloe: Oh, Will…

Mitch: Principal Friedman – Will – your “thing” has changed my life. I’d say that I’ve gotten all of it, not just a part, and I’ve been here only three months.

Lee: No one feels ripped off, Will.

Sal: They want to help, Will, and we need them. This thing is too big for one person. And it shouldn’t just be the adults talking about it. The students should get to have their say.

Will: I know. I always want things to be perfect.

Chloe: They are. We’re all here, together, aren’t we? What else is there?

Lance: Yeah, I mean, it’s not like we were exactly rocking and rolling before.

Will: [Laughs] Lance, you have a magnificent attitude. I’ll cancel the pity tour.

Tom: So, we’ll use the Media Center to educate the public and promote the school. What else?

Will: I’m thinking that we ought to have some sort of executive council; one that includes the student leadership, as well as faculty department heads.

Tom: And by student leadership you mean…?

Will: You, Chloe, and Mitch, for starters. Depending on how the various student organizations develop, I would consider adding a few others.

Sal: That’s very university-like, isn’t it?

Will: Yes, and it’s on purpose. Remember that op-ed I photocopied for you? By Leon Botstein?

Sal: Where he argues for eliminating high school altogether and sending kids to college, after junior high?

Will: That’s the one. While I disagree with the main thesis, a lot of the points he makes in getting to it are sound. A good part of the problem we’re having today comes from infantilizing teenagers. They’re not children, for god’s sake.

Sal: Argentina lowered the voting age to sixteen.

Will: I wish the U.S. would do the same. It would transform our politics for the better.

Chloe: Well, I think it’s a fabulous idea. [Looks at Mitch and Tom, who are nodding] Count us in.

Will: That’s about all I have for tonight, unless you guys have something you want to discuss?

Tom: It’s a lot to digest. No need to pile on more.

Mitch: I don’t have anything either.

Will: Let’s hang out a little, then. Let that Scotch work its way out of you, before heading out. Music requests?

Chloe: You know what I want to hear.

Will: [Laughing] Yeah, I know. [Grabs the Simple Minds tape that is sitting on his desk and heads over to the stereo.]



November 15, 2020, 10:30am, PST.

Location: The Computer Room. Mitch Bennett, David Weber, Laurie Pence, Lee Lindberg, Lance Donaldson, and Brian Milman are having a last minute meeting, before heading over to the Media Center, where they will be joined by Will Friedman, Tom Rosen, and Chloe Gold.


Mitch: [Checking off items on a clipboard] David, is everything set up in there? Are we ready for them?

David: As ready as we’re ever gonna’ be. The power’s on, the tech is running, and I’ve made copies of the information packets that we’ll be handing out. I’ve even put out coffee and doughnuts.

Mitch: Awesome! Lee, how do things stand with the A/V presentation?

Lee: We’re good to go. I’ve put together a sampler of NRH Radio promo clips and a montage of test-pieces, from NRH TV.

Mitch: You’re looking a little ragged, Lee…like you slept in your clothes or something.

Lee: Always paying attention to the really important stuff, aren’t you? I guess that’s why they pay you the big bucks.

Mitch: Couldn’t you have at least shaved?

Lee: I was out all night, okay? I didn’t have the chance to coif myself this morning.

Brian: You and Joanne are getting hot and heavy, aren’t you?

Lee: [Snorts] Like I’d tell you.

Lance: But you have to tell us.  We have to know everything, especially the dirty details.

Laurie: [Slightly nauseated] Actually, we don’t.

Mitch: [Putting up his hands] We’ve only got twenty minutes before we meet up with Principal Friedman.

Lee: And with Chloe…don’t forget Chloe.

Mitch: I swear, Lee, if you weren’t so good with A/V.

Lee: [Grinning] Yeah, it sucks doesn’t it?

Mitch: [Looks up at the ceiling and counts silently to ten, then turns to Laurie] Where are we with the newspaper?

Laurie: The revamp is finished…modeled after the original USA Today. I’ve got a series of mockups to show off.

Mitch: And you’ve decided to go with a weekly?

Laurie: That makes the most sense. There really isn’t enough material for a daily, and with our school workloads, we couldn’t produce one anyway. The weekly’s totally doable, though, and at this point, all I need are reporters and columnists. Up until now I’ve been doing most of it myself.

Lee: Yeah, what’s up with the labor? I mean, I’m not anchoring the news telecast, and if I have to use Lance and Brian as on-the-scene reporters, the show’ll be about as popular as Alf.

Brian: Hey! What’s wrong with us?

Lee: Lessee, one, you’re ugly. Two, you’re dweebs.  Three, you’re ugly dweebs.

Brian: Just because we’re not going out with Joanne Genduso doesn’t mean you have to be a dick to us.

Lance: I kinda’ like Alf.

Lee: That makes four.

Mitch: Are you guys finished? I’ve got all the people you need…reporters, anchors, columnists, the whole deal.

Lee: Care to share with us who they are?

Mitch: [Flipping pages] I’ve got Marissa Preston for the news anchor’s spot…with me doing special one offs here and there.

Lee: I can definitely live with that.

Mitch: …with Liz Goodman and Nicole Parker doing the reporting.

Lee: Great, two Star Crew cunts. Thanks a lot.

Laurie: I call ixne on that word.

Mitch: They volunteered, Lee. What do you want?  Now, the radio station…[looks at Lee dubiously]… you’re going to produce the programs, as well as run the technical side of things?

Lee: That’s right.

Lance: Oh, that’ll be popular.

Brian: Yeah, what the hell do you know about music?  

Lee: Nothing.  

Mitch: Uh…

Lee: I’m the organization man. Other people will create the programs and DJ.

Lance: People? What people?

Brian: Yeah, “people” don’t like you, Lee, remember?

Lee: That must be why Marty Savini and Kevin Reilly are gonna’ host a metal show for me, for two hours a day, three days a week, as well as a show on the local metal scene every Sunday afternoon.

Lance: Whoa!

Lee: And it must be because of my unpopularity that Joanne Genduso and Stacy Singer are doing alternating Punk and Goth shows twice a week, as well as a New Wave show, every Saturday.

Brian: Holy Shit!

Mitch: Lee, that sounds fantastic!

Lee: See? You’re not the only one who can make things happen.

Laurie: What about me? Who’ve you got for the newspaper?

Mitch: [Consults his notes again] I’ve got Tim Goldstein and Billy Johnson covering local music. Sandy Kendel has agreed to do sports…oh, and Denise Diamond wants to run a social column…gossip, fashion tips, that kinda’ stuff.

Laurie: [Grimacing] Denise Diamond?! That…

Lee: [Holds up a finger] Remember, you ixned that word.

Lance: Just think, you’ll get to tell her what to do! It’s like cosmic justice or something.

Brian: Plus, Denise is really hot!

Laurie: That doesn’t do anything for me. Who else?

Mitch: Well, David has agreed to do all the school news and stuff.

Laurie: Yay!

Lee: Just remember, no nookie on the job. Mitch is running a clean operation here.

David: Can I hit him?

Mitch: No hitting.

Lance: What about Brian and me?

Lee: You guys can be waterboys.

Lance: Aw!

Lee: If you do a really good job, we’ll promote you to iced tea boys.

Mitch: Ignore him. I need you guys for troubleshooting and general maintenance. This operation’s got a lot of moving parts, and things are gonna’ break.

Lance: Cool. [Gives Lee the finger]

Lee: You’ve gotten bold, Lance. That dance did wonders for you.

Lance gives Lee the other finger.

Mitch: Okay, I think that’s it. Let’s show Principal Friedman what we’ve got!

Lee: And Chloe…we know you want to show her what you’ve got.

Mitch: Urrmm!

David: Why don’t you lay off, man?

Lee: Why don’t you make me?

Laurie: Boys, be nice. This is a big deal.

Lee: Keep your pants on. I’m just screwing around.  Don’t worry, Mitch, you’ve done an awesome job.  They’ll be impressed.

Mitch: Thanks, Lee, I really appreciate that. Let’s do it!

The five depart.

Outside the NRH Media Center. Will Friedman, Chloe Gold, and Tom Rosen meet Mitch Bennett at the entrance.

Mitch: [Opening the door] Principal Friedman! Chloe! Tom! Good to see you.

Chloe: [Hugs him] I’m so excited!

Friedman: [Shaking Mitch’s hand] We’re all excited.  This is a big day!

Mitch: [Bows slightly and gestures] Please, after you!

The group enters the room, a converted gym annex, which has been divided into three discrete areas, designated for the newspaper and the radio and television stations. There is also a large, central, circular bay area, lined with a series of tables loaded with typewriters and computers. The room is littered with cameras, microphones, and lights.  

Chloe: Ohhhh…wow!

Tom: This is incredible!

Friedman: You and your team continue to amaze me, Mitch. Please show us around!

Mitch: [Stepping down into the bay] Okay, so this area is the newsroom. It’s where all the reporting and features that we gather will be edited, for both the paper and the telecast.

Laurie: [Rolls out a large design sheet on one of the tables] Here’re the logos we’ve done for The Standard and for the TV station, which we’re calling NRH TV.

Chloe: Okay, those are totally cool.

Tom: I like the take-off on the MTV logo.

Mitch: Laurie gets the credit. She does all of our graphics.

Friedman: These are really professional, Laurie, and the slogans are sharp.

Laurie: [Eyes shining] Thank you, Principal Friedman!

Friedman: So, tell me what you’re doing with the paper.

Laurie: We’ve decided to go with a weekly…there’ll be a balance of news, editorials, book, music, and other reviews, as well as more “social” type columns.

Friedman: That sounds like a lot of work!

Laurie: It is, but Mitch has been really good about recruiting. We’ve already got a lot of these jobs filled.

Tom: What about sports?

Laurie: [Smiling] I knew you’d ask about that. Sandy Kendel will be doing all the sports reporting.

Chloe: Cheerleading too, I hope!

Laurie: [Laughing] I don’t think it’ll be hard to convince him to cover that!

Friedman: And how about the TV and radio stations?

Mitch: Lee knows his way around the equipment more than anyone, so he’s in charge of that side of the operation.

Lee: The TV station is the most expensive part of the newsroom, so it’ll be the most limited. News, plus features.

Tom: What sort of features?

Lee: In-depth stories about various student constituencies, profiles on teachers, classroom projects; that sort of thing. Mitch has gathered a fuckload of footage.

Mitch: Jesus, Lee, do you have to…

Friedman: [Laughing] It’s fine, Mitch. It’s not like he invented cursing.

Lee: Anyway, the plan is to air fifteen minutes of straight news, every day. We’ll add fifteen minutes of sports on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and on Tuesday and Thursday, we’ll add a half hour feature.

Friedman: My only concern is the student-oriented features. I love the idea, but given the buzz the school has created already, everyone in the state is going to be watching. We have to guard their privacy.

Mitch: Not to worry. I’ve got signed permission forms for all the stuff we plan on running. There are copies in the informational packets I’ve prepared for you.

Friedman: You’re a lawyer, now? Is there anything you can’t do?

Mitch: [Laughs] Not quite. Chloe’s dad wrote the waiver. These kids really want their stories told.

Friedman: You guys are something else.

Lee: As for the radio station…

Chloe: I’m really stoked for that.

Lee: I think you’ll be happy, then. I’ve got people lined up to do shows seven days a week, across a pretty wide spectrum of 80’s musical styles: metal, punk, new wave. Here, check out the station logo and slogan.

Chloe: That rocks!

Friedman: I like the slogan. KISS always used to open their shows with that over the PA.

Lee: You know your shit.

Friedman: I was a pretty big fan as a kid…I must’ve gone to a half dozen KISS shows.

Tom: Who’ve you got DJ’ing all these programs?

Lance: Greasers.

Lee: [With a dignified air] Some of the Heights boys are doing shows. Stacy and Joanne too.

Brian: Of course, the girlfriend has to have a show.

Lee: At least I have a girlfriend.  

Chloe: Well, I think it’s fantastic that you’ve been hanging out with them, Lee; and that you’re dating Joanne.

Brian: That girl scares me. She always looks like she’s about to beat someone up.

Lance: What the hell do you two talk about, anyway?  

Brian: I suspect they don’t do very much talking.  

Lee: [Very pleased with himself] You might be surprised.  Joanne’s really smart.

Lance: About what? Oil changes?

Brian: Lube jobs! [High fives Lance]

Friedman: Actually, Miss Genduso is a top honors student. If she keeps it up, she could be valedictorian, when she graduates.

Brian: No way.

Lance: You’re joking.

Friedman: Not at all. I would have thought that you, of all people, should know not to judge on appearances.

Brian: [Turning to Lee] Sorry, man.

Lance: Me too.

Lee: It’s cool.  

Mitch: Lee has actually put together a multimedia presentation, with sample clips of the radio and news programs. You want to show them?

Lee: Yeah, right…come on over here, to the monitors.  

Chloe and Friedman take informational packets and follow Lee to the far side of the room.  

Lance: We’ve actually gotta’ take off. Brian and I have Calc 2, next period.  

Mitch: That’s fine. You’ll catch up with us after school, right? For the meeting, in Principal Friedman’s office?  

Lance and Brian: We’ll be there! [Waving as they depart] Later!

Mitch and Tom settle into two chairs and watch as Chloe and Will go through the clips that Lee has prepared.

Tom: So, how’re you feeling? Top of the world, huh?

Mitch: [Slightly wistful] Yeah…it’s great.

Tom: What’s wrong?

Mitch: [His eyes fixed on Chloe and Friedman]  Wrong? Nothing…nothing at all.

Tom: You lie. I know that look.

Mitch: [Turning to Tom] What look?

Tom: You’re in love with her, aren’t you?

Mitch: [Looking down] Is it that obvious?

Tom: Not at all.

Mitch: But you noticed.

Tom: I’m a good noticer. I do it for a living. I’m sure no one else knows. Well, except for Lee, maybe, and no one listens to him. I was in love with her too once, you know.

Mitch: Really?

Tom: Yes, really.  

Mitch: When?

Tom: Until not that long ago. Since we were kids. Our parents are best friends, so we kind of grew up together.

Mitch: So what happened? Why didn’t you two go out?

Tom: She didn’t feel that way about me. She thinks of me like a brother.

Mitch: She’s so affectionate. She hugs me, holds my hand, puts her head on my shoulder…  

Tom: I know it well. It’s not flirting. Just who she is.

Mitch: It feels like torture sometimes. I want to kiss her so badly.

Tom: Why don’t you?

Mitch: [Horrified] God, no! Absolutely not!

Tom: Well, ask her out, then.

Mitch: I can’t.

Tom: Why not?

Mitch: Because I know she doesn’t feel that way about me, either.  

Tom: That could change.

Mitch: [Firmly] No, it would be a betrayal.

Tom: How so?

Mitch: She’s really opened up to me, Tom; told me a lot about herself; about her past. For her whole life, she’s felt like people only liked her for her money and her looks. New Ridgemont High has given her a fresh start. She’s genuinely happy.

Tom: I see.

Mitch: So, if I ask her out; if I express interest in her, in that way…

Tom: She won’t have her best friend anymore.

Mitch: And that means more than anything to me. I don’t know if you can understand this, but I owe everything to Chloe. All of it. I wouldn’t have done any of this stuff, if it hadn’t been for her friendship.

Tom: She brought you out of your shell.

Mitch: More than that. She makes me feel like I’m cool; like I’m not a loser. You see how she is with the other nerds, the greasers, and all the other officially “unpopular” people. She treats them with dignity and respect; tenderness.

Tom: It sounds like you’re just going to have to bear it, then.

Mitch: [Sighs] Yeah, some days are harder than others.  

Tom: You’re a good friend, Mitch. Chloe’s very lucky.

Mitch: Can I ask you how you did it? How you got over her?

Tom: I never did, Mitch; at least, not entirely. Shit, I still think about her sometimes. There are moments, when she looks at me a certain way, that my heart feels like it’s going to burst. But it gets easier over time. Plus, I’m seeing Jaime now, so I can redirect a lot of those feelings. And there was someone else, too, once, in a different place, a long time ago.

Mitch: I don’t have anything like that. It’ll have to be the work. Heart and soul, you know?

Tom: There are worse ways to cope with unrequited love.

Mitch: [Smiling] Yeah, I guess there are.

The New Galleria Shopping Mall

The New Galleria Shopping Mall

November 6th, 2020, 4:00pm

Location: The New Galleria shopping mall. Fran Rosenberg, Sean Anderson, Marissa Preston, and Tim Goldstein are hanging out.


Fran: [Sipping soda, from a Styrofoam cup] So, how’s the band coming together, Tim?

Tim: Pretty good. We need a drummer though.

Fran: Have you asked Marty? He’s an amazing drummer.

Tim: I’ve thought about it. Don’t know If he’ll be into the music, though…he’s a metalhead and we don’t do metal.

Fran: He’s not that pure about it. What are you guys playing, anyway?

Tim: Punk and post-punk. Everything from Black Flag to Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Sean: He might be into that. I know he likes Bad Religion, the Minutemen…

Marissa: I love Bad Religion. 

Tim: They’re the band Green Day wishes they were.

Marissa: Ugh…Green Day…can you say “poseurs”?

Tim: So…I should ask him?

Sean: Yeah, totally. Marty’s a nice guy…even if he says “no,” he’ll be cool about it.  Kevin, on the other hand…

Fran: Yeah, Kevin’s all metal all the time. He doesn’t play drums, though, so it’s a non-issue.

Tim: So, let’s assume Marty does it. That just leaves us short a singer.

Sean: That might be harder.

Tim: I know. Singing takes a lot of confidence…and given the kind of music we do, confidence is more important than ability. Half the shit’s just screamed anyway…it’s all about attitude.

Fran: What about Joanne?

Marissa: That’s a great idea!

Tim: [Surprised]Yeah, it is, actually…but do you think she’d do it?

Fran: No clue. You’d have to ask her.

Tim: [Grimaces] I’m kinda’ scared to. What if she punches me or something?

Sean: [Laughs] Yeah…she’s done that to me more than once. My natural friendliness annoys her.

Fran: Natural friendliness…you pinch her ass, every chance you get. You’re lucky you still have fingers.

Tim: Well, then, I definitely won’t ask her.

Fran: Don’t be ridiculous. Half that shit’s an act. She hangs out with a lot of boys…she’s got two older brothers…it’s just her way of making sure no one bosses her around. Joanne’s actually really smart…and totally unpredictable. I mean, she’s dating Lee Lindberg, for god’s sake.

Sean: What is up with that anyway? I thought she was going to kill that kid when she first met him.

Fran: Joanne’s her own girl…and Lee’s changed a lot since he started hanging out with us.

Sean: I guess…I still think he’s annoying though.

Fran: Which is why you’re not dating him.

Sean makes a face.

Tim: Hmm. She’d be really good on the punk tunes…I don’t see her doing Siouxsie and the Banshees or any of the more stylized stuff, though.

Fran: Would you consider two singers?

Tim: I hadn’t thought of it, but I don’t see why not.

Fran: ‘Cause Stacy’d be perfect for that stuff. She’s half Goth anyway…she hangs out with the metal kids, ‘cause there aren’t too many Goths at New Ridgemont High.  

Sean: A blond Goth? Are you kidding?

Fran: I said “half a Goth” didn’t I? She likes Blondie too…Toyah Wilcox…stuff like that. One thing though…she’s pretty high up on the bitch scale.

Tim: We can handle that. Singers are supposed to be prima donnas. Plus, if Marty says “yes,” he can run interference.

Marissa: Sounds like you have a band, then.

Tim: Yeah, it might work.

Sean: Well, now that that’s settled, can we do something? I’m getting kinda’ bored. This whole mall thing’s a little junior high, you know?

Fran: We came here to shop, remember? You wanted to check out vintage-t’s, and I wanted a new pair of boots.

Sean: Yeah, so what? I’m still bored.

Tim: I’m hungry, actually. Anyone up for Burger King?

Marissa: Yeah! A Whopper sounds good.

Fran: [Shrugs] I’m game.

Sean: [Looking suddenly devious] You guys go on ahead. I’ll catch up with you there.

Fran: What are you gonna’ do, Sean? You have that “trouble” look on your face.

Sean: Nothing. Don’t worry about it. Go ahead.

Fran: [Dubiously] Alright. See you there.

Fran, Tim, and Marissa head for Burger King, while Sean goes off in the opposite direction.

Location: Burger King, in the New Galleria Mall. Tim, Marissa, and Fran are eating. Sean comes in, carrying a large bag, with a “Puppy Palace” logo on it.

Sean: Heyo![Plunks the bag down on the table.]

Fran: What the hell did you buy?

Marissa: I vote puppy!

Tim: If it’s a puppy, I’ll give you twenty bucks.

Sean: Definitely not a puppy.

Tim: [Puts his hand out, in front of Marissa] Twenty bucks…hand it over.

Marissa: Uh, I don’t recall anything about me paying you anything.

Fran: It’s something bad, isn’t it?

Sean: ‘Bad’ is such an inadequate term.

Fran: You’re scaring me with these long words, Sean.

Sean: I’ll have you know that these weren’t cheap. [Removes a box from the bag. There is a slight rustling.]

Fran: Ack! Something’s moving in there.

Tim: “These”…so it’s not just one animal.

Sean: One? No, no, no…not one. Tips the lid up towards Tim.

Tim: Oh, my.

Fran: What? What?! It’s something horrible isn’t it?

Sean: I’ve never seen you like this, Francie. What happened to Miss Tough Chick?

Fran: I can’t deal with skittering things.

Tim: Rats to be precise. Four fat rats.

Fran: [Covering her mouth] Oh my god…

Marissa: What could you possibly want with a box full of rats?

Sean: [Returns the box to the bag] I’m glad you asked that, Marissa. You know, I was looking at these cute little guys in the pet store, and I had a sudden pang of conscience. I thought, “They should be free.”

Fran: I agree. The Sierras would be a great place for them.

Sean: A little nearer than that.

Marissa: You’re gonna’ let them loose in here, aren’t you?

Sean: It’s perfect…plenty of food…climate-controlled.

Fran: [Eyes narrowed.] This wouldn’t have anything to do with the fact that you used to work here and got fired, would it?

Sean: I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Tim: This won’t please the management.

Sean: It may cause some trouble with the local Board of Health, I admit.

Fran: It’ll cause trouble with our health, moron. You wanna’ get us all arrested?

Sean: [Raises a finger] Ah, but there’s the best part. As a part of the City of Ridgemont’s notable effort to assist Principal Friedman, in his quest for Total 80’s Recall, the owners of the New Galleria have elected to forgo the typical police substation and hired private security instead.

Tim: You mean there’s no one but mall cops watching the place.

Sean: There you go!

Fran: Sean, if you get us in trouble…

Sean: You worry too much, Francie. Back in a flash.  [Picks up the bag and heads towards the men’s room]

Marissa: Is he always like this?

Fran: Yeah… I think he didn’t get enough attention as a child or something.

Marissa: Maybe he won’t go through with it.

Screams and panicked shouts emerge from the back.

Tim: He went through with it.

Sean returns, crumpling the empty bag in his hands and looking very pleased with himself.

Sean: Now, we sit back and enjoy the show.

Fran: You’re unbelievable.

Sean: [Proudly] Thanks!

Someone yells “Rats!!” and several Burger King employees run out into the dining area, with brooms.

Sean: Well, those won’t help. How are you gonna’ catch a bunch of rats with a broom?

A large woman, in a pastel-pink track suit and a big, frizzy perm, runs screaming past the teen’s table, carrying a tray piled with food, only to fall face first, with a gigantic crash.

Tim: Oh, dear.

Marissa: [Admiringly] Well, this really is the shit, isn’t it?

Another older woman comes from the back and points at Sean, with a wrinkly finger.

Old Woman: It was him! I saw him do it! Back by the bathroom! He had those rats in a box!

The day manager, a rail-thin, pimply kid with braces, comes from around the counter and moves towards the teens’ table.

Day Manager: [Shouting back over his shoulder] Call mall security!

Sean: [Rubbing his hands together and standing up] Time to go! [Turns and sprints for the exit, with Tim, Marissa, and Fran close behind.]

Manager: [Sputtering] Wait! Come back here! You…you…!!!

The four teens make it to a side-corridor, off of the cavernous atrium, and pause in front of a jewelry store.

Sean: Ah! I feel young again!

Fran: You are young, you idiot.

Marissa: Do you think we got away with it?

Tim: I don’t know…that manager told them to call mall security.

Fran: Great.

Sean: Let them come! I am the King!

Fran: Right…King of the rats.

Sean: I’ll take that as a compliment. Hey, this is a really nice jewelry store. 

Fran: Don’t even think about it. Burger King is one thing.  Start fucking with diamond rings and shit, and they’ll sic a SWAT team on us.

Sean: [Spreading his hands innocently] What? I was just thinking about enhancing this lovely window display.

Fran: I suspect they have professional consultants for that sort of thing.

Sean: Yes, but I’m talking about something bold!  Colorful! [Brings a fistful of mustard and ketchup-packages from his pocket and begins smearing yellow and red blobs all over the jewelry store window]

Marissa: What is it with you and vandalism, anyway?

Sean: ‘Vandalism’ is such a…pejorative word.

A mall cop comes running around the corner. He is heavy-set, with several fleshy chins, and is wearing an ill-fitting tan getup that looks like a cross between a police uniform and a ‘70’s tuxedo.

Mall Cop: [Breathing heavily.] You there! Stop that!  [Grabs at Sean’s arm.]

Sean: [Who is half a head taller than the mall cop and waving the packets above his head] Check it out! El Capitan wants me to stop!

Mall Cop: [Jumping up and down, trying to reach the packets] You hand those over right now!

Sean: Make me!

Tim: This is like watching my brothers fight over who gets the GI Joe with the Kung-Fu grip.

Fran: Well, I’m fucking sick of it. I wanna’ get out of here, already. [Roughly shoves the mall cop]

The security guard, who is already off balance, falls into Sean, pushing him against the jewelry store window, which promptly shatters. There is a moment of stunned silence.

Tim: Oh, my.

Sean: [Wagging his finger at the mall cop, who is sprawled on the floor, covered in mustard, ketchup, and broken glass] Now look what you’ve done! 

Mall Cop: [Flailing and sputtering] That’s it! I’m calling the cops on you delinquents! [Fumbles for his walkie-talkie]

Sean: You know, trying to blame others for your mistakes really isn’t…

Fran: Time to go, Sean!

Sean: Well, you heard the lady. I’m afraid we have to take off. Best of luck with…[surveys the wreckage and the mall cop, who is still struggling to get up]…this.  

The four flee for the exit.

November 12, 2020, 9:30pm, PST

Location: Erica Carlson’s bedroom. Jaime Cohen, Denise Diamond, and Elizabeth Goodman are having a study-night/slumber party. MTV is running in the background.

Liz: [Jabbing her finger at the page of an open textbook] It says it right here: “At the center of the counterculture were student activists, who rallied around causes ranging from civil rights to opposition to the Vietnam War.”

Jaime: So? What’s your point?

Liz: My point is that kids used to really be involved in stuff, you know? They changed everything. What do any of us do, besides complain and accuse people of things on social media?

Jaime: They were college students, Liz, not “kids.”

Liz: Semantics. We’re only talking about a few years…what, from sixteen to eighteen you suddenly turn into a different person?

Erica: I agree. We’ve all been to parties at UCLA…USC…those people aren’t any more mature than we are.

Jaime: We’re as mature as a bunch of drunk, horny frat boys? That’s your comparison?

Erica: They’re still considered “adults” aren’t they?  I mean, they can vote and stuff.

Jaime: Well, yeah, but…

Liz: It was you who made the point that we shouldn’t take the counterculture as an inspiration, because they weren’t “kids” but college students.

Jaime: I wasn’t making any point, Liz. I just don’t have any use for that counterculture shit.

Denise: It does all seem a little…overwrought.

Liz: Well, we need to know it anyway…Hoffman’s test is next week.

Jaime: [Growling] What kind of American history class is this anyway? Shouldn’t we be learning about Pilgrims and shit? I like Pilgrims. They aren’t annoying.

Erica: It’s Principal Friedman’s whole thing about “relevant education.” Remember the spiel he gave that time, when he came and spoke to our class?  [Deepens her voice] “The society you live in was forged over the last forty-five years and it’s crucial that you understand it.”

Denise: [laughing] You sound like him, ‘Ric!

Jaime: Ugh.

Liz: [Flipping a few pages, forward.] Okay, Jaime, here’s an easy one. What was a “prominent nickname for the summer of 1964”?

Jaime: I need a clue.

Liz: Civil rights movement? Student led efforts to register Southern blacks to vote?

Jaime: I don’t know…“We Love black People Summer”?

Liz: Try again. Think Mississippi Burning.

Jaime: “We Love black People in Mississippi Summer”?

Erica: Can you say “racist”?

Liz: Yeah, Jaime…I mean, really….

Jaime: Fuck both of you. I’m the one who dated Carl, not you self-righteous bitches.

Denise: Um…you dumped Carl, remember?

Jaime: Because he was a lame jerk, not because he was black.

Liz: Freedom Summer, Jaime. It’s called “Freedom Summer.”

Jaime: Argh! I knew that.

Erica: Speaking of which, Jaime…dish…what’s it like dating Tom Rosen?

Jaime: We’re not dating.

Erica: Okay…what’s it like seeing Tom Rosen?

Jaime: Fucking awesome.

Erica: A bit more detail, please.

Jaime: [Snorts] So you guys can run it through the rumor factory? No thanks.

Denise: Don’t you regret leaving Carl at all?

Jaime: No.

Denise: Don’t you miss him?

Jaime: No.

Denise: But…Carl’s so…hunky…and Tom’s so skinny and…alternative.

Jaime: If you think Tom’s “alternative,” you need to get out more. As for Carl, he’s not as “hunky” as you think.

Denise: But, he’s big…and muscley.

Jaime: He’s muscley all right…including his fucking head…but as for “big”…

Erica: Ooh, I’m sensing something good here.

Liz: Yes, do tell, Jaime.

Jaime: Well, he always used to parade around in a towel, after showering…just so I’d “admire” his bod…like I should be grateful or something… [Shakes her head] God, what an asshole he was.

Erica: And…?

Jaime: I got a peak underneath, here and there and…well…he wasn’t big at all. Actually, he was kinda’ small.

Denise: [Flapping her hands excitedly] What about Tom?

Jaime: What about him?

Denise: You know…is he…big?

Jaime: Fucking huge.

Liz: And you know this, how?

Jaime: Please. After the Carl Smitts sex starvation clinic? I climbed up on that boy the first chance I got.

Denise: [Moaning] Omigod!

Erica: It was good, I take it?

Jaime: Uh…ya. And he drinks…and he gets high… [sighs] Fucking paradise.

Liz: It sounds so romantic, when you put it that way.

Denise: [complainingly] I wanna’ get laid too!

Erica: Jeez, Dee…

Liz: So, who’s stopping you? What about Sandy?

Denise: He’s too nice.

Erica: Can someone be too nice?

Denise: You know what I mean…

Erica: Actually…I don’t.

Liz: Can we get back to the Counterculture?

Jaime: To the Happy black Summer?

Liz: Freedom Summer. And no, I think we’ve had enough of that one.

Denise: Give me one!

Erica: Shit, Dee…what’s up with you? You’re, like, in fucking heat or something.

Denise: [gives her a withering look] A question, dumbass.

Liz: OK. What was the book that served as the spark for “Second Wave” feminism?

Denise: There are waves?

Liz: [Drily] Apparently.

Denise: I have no idea.

Erica: That’s easy. The Feminine Mystique…Betty Friedan. 1963.

Denise: Oh! Is that the one with all the complaining about how women can’t have careers?

Liz: That’s the one.

Denise: Yeah, I couldn’t get into that. I mean, who wants to work?

Liz: It’s not just that, though. The sexual revolution came out of Second Wave feminism, too.

Denise: It did?

Liz: Yeah…all that “I wanna’ get laid” stuff. Girls didn’t do that back in the day…or at least, nice girls like you didn’t.

Denise: [Excitedly] So…I’m a Second Wave feminist?

Liz: Sort of … I wouldn’t get a pin or anything.

Jaime: I can dig feminism. I mean, with dickheads like Carl around, we gotta’ watch out for the sistahs. Fuck the rest of it though.

Liz: You’re so full of shit, Jaime…you’re totally countercultural.

Erica: Jaime? Countercultural? I don’t know about that.

Liz: [counting off on  her fingers] Well, the fucking…that’s one. Getting drunk and high? That’s two. Lessee…dating outside the clique? That’s three, four, and five.

Jaime: We’re not dating.

Liz: Seeing outside the clique. Four, five, and six.

Jaime: Why three points?

Liz: ‘Cause it’s a rejection of class…and tradition…and conventional standards of beauty.

Jaime: I don’t think I’m the only one getting high.

Erica: Shit, Liz, that’s fucking awesome.

Liz: I gotta’ admit…I’m totally getting into this shit.  Everything we care about…every freedom we have…is from the counterculture.
Jaime: [Puts her hands up, laughing] Alright…you convinced me…I’ll study it some more!

The New Ridgemont High Celebration Ball

The New Ridgemont High Celebration Ball

October 30, 2020, 7:00pm, PST


Location: The New Ridgemont High gym.  Colored streamers, balloons and 80’s themed decorations cover the walls and rafters. Several large disco balls and rows of colored lights hang from the ceiling. The bleachers have been pushed back to make room for tables, which form a ring around the dance floor. Billy Johnson and Tim Goldstein man the DJ booth at the far end of the gym. At the other end is a long buffet and separate drinks table. A good number of students have already arrived — many of them decked out in tuxedos and prom-style dresses — and are milling around excitedly.  Some are dancing.

Jaime Cohen, Carl Smitts, Sandy Kendel, and Denise Diamond enter the gym. They stand for a moment, scanning the room.

Jaime: [Whispering to Denise]  Are my eyes red?

Denise: [Whispering back] No. [Then, giggling] Well, maybe a little.  

Jaime: Shit! Every time I fucking smoke weed! And of course, I didn’t bring any Visine. Do you have some?

Denise: [Rummaging in her purse] Here. Better not let Carl see you doing that.

Jaime: [Turning around and putting a few drops in 

each eye] I know, it’s annoying. He’s so goddamned clean.

Denise: Not that clean. I mean, he did a shot with us, when we got to Sandy’s house.

Jaime: One shot. Whoop-de-fucking-do. That wouldn’t get my big toe drunk.

Denise: I’m sensing that all is not well in Jaime-Carl land.

Jaime: [Sighing] It’s been the longest month of my life. I’m sorry, but he’s boring, Dee. He may be good looking and popular, but he’s fucking boring. No sex.  No partying. I feel like some old guy’s trophy wife.

Denise: So, what are you gonna’ do?

Jaime: I don’t know. Is Tom Rosen here?

Denise: Not yet, at least, I don’t think so. Why? You’re not gonna’ hit on him, here, are you? In front of Carl?

Jaime: So what if I do? I’m feeling a little reckless.

Denise: That’ll be a bad scene, Jaime. Think about it.

Jaime: [Exasperated] Oh, I guess you’re right. Still … [looking thoughtful] … it doesn’t have to be out in the open. I could do him in the bathroom, or we could break into Mr. Longo’s office. He has a couch.

Denise: Classy.

Jaime: Fuck it. C’mon, the guys have gotten ahead of us. Let’s grab a table, before they’re all taken … [points] … that one, over there. We’ll be able to see people when they come in.

The girls make their way past Lee Lindberg, Lance Donaldson, Brian Milman, and several other nerds, who are standing in a nervous line, against the bleachers.  Lance and Brian are huddled over a Coleco Head to Head Football game that periodically emits beeping and buzzing sounds.  Lee stiffens as Jaime walks by, and then turns abruptly and smacks Lance on the back of the head.

Lance: Hey! That hurt!

Lee: Do you have to be such fucking losers?  Why’d you bring that stupid thing? 

Brian: What’s your problem? Don’t tell me you’re still fantasizing about Jaime Cohen?

Lee: Who says it’s a fantasy?

Lance: What, like you’re saying you’ve been with her?

Lee: [With a mysterious air] Let’s just say that things are in motion.

Brian: Yeah, your right hand. [Makes masturbatory gestures.]

Lance: Burn!

Lee: You guys don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Brian: So, tell us, oh great one, what’s “in motion” with Jaime Cohen?

Lee: Like I’d tell you fucking losers.  

Lance: You’re such a liar, Lee. Jaime Cohen couldn’t pick you out of a lineup.

Brian: Even if everyone else in it was black.  

Lance and Brian: [High fiving each other] Burn! 

Lee: [Giving them a withering look] I don’t know why I even bother with you two geeks.

Brian: Um, maybe it’s because you’re a geek too?

Lance: Yeah, the only difference between you and us is that you’re fighting it and we’re not.

Lee: No, the difference is that you two chumps are fucking asexual.

Brian: Not asexual, just realistic.

Lance: Here comes Mitch and Tom and Chloe.

Lee: Great. More aggravation.

Brian: They’re walking arm-in-arm. Is there some kinky threesome thing going on?

Lance: [Eagerly] Is there?!  

Lee: No kinky threesome thing. They’re just friends. All happy friends together. It isn’t natural.

Lance: You’re a very angry man, Lee. Cheer up. At least, you’ll get to watch Jaime dance.

Brian: With someone way cooler than you.

Lance and Brian: Burn!

Mitch Bennett, Chloe Gold, and Tom Rosen make their way over to Lee and company.  Mitch and Tom are wearing black silk tuxedos, and Chloe is in a turquoise cocktail dress and white, leather, open-toed heels.

Chloe: Hey guys! Lee, Lance, Brian … How’s it going?

Lee: [Sulkily] Okay.

Lance: [With slight disbelief] Uh, great!  How are you doing … uh … Chloe?

Chloe: Totally psyched! This is gonna’ be a rocking party!

Tom: The tables are filling up. We should get one. How about over there, with Anna and Marissa?  

Chloe: Okay … wait, they’re boyfriendless. Where’re Billy and Tim?

Tom: They’re DJ’ing, remember? They convinced Principal Friedman to let them do it, rather than hire someone.

Chloe: Oh yeah, that’s right.  Okay, let’s go keep the girls company. Catch you later boys!

Chloe and Tom head over to Anna’s and Marissa’s table. Mitch stays behind.

Lance: She talked to us!

Brian: She’s amazing.  

Lee: Watch out you don’t mess yourself.

Mitch: For Christ’s sake, Lee, lay off.

Lee: Fuck you. We’re not in the computer room. You’re not in charge, here.

Mitch: Whatever. What’s with the clothes, guys?  Couldn’t you dress up just this once?

Lee: Sorry, we can’t be as suave as you, Mitch. We don’t have Tom Rosen advising us on our wardrobes.

Mitch: Why are you being such a dick, Lee? Ever since we started at New Ridgemont High. You weren’t like this at Clark. We were friends, or at least I thought we were.

Lee: I thought we were too, until you found cooler people to hang out with.

Brian: That’s not fair. Mitch is allowed to make new friends. It’s not like he’s ditched us.

Lance: Yeah, Chloe and Tom are really nice. You’re just jealous.

Lee: [Sulking again] Humph.

Mitch: So, are you guys gonna’ join the party? Or are you going to stand here the whole time?

Lance: We’re a little nervous.

Brian: Yeah, it seems safer over here.

Mitch: Look, I totally know how you feel. It’s scary. At Clark, everyone was like us, but here, it’s different. Star Crew, punks, greasers. Half the time, I’m terrified too.  All I can say is, you gotta’ just jump in, you know? Join us. I’ll introduce you. You too, Lee.

Lance and Brian: [Looking at each other] Uh, alright.

Lee: Only if they put away that stupid fucking Coleco game.

Brian: [Making a big show of putting it in the pocket of his Members Only jacket]: Okay, it’s away.

Lance: Lead on, el Capitan.

Lee: But if you guys make asses of yourselves, I’m splitting.

Brian: Oh, we wouldn’t want that. I mean, you’re such pleasant company.

Mitch: Come on!

Fran Rosenberg and Sean Anderson enter the room.  Sean sports a black tuxedo, with a Judas Priest t-shirt and cowboy boots, and Fran looks slinky in a black, spandex tube dress and black patent leather stiletto heels. Both have Ray-Ban Wayfarers on.

Fran: Do you think Marty and Kevin are here yet?

Sean: Dunno’. They were supposed to stop at Joanne’s  house. Stacy was gonna’ meet them there too. Smoke out, have a few drinks, and then come over.

Fran: Hmm. Maybe we should have stopped there ourselves.

Sean: I got high enough in the car. Plus, I’ve got a flask of Jameson.

Fran: You’re my kind of drunk, Sean. Jesus, I’m pretty stoned too.

Sean: I don’t know where Jo gets this shit, but I’m glad she does. So, what now?

Fran: The tables are almost all taken. Let’s grab one and wait for the others.

Sean: Right on.

The two commandeer one of the tables, near the edge of the dance floor.

Fran: I should get us some Cokes. We can pour the whiskey in ‘em. Someone’ll see us, if we drink straight out of the flask.

Sean: Will anyone care? Half of them are lit up too.

Fran: Probably not, but why look for trouble? Why put them in the position where they have to wonder whether they should do something?

Sean: You’re getting smart on me, Francie. It’s hot.

Fran: [Touches her nose] Stealth, Sean. It’s how you survive.

Sean: Right. Better get those Cokes. Methinks you need a drink.

Fran: [Wiggles her ass in Sean’s face] Back in a flash.

Fran disappears into the now crowded dance floor and reappears, after a few moments, with two glasses of Coke.

Sean: Well done! [Grabs the glasses and proceeds to dump half of each on the floor. Fills them back up with Jameson and hands one to Fran.] Salut!

Fran: [Taking a big gulp.] Salut!

Sean: Fuck, I wish I could smoke.

Fran: Yeah, I guess we’d have to go outside. Even in the 80’s you couldn’t smoke at a school dance.

Sean: [Suddenly animated and pointing] Oh! Oh! That reminds me. You know what my uncle told me?

Fran: The uncle that gets you high all the time and teaches you all your slick 80’s moves and lingo?

Sean: That’s the one. Anyway, get this, he said they had a smoking lounge in his school.

Fran: No fucking way.

Sean: Yes fucking way. Think about it. A lot of Seniors are eighteen. It’s legal for them.

Fran: That’s insane.

Sean: Right? So, I’ve decided to get political.

Fran: Political?

Sean: Political.

Fran: You’re joking.  

Sean: Nope.

Fran: What are you going to “get political” about?

Sean: I’m gonna’ demand that they put a smoking lounge in New Ridgemont High.

Fran: [Cracking up] I’m sure Principal Friedman will get right on that one.

Sean: You say that now. You haven’t heard my argument.

Fran: You have an argument?

Sean: [Smiling proudly] Of course.

Fran: Wow, this school’s really working with you, isn’t it.

Sean: It’s the air here. Very good air. Anyway, my argument is that we should have a smoking lounge, because they had smoking lounges in high school in the 80s, and New Ridgemont High is supposed to be a  replica of an 80s high school. [Folds his arms triumphantly.]

Fran: That’s very ingenious. I still don’t think Friedman will go for it, though.

Sean: Who said anything about asking Friedman?

Fran: Who are you gonna’ ask then? Chloe Gold? Pfft.  Not only won’t she do it, she’ll sign you up for a smoking cessation program and pay for it.

Sean: Very harsh. I’m detecting a little malice there.  But calm yourself. I’m not asking her either. I’m gonna’ ask Tom Rosen.

Fran: Now that is smart. I could see him doing it, just for the fuck of it.

Sean: My thoughts exactly. And Tom has connections to Chloe, and Chloe can convince Friedman.

Fran: I’m not sure of that.

Sean: [Snorts] I am. Have you seen those two together?  

Fran: [Sighing] Is that all you boys do? Think about who might be fucking whom? No wonder I date college guys.

Sean: Say whatever you want. That’s a thing waiting to happen.

Marty Savini, Kevin Reilly, Joanne Genduso, and Stacy Singer arrive at the table. Marty and Kevin are wearing black leather suits, with white t-shirts and red Chuck Taylor high tops. Joanne is in worn leather pants, hot pink low-cut Chuck Taylors, and a faded Runaways t-shirt.  Stacy is sporting a black, one-strap mini-dress, with thick-soled Doc Martens on her feet. They all have Ray-Ban Wayfarers on.

Kevin: The reinforcements have arrived!

Fran: Go get yourselves Cokes. Sean’s got Jameson.

Kevin: Fuck that. Let’s spike the punch! [Holds up a bottle of Everclear and gives a wicked cackle]

Fran: Do what you want. I can’t drink that shit.

Kevin: Jo, come with me and give me cover.

Joanne: Right on.

Kevin and Joanne head over to the drinks table. A small group of mousey girls is there, but they clear out, after Joanne gives them a menacing look.

Joanne: [Standing with her back to Kevin, blocking him from view] Hurry the fuck up, before someone sees us.

Kevin: Keep your pants on. [Pours half the bottle into the punch and stirs it with the ladle] That should get everyone good and smashed. We’ll save the rest for the refill. [Fills two cups]

Joanne: Good deal. Fills two cups for herself]

The two return to the table, where Stacy has put her feet up. Sean is telling a dirty joke.

Kevin: Okay, the punch is “fixed.” Go get some, before people figure it out.

Stacy and Sean get up to leave for the drinks table.  

Fran: Sean! Since you’re gonna drink that antifreeze, give me the flask.

Sean: [Handing it to her] Here you go, Francie. [Follows Stacy, who’s already left.]

Fran: So, what’s going on, boys? Haven’t seen you all week.

Marty: Not much. We’re almost done with the Boss’s car.

Sean and Stacy return, with two cups each, and sit down.

Kevin: That is one sweet fucking ride.  

Stacy: I never thought I’d see the day when you guys worked for the Man.

Marty: Are you kidding? Doc Friedman’s cool. He came down to the shop yesterday and hung out for like an hour, watched us work, took cig breaks with us…

Kevin: Fucking righteous. He’s even paying us … ten bucks an hour.

Fran: What’s he having you do?

Marty: Restoration, mostly. He’s had the car since he was a teenager, but it was on blocks for, like, twenty years. When he bought it, it was a mongrel … stray parts and shit, from a dozen different cars.  

Kevin: We’ve been finding original parts for him and doing all the installation. This week we put in the last one.

Fran: Which was?

Marty: An original 390 GT engine. Fucking suh-weet!!!

Fran: Does that mean you guys are done?

Kevin: Nah, we still gotta’ paint it. The thing’s stripped.  Plus, he’s gonna’ want us to do regular maintenance, so we’ll get to work on that baby for a long time.

Marty: Did he tell you what color he wants? I vote black.

Kevin: He wants it red. That was the original color.

Marty: Red’s cool.

Stacy: Well, this is fascinating and all, but I’m fucking bored. What do you guys wanna’ do?

Fran: I could use a refresher. Plus, I’m dying for a cigarette.

Sean: I wanna’ dance.

Stacy: [Snorts] To this New Wave shit?

Fran: It’ll get better. Tim told me he’s got some Idol  and some Crue on the queue. it probably won’t come on until later, though, after the little kids have left.

Marty: So let’s go outside and smoke up. Jo’s got the spliffs.

Joanne: Rock and roll.

Kevin: Let’s do it.

The gang gets up, leaving their jackets on the chairs, and head for the exit.

Mitch, Tom, Chloe, Anna, Marissa, Lee, Lance, and Brian are sitting at their table, talking.

Mitch: We should get drinks and have a toast.

Chloe: You’re so official, Mitch. It’s cute.

Lee: [Glowering]That’s always been one of his strong points … cuteness.

Tom: I’ll do it. [Taking the centerpiece off the table]  Insta-tray. [Heads off to the drinks table]

Mitch: Well, this is kind of a big deal, isn’t it? You winning the election. New Ridgemont High’s three month anniversary. A formal ball to celebrate. A toast seems appropriate.

Chloe: [Squeezing Mitch’s arm] I agree, sweetie.  

Anna: I thought Tom had you in that debate Chloe.

Chloe: So did I.

Marissa: That was dirty pool. I can’t believe you’re even talking to him after that, let alone making him your Veep.  

Chloe: You just have to know him. He didn’t mean any harm. In a funny way, I think it was his way of paying me respect.

Marissa: You’ll have to explain that one.

Chloe: By going after me as hard as he could, he showed everyone how worthy I am … or something weird like that. He’s a really intense guy. All that laid-back shit is just an act.

Mitch: I can see that. He’s like a loaded spring.

Anna: Shh. Here he comes.

Tom returns with the tray, loaded with glasses of punch.

Tom: I brought several for each of us.

Lee: Jesus, how much punch do you think we want to drink?  

Chloe: It does seem like overkill, honey.

Tom: [Laughs]. You’ll be mad I didn’t bring more.  Especially since the word seems to have gone around.  There won’t be much left, soon.

Lance: [Whispering to Brian] How good can punch be?

Brian: [Whispering back] I don’t know. I usually drink Tab. Too much sugar makes me talk funny.

Mitch: [Taking a sip] Ugh! What the…?

Chloe: [Tasting it] Oh, I see.

Lee: [Impatiently] What? What is it? [grabs a glass and downs it. Shudders.] Spiked. It’s fucking spiked!

Tom: Bingo.

Anna and Marissa: Sweet! Pass some over!

Mitch: I dunno’. We probably shouldn’t. I mean, we’re all underage.

Lee: [Mockingly] Aw, Mitch says we shouldn’t drink.  Whatsamatter, Mitch, you afraid Mommy and Daddy are gonna’ find out and think less of you?

Mitch: You’re a real jerk, Lee.

Tom: Yeah, cool it, little man.

Lee: What happened to “no moral policemen”?

Tom: I’m making an exception in your case. Go ahead and drink it, Mitch, it’ll put hair on your chest.

Mitch: I’m not sure I want hair on my chest.

Marissa: Sure you do! All the 80’s male sex symbols had hairy chests. Think Tom Selleck.

Lance: [Whispering excitedly to Brian] Did she just compare Mitch to 80’s male sex symbols?

Brian: [Whispering back] To Tom Selleck, specifically.

Lance: [Whispering] I think I’m drunk. Are you drunk?

Brian: [Whispering back] Ya.

David Weber and Laurie Pence enter the gym. David is looking very cool, in a black tuxedo and black patent leather shoes, his hair slicked back, and Laurie is wearing an oversized men’s suit and button-down shirt, her luxurious, red hair spilling over her shoulders and back. Chloe spots them and waves them over.

David: Heya!

Laurie: Hi guys!

Chloe: You two look amazing!

David and Laurie: Thanks!

Lee: David! Quick!

David: What?

Lee: [Grabbing the centerpiece and thrusting it at him]  Go to the drinks table and get as many glasses of punch as you can. Spare no effort. Employ violence if necessary!

David: Uh, okay. [Takes the tray and walks off, with a confused look on his face.]

Laurie: What’s up with that?

Tom: The punch is spiked. Really spiked.

Laurie: [Taking a glass of punch] Nice! So, this truly is an 80’s party.

Tom: New Ridgemont High is nothing if not a carefully crafted replica. It’s the ‘80s, down to the greasers spiking the punch.

Mitch: How do you know it was the greasers?

Tom: For one thing, it’s the kind of thing they’d do. For another, I watched Kevin Reilly pour half a bottle of Everclear into the punch bowl.

Chloe: [Laughing and starting on her second punch]  Well, thank goodness for the greasers, then. Try some, Mitch.

Mitch: Well, okay. [Takes a sip] Doesn’t taste too great.

Tom: It’s spiked high-school-dance-punch, not a vintage Cabernet.

Lance: [Whispering to Brian] I never realized how hot Laurie is.

Brian: [Whispering back] You think anyone with boobs is hot.

Lance: [Whispering] Can you believe how many girls are sitting with us!?  

Brian: [Whispering back] You see? Stick with Mitch. We’ll be legends after tonight.

David returns to the table, with the tray, loaded with more punch glasses.

Lee: You rock!

David: What’s so great about this fucking punch? I almost got assaulted, getting it. I mean, since when is there ever a run on punch?

Lance: [Loudly] When it’s spiked!

Brian: [Waving vaguely in the air] Very spiked.  

Lance: Drunk, drunk, drunk! We’re all drunk!

Lee: Jesus, even booze can’t help you two sad sacks.

Marissa: I think it’s cute.

Lee: What is it with this fucking “cute” thing, tonight, anyway?

Chloe: It’s a meme, Lee.

Tom: Impossible, there weren’t any memes in the 80’s. What about that toast, Mitch?

Mitch: [who has finished his punch and brightened substantially] Right! A toast! [stands up, takes another glass, and raises it.

Everyone raises their glasses.

Mitch: I’d like to thank everyone at the Academy…

Everyone cheers.

Mitch: No, seriously, where to begin?  

Lance: At the beginning?

Mitch: Well, first of all, I’d like to toast Chloe, New Ridgemont High’s first Student Body President and my dear friend.

All: Woo Hoo!

Chloe: [Her face shining] Oh, guys…

Mitch: Let’s also drink to Tom, who’s gonna’ be an awesome Veep! Plus, he’s the one who talked me into coming out tonight.

All: Yay, Tom!

Mitch: Finally, to New Ridgemont High, for giving me a world full of magic and to all of you, for sharing it with me. [Downs his drink and sits.]

Chloe: Mitch, that was beautiful. 

Tom: Hear, hear!

Chloe: We should go dance! Mitch, you and me! Let’s tear it up!

Mitch: [Looking mortified] What? Oh, no, no, that wouldn’t be good at all.

Chloe: Aw’, c’mon!

Tom: Have another punch. It’ll make you braver.

Mitch: One ‘sec. [Downs another glass of punch and steels himself] Okay, let’s do it, fast, before I change my mind.

Chloe: [Jumping up and grabbing Mitch’s hand] Yay!

The two make off for the dance floor.  

Tom: How about you, Anna? You think Billy will be cool with it?

Anna: Absolutely.  He’s in heaven, up in that DJ booth.  He wouldn’t notice if we stripped naked and fucked in the middle of the dance floor.

Tom: Good to know.

Tom and Anna depart.

Lee: [Looking at Marissa, with a combination of terror and lust] Uh, uh…

Marissa:  Lance! You’re mine!

Lance: [Gulps]  I am?

Marissa: Yes, you have to dance. Now!

Lance: [In a daze] I do?

Marissa: Yes.

Lance: Now?

Marissa: Right now.

Brian: [Elbowing Lance and hissing] Do it, you idiot!

Lance: [Downs a fourth punch and jumps up] Right!

Marissa and Lance head over to the dance floor.

Lee: Lance?  She wants to dance with Lance?! Has the whole world gone fucking haywire?

Brian: You see? That whole being-a-dick thing doesn’t really pay off.

Lee: Yeah?  We’ll see about that. [Stands up.] I’m gonna’ get some food, and then I’m gonna’ find some people who appreciate my qualities.

Lee leaves the table and makes his way towards the buffet.

David: [Who’s been talking quietly with Laurie] We’re gonna’ go too; grab some food and check out the DJ booth.

David and Laurie depart.

Brian: [Takes another glass of punch and puts his feet up on the table. Gazes lovingly at the girls dancing.]  Ah, this is the life!

Will Friedman and Sal Levy enter the gym.  They stand for a moment, surveying the scene.

Sal: That’s some crowd.

Will: They’re great, aren’t they?

Sal: Yes, they are. Let’s get some drinks and check things out.

The two arrive at the drinks table, which is mobbed with students.

Girl: Hiiii Principal Friedman! Are you having fun tonight?  [Bursts into giggles and goes off with her friends.]

Guy: Saaaallll! [Claps Sal on the back]

Sal: Hey, man! [Hi fives the guy] [to Will] Must be good punch.

Will: [Looking suspicious] Hmm, I wonder. Pours himself a glass and smells it. Yeah, I thought so. It’s spiked.

Sal: You’re kidding.

Will: No, it smells like turpentine. Must be grain alcohol or something.

Sal: What are you gonna’ do?

Will: Nothing.

Sal: You’re gonna’ let them drink that? Every single one of them’s underage.

Will: So?

Sal: Let’s see. For one thing, it’s illegal.

Will: I don’t see any cops here, do you?

Sal: That’s hardly the point. What about the liability?  What if one of ‘em falls down the stairs or something?

Will: Um, we used to spike the punch at our high school parties, Sal.

Sal: Well, yeah, but that’s different.

Will: [Looking pointedly at him] Why?

Sal: Good question. I don’t know exactly. I guess it’s because you get into a lot more trouble for that sort of thing now.

Will: Not in New Ridgemont High. And not in our town.  Remember, the cops have agreed to return to 80’s policing standards. They’re not on the hunt for every teenager who might be hiding a beer or a cigarette.  As far as I can tell, the town hasn’t burnt down or anything.

Sal: I guess that’s true. But, still…

Will: This is important Sal. I know it seems frivolous, but it actually gets to the very heart of the matter.

Sal: How so?

Will: The plotting, the planning, the figuring out how to get around, and under, and over things; the development of initiative, discretion … these are capacities, qualities that almost no young person has today. And how do we know that this isn’t the reason?  That it’s because we never let them toe the line – cross it, even – because we’re constantly breathing down their necks and busting them at every opportunity?

Sal: We don’t, of course.

Will: Well, I’d go farther than that. I say that this is the reason and a thousand other little things like it. Think of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

Sal: [Laughing] Nooo! He’s pulling out the John Hughes movies. Should I sit down?

Will: Could you even imagine a movie like that being made today?

Sal: No, I can’t.

Will: Why?

Sal: Well, for one thing, his school would be a fortress.  For another, there’d be cops all over town. He’d never be able to get out and go running around, like that.

Will: Right, he’d have a S.W.A.T. team up his ass and be arrested and charged with multiple felonies. Ferris Bueller’s Day in San Quentin. The movie would be twenty minutes long.

Sal: Got it. But what’s the point?

Will: That character embodies the form that ‘80s teen rebelliousness took; the clever, street-smart, slightly slick machinator. Today, those qualities are almost impossible to acquire, and no new form of rebelliousness has taken its place. They’re docile, passive, obedient. What kind of adults do you think they’re gonna’ turn into? Corporate and government tools.

Sal: Look, you know we agree on a lot of this. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with drinking or partying and there is a terrible, dispirited quality among teens today.

Will: But…

Sal: Back then, these kids would have gotten away with this, ‘cause the administration and teachers would’ve been clueless. But we’re not. We know the punch is spiked. We know that they’re drinking. And we know they’re gonna’ be driving home … or at least, a lot of them will. 

Will: So that’s it. Your objection is about safety.

Sal: It’s reckless Will. You can’t knowingly let them drive home drunk. Frankly, I’m stunned you’re even considering it.

Will: [Smiles broadly and pulls out a thick wad of money. Holds it up.] I suspected something like this would happen. It’s taken care of. They’re all going home in taxis. 

Sal: You’re insane. You know that, right?

Will: [Laughing and putting his arm around Sal’s shoulder] I sure hope so.  Look, there’s Chloe, Tom, and the gang. Let’s go and say ‘Hi’.

Sal: [Laughing] Sounds good!

The two approach the kids, who are dancing in a loose throng, in the middle of the dance floor.

Chloe: Will! Sal! [Breaks off from Mitch and runs over to Friedman, embracing him in a big hug]

Will: [Laughing] Well, hello to you too!

Chloe: [Turning to Sal and kissing him on the cheek]  We’ve been boogie-ing. Haven’t we Mitch?

Mitch: Is that what that was?

Tom: Principal Friedman!  

Will: [Extending his hand] Tom, good to see you!

Tom: [Taking it] Didn’t expect to see you two out.

Sal: The Lord of the Manor must walketh among the people. I am merely his humble servant.

Will: Ignore him. You think I’d miss seeing all of you fabulous people, dressed to the nines?

Mitch: We do look pretty good, don’t we?

Will: You do, indeed. It suits you.

Mitch: [Beaming] I look good! [Chloe hugs him]

Will: You sound surprised.

Mitch: You don’t know the half of it.

Sal: You all seem very … how shall I put it? Festive.

Anna: Busted.

Chloe: I take it you’ve sampled the punch.

Will: More like red paint thinner than punch, really, but yeah, we’ve tasted it.

Chloe: So, what are you going to do?

Will: Nothing at all. Have a good time!

Chloe: That’s it?

Will: Well, no … I’m paying for taxis for everyone too.

Sal: Go ahead, tell him he’s insane.

Tom: [Smiling] You’re insane, Principal Friedman.

Chloe: [Looking intently at Friedman] I see.

Will: [Slightly disarmed.] Yeah, so it’s cool. Go have a good time!

Chloe: [Moving closer] I don’t think so.

Will: You don’t?

Chloe:  I’m not going anywhere, until you dance with me! [Grabs his hand, laughing, and pulls him into the dancing throng]

Sal: My god, she’s as crazy as he is.

Tom: Long live the King and Queen of New Ridgemont High. They’ll put this place on the map. [Hands Sal a glass of punch]

Anna: Come on, Mitch! You and me!  

Mitch: Again? You want me to do that again?

Anna: I’ll show you how to do it better.

Mitch: Uh, alright! [Follows a whooping Anna.]

Sal: [Sipping his punch thoughtfully] But that’s just it, Tom.

Tom: What’s just it?

Sal: What you said, before. Do we want to be “on the map”?

Tom: I don’t know, but I know Friedman’s thought about it.

Sal: How do you know that?  

Tom: It was something Chloe said, after she asked me to be her Veep. Friedman had told her that it was important she have someone like me on board, to keep an eye on the outside world.

Sal: He’s expressed similar concerns to me and I share many of them. We should keep a lower profile. There’s a lot of stuff going on here [holds up the punch], which would raise serious questions, if it got out. Now, I understand that we’re doing a social experiment and that these are precisely the sorts of details that Will’s model requires attending to, but the public won’t understand that or care. You know how things are, now. We have to be discrete.

Tom: Agreed. Though it makes me mad. It’s such goddamned bullshit, especially coming from those people, with all their corruption and scandals and wars.

Sal: A rare moment of unconstrained emotion from you, Mr. Rosen, but I concur. [Downs the punch] God, this stuff is bloody awful.

Tom: Wanna’ talk some more? We could go back to our table. I think Brian’s holding the fort.

Sal: Sounds great. [Takes two more cups of punch and follows him]

Chloe, Will, Mitch, Anna, Marissa, and Lance are dancing together in a loose group.

Marissa: No, not like that.  Come closer, when I put my arms up.

Lance: The mind wills, but the body disobeys.

Marissa: You’re fine. You don’t dance any worse than any other guy in this school.

Lance: Really?

Marissa: Really.  

Mitch: [Over his shoulder] I don’t know about that. I’ve been hanging out with Myron and his friends. Those guys can dance.

Marissa: I was talking about lame white guys.

Lance: Well, that helps.

Marissa: I’m speaking in generalities.

Anna: Yeah, I mean, she’s dating a lame white guy.

Lance: So, how come no one will date me? I’m a lame white guy too.

Marissa: You could get dates. I’d go out with you, if I wasn’t already with Tim.

Lance: You would?

Marissa: Absolutely. You’re cute. Funny. Nice [Spins at Lance, who catches her] And you’re becoming a pretty good dancer.

Lance: So how come everyone makes fun of me?

Marissa: Don’t buy into the Star Crew propaganda.  That’s all that top-clique shit ever is; bullshit to convince people that they’re the best looking and the coolest.   They’re not.

Lance: Yeah, but they still do it. And it still feels bad.

Marissa: There’s nothing you can do about that, honey, except stop caring. I mean, there’re plenty of other cool people to hang out with. You’d be welcome with the art, music, and theater kids.

Mitch: That’s what I’ve learned, Lance. If you approach people and you’re up-front, they’ll usually give you a chance. Not everyone, but most. I mean, I hang out with the Compton guys all the time, now. A year ago, I’d never have even dreamt of it. 

Anna: I think you’re underestimating how much guts it takes, Mitch. I’m not sure how many of the kids that get picked on are as brave as you are.

Lance: Yeah, I never could have done the stuff you’ve done, Mitch. I’m too scared.

Mitch: You’re doing it right now; dancing with a girl who you would have sworn was out of your league, just a few hours ago.

Lance: I am, aren’t I?

Marissa: [Grabbing him and playfully kissing him] Yes, you are!

Lance: I’m definitely liking this new thing. What’s it called?

Mitch: Life, Lance. It’s called life.

The four dance off, leaving Chloe and Will, who have been dancing and talking.

Will: So, how are you enjoying your party?

Chloe: My party?

Will: Well, yeah. It’s a celebration of the election…you won the election. Therefore, it’s your party.

Chloe: My party. I like that.

Will: You deserve it … truly.

Chloe: I do, don’t I? I ran a damned fine campaign.

Will: Yes you did. As did Tom.

Chloe: I’m really glad I took your advice. He’s been awesome to me, ever since I asked him to be my Veep.

Will: Was there trouble before?

Chloe: [Sighs] I don’t know, it was weird. Back in Beverly Hills, Tom and I used to hang out every day … took all our classes together, did stuff after school, that kind of thing. Then we came here, and suddenly it was like we didn’t even know each other. We never talked. In fact, I didn’t so much as see Tom, until right before the election campaign started. 

Will: Had you two been dating, at Beverly Hills?

Chloe: No.

Will: Unrequited love, on his part, then?

Chloe: [Pauses, thinking] I don’t think so.

Will: Why not?

Chloe: I’ve known Tom since the second grade, and he’s never asked me out.  

Will: That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a thing for you.

Chloe: He doesn’t look at me that way, Will.  

Will: I see.

Chloe: [Spins] Enough talking about Tom.

Will: What should we talk about instead?

Chloe: You and me.

Will: What about us?

Chloe: How do you think this thing’s gonna’ go; us working together?

Will: What do you think?

Chloe: I think it’s going to be interesting.

Will: [Laughs] Every man dreads being called “interesting.”

Chloe: Not you, silly. I’m talking about being a student and working with the administration, at the same time.

Will: You can more than handle it.

Chloe: I’ve never been involved in something like this.

Will: You give administrative work too much credit.  With a mind and personality like yours? You could walk into any position, in any corporation or government agency in the country, and do just as good a job as the people working there now. Ditto for Tom and Mitch.

Chloe: [Laughing] Why all this, then? I thought the story was that we needed all this schooling, in order to “be citizens” and “participate in the economy.”  

Will: That’s the story all right.

Chloe: So, it’s bullshit.

Will: Yeah, it is.

Chloe: [Tossing her hair and looking defiant] Well,  never mind!  That’s not what our school’s about, is it?

Will: Definitely not. Awakening your interests. Honing your skills. Making friends for life. That’s what our school’s about.

Chloe: I love  New Ridgemont High, Will. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.

Will: It’s me who’s lucky, Chloe, to have people like you, here. You’re the reason why New Ridgemont High is so special. I just set up the field. You guys are the ones playing the game, and you’re doing it better than I could ever have dreamed.

Chloe: Is that what this is? A dream? If so, I never want to wake up.

Will: “When you dream, dream in the dream with me.”

Chloe: Simple Minds! New Gold Dream!

Will: [Dramatically puts his hands over his heart] She knows! A kindred spirit! Miss Gold, you are officially the coolest girl in the school.

Laughing, the two dance off.

Cut to outside the school. Kevin, Marty, Joanne, and Stacy are hanging out around their cars, in the circle drive, smoking joints and cigarettes and talking. Fran and Sean have gone to the convenience store across the street, to buy another flask of Jameson. The Runaways, “I Wanna Be Where the Boys Are” is blaring from a car stereo.

Lee comes through the front doors and marches determinedly towards the group.

Kevin: Look , a little person.

Stacy: He’s a nerd, Kevin, not a munchkin.

Marty: He looks pissed off.

Stacy: He looks drunk.

Marty: That too.

Lee: Hey guys, I’m Lee!

Joanne: Fuck off!

Lee: Whoa!

Kevin: [Puts his arm around Lee’s shoulder] You just have to get to know her. What can we do for you, man?

Lee: I’m sick and tired of my fucking friends. They’re losers!

Kevin: I see your problem.

Lee: I mean, they brought a goddamned Coleco Head-to-Head football game to a dance. Who the fuck does that?

Kevin: [Sympathetically] No one. It’s terrible.

Lee: That’s what I said! And then that hot girl, Marissa, goes off and dances with Lance. Lance! I mean, what the fuck?!

Kevin: I wouldn’t dance with him. How about you, Marty?

Marty: I wouldn’t dance with him either.

Lee: [Sighs] It’s such a relief to be around reasonable people.

Joanne: Does that mean you’ll fuck off now?

Stacy lets out a barking laugh and spits out a mouthful of punch.

Kevin: Ignore her.  What can we do to help?

Lee: [Waves lazily] Oh, I don’t know. You guys just seemed really cool, and I figured, since I’m too cool for my stupid friends, I should find cooler people to hang out with … like you!

Kevin: Good thinking.

Lee: So, whatcha’ doin’?

Kevin: Nothing much. [Gestures around] Hanging out.  Partying a little.

Lee: Partying … oh, you mean getting high!

Stacy: He’s a smart one.

Kevin: Well, yes, but it’s much more than that. Good company, good conversation, think of it as a social event.

Joanne: Oh for God’s sake.

Kevin: [Grinning] And far be it for us to be anti-social.  Right, Marty?

Marty: Anti-social? Us? Never.

Kevin: So, spark it up, son. [Hands Lee a half-smoked joint and a lighter]

Stacy: This I have to see.

Lee: [Takes the joint, excitedly.] Thanks! [Lights it and draws heavily]

Kevin: You might want to…

Lee: [Explodes in a fit of coughing]: Brrrrraaaahhhrrrr!!!

Kevin: …watch that first hit.

Lee: [Eyes closed, arms flapping wildly] Drink! Drink!

Stacy: This is better than watching the Special Ed kids doing PE.

Joanne: I can’t believe you’re wasting weed on this fucking dweeb.

Kevin: [Holds up a finger] Jo, be nice. [Takes the joint from Lee’s flailing hands and maneuvers a beer into them] Here you go. That should help.

Lee: [Downs it in one long gulp] Whew. Thanks.

Marty: Boy can drink.

Kevin: How ya’ feeling?

Lee: Fucking awesome!

Stacy: So, we’ve got a drunk and stoned nerd. What are we supposed to do with him?

Lee: [Leering at her] You’re really hot.

Kevin: See that, Stace? He likes you.

Lee: [Turning to Joanne] And you’re even…

Joanne: [Shooting him a look] Don’t say it! You’ll lose a body part.

Lee: [Laughs and waves at her] No problemo baby, you know what you’ve got.

Kevin: Ready for another hit, Lee? [Hands him the joint]

Lee: [Taking the joint and brandishing it] Ready?!  Ready?! Sheeet, I was born ready!

Stacy: The kid’s gonna’ run into traffic or something.

Lee: It’s cool baby, I’ve got the drift. [Leans back against the hood of Kevin’s ‘71 Dodge Challenger and sucks at the joint suavely] 

Stacy: It’s horrible and fascinating at the same time.

Lee: [Elbows Kevin] She thinks I’m fascinating! [Takes another hit off the joint] I’m a fucking legend! Wait until I rub this in Mitch’s smug face.

Stacy: Who’s Mitch?

Lee: [Sliding back against the car] Oh, baby, don’t even get me started on that dick.

Stacy: How about we ixne the “baby’s”?

Lee: [Waves at her and lets out a stream of smoke] You got it, honey.

Stacy: Uh…

Marty: I’d leave it at “honey.”  Whatever comes next is gonna’ be worse.

Stacy: Can’t you, like, beat him up or something?

Marty: We can’t beat the boy up, now, after we’ve gotten him high. That’d be bad Karma.

Stacy: Humph.

Joanne: [Pointing at Lee]  Hey man, don’t bogart the fucking joint. Hand it over.

Lee: [Sidles up to Joanne and passes her the joint] You know, you really are…”

Joanne: [Holds up her hand] Yeah, we covered that already.

Stacy: Here come Sean and Fran. They’re gonna’ love this.

Sean and Fran cross the street and join the group. Sean is carrying a bulging paper bag.

Sean: [Holding up the bag like a trophy] Why buy a flask, when you can buy a half-gallon? Shots all around!

Lee: Shots? Awesome!

Fran: What’s with the dork?

Kevin: This is Lee, Fran. He’s tired of hanging out with losers.

Fran: So, he decided to look you guys up?

Marty: That’s hard, Francie. Very hard.

Sean: Is he cool? [Gets close to Lee and sniffs around him] You cool, man?

Lee: Me? Are you kidding? I’m so cool that … that … [thinks for a moment and then gives up] … I’m cool!

Kevin: We’re teaching Lee how to hang out and have a good time. Heights Boys style.

Sean: So, you wanna’ be one of the Heights’ Boys, Lee, is that it?

Lee: Fuck yeah, I do! Wait, what’s a “Heights’ Boy”? It’s not something gay, is it?

Joanne: I’m starting to wonder.

Kevin: [Putting his arm around Lee’s shoulder again] It’s just a bunch of us guys who all grew up in the Heights.  We’ve been a gang since Sixth Grade.

Lee: [Eyes bulging with excitement] A gang?! Yeah!  I’m all about that! Do I get a leather jacket?

Stacy: He thinks we’re in, like, Grease or something.

Kevin: No, it’s not like that, man. No coordinated wardrobes. We just hang out, party, drive around, you know?

Lee: With girls?

Kevin: Girls are definitely involved, yes.

Lee: Oh, I am so in.

Kevin: He’s in, Marty.

Marty: I can see that.

Joanne: Tell me this is a fucking joke.

Lee: [Raising his eyebrows at Joanne and nodding] Me and you, baby, cruising.

Joanne: I thought you had the hots for Stacy.

Lee: You seem like more of a challenge.

Joanne: If you think of a broken arm as a challenge.

Lee: Why all the hostility, baby? I’m just looking for a love connection.

Kevin: Uh, Lee, haven’t you forgotten something?

Lee: What’s that?

Kevin: The initiation.

Lee: Initiation?

Marty: Initiation?

Kevin: [Looking hard at Marty] You know, the crazy, risky thing we all had to do, before we were allowed into the Heights Boys.

Stacy: Um, you guys are the only Heights Boys.

Kevin: Ignore her. Lee, you’ve gotta’ pull some kind of major stunt, something big, if you wanna’ be one of the Heights Boys.

Lee: I could take off my clothes and streak through the gym.

Stacy: I vote for that one.

Joanne: I don’t.

Kevin: It’s a good idea, Lee, definitely a good idea, but the nudity might not go over so well.

Lee: I could pull all the fire alarms.

Fran: Lee, we like having no cops here. You do that and the entire LAPD is gonna’ show up.

Sean: [Who has been pouring shots into plastic cups]  Shots!  

Everyone grabs a shot of Jameson and downs it. 

Lee: [Eyes bulging again] Graaggh! Whoa baby!

Marty: I’ve got it. [Reaches back into his car and pulls out the half-filled bottle of Everclear] Let Lee spike the punch.

Kevin: [Snaps his fingers] Right. They’ve probably put out a new bowl by now. You up for it, man?

Lee: [Puffs out his chest] Leave it to me. [takes the bottle and weaves towards the school]

Kevin: Jo, you’d better go with him.

Joanne: Why do I have to go? You’re the one who recruited the fucking twerp.

Kevin: [Soothingly] ‘Cause everyone’s scared of you.  They’ll clear out, and Lee can do his business, without getting us all busted.

Joanne: Mmrrphh! Okay! Alright! [Throws up her hands and follows Lee] Hey! Donnie Dorko! Wait up!

Stacy: Let’s go in. This is gonna’ be fucking hilarious.

Sean: [Who’s been pouring more shots] One more round. 

All: [Grabbing shots] One more round!

Cut to the DJ booth. David and Laurie are hanging out with Billy Johnson and Tim Goldstein, who are spinning records.

Billy: So, it’s been quite a transition. I mean, we were using digital equipment, exclusively — MacBooks and stuff — but there’s something really intuitive about the turntables. For one thing, the transitions are better.

Tim: And the sound. It’s fuller, richer, not super clean, like digital.

David: Are you going to do any actual scratching?

Billy: There’s no Rap in this playlist, so no. I want to practice doing that, before we take it live.

Laurie: How did you pick the playlist?

Billy: That was the easy part. Tim and I watched a bunch of 80’s teen movies and took notes on the soundtracks, especially during the party scenes.

Tim: We’re also trying to include enough variety to please everyone.

Billy: Right, so it’s split between New Wave, New Romantic, and some hair metal and commercial punk.  You know, Psychedelic Furs, Duran Duran, Motley Crue, Billy Idol … stuff like that.

Laurie: Well, it sounds awesome.

Billy: Thanks!

Tim: Any more of that killer punch?

David: [Scans the drinks table] Hmm. Looks like the bowl’s empty.

Tim: Crap.

Laurie: Wait, David, they’re re-filling it now.

David: Yeah, but it’ll just be plain punch. You don’t want plain punch, do you?

Tim: Uh, no.

Laurie: New development. Lee just came in with Joanne Genduso. They’re heading over to the drinks table, and Lee’s holding a brown paper bag.

David: Lee and Joanne Genduso? You’re fucking kidding. [Looks down] No, you’re not. What the hell?

Laurie: I’m gonna’ go check it out.  

David: Yeah, Lee’s not loving me too much right now… you might have better luck finding out what’s up.   Wave if you want me to come over, though.

Laurie: Okey dokey. [Heads off]

Cut to the drinks table, where Joanne and Lee have just arrived.  It’s deserted.

Joanne: Well, you didn’t fucking need me for this.

Lee: [Looking around] No one wants plain punch, now that they’ve had the good stuff.

Joanne: Hurry up and do your business, then. I can feel my social status collapsing.

Lee: [Takes the bottle of Everclear out of the bag and pours the remains into the punch bowl.] I’m disappointed. You sound like one of those Star Crew bitches.

Joanne: I am not like those girls. I just don’t like dweebs, OK?

Lee: [Puts the empty bottle back in the bag.] You don’t like us, they don’t like you … I was right, nothing’s different here, nothing at all.

Joanne: I obviously missed something.

Lee: [Looking bitter] It was just something I was saying to Mitch and those guys a few weeks ago. They were talking about how New Ridgemont High meant a new era for openness. I called it for the bullshit that it is.   

Joanne studies him, as if performing a reappraisal.

Laurie approaches the drinks table.

Laurie: Hey, Lee! Doing the Lord’s work, huh?

Lee: [Coolly] I guess.

Joanne: [Looking hard at Laurie] Who’s this?

Lee: Joanne Genduso, Laurie Pence. Laurie, Joanne.

Laurie: Hey!

Joanne: Whatever.

Kevin and Stacy arrive.

Kevin: Is it done?

Lee: It’s done.

Kevin: Rock and fucking roll! [Pours himself two large glasses] Better take some, Stace. Once people find out, it’ll disappear again.

Laurie: So, Lee, you’re hanging out with these guys, now, huh?

Lee: Looks like it.

Kevin: Who’s your friend?

Lee: [Sighing] Laurie Pence, Kevin Reilly.

Laurie: Hey.

Kevin: Well, hello cute girl.

Joanne: What is with you tonight? You got nerds on the brain or something?

Kevin: Hey, nerdy girls are in.[Sidling up to Laurie] So, baby, wanna’ dance?

Laurie: [Looking very pleased with herself.] I’d love to, but I’m taken.

Stacy: Rejected!

Kevin: [Clutches at his chest] Nooo! Who’s beaten me out?

Laurie: David Weber. He’s up in the DJ booth.

Kevin: [Seriously] Weber? He’s a good guy.

Joanne and Lee: He is?

Kevin: Yeah. He’s getting me through Trig.

Laurie: It’s nice to be appreciated, though. I’d totally dance with you otherwise.

Kevin: No problem, baby. You’re smokin’. If you ever ditch Weber, let me know.

Laurie: [Her eyes shining] I will! [Winks at him and then turns to David in the booth and gives him a thumbs-up.  David waves back.]

Lee: If he only knew. Poor bastard.

Laurie: You’re fucking grim, Lee. Hopefully these guys’ll get you in the party spirit.

Kevin: We’re working on it.

Laurie: [Pours several glasses of punch and gathers them up] Catch you later! [Kisses Kevin on the cheek and heads back to the DJ booth.]

Kevin: I like that girl.

Stacy: Clearly.

Billy [Over the PA]: I see that some of our hard rocking friends from the Heights have come back on the scene, from their meeting, out in the Circle.

Marty: [Shouting] Important business, man!

Billy: So, I think it only appropriate that I take this request, from my dear friend, Kevin Reilly, and inject some metal into this party!

The opening chords of Motley Crue’s “Wild Side” roar from the PA.

Kevin: Woohoo! [Raises his fists and pounds his chest]

Stacy: Now this is more like it. Let’s do it! [Grabs Kevin and they dance off.]

Marty: I’m getting Sean and Francie. They’re gonna’ want to be here for this. Back in a flash. [Heads for the exit]

Joanne: [Looks Lee up and down] Wanna’ dance?

Lee: [Stunned]  Dance?  Me? With you?

Joanne: Do you see anyone else standing here?

Lee: [Looks down.] But, I thought you hated me.

Joanne: No, I hated the way you were acting.

Lee: So, what happened?

Joanne: [Looking intently at him] What you said before … about them not liking us and us not liking you … it was righteous, man. [Puts her hand out] So, how about it?  Don’t make me fucking regret this.

Lee: [Eyes widening] Oh, no, definitely not. [Grabs a glass of punch and downs it. Takes Joanne’s hand and pulls her towards the dance floor] Rock and Roll!

Joanne: [Laughing and following him] Rock and Roll!

Cut to Jaime Cohen and Carl Smitts, sitting at their table. Denise Diamond, Sandy Kendel, Mike Neuman and Valerie Saunders are dancing nearby.

Jaime: C’mon Carl, I wanna’ dance.

Carl: You know I got a bum knee, baby. Coach told me to stay off it.

Jaime: Fuck Coach.  

Carl: Why you gotta’ curse all the time? Fine-looking fox like you, talking trash. [Puts his arm around her]

Jaime: [Shrugs it off] Maybe it’s because I’m frustrated and bored.

Carl: Why are you frustrated?

Jaime: Uh, hello, no sex?

Carl: You know how I feel about that, baby. Gotta’ do the right thing. Anyway, Coach says…

Jaime: You consult Coach on your fucking sex life?! 

Carl: What are you so pissed about?

Jaime: We never do anything, Carl.  

Carl: Just ‘cause I don’t wanna’ get drunk and high.

Jaime: It’s called ‘fun’. You should try it sometime.

Carl: I’m a varsity athlete, Jaime. The whole team is counting on me.

Jaime: Don’t you think you’re taking it a little too seriously? It’s high-school football, not the NFL.  

Carl: What about you? You’re just out there, shaking your booty and waving pom-poms.

Jaime: If it wasn’t for our booties, no one would come to your games. You guys fucking suck.

Carl: [Shakes his head] Talking trash again.

Jaime: Ugh, this isn’t working out.

Carl: No sweat, baby. Girls are lining up to go out with me.

Jaime: That’s all this is for you, isn’t it? Being the big-shot football player with a pretty girl on your arm.

Carl: I’m just saying…

Jaime: Well, don’t. I’ve had enough. We’re done.  

Carl: [Incredulous] You’re breaking up with me?

Jaime: Dumping you is more like it.

Carl: [Angry] Fine, be that way, bitch!

Jaime: [Getting up from the table] So, cursing’s ok now, huh? Fucking hypocrite. [Starts to leave]

Carl: [Calling after her] Why don’t you go hang out with your drunk, stoned, loser friends?

Jaime:  [Whirling around and giving him the finger] Fuck you, Carl!  FUCK YOU!

Denise: [Grabs Jaime’s arm, as she storms past] Wait, Jaime, what are you doing?!

Jaime: [Growling] Something I should have done weeks ago … ditching that lame fucker.

Denise: [In disbelief] You’re breaking up with Carl? But, he’s the all-state wide receiver!

Jaime: Especially because of that. I’m sick of all these jarhead football players. Boring dumbshits.

Mike: Hey!

Valerie: You do what you want to do, Jaime.

Mike: You go through with this and you’re not gonna’ have any friends. You’ll be blacklisted.

Jaime: Good riddance.

Valerie: [Turning to Mike] I happen to think she’s right.  So, what? You gonna’ “blackball” me too?

Mike: Uh…

Vicky: I didn’t think so. What are you gonna’ do now, Jaime?

Jaime: I’m asking Tom Rosen to dance.  

Vicky: Good for you.

Denise: [Horrified] Are you kidding? He’s…

Jaime: He’s what? Gorgeous? Smart? Interesting? Is that a problem, Dee?

Denise: No, it’s just that he’s not … popular.

Jaime: Thank God. I’ve had just about all the popularity I can fucking stand.

Valerie: Go for it, Jaime! Have a good time!

Jaime: I will. Thanks!

Jaime strides over to where Tom, Sal, and Brian are talking. Stands next to Tom, with her hands on her hips.

Jaime: Tom!

Tom: Yeah?

Jaime: You wanna’ dance?

Tom: Dance?

Jaime: Is there a fucking echo in here?

Tom: No echo. I’m just surprised.

Jaime: Why?

Tom: I guess I didn’t think you hung out with the lower orders.

Jaime: You’re hardly the lower orders, Tom.

Tom: No, I guess not. What about Carl?

Jaime: Do I need his goddamned permission?

Tom: Well, no, but, you guys are dating. I don’t think I should…

Jaime: Relax. He’s officially ixned.

Tom: Wow. So there have been … developments.

Jaime: Look, if you don’t wanna’ dance with me, just say so. I don’t need any fucking charity, OK?

Tom: [Getting up] No, no, it’s not like that at all. I’d love to dance with you, Jaime.

Jaime: Cool! [Grabs his arm and drags him off to the dance floor]

Sal: Now I’ve seen everything.

Brian: I know, right?  It’s better than the soaps on TV.

Sal: You watch soap operas?

Brian: Yeah, it’s kinda’ lame, but up until now, soaps were the raciest part of my day.

Sal: How about some more punch? I’m buying.

Brian: Alright!

Sal leaves for the drinks table. 

Cut to Tom and Jaime, who have joined Will, Chloe, Anna, Mitch, Marissa, and Lance, on the dance floor.

Jaime: I love dancing to metal.

Tom: Really? I wouldn’t have pegged you for a metal head.

Jaime: I’m not. I just like dancing to it. It’s aggressive …sexy. [Raises her arms and throws her head back] 

Tom: [Watching her admiringly] It certainly is.

Jaime: So, tell me, do you drink?

Tom: [Holds up an empty glass of punch.] There are times.

Jaime: Smoke?

Tom: What? Cigarettes? No.

Jaime: Not cigarettes … weed.

Tom: There are times.

Jaime: Thank God. A normal person.

Tom:  Obviously, there’s a story I’ve missed.

Jaime: Yeah, a very boring story. Forget it.

Chloe: [Dancing over] Hey Jaime!  

Jaime: Hey.

Chloe: Where’s Carl?

Jaime: Don’t ask.

Chloe: Oh, sorry.

Jaime: No, it’s cool. We broke up.

Chloe:  When?

Jaime: Like, ten minutes ago.

Will: Sorry to hear that, Jaime.

Jaime: Don’t be. It’s like a terrible weight has been lifted.

Chloe: I wouldn’t have thought that dating a star football player would be a “terrible weight.”

Jaime: Yeah, well when the star football player’s a self-important jerk, it is.

Will: [Laughs] Sounds like it’s him I should be feeling sorry for.

Jaime: [Looking defiant] He just wants some ditzy groupie.  

Tom: You are definitely neither ditzy nor a groupie.

Lance and Marissa come over.

Lance: Who’s a ditzy groupie?

Tom: Not Jaime.

Lance: Who said she was?

Tom: Never mind.

Jaime: Let’s just drop the whole thing, OK? Carl’s out.  Finished. Kaput.

Lance: Who’s Carl?

Marissa: You don’t know Carl Smitts? New Ridgemont High’s finest athlete?

Lance: Sorry, I don’t follow sports.

Jaime: Yes! Another normal person.

Lance: [To Marissa] Did she just say I was normal?

Marissa: She did.

Lance: Can this party get any better? Lee’s gonna’ shit, when he hears this.

Marissa: Why?

Lance: ‘Cause he’s been lusting after her, ever since school started.

Jaime: Who’s Lee?

Lance: He’s, uh, one of us … you know.

Jaime: You mean a dweeb?

Lance looks crestfallen.

Marissa: You just can’t drop that Star Crew shit, can you?

Jaime: Sorry, I didn’t mean anything by it.

Tom: Well, I don’t think you have to worry about Lee.  He’s moved on.

Lance: To what? His other hand?

Tom: A little better than that. He’s dancing with Joanne Genduso.

Chloe: You’re kidding.

Tom: No, I’m not. Check it out. [Gestures over to the far right of the dance floor, where Lee and Joanne are dancing] 

Chloe: Wow.

Will: [Smiling] Well, that’s just fantastic, isn’t it?

Tom: You’ve definitely got something special going on here, Principal Friedman. No question about that.

Sean, Fran, and Marty enter the gym.

Sean: [Holds his arms out over his head.] AYOOOO!!!

Billy: [Over the PA] Sean Albertson, Fran Rosenberg, and Marty Savini are in the house!  

Sean: [Takes a deep bow.] Where’s my fucking request?!

Fran: Do you really have to scream like that?

Sean: Yeah, I do, actually.

Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony” comes over the PA.

Fran: Woohoo!

Sean: Now who’s screaming?

Fran: Shut up and dance, boy.

The three join Joanne, Lee, Kevin, and Stacy.

Kevin: Well, Lee, you’re one of the Heights Boys, now.  How does it feel?

Lee: Fucking great!

Joanne: You know that whole initiation thing was bullshit, right?

Lee: I had a feeling.

Joanne: So, why’d you do it?

Lee: Why the hell not?  It was fun!

Joanne: You’re cooler than you look.

Lee: [Shouting over at Mitch] You see?! They think I’m cool!

Joanne: I might take it back, if you keep that up.

Lee: Sorry. Enthusiasm got the best of me.

Will: [To Chloe] God, this brings back memories.

Chloe: Of your own high school?

Will: Yeah. Parties always ended with Mony Mony.

Chloe: I’d love to have known you then. What were you like?

Will: Pretty much the same…[laughs] better looking, though.

Chloe: Hmm. You sure about that?

Will: You’re good for a man’s ego.

Mitch: I hear that!

Chloe: Where’re Sal and Brian?

Tom: Back at our table.

Chloe: [Gimme a sec] Untangles herself from Will and disappears into the crowd. Returns, dragging a mortified-looking Brian. Sal follows, laughing]

Brian: You don’t want to do this, Chloe.

Chloe: Aw, c’mon!

Brian: But I liked it back at the table.

Tom: Not allowed. Everyone has to be here for the grand finale.

Lance: It’s not so hard, Brian. Check it out! [Busts a few choice moves]

Brian: I’ll need a chiropractor, if I do that.

Will: Brian, dance with Chloe, I need to make an announcement.

Brian: [Dazedly] Huh? What? Are you crazy?

Sal: That’s already been established.

Chloe: [Grabbing Brian, who looks like he’s going to faint.] Let’s boogie, baby!

Brian: [In a strangled voice] Okay.

Will pushes through the dancing crowds to the DJ booth.  

Billy: Dr. F!

Tim:  Yo, yo, yo!

Will: You guys have done an amazing job. Really. [Puts his hands together and bows] My deepest gratitude.  

Billy and Tim: Thanks!

Will: Is it cool if I take over for a second and make an announcement?

Billy: [Stepping away from the mic] Absolutely.

Tim: Go for it, Dr. F.

David: We’re gonna’ head back down to the dance floor. [Takes Laurie’s hand]

Laurie: See you guys down there!

Will: [Lowers the music and speaks over the PA] Can I have everyone’s attention for a moment?

The room goes quiet, although everyone keeps dancing.

Will: Well, I don’t know about you guys, but this is just about the best party I’ve ever been to!

The room erupts in cheering, hooting, and whistling.

Will: Now, we all know that there’s no party, without music, so let’s give it up for our DJs … Billy Johnson and Tim Goldstein!

The crowd roars. Billy and Tim bow and wave.

Will: And let’s not forget the occasion. To our new Student Body President and Vice President … Chloe Gold and Tom Rosen!

The students erupt again, with applause and shouts of “Chloe!” and “Tom!”

Will: Finally, I’m aware that this party has been especially … [looks over at Sal] … festive.  So, just to make sure everyone gets home safely, I’m paying for taxis. Those of you who drove here can pick up your cars tomorrow.

There is a moment of stunned silence and then the crowd roars, even louder.

Kevin: Fucking righteous! [To Stacy] He’s the coolest!

Stacy: Yeah, that’s crazy. Good crazy, but crazy.

Lee: I can’t believe it. He knew all along.

Joanne: Of course he did. The man isn’t stupid.

A chant of “Dr. F!  Dr. F!”  goes up. Will waves at the crowd and returns the Mic to Billy, who cranks the music back up.

Billy: Everyone back on the dance floor! Woohoo!!!

Will makes his way back down to the floor and to the group, who greet him with laughter, hugs, and claps on the back.

Chloe: [Puts her arms around Will’s neck.] You are the coolest, Dr. Friedman.

Will: [A broad smile on his face] Only ‘cause I’ve got cool people like you to hang out with, Miss Gold.

Lance: What’d he say? Who’s cool?

Mitch: We are, Lance. We are.

Lance: Woohoo!



Student Body Presidential Debate

October 20, 2020, 1:30pm, PST

Location: The NRH auditorium. Tom Rosen and Chloe Gold stand at podiums on opposite ends of the stage. At a table in the center sit Lee Lindberg, David Weber, and Laurie Pence. The auditorium seats are packed with students, teachers, and administrators, who talk in a noisy buzz.

Mitch Bennett enters stage right and stands at a microphone that has been set up at the front.  He holds up his hands.

Mitch: If I could have everyone’s attention, we’re about ready to get started.

The audience begins to settle down and in a few moments the room is silent.

Mitch: Well, this is an amazing turnout. I’m sure that I’m speaking for the candidates as well as myself, when I say that it’s awesome to see this much interest in this election. It also means a lot to see so many teachers and administrators here. I guess at the end of the day, we’re all in this together.

So, let me introduce the candidates. To my right, Mr. Tom Rosen.

Loud applause and whistling.

Mitch: Mr. Rosen has been campaigning on the slogan “by the students and for the students” and has said that the independence of student government is his top priority.

Boy in audience: Keep your eyes on ‘em, Tom!!

Mitch: To my left, Miss Chloe Gold…

Raucous applause and foot stamping. A chant of “Chloe! Chloe! Chloe!” goes up. Someone blasts an air horn. Mitch raises his hands again and waits for quiet.

Mitch: Miss Gold has said that it is her intention to work closely with the administration and to ensure that students are represented on administrative and faculty committees. Her campaign message has been “A new kind of school needs a new kind of student government.” Please welcome both candidates.

Enthusiastic applause. Whistles and shouts. Another blast of the air horn.

Mitch: Let me say a few things about the format for today’s debate. Each of the candidates will have five minutes to make an opening statement. A coin-toss has determined that Mr. Rosen will speak first, followed by Miss Gold.

After opening statements, each candidate will get to pose questions to the opposing candidate, who will be given the opportunity to respond. Our journalist’s roundtable will be next. Lee Lindberg, David Weber, and Laurie Pence — who along with myself comprise the Standard’s editorial board — will pose questions to the candidates; our own as well as those submitted by students.  

Finally, the candidates will be allowed a two minute closing statement. A second coin toss has determined that Mr. Rosen will give the first closing statement, followed by Miss Gold.

One last thing. We appreciate the enthusiasm that you’ve shown for this event. By all means, applaud, when candidates have finished their statements or when they have completed a round. I only ask that you not applaud while candidates are speaking. And no booing, please. Let’s keep this a civil debate. Mr. Rosen, you may make your opening statement.

Tom takes the microphone from its stand and comes around his podium to the front of the stage.

Tom: Before I talk about my candidacy, I’d like to thank Mitch and the editors at the Standard. They’ve worked tirelessly to bring the student body the most comprehensive, in-depth news coverage that I’ve ever seen in a high school election.

Tom claps and soon the entire room is applauding.

Tom: The editorial that appeared in the Standard two weeks ago made an important point. It said that there are no issues in this campaign, no “longstanding concerns” or “common causes” and that’s exactly right. New Ridgemont High is brand new, and so far it’s been pretty damned fantastic. I have no complaints. So, to correct something I’ve heard said about me, I am by no means the “anti-Friedman” candidate.

But that doesn’t mean that I’m the pro-Friedman candidate either. And that’s one thing that distinguishes me from Miss Gold. She is admittedly, unabashedly pro-Friedman and will actively work to further the administration’s agenda.  

I’m neither for Friedman nor against him. I’m the pro-student candidate. And that means that the only agenda that I’ll be working for is yours, the student agenda. Government by the students and for the students.

A large contingent of students erupts in noisy applause.  


Tom: [Holding up his hands] Please, guys, I really appreciate it, but Mitch is right. Let’s do this by the numbers.

My stance is partly a matter of principle. The administration is powerful and has a lot of powerful interests behind it, including local and state government. The student-body President and Cabinet are the only representation that students will have in New Ridgemont High, so it’s particularly important that we be representatives and not tools of the administration.

But it’s also a matter of practicality. At some point, the interests of the students and of the administration are going to diverge, even clash, and when that day comes, it is essential that student government be independent and that the student-body President be independent.

I can guarantee you of my independence. I don’t believe my opponent can. It’s as simple as that. Thanks again, and I look forward to a stimulating and informative debate.

Applause breaks out. Shouts and whistles.  Tom returns to his podium and Mitch steps up to the microphone.

Mitch: Thank you, Mr. Rosen. You’ve given us a lot to think about. Miss Gold, you have five minutes to make your opening statement.

Chloe stands to the side of her podium.

Chloe: My opponent’s candidacy is based on a false assumption: that one can only maintain one’s independence from a position of opposition. I don’t believe that. The notion that we can work constructively with the administration is not at odds with the idea that the purpose of student government is to represent student interests. Indeed, I would argue that at New Ridgemont High, the best way to represent those interests is through a close collaboration with Dr. Friedman and with the rest of the administration, faculty, and staff.

The logic that Tom describes is one I would agree with if we were anywhere but here. But the principles that motivate him are already built into New Ridgemont High. Tom admits that there are no standing issues or concerns — that our school, thus far, has been, as he put it, “pretty damned fantastic” — and yet the entire tone and substance of his campaign suggests the opposite. He’s fighting a fight that doesn’t need to be fought; guarding against eventualities that Dr. Friedman has explicitly ruled out, in the very way he has conceived of and developed New Ridgemont High.  

What are we supposed to stand in opposition to? And on behalf of what? More freedom? Students here are freer than they would be at any other school in the country. Better teachers?  Dr. Friedman has hand-selected the best teachers in L.A. county. I mean, can you imagine better teachers than Bobbie Novak, Sal Levy, or Jules Longo? Fairness and equity? More than any other school, New Ridgemont High offers opportunities and resources to students across the spectrum: for the first time that I am aware of, theater kids don’t have to beg for the scraps left over from sports; computer and electronics enthusiasts aren’t made to feel like losers and social misfits; shop and other vocational classes are fully funded and staffed. No one is being left out at our school.

Tom’s campaign is based entirely on fear and suspicion, and as well-meaning as they may be, they represent a fundamentally negative mindset. My campaign, in contrast, is entirely positive. I start from the idea that New Ridgemont High is a very special thing and that we are lucky to be a part of it, and my aim, if elected, is to build on that foundation: to help Dr. Friedman, in every way that I can; to propose new ideas when I have them and to help implement those ideas that are already on the table; and to work as a full partner in this amazing experiment. My campaign slogan is, “A new kind of school requires a new kind of student government,” and a new kind of student government is what I intend to create. I hope you’ll all join with me in this new, exciting effort, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

The students, who until now have been sitting in hushed attention, erupt with applause, whistles, and shouts. The chant of “Chloe! Chloe!  Chloe!” starts up again.  

Chloe steps back behind her podium and looks down, her cheeks slightly red. Mitch returns to the microphone.

Mitch: Thank you, Miss Gold. Now, the candidates will have the opportunity to question one another. The first question will go to Mr. Rosen. 

Tom: An admirable speech for a PR manager … or a highly educated groupie.

Mitch: This is question time, Mr. Rosen, not time to make another speech.

Tom: Sorry, just an offhand remark. Forget it.

Chloe: I’m sure it was just an innocent mistake.

Tom: [Trying to suppress a smile] Okay, a question. Miss Gold …

Chloe: Yes, Mr. Rosen.

Tom: The thing you said towards the end struck me.  When you described how balanced everything is: how resources are spread evenly, across all the student constituencies.

Chloe: And?

Tom: Is that what schools were like in the 1980’s?

Mitch: Are you asking one question, Mr. Rosen?  

Tom: It’s a line of questioning.

Chloe: It’s OK, Mitch. Let him do it his way.

Mitch: I’ll allow it.

Tom: Thanks.

Chloe: Could you ask the question again, please?

Tom: The “Even-Steven” philosophy at New Ridgemont High. Is that what schools were like in the ‘80’s?

Chloe: No, sports were privileged then too. And the stuff which went with it: cheerleading, marching band … kick-line.

Tom: I see. So this school is as much a matter of advancing Friedman’s personal preferences — for theater, the arts, vocational ed., and other “marginalized” areas — as it is of genuinely recreating an 80’s high school, for laboratory purposes.

Chloe: New Ridgemont High is the result of an idea, Tom, not an ideology. It doesn’t have to be – it shouldn’t be – to the letter.

Tom: Seems pretty ideological to me. Like something right out of the 1960’s. Let’s all hold hands, sing “Kumbaya” and be equal together. Not very ‘80s.

Chloe: New Ridgemont High isn’t some utopian cult, Tom. It’s a school based on the idea that schools can be better and teens can have better lives, if we adopt some of the principles and practices of 80’s era high schools. But it’s not a slave to those principles and practices. If New Ridgemont High serves anything, it’s the idea of betterment, and I agree with Principal Friedman that a more equitable distribution of school resources is better than a less equitable one.

Tom: You explain it better than he does.  

Chloe: What’s your point?

Tom: The point is clear, if you care to see it. You’ve just admitted that you intend to serve Friedman’s interests, rather than the students’.

Chloe: How do you figure that?

Tom: Well, how do you know that students want an “equitable” distribution of school resources? If you put the matter to a vote of the student body, do you think people would want to spend as much money on the latest installation of Teen Theater as on football games, including cheerleaders, marching bands and … what was the last thing you mentioned with such reverence?  Oh yeah, “kick lines.”

Chloe: I don’t know, Tom.  Do you?

Tom: I think everyone does. More cheerleaders and kick-lines. Less Teen Theater.

Chloe: You might be right, if it was put to a straight vote.

Tom: Well, that’s the point and the difference between you and me. You want to impose your ideas — and Friedman’s ideas — of “betterment” on the students. I don’t. As Student Body President, my job is to advocate for what the students want, not what I or my idol wants.

Chloe: [Smiling] You’re right, Tom, that is one big difference between you and me. You see, I think that the job of President – any President – is to lead as well as follow popular opinion. I’m not ashamed of wanting to lead on things like fairness and decency, Tom. Are you?

Mitch: I’m going to call that the end of our first round. I think that both points were fully developed and aired.

Tom: I agree.

Chloe: So, do I.

Mitch: Since we’re agreed, let’s move on to our second round. Miss Gold, you now have a chance to pose a question — or start a line of questioning — for Mr. Rosen.

Chloe: Tom, the reasons you’ve given for your candidacy, so far, have been entirely abstract; even philosophical. Now, I like philosophy as much as the next girl, but I’d like to know what you actually plan on doing, if you win.

Tom: Whatever the students want me to do.

Chloe: And what do they want you to do?

Tom: I don’t know yet.

Chloe: So, all this time you’ve been campaigning and you haven’t bothered to find out what the students want?

Tom: If I win, I plan to hold a series of “town hall” style meetings to determine that.

Chloe: Hmm, it seems like you’ve given us a lot of promissory notes. If you get elected, you’ll find out what people want. If Dr. Friedman suddenly turns into Juan Peron, you’ll be independent. Not a lot to go on, is it?

Tom: That’s all a political campaign is: a bunch of promises. There’s no way anyone can know, in advance, whether we’re actually going to do what we say.  

Chloe: Why are you so cynical, Tom?

Tom: Not cynical, careful.

Chloe: Refusing to ever trust anyone doesn’t strike me as merely being “careful.” 

Mitch: Miss Gold, remember that you’re supposed to be asking questions of Mr. Rosen.

Chloe: I’ll move on.

Mitch: Thank you.

Tom: That’s cute, the way you two do that.

Chloe: [Coolly] So, let’s just assume that we’re all telling the truth. You win the election. You hold several Town Hall meetings and end up with a list of things that the students want. Oh, by the way, which students?

Tom: What do you mean?

Chloe: Well, there are a lot of students. Presumably, there’s a lot of things that they want. Which students’ requests will you act on?

Tom: The majority’s. I’ll represent majority interests.

Chloe: That was the whole point of your “Teen Theater” remark, wasn’t it?

Tom: Afraid so. 

Chloe: And too bad for the shop kids, too? And the techies?

Tom: Not everyone can get what they want, when resources are finite. If there’s enough left over, of course I’ll be happy to advance the minority’s interests.

Chloe: Your generosity is humbling.

Tom: It’s called democracy, Chloe. You know, the system we have here in the United States.

Chloe: That’s one way of describing it.

Tom: I don’t know what you’re getting so upset about.  After all, you said you were for “fairness.” What’s more fair than majority rule?

Chloe: I think you’ve forgotten something.

Tom: What’s that?

Chloe: The United States isn’t just a democracy. There are all sorts of constitutional protections for minorities.   The Founders understood that fairness means a lot more than just majority rule.

Tom: I disagree. True, there are things that are harder to pass – you need super-majorities to amend the Constitution, for example – but at the end of the day, it’s majority rule. If enough people wanted to, they could overturn the entire Bill of Rights.

Chloe: I think you’re missing the principle for the details, but let’s get back to my original line of questioning.

Tom: Fine with me.

Chloe: We’re assuming that you’ve won and that you’ve found out what the majority wants. How do you plan on getting those things done?

Tom: Through whatever means are available to me, as Student Body President.

Chloe: Don’t you think it’s going to be a little hard, given your attitude? I mean, do you think that Principal Friedman is going to want to work with you, after you’ve spent a month running a defiant, oppositional campaign? 

Tom: It doesn’t matter if he wants to work with me. If I’m Student Body President, he’ll have to work with me.

Chloe: I thought you were supposed to be the realist and I was supposed to be the naïve idealist.

Tom: Your point?

Chloe: Well, this isn’t the United States government. It’s student government. And if you think you can get anything done when you have an antagonistic relationship with the administration, then you are naïve.

Tom: We’ll see about that.

Chloe: One last thing.

Tom: Yes?

Chloe: Do you think it’s easier to solve problems before they start or in the early stages or after they’ve metastasized into full blown catastrophes?

Tom: In the abstract, the former. But I can’t be more specific, until I know what you’re getting at.

Chloe: What I’m getting at is the underlying logic of your position. Let’s suppose that you’re right and that Principal Friedman or others in the administration “turn.”  

Tom: I think that’s inevitable.

Chloe: I know, you’re just being “careful.” But, who do you think will have a better chance of heading off a rogue administration? The person who’s been working with it throughout and can see the warning signs early? Or the person who’s been on the outside the whole time and doesn’t realize it, until it’s already happened?

Tom: Put that way, the first person. But I might put it another way.

Chloe: And how’s that?

Tom: Who do you think is more likely to spot trouble early? The person who has maintained a healthy distance and is skeptical or a person who’s drunk the whole pitcher of Friedman-Kool-Aid?

Mitch: I’m going to call that the end of this round.  I think you’ve both made your respective points very clearly.

Chloe: Agreed.

Tom: Agreed.

Mitch: And since we’ve had an extensive back and forth, already, I’m going to suggest skipping formal rebuttals and going straight to our roundtable, if there are no objections.

Tom: Sounds good to me.

Chloe: Me too.

Mitch: Then I’ll turn things over to the Standard editors:  Lee Lindberg, David Weber, and Laurie Pence.  Lee?

Lee: Miss Gold, it seems to me that you haven’t answered Mr. Rosen’s main charge against you: that 

you won’t be an independent student-body President, but will be in cahoots with the administration.

Chloe: I reject your characterization. ‘Cahoots’ implies that something bad is going on. Working with the administration to try and ensure that students have the best possible experience at New Ridgemont High is not “being in cahoots” with it.

Lee: With all due respect, you’re dodging the question.  Mr. Rosen was very clear in specifying that he was concerned about your independence, in case the administration “turned” and was no longer acting in students’ interests.

Chloe: If it seemed like a dodge, I apologize. That wasn’t what I meant, but I should have been more explicit. I don’t think that’s very likely.

Lee: Yeah, I got that. and it bothers me even more. I’m wondering if maybe you like Principal Friedman just a little bit too much.

Mitch: Lee, that’s out of bounds!

Lee: [Snorts] Like hell it is.

Chloe: It’s OK Mitch, I’ll answer it.

Mitch: [Looking angry] Okay, since you don’t object, I’ll allow it. This time. But, I’m warning you, Lee, find a more civil way to ask your questions, or I’ll move on to Laurie.

Lee: Yes, your awesomeness.

Chloe: I’m not embarrassed to admit that I like and admire Principal Friedman a lot. How could anyone not? He’s not just brilliant and accomplished, he’s devoted his entire career to trying to help us and our brothers and sisters across California, not to mention the rest of America. Do I need to remind you what the schools in the rest of the country are like? Have you forgotten how bad things have gotten out there for teens? The fact is that Principal Friedman cares more about us and kids like us than anyone out there today, so, no, I don’t think it’s very likely that he’ll suddenly turn into some kind of monster.

Lee: That’s not what I meant by liking him too much.

Mitch: Lee!

Chloe: I know what you meant, and you’re wrong.  That’s not the only reason people like one another.  Call me crazy, but I like people who are going out of their way to try and help me and to help others.

Lee: Fine, but he doesn’t have to turn into a monster to do things that students might have a problem with.  

Chloe: Look, if the Principal proposes or does something that I think goes against student interests, I’ll oppose him. I just don’t see any reason to start out on that footing; to look for trouble, especially in this case, given what New Ridgemont High is all about.

Lee: If you think it goes against student interests. What if you don’t think it does, but the majority of students do?

Chloe: It depends on what it is, Lee. Like I said to Tom, my job is to lead as well as follow popular opinion. If the majority of students decide that they want nothing but candy served in the cafeteria and the administration refuses, I’m going to side with the administration. 

Lee: Not exactly a likely scenario, is it?

Chloe: It’s just an example, to make the point. 

Mitch: Mr. Rosen, do you want to say anything, in response to Lee’s question?

Tom: No, I’m happy to let Miss Gold’s answer stand on its own.

Mitch: Then let’s turn to Laurie Pence. Laurie?

Laurie: Thank you, Mitch. This question is for both candidates and is drawn from questions put to us by a number of students. Over the last several weeks, the subject of your personal wealth has come up. People have expressed concern that you both come from Beverly Hills and that you’ve spent quite a bit of money on your respective campaigns. Can you understand that some might wonder how two people from such privileged backgrounds can genuinely represent the interests of “ordinary” students? Mr. Rosen, why don’t you go first?

Tom: Well, the students here are hardly “ordinary.” It is a Valley school, after all, with a population heavily drawn from this area. It may not be as Richie-Rich as Beverly Hills, but it’s not that far off.

Laurie: That doesn’t really answer the question, though, does it? And Principal Friedman has gone to some lengths to recruit poorer kids.

Tom: Some might call what he’s done “tokenism,” but you’re right, I didn’t answer the question.

Laurie: So?

Tom: I can’t change the fact that my parents are wealthy, and I won’t apologize for running the best campaign I can, given my personal resources. I mean, it would be a little absurd to suggest that I should run less of a campaign than I am capable of, just for the sake of appearances.

Laurie: Is that it?

Tom: No, I’d like to add one more thing. Anyone who knows me from Beverly Hills knows that I was hardly juiced in with the popular crowd there. As Miss Gold can attest, I was a Floater and that made me pretty independent of the pressures of the in-cliques.

Chloe: That’s true. Tom’s not your typical Beverly Hills High student.

Laurie: If I can push you a little bit on that, Mr. Rosen.

Tom: Sure, go ahead.

Laurie: Well, that crack about “Teen Theater” and your point regarding sports. They sure sounded like “in-clique” kind of stuff.

Tom: Yeah, I’m sorry I put it that way. Look, I’m not a sporto. I didn’t even play sports at Beverly Hills.  

Laurie: Then why the disdain for theater, shop, and other “marginalized areas,” as  you described them?

Tom: It wasn’t disdain. I meant what I said. It’s about democracy. I don’t believe that students want this “perfect equity” that Friedman has been pushing and which Miss Gold supports.

Laurie: Okay, but what’s your personal view? Miss Gold made a point about advocating for fairness and decency.  Do you think it’s fair or decent for sports and sports-related activities to get the lion-share of school money and prestige?

Tom: I’m not going to answer that; at least not directly.  Remember, I don’t think that my personal preferences are relevant. I’m running to represent the students’ preferences, not my own.

Laurie: Miss Gold?

Chloe: I agree a lot with Tom; at least, with the first part of what he said. I can’t help who my parents are or how much money they have. And I’m not going to run a less-polished campaign, just so that I can try and pretend otherwise. It would be dishonest and wouldn’t work, anyway.

Laurie: Unlike Mr. Rosen, though, you have been involved with sports. You were a cheerleader at Beverly Hills, and if I’m not mistaken, you just made the cheerleading squad here too.

Chloe: That’s right. I love cheerleading. It’s like the best parts of dance and gymnastics mixed together, without the bad parts.

Laurie: So, how do you counter the worry about your capacity to represent “ordinary people’s” interests?

Chloe: By my words and actions. Look at what I’m advocating. Look at my social circle. I think you’ll find that I’m hardly a part of any of the top-cliques here.  I’ve made friends across the student-body, from every income-level and every social scene.

Tom: I should say on Miss Gold’s behalf: even though she was a cheerleader at Beverly Hills, she was a Floater too. In fact, we used to run together, quite a bit.

Chloe: Tom’s right. I wasn’t in the popular set, at Beverly Hills. Cheerleading was my only real contact with that group.

Laurie: So, you two have personal history?

Chloe: Yes, we’ve known each other since second grade. Our parents are friends, and we were pretty much best friends at Beverly Hills. We haven’t hung out at all since we’ve come to New Ridgemont High though. I don’t know why. You’d have to ask Tom that.

Laurie: So, is this election some kind of personal thing between you two? Some private battle you two are fighting?

Chloe: Not for me, it isn’t.

Laurie: Mr. Rosen?

Tom: [Smiling] Of course, not. This is about what’s best for the students at New Ridgemont High.

Mitch: Thank you, Laurie. Let’s turn to David Weber, who will close out this segment of today’s debate.

David: Mr. Rosen, I thought I heard you say that when a person becomes student-body President, he checks his conscience at the door. Did I really hear that?

Tom: I never said that.

David:  Really? I thought you did. All that stuff about – lemme see, I wrote it down – “my preferences aren’t relevant” and “I’m running to represent the students’ preferences, not my own.”

Tom: Sure, I said that, but you’ve got to stretch things a few miles to turn it into “checking your conscience at the door.”

David: Hmm, seems more like a few feet to me. You were clearly talking about moral preferences, not your preference for vanilla over chocolate or blondes over brunettes. If I recall correctly – let me look at my notes again – you were expressing resentment at Dr. Friedman’s and Miss Gold’s “imposing their view of betterment” on the students.

Tom: That’s fair, and yes, I stand by it.

David: If I also recall correctly, the particular points of betterment at issue were the “equitable distribution of resources” and the decent treatment of students from “less popular” cliques, more generally. Are you seriously suggesting that being neutral on those things is good?

Tom: That’s a hard question.

David: Yeah, I have a bad habit of asking those.

Tom: There’s an answer, but it’s subtle.

David: I’ll concentrate extra hard.

Tom: Personally, I’m for the things you just mentioned.

David: I sense a “but” coming.

Tom: [Smiling] But, if I become Student Body President I won’t be representing my personal views. I’ll be representing the students’ views, and the only fair – and I’d argue, “decent” – way to do that is by the principle of majority rule.

David: I feel like we’re going around in circles. It’s exactly that attitude that I’m asking you about. Isn’t that sort of neutrality really just amorality?

Tom: It would be, if I was acting as Tom Rosen, but I wouldn’t be. I’d be acting as Student Body President.

David: So you’re saying that you become the position?  That you’re not your own person anymore?

Tom: When acting as Student Body President? Yes. And there’s nothing weird about that. Think about judges or referees. If they can’t put their personal feelings and values aside, they’re obligated to recuse themselves.

David: I don’t think that being Student Body President is anything like being a judge or a referee, but I’ll leave it at that.

Mitch: Miss Gold, would you like to say anything in response to David’s question?

Chloe: I guess that I’m wondering what the point is of having a Student Body President, then. If all you’re going to do is mouth the majority line, why not just let the students vote on issues, as they come up?

David: Mr. Rosen?

Tom: Efficiency.

David: Efficiency?

Tom: Yes. Government by plebiscite is inefficient. That’s why you have representatives.

Chloe: [Somewhat in disbelief] You’re saying people should vote for you for Student Body President, because it’s efficient?

Tom: Yeah, I know, not very sexy is it? See, I’m just running for a temporary office. I’m not trying to be King of New Ridgemont High.

Mitch: Do either of you have anything else to say on this question?

Chloe: No.

Tom: Nope.

Mitch: Then, it’s time for closing statements. Mr. Rosen, you have two minutes.

Tom steps out from around the podium and stands at the front of the stage.

Tom: Miss Gold has said that my campaign is “abstract” and lacks specifics. She’s been critical of my skepticism towards the administration and has promised to “lead” and not just “follow.” And it’s all true. I haven’t been as specific or as inspirational as Miss Gold. But, in closing, I’d like to suggest that it’s better for me to be this way; that all of my opponents’ plans and visions are largely beside the point, at least, given where things stand now.

The fact is, any talk of plans or “leading rather than following” is premature, because we have no idea what sorts of powers the Student Government will actually have. The administration hasn’t decided that yet. So, neither Miss Gold nor I know what we’ll be able to do, in any concrete sense, if we’re elected.

It seems to me that in a situation like this, the only thing you can run on are your general principles; on what your overall attitude is going to be, regardless of what the job actually involves. I’ve done that. I’ve told you that I have no personal agenda and that I’ll represent the students’ interests, in whatever ways I can. I’ve said that my basic stance towards the administration is adversarial, but not antagonistic. And that’s it. ‘Cause that’s all I can say at this point given what we know.

My opponent, meanwhile, has gotten on a pretty high horse. She’s not just going to be Student Body President, she’s going to be the Morality Exchequer for Principal Friedman. She’s going to make sure that we’re all nice to each other. She’s going to help Friedman build a bigger and better New Ridgemont High. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s great if you agree with her and Principle Friedman’s conception of morality and with their idea of what counts as a “better New Ridgemont High.” But whether you do or don’t, it’s still nothing but talk. Because Miss Gold has no idea whether she’ll actually have the power to do any of the things she’s talked about. She doesn’t know if she’ll be invited into the Principal’s inner-sanctum. She doesn’t know whether the Student Government will have any real powers or even a measly veto.

I hope that Miss Gold is correct and that the administration will fully enfranchise Student Government and continue to be a friend to us. But whether it does or not, you can know at least one thing for certain: that I will represent you, in any and every way I can. I thank you all for your support.

Tom returns to his podium. There is loud applause and the stamping of feet.  

Mitch: Miss Gold, you now have two minutes to make a closing statement.

Chloe steps in front of her podium and rests her elbow on it.

Chloe: My opponent has said that he isn’t cynical, but everything he says drips with cynicism. Principal Friedman might seem to be a nice guy, but just beneath the surface, there’s a fascist dictator waiting to break loose. I may say that I want to support the values of equality and friendliness, but I’m really just a stealth-Nurse Ratched, trying to lobotomize you. He says these things and makes these veiled attacks –and make no mistake, they are attacks – in such a reasonable-sounding way, but the truth is, it’s pretty crazy stuff.  

Fortunately, I know Tom – let’s just drop this “Mr.” and “Miss” thing – and he’s not crazy. So, I can only conclude that this is his idea of tactics. And given how little he’s thought about the job – about what he’s actually going to do if he wins – I have to wonder if he really wants it. Or whether he’s on some other kind of trip entirely.

One more thing: about this notion that we shouldn’t make any plans or talk about the future, because we don’t know what the powers of our Student Government are going to be. I reject it. In fact, it’s such a bad argument that I wonder whether Tom’s making it just to distract everyone from the fact that he has no plans of his own. “Yeah, it’s true that I haven’t thought about Student Government for even five minutes and have no ideas, but it doesn’t matter, because we don’t know whether our Student Government will even be a Student Government.” Pretty lame stuff, Tom.

That kind of doubt only applies if Tom is right about the alleged nefarious intentions of the administration.  Because that’s the only way that anyone would believe that Principal Friedman is going to screw us over, on Student Government. But as I’ve already pointed out, there’s no reason to think that at all. In fact, there’s every reason to think the opposite. Tom has admitted that New Ridgemont High has been “pretty damned fantastic.” I think so too. So, I’ve made plans. Over the course of my campaign, I’ve told you what many of them are. In the coming days, I’ll tell you more. Thank you very much.

Chloe steps back behind her podium.  A large segment of the audience leaps to its feet, wildly applauding. Shouts of “Chloe!” ring out, against a backdrop of cheering and air horn blasts.

Mitch: This ends our debate program. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the candidates, for what I think everyone will agree was a fascinating, rousing performance, and to thank all of you for your enthusiastic participation.

A roar rises up from the crowd and a number of students start a noisy chant of “RIDGEMONT!  RIDGEMONT!” Will Friedman, who has been sitting quietly in the front row, comes to the foot of the stage and signals to Mitch.

Mitch: Before we adjourn, Principal Friedman would like to say a few words.

Friedman jogs up the steps on the left side of the stage and takes the microphone, which Mitch offers to him, after shaking his hand vigorously. Friedman is beaming.

Friedman: I wasn’t planning on saying anything, but after what I’ve just witnessed, I feel like I need to personally congratulate the two candidates. Tom, Chloe, your command of history, political philosophy, the American Constitution, and the art of debate is impressive and inspiring. Your debate was as good as any I’ve seen at any level of government in quite some time. The two of you have done yourselves and New Ridgemont High proud.  

Friedman claps loudly and the audience leaps to their feet again. Shouts of “Chloe!” and “Tom!” echo across the room. Then, he holds up his hands.

Friedman: And I would be remiss not to give special thanks to Mitch Bennett and to Lee Lindberg, Laurie Pence, and David Weber. Mitch, what you and your team have done is nothing short of a miracle: an incredible program today and a month’s worth of top-quality news coverage on this campaign. I’m humbled and so proud of you that I could burst.

Loud hoots and whistles. Friedman puts his arm around Mitch, who is flushed with excitement, and squeezes him. Lee, Laurie, and David whisper among themselves, bright smiles on their faces.

Friedman: Mr. Bennett, would you like to dismiss them or shall I?

Mitch: No, I’ll do it. Okay, guys! You’re all dismissed!  Have a great afternoon!

A final roar goes up, and the students file noisily from the auditorium. Mitch, Lee, Laurie, David, Tom, and Chloe remain on the stage.

Friedman approaches Tom and seizes his hand, pumping it enthusiastically.

Friedman: Tom, a remarkable showing. Thank you so much!

Tom: [Appearing slightly stunned] Uh, you’re welcome, Sir. I did my best.

Friedman: You did more than that. God, man, you were strong up there! Serious and casual at the same time. Clear in your own mind and even clearer in speech. Smart. Clever. You’ve got a gift for this.

Tom: That’s really nice of you to say, though I have to admit, I’m a little surprised.

Friedman: Why’s that?

Tom: Well, I guess I didn’t expect you to be as happy as you are about it. I was pretty rough.

Friedman [Looking Tom straight in the eye]: Did you mean it?

Tom: [Studying Friedman carefully] Most of it.

Friedman: And what about the other parts?

Tom: Rhetoric. What else could I do? You see who I’m up against. I was losing before anyone said a word.

Friedman: So, you learned something.

Tom: What’s that?

Friedman: That logic isn’t enough, at least, not if you’re trying to persuade actual people and not just write an “A” paper.

Tom: [Laughs] Yeah, I kinda’ knew that already.

Friedman: Learning is ongoing. Understanding isn’t a one-time thing. It deepens every time you pursue it.   And doing – acting on the basis of what you know – that’s something we work at mastering all our lives.

Tom: I like that.

Friedman: I know you do. And that’s why I like you. Well done!

Tom: Thanks!

Friedman claps Tom on the back, then crosses the stage to where Chloe is standing, in conversation with Mitch. He takes her hand. 

Chloe: Principal Friedman; Will.

Friedman: Chloe, I just congratulated your opponent for a masterful debate, and I’d like to offer the same congratulations to you.

Chloe: Thank you!

Friedman: Your fierce commitment to fairness and decency – your unwavering, clearly heartfelt kindness – I have to tell you, I really was moved.

Chloe: [Her eyes shining] I love this school. And I love the students, all of them. I feel like we’re on some magical voyage together. God, that sounds dumb.

Friedman: It’s not dumb. In fact, it’s exactly how I feel about it, when I’m not playing social scientist. Because at the deepest level, that’s exactly what this is: a miraculous trip that we’re all on together. Even months into it, sometimes, I can’t believe it’s actually happening.

Chloe: I know! There are times when I feel like I never went to Beverly Hills, and there are times when it seems like I was just there yesterday.

Friedman: What you and Tom did today was extraordinary. And important. Not only did everyone get a serious civics lesson, you’ve raised the profile of Student Government. It’ll really mean something to them now, and that means they’ll get involved.

Chloe: Well, it was an honor to participate and a little scary! Tom is tough. Really tough.

Friedman: That, he is.

Chloe: Don’t be mad at him. He means well. He just has to do everything to the fullest, I guess.

Friedman: It’s noble of  you to defend him, but you don’t have to. I think Tom’s terrific.

Chloe: Really?

Friedman: Yes, really. We need voices like his. In fact, they’re essential. You know why?

Chloe: Why?

Friedman: Because he’s right. Not about the radical democracy stuff – at least, not in my view – I tend to be more on your side of that divide. No, what he’s right about is his adversarial stance.

Chloe: But, you’d never turn against the students.

Friedman: No, I wouldn’t. But that’s not the only way things can go bad. I know it seems like it’s just us, here, on our own, but it isn’t. As Tom pointed out, there’s a huge infrastructure behind us, and a lot of it is outside New Ridgemont High. What he didn’t say – and I’m not sure, he even realizes – is that we have very little control over it.

Chloe: You should talk to Mitch about that. He has some really good ideas about PR for the school.

Friedman: You read my mind. I’m going to talk to him next. After what I’ve seen here today and for the last month – that young man is someone whose brain I need to pick.

Chloe: He’ll be so glad. He’s been dying to work on the New Ridgemont High project.

Friedman: Let me grab him before it gets too late.  Chloe, my admiration and gratitude. Truly.

Friedman hugs Chloe and hurries over to Mitch, who has joined Lee, Laurie, and David. Friedman puts his arm around Mitch’s shoulder.

Friedman: What can I say, Mitch, guys? I am so impressed by what you’ve done here today and over the last month.

Lee: [Looking slightly uncomfortable] Uh, thanks.

Laurie and David: [Flushed and happy] Thank you!

Mitch: I’ve been waiting my whole life for something to get involved in, and finally I’ve found it!

Friedman: Lucky for me that you decided to come to New Ridgemont High. I never would have dreamt of this level of quality in student journalism.  

Mitch: We have a lot of ideas; things we’d like to do.

Friedman: I’m counting on it. Why don’t you meet with your people and put together an action plan? Then schedule a meeting with me. I’ll tell my secretary to expect you.

Mitch: [Trembling with excitement] Really? You mean it?

Friedman: [Laughing] Of course I do. I think you and your team can help me and the school an awful lot.

Mitch: Principal Friedman, I don’t know what to say.

Friedman: Well, you can start by calling me “Will,” at least when we’re one-on-one. You can’t keep saying “Principal Friedman” if we’re going to work together. It’ll make talking cumbersome.

Mitch: Okay!

Friedman:  And don’t wait too long to come and see me. We have a lot of work to do!

Mitch: I won’t, and thank you!

Friedman: No, thank you. I didn’t do this. You guys did.  All of you. I’ll catch you later, okay?

Mitch, Lee, Laurie, and David: Okay! Later!

Friedman waves to everyone and exits the auditorium, through the doors behind the stage. Mitch, Lee, Laurie, and David also depart. Chloe walks over to Tom, who is still standing by his podium. He looks contemplative.

Chloe: Well, you certainly put me through my paces, didn’t you?

Tom: Did you expect any less?

Chloe:  I guess not. I really didn’t know what to expect, going into it.

Tom: Well, I did warn you that I was going to give you a run for your money.

Chloe: You certainly poisoned the water very effectively. Half the school thinks I’m running for President, ‘cause I want to fuck Will. And your last maneuver was impressive too. Waiting until the very end to drop that stuff about us not knowing what powers Student Government will have.  

Tom: [Snorts] For all the good it did. I thought I might unnerve you, but you turned right around and clobbered me.

Chloe: You’re not the only one capable of surprises.

Tom: Obviously.  

Chloe: So, we’ll know by next week – who won, I mean.

Tom: Yeah, the election’s on Tuesday.

Chloe: You said you were doing this so that I wouldn’t run unopposed. Has it occurred to you that you might have done too good a job and could actually win?

Tom: It’s occurred to me, but it’s extremely unlikely.

Chloe: Really? I think a lot of people thought you won the debate.

Tom: Maybe. But it doesn’t matter. You’re going to win the election.

Chloe: Why do you say that?

Tom: Likability. You came across as caring, concerned, and nice. I came across as a dick. I knew it was a risk, given the strategy I chose.

Chloe: Will I see you around? Or are you gonna’ keep avoiding me?

Tom: You’ll see me around.

Chloe: I’m glad.

Tom: I’ll catch you later, Chloe, okay?

Chloe: Yeah, see you.

Tom gives Chloe a clumsy hug and walks down the steps at the front of the stage.  Chloe watches him leave through the main doors.

October 27, 2020, 1:30pm, PST.

Location: The New Ridgemont High Auditorium. The election has been held and the votes tallied. The students, faculty, and administrative staff have assembled to hear which candidate has won. They are waiting for Principal Friedman to arrive and make the announcement. Chloe, Tom, and Mitch are on the stage. Mitch is taking pictures for the paper. A camcorder, on a tripod, stands next to him.

Chloe: Tom, I want to ask you something.

Tom: Yes?

Chloe: If I win, I was hoping you’d be my Vice President.

Tom: Really?

Chloe: Yes.

Tom: I’m surprised. I didn’t think you’d want me anywhere near your government, given the kind of campaign I’ve run.

Chloe: You’ve made a lot of good points, Tom, even if I haven’t always loved how you’ve made them, and I was thinking a lot about what Will – Principal Friedman –said to me after the debate.

Tom: What’s that?

Chloe: He said that skeptical voices like yours are essential to the success of New Ridgemont High. 

Tom: He said that?

Chloe: Yes. Not just to keep an eye on the administration, but on all the powers that operate in the background and especially, outside of the school.

Tom: I see. Do you think he’s anticipating trouble? I can’t imagine why. From what I can tell, New Ridgemont High is the darling of the State.

Chloe: No, it’s not that specific. But, he’s come to the same conclusion that you have … about himself and about me.

Tom: I’m not sure I follow. What conclusion?

Chloe: That we both love New Ridgemont High so much that we might not see trouble coming, if it ever does.

Tom: Ah.

Chloe: So, will you? Join me, I mean … if I win?

Tom: Of course I will. I’d be honored.

Chloe: [Smiling and touching Tom’s arm]  Thanks, Tom. It means a lot to me.

Friedman enters the auditorium and makes his way up to the podium. He has a folder under his arm, which he opens and lays out in front of him. Mitch moves the camcorder into position and begins taping.

Friedman: Well, the votes are in, and it was a close one!  Before I announce the winner, let me say that I think that either Mr. Rosen or Miss Gold would make a fantastic Student Body President. This is not to minimize the differences between the two of them – in many ways, they represent diametrically opposed conceptions of student government. Yet, it is the nature and part of the difficulty of politics that both conceptions are legitimate, given their starting assumptions, both of which are legitimate as well.

The biggest winner, here, though, is neither Mr. Rosen, nor Miss Gold, but New Ridgemont High, itself. Over ninety percent of you voted, and as far as I know, that’s an unprecedented turnout for a high school election. It speaks not only to the quality of the candidates and their respective campaigns, but to the quality of the students here at New Ridgemont High.  Tom and Chloe’s commitment and your active, energetic participation have made Student Government at our school really mean something and that makes me very happy and proud of all of you.

A cheer rises from the audience. Shouts of “Call the winner!” ring out.

Friedman: [Puts his hands up for quiet.] I am delighted to announce that New Ridgemont High’s first Student Body President will be MISS CHLOE GOLD!

A huge roar. Chants of “Chloe!  Chloe!”  Noisy conversation.

Jaime Cohen [In the audience]: Aw, crap!

Valerie Saunders: You gonna’ keep hating on her, now that she’s won? 

Jaime: Nah, I’m done with it. Anyway, she’s a really good cheerleader, and she’s been cool on the squad, so I was already partly defrosted.

Nicole Parker: Even though I voted for her, I have to say, I’m surprised. I thought she was toast after that debate.

Jaime: Funny, I didn’t vote for her, but I knew she’d won after that debate.

Nicole: Why?

Jaime: Tom was too intellectual about it. All that political philosophy shit. She had spirit, and spirit always beats smarts.

Friedman: The vote was fifty-two percent for Miss Gold and forty-eight percent for Mr. Rosen. As I said, a close election. But enough of me. I give you Miss Chloe Gold, President of the New Ridgemont High Student Body!

Friedman steps away from the podium, clapping, and Chloe steps up. The students cheer wildly.  

Chloe [Her eyes moist]: Thank you! I’ve been working so hard for this, and now that it’s happened, I don’t know what to say.


Chloe: I love you too. All of you. And I love this school. I don’t know if you’ll understand, but I feel like New Ridgemont High has given me a whole new life. I’ve never been so enthusiastic about school – never cared so much about anything before – and I have you and New Ridgemont High and Principal Friedman to thank for that. I hope that I can do right by you; repay you all for the incredible gift you’ve given to me.

And along those lines, I have an announcement to make. I’ve asked Tom to be my Vice President, and he’s accepted.

The audience goes wild. Someone blasts an air horn.

Several Students: TOOOOMMMMM!!!!

Lee Lindberg [To Laurie Pence and David Weber]: Ho-lee-shit! I wasn’t expecting that. Especially not after the debate. They really had the knives out.

Laurie: I don’t know, they go pretty far back. Even when they were hammering on each other, I wondered. There was something about it; almost like a dance.

David: That’s gonna’ be some team. The administration had better stay on their good side. I wouldn’t want to go up against those two.

Chloe: ‘Cause more than anything else, it was Tom who made my campaign what it was. His toughness.  His constant pushing. It brought out the best in me, and I know he’ll continue to do so, as my Veep. So, let me turn things over to Tom, and thanks again!

Chloe waves to the crowd, which roars again, and steps back. Tom takes the podium. 

Tom: First things first. Congratulations to Chloe, who ran a powerful, inspirational campaign. You earned this, Chloe, through your dedication, hard work, and unbreakable spirit.

I also want to thank all of my supporters. To be honest, when I started this campaign, I was ambivalent about Student Government. I just thought that someone needed to run; that we needed to have a real contest.  But as things went on and I saw how involved everyone was getting, I started to feel differently about it; started to catch the election fever. And given Principal Friedman’s attitude – his support for the campaign and his fairness towards me, even with all my skepticism – many of my doubts and worries have been put to rest.

But not all of them. I remain skeptical. I guess it’s my nature. And given that both Chloe and Principal Friedman seem to value it – a revelation in itself, I should say – I’m going to stay that way. Keep my eye on everything and everyone for her, for him, and for all of you. Thank you, and I’m looking forward to getting started on the work at hand.

The crowd cheers again, and Tom steps back. Friedman returns to the podium.

Friedman: I am thrilled with Miss Gold’s choice, and I’m excited to work with these two fantastic young people.  Our first order of business will be to figure out what the powers and scope of Student Government are going to be, and that decision will be made by all three of us, in collaboration, so, Tom, Chloe, expect to hear from me in the next week or so. We have a lot to discuss.

One last thing. This marks the three month anniversary of New Ridgemont High, and in celebration of that – and the election – I’m pleased to announce that we’ll be throwing a formal Celebration Ball on Friday night, in the school gym. There’ll be food and drinks, music, and dancing, as late into the night as you can go. So, wear your tuxes and party dresses and join me and the rest of your fellow students!

Boys: WOO HOO!!!!


Friedman: Okay, you’re all dismissed. I’ve canceled last period, so you can either hang out for an hour and wait for the school buses or take off. Have a great afternoon!

Friedman raises his hand in farewell, and turns to shake hands with Chloe and Tom. A last cheer goes up from the crowd as the three leave the stage, and the students, faculty and administrators file out of the auditorium.  Mitch remains on the empty stage, packing up his equipment, smiling to himself.




September 30, 2020, 1:45pm, PST.

Location: The circle drive, in front of New Ridgemont High. Tom Rosen is sitting on top of a great stone horse that stands fifteen feet high off the ground, on a grassy island in the center of the drive.

Tom: [Reclining and whistling]

Chloe Gold comes through the front doors and crosses the drive to the statue, where she stands, looking up at Tom, her arms crossed in front of her chest.

Tom: I was wondering when you’d come looking for me.

Chloe: Hi Tom.

Tom: So, I guess you heard.

Chloe: Yeah…I couldn’t believe it at first, when Fran said it. I told her she was crazy.

Tom: You hanging out with greasers now? Aren’t you worried about your image?

Chloe: That’s not fair, Tom. You know that’s not me.

Tom: Sorry. Just making sure.

Chloe: And why are you suddenly “unsure” about me?

Tom: This whole running for Student Body President thing. It’s not really your style is it?

Chloe: Funny, I was thinking the same thing about you.   You don’t want to be Student Body President.

Tom: No, of course not. I can’t think of anything worse.

Chloe: So, why are you doing it?

Tom: Because  you can’t run unopposed, and I’m the only one who has a prayer of beating you.

Chloe: And why can’t I run unopposed?

Tom: Because then you wouldn’t really have won.

Chloe: Are you sure that’s the only reason?

Tom: I’m never sure of anything.

Chloe: Tom, I haven’t seen you since we started New Ridgemont High. Haven’t passed you in the halls. You aren’t in any of my classes. The first day, I looked for you around the clothing tables, you were nowhere to be found.

Tom: I already have clothes.

Chloe: We’re supposed to be wearing ‘80’s clothes.  

Tom: The clothes I wear fit into any time period.

Chloe: Is that how it’s gonna’ be, Tom? You’re gonna’ float through this school too?

Tom: From what I recall, you did plenty of “floating” with me, back at Beverly Hills. You weren’t exactly on the School Spirit Committee.

Chloe: This isn’t Beverly Hills. It’s better. Way better.

Tom: Maybe.

Chloe: [Snorts] Cynical as always.

Tom: Not cynical. Careful.

Chloe: Well, I happen to believe in New Ridgemont High; in what Will is trying to do.

Tom: So, it’s “Will” now, is it?

Chloe: Everyone calls him that.

Tom: Really? Everyone?

Chloe: He’s … progressive.

Tom: That’s one word for it.

Chloe: Okay, let’s say I’m a Friedman groupie. So what? There’s a lot worse things I could be.

Tom: Fair enough. I’ll lay off the subject of your Friedman-crush.

Chloe: You still haven’t explained why you’re running for Student Body President.

Tom: I told you. You can’t run unopposed, and I’m the only one who can beat you.

Chloe: Yeah, I think that’s half bullshit.

Tom: Okay, there is another reason.

Chloe: I’m all ears.

Tom: You’re a true believer, Chloe, and if you become President, you’re gonna’ hop right into bed with the administration. [Sees the look on Chloe’s face.] I guess I shouldn’t have put it that way.

Chloe: I’m sure it was just an innocent mistake.

Tom: Student government should provide a check against the administration, not collaborate with it.

Chloe: At any other school, I might agree with you – at Beverly Hills High, I would definitely agree with you – but not here.  

Tom: I don’t think it matters what school you’re in.

Chloe: How can it not matter?

Tom: Because it’s a matter of principle. No one should ever trust any administration that much.

Chloe: This isn’t a normal administration or a normal school. Will created this school, because he hates what the “normal” schools have become. New Ridgemont High is completely student-centered. You can’t act like he’s some kind of typical dickhead principal.

Tom: You’re right. It’s still a matter of trust though, even of whether he can trust us.

Chloe: I’m not following you.

Tom: That man cares about this too much, Chloe. He’s too invested. And that’s when you let your guard down; when you make mistakes. Bad ones. Can he trust that we’ll tell him when we think he’s making a mistake? That we’ll even oppose him, if it’s the right thing to do?

Chloe: You think I wouldn’t tell him, if I thought he was wrong? That I wouldn’t oppose him, if I thought that something he was doing was bad?

Tom: I think you would. I’m just not sure you could.

Chloe: That doesn’t even make sense.

Tom: Only if you use logic. I don’t.

Chloe: Well, this certainly is going to be an interesting campaign.

Tom: It’ll be fun, and whoever wins will be the better for it.

Chloe: The school will be the better for it. You’re a tough debater.

Tom: [Laughs] Thanks! Hey, it’s 2:00. Don’t you have a class now?

Chloe: Holy shit! You’re right! [Runs for the front doors and calls back, over her shoulder] See you on the campaign trail!

Tom: You certainly will. [Reclines and starts whistling again.]

Editorial from The Standard, October 5, 2020.

Wait and See

The Editors

At least for the time being, The Standard is not endorsing a candidate for Student Body President. Undoubtedly, both of the candidates — Miss Gold or Mr. Rosen — would do an outstanding job. In many ways this is fortunate: it means that rather than being forced to choose the lesser of two evils, students can actually weigh the candidates on their substantive positions and make their selections on the merits.  

Gold Campaign Poster

But this same point can also be turned into a negative: With candidates who are so equally matched on the merits, it may be tempting to vote on the basis of looks or other similarly non-relevant factors. And given the slickly produced advertising released by the two campaigns, plus the candidates’ significant wealth — Gold and Rosen both hail from Beverly Hills — this would seem a pertinent concern.

Rosen Campaign Poster

This election poses an additional challenge to voters. Because New Ridgemont High is a brand new school, there are no ongoing concerns; no existing grievances; no popular causes; none of the sorts of things that would normally provide the issues for the campaign; the points over which candidates could disagree and take contrasting stands.

It is lucky, then, that Miss Gold and Mr. Rosen have chosen to make this election about their governing philosophies. Not only will this give them — and us — something to talk about, as the campaign unfolds over the next several weeks, it will allow us to have an important conversation about what we want Student Government to be: what role it should play; what sorts of issues it should take up; what it’s relationship should be with the administration. And if the candidates’ early statements are any indication, they have considerably different views on all of these subjects.

Miss Gold and Mr. Rosen have agreed to take part in a debate that will be moderated by Mitch Bennett, with The Standard’s editorial board posing their own questions, as well as questions submitted by NRH students. (To submit your questions, simply type them on a piece of paper and send them by interoffice mail to The Standard, in an envelope labeled “Debate Questions.”) We hope that everyone will attend what is sure to be an exciting and informative debate.

No group of students will ever have the opportunity to directly affect the future of New Ridgemont High as we will, in this election. We strongly encourage everyone to get involved and to come out and vote on election day.

October 10, 2020, 9:00am, PST.

Location: The main hall of the science wing. Jaime Cohen, Nicole Parker, Jon Baron, Sandy Kendel, and Mike Neuman are talking with Mitch Bennett about the election.

Mitch: So, are you guys all planning on voting in the election?

Jaime: You know it. Anything to keep Chloe Gold from winning.  

Nicole: Jeez, Jaime. You’ve been doing nothing but dump on that girl since she made cheerleading.

Sandy: Longer than that, Nic. She’s been on an “I hate Chloe Gold” tour, ever since she laid eyes on the girl.

Jaime: I can’t stand “teens with causes,” OK? Sue me.

Mitch: Are there any other reasons you’re voting for Tom Rosen, or is it just because he’s the not-Chloe-Gold candidate?

Nicole: I’ll give you a reason. He’s fucking gorgeous.

Jaime: That is not the reason.

Nicole: Right. That’s why you have his face plastered all over everything you own. Tom Rosen stickers on your loose-leaf folders. On your car. You’re even wearing a Tom Rosen pin, for god’s sake.

Jaime: I’m campaigning.  

Nicole: [Laughing] Jaime Cohen campaigning. That’s like “Jaime Cohen volunteering in the Homeless Shelter” or “Jaime Cohen reading to blind people.” 

Jaime: Hey! I’m philanthropic!

Nicole: Buying vintage clothes at the thrift store doesn’t make you philanthropic.

Jaime: So, what? You’re voting for her?

Nicole: I like her attitude, OK? She’s cool. She’s pretty.  She’s got school spirit and isn’t obnoxious about it. She just wants everyone to have a good time.

Jaime: Christ, Nic, you really drank that Kool Aid didn’t you?

Nicole: Whatever, Jaime.  

Mitch: How about you guys? Who are you voting for?

Sandy: Gold.

Jon: Gold.

Jaime: Fuck! How much is that girl’s ass worth to you?!

Jon: It’s a nice ass, you have to admit.

Sandy: I agree with Nic. She’s got a good attitude.  And she’s one of us.

Jaime: She is not one of us. Don’t let all that money fool you. She’s looking out for the basket-case population, not you and me. [Looks at Mitch] No offense. I know you’re friends with her.

Mitch: I’m just a reporter here. 

Mike: Well, I’m voting for Rosen.

Jaime: Finally! A rational person, who doesn’t have T&A on the brain.

Mitch: Why, Mike?

Mike: I don’t buy into this whole thing that she’s so gung-ho about.  New Ridgemont High’s fine, but it isn’t all that. I didn’t have any problems with Central.

Mitch: You don’t like the freedom? The lighter rules?  The open campus?

Mike: None of that means much to me.  

Mitch: Why not?

Mike: ‘Cause you could always get around it, at Central. Yeah, there were rules and cops and shit, but Coach could get us out of anything: classes, tests, trouble, whatever. Didn’t bother me.

Mitch: You play football, right?

Mike: Yeah.

Nicole: He’s just mad ‘cause there’s more work at this school. Poor little Mikey actually has to study to get his “A’s.”

Mike: Well, I think it’s bullshit. We used to have tutors, special study halls, stuff like that. The teachers took care of us. Not in this place. Everyone’s a hardass.

Nicole: Bobbie Novak is not a hardass. Sal Levy is not a hardass.

Mike: You know what I mean. Why do we have to know all this shit anyway? The Cold War? It’s fucking over.  And retro programming? What the hell am I gonna use Fortran for? Four years required foreign language? Do I look French to you?

Sandy: Can one look French?

Mike: You know what I mean.

Sandy: Learning French has done great things for me.

Jaime: [Snorts] Right. It got you into that French exchange student’s pants at my party last month.

Sandy: Well, that’s a great thing, isn’t it? I thought it was pretty great.  

Mitch: So, why don’t you agree with Mike, Jon? You play football too, right? Don’t you miss the perks?

Jon: I don’t give a shit about my grades, man. UCLA’s already recruited me, so I’m set. And I like the free periods. I can go down to the shop and work on the cars. Principal Friedman’s asked us to keep his ’67 Mustang in tip-top shape.

Jaime: Jon, your dad’s an Exec at Universal. You can buy any fucking car you want.

Jon: I know this is hard for you to believe, Jaime, but I actually like working on cars.

Jaime: So, why don’t you hang out with the greasers?  They’re always down in the shop.

Jon: ‘Cause you Star Crew chicks are hotter.

Sandy: Ha ha!

Jaime: Great. Just fucking great.

Nicole: You asked for it, sweetie. Live by the clique, die by the clique.

Jon: He did say we should be honest. You did say that, right, Mitch?

Mitch: Absolutely, man. Absolutely.




September 23, 2020, 1:00pm, PST.

Location: The student lounge, at the western edge of the main building. Myron Freelander, Ben Gibbs, and Charlie Smith are break-dancing to Run DMC’s “Rock Box,” which is blaring out of a large cassette deck. Mitch Bennett is filming the action with a camcorder.

Mitch: That’s amazing. I don’t know how you guys do that, without hurting yourselves.

Myron: [Getting up off the floor, laughing] No kidding.  Every time I do this shit, I hear “Protect Ya’ Neck” in my head.

Ben: Now you know that’s not period, Myron.

Charlie: Yeah, we’ve got responsibilities here.

Myron: Why you illin, Charlie?  

Ben: There you go.

Charlie: It is hard though – I’m ashamed to admit it – I mean, little kids used to do this.

Ben: Try the spin again.

Charlie falls back to the floor and begins to spin on his back.  

Mitch: Wow!

Myron: Wow? Wow?! If there was a picture for “white” in the dictionary, you’d be it. [mimics Mitch’s voice] “Gosh golly, Charlie, that’s extra-ordinary!”

Mitch: Sorry! Right, ’80’s rap, uh, oh yeah: Fresh! Funky fresh! Pump up the Jam!

Myron: [His face in his hands] Oh God, no.

Ben: Yeah, don’t do that, Mitchie. Stick with “Wow.” It’s not your fault you’re a honky.

Mitch: [Cracking up] Honky?!

Myron: Hey, it beats “cracker!”

All: Hahahahaha!

Ben: [Slapping Mitch on the back]: You’re alright!

Myron and Charlie start break-dancing again.   Randy Dixon comes into the lounge.

Charlie: Ran-D! 

Randy: What are you boys up to?

Ben: Just bustin’ some moves.

Randy: I can see that. [Gestures at Mitch] Who’s Alfred E. Newman?

Ben: This is Mitch Bennett.  

Mitch: [Waves] Hey, man!

Ben: We’re trying to help Mitchie chill. Loosen him up.  Teach him how to speak properly.

Mitch: I appreciate it, really. I need a serious coolness injection.

Randy: What brings you to the Lounge, Mitch?

Mitch: Myron’s in my Advanced Calculus class, and we talk a lot. Turns out we both love old Kung-Fu movies. He’s been trying to get me to hang out for a few weeks now.  

Randy: What’s up with the camera?

Mitch: Well, I’m in AV, and I was thinking that all we do is deliver and set up equipment for classes and assemblies. Every now and then, we’re called somewhere to fix something. What a waste, right? I mean, we should put some of this great vintage tech to use? I’ve been filming as many kids as I can, talking to ‘em, hanging out with ‘em, and once I can get enough of it together, I’m gonna’ talk with Dr. Friedman; see if I can work with him. I’m really interested in the theory he used to create the school.

Randy: You trust him? Friedman?

Mitch: I think I do. Don’t get me wrong, he’s definitely a little strange. And intense. He’s almost like a teenager trapped in a grownup’s body. But I believe he really cares.

Charlie: You know he recruited us, right? Literally, “straight out of Compton.” 

Mitch: No, I didn’t know that.

Ben: But we’ve known each other way longer than that. We all grew up on the same block.

Myron: Friedman met with us and with our parents. It was at your house, wasn’t it Charlie?

Charlie: It was. My mom made those wack hors d’oeuvres she always makes.

Ben: I kinda’ like ‘em.

Charlie: You would. There’s nothing you won’t eat.

Mitch: So, is it just you four?

Myron: No, he invited the entire Compton Honors society. There’s about ten Compton alums altogether.  

Randy: There should be a lot more than that. Plenty of smart kids in the hood. They just won’t spend the money. Not on us.

Charlie: That ain’t Friedman, man.

Randy: So why just the Honors Society?

Myron: He said that he was still testing the model; that he had to start with the best possible conditions.

Mitch: I read something about that. I’ve been going through his papers, and there was one that was all about the implementation of the project. He thinks the theory will work in the tougher environments, but he’s not sure if it’ll work in the same way. That’s why he wanted the first school to be with an easy group; to work out all the kinks, before he tried it in a more challenging situation.

Randy: Maybe. I’ll believe it when I see New Compton High.

Mitch: That’s fair enough.

Randy: So, you dig Kung Fu movies, Mitch Bennett?

Mitch: Yeah! I love ‘em!

Randy: Jet Li?

Mitch: Shaolin Temple!  

Randy: Shaw Brothers?

Mitch: Five Deadly Venoms!

Randy: Sonny Chiba?

Mitch: Street Fighter!

Myron: He’s got you, D. Boy knows his shit.

Ben: You gotta come hang out sometime. We have Hong Kong weekends. Chinese boxing, 40 oz bullets, and fine females.

Mitch: I’ll leave out the last parts when I ask my mom.

Randy: [Laughs] Want me to teach you something, Mitch? A little Wing-Chun?

Mitch: I want to say ‘yes’, but next period’s gonna’ start in a minute. We’ve got Calc, Myron.

Myron: Skip it, man. I am. It’s just a review for the test that’s coming. Ms. Stark said it was optional.

Mitch: I don’t know…

Randy: You’ve gotta’ decide what’s important, Mitch.  

Ben: You said you were interested in Doc F’s research.  You should do a little research of your own! A deep investigation into Chinese martial arts.

Mitch: I should, shouldn’t I?

Charlie: Yeah, man, you can trust us!

September 26, 2020, 12:00pm, PST.

Location:  The streets outside New Ridgemont High. David Weber and Lee Lindberg are walking to Tony’s Pizzeria.

Lee: Should we be doing this? We’ve got a shitload of work back at school.

David: Gotta’ eat, man. Plus, I’m addicted to Defender.

Lee: Why are these games so hard? I mean, I can beat Dark Souls’ Insane mode, but I can’t even make it past the third wave in Defender.

David: Dunno’, but you’re right. These games are a bitch.

Lee: Maybe it’s ‘cause there’s so little range of movement. You can go up and down and accelerate, but that’s it, and they’re coming at you from every direction.

David: It’s also one-shot central. You get hit once and you’re dead. Thankfully it’s only a quarter, or I’d be in the poorhouse. Think there’ll be any girls at Tony’s?

Lee: I hope so, but probably not. At least not the hot ones. They always go to the New Galleria. I wish I had a car.

David: You’re not old enough to drive.

Lee: Well, then I wish your older brother had a car. You just can’t look cool, getting off a school bus. All the action starts in the parking lot, before school, and we’re missing it.

David: And what “action” do you think you’d be getting, if you drove to school?  

Lee: Jaime Cohen. God, she is smoking.

David: Jaime Cohen wouldn’t notice you if you pulled up in a Maserati. Be realistic, man. You don’t exist as far as she’s concerned. This is New Ridgemont High, not Revenge of the Nerds.

Lee: Why you messing with the fantasy, man? We know the reality.

David: I prefer to pursue more attainable goals, like Laurie Pence.

Lee: Well, that’s great for you, but what about the rest of us? She’s the only girl who works in the computer room.

David: Not all the nerdy girls are into computers. There are others on campus.

Lee: Ugh. You do what you want. I’m maintaining my high standards, in the hope that the nerds will rise again.

David: To rise again, you have to have risen once already.

Lee: We’ll see.

David: Anyway, Vanessa’ll probably be there. She’s pretty and not nerdy. Nice too. Why don’t you ask her out?

Lee: I would, only I feel bad. Her dad owns the place.  You can’t hit on someone in front of her dad.

David: You’re just making excuses.  

Lee: Pfft.

David: Well, there’s an argument.

Lee: Double Pfft.

The boys arrive at Tony’s, which is packed with students. Tony is at the counter.

Tony: What’ll it be, Lee? David?

David:  Special, Mr. Bruno. With a Coke.

Lee: Same here.

Tony: [Slides four slices of pizza onto paper plates and fills two paper cups with Coke.] Two Specials. Two-fifty.

David: [Hands over some crumpled bills and change]  Is Vanessa around? Lee wanted to ask her something.

Lee elbows David in the ribs and hisses something inaudible. David laughs and punches him in the arm.

Tony: [Smiling] She’s staying on campus today, studying for a history test. But I’ll be sure to let her know that you were looking for her, Lee.

Lee: Cool, uh, thanks.

The boys take their slices and drinks and make their way over to the arcade games.

David: Crap! Louis must have three dollars in quarters piled up on Defender…we’ll never get to play in time.

Lee: I’m gonna’ kill you, man. What’d you do that for?!

David: Well, you’ll never have the guts to, so I figured I’d help you out.

Lee: Please don’t help me. I’m fine with an imaginary Jaime Cohen.

David: That’s just sad, man. Choosing a hopeless dream over a flesh and blood girl.

Lee: Well, I think you’re being too pessimistic. I mean, what about Mitch?

David: What about him?

Lee: He’s one of us, and he’s got the hottest girl in the entire school.

David: He hasn’t “got” her. He and Chloe are just  friends. 

Lee: No one’s just “friends” with a girl that good looking.

David: Well, Mitch is. Anyway, I’m not sure how “one of us” he is. Yeah, he’s into computers and AV and stuff, but he’s a little too cool.

Lee:  What’s that supposed to mean? I’m cool.

David: Lee, ‘cool’ and you should never be mentioned in the same sentence. All I’m saying is that if Mitch is a nerd, then he’s King of the nerds. It’s not just Chloe.  I’ve seen him talking with the Sportos, the Star Crew, even with your precious Jaime Cohen.

Lee: That’s just ‘cause he’s doing that video project.  Everyone wants to be in it.

David: Exactly. He’s got something that every single good looking girl in the school wants. Too bad you didn’t think of it, huh?

Lee: [Crosses his arm and sulks] Humph.

David: [Laughs] He’s meeting us back at the computer room, you know. There’s something he wants to talk to us about.

Lee: [In a mocking voice] Well, we should rush back, then, shouldn’t we? I mean he is the King, after all.

David: Don’t be jealous Lee. It just adds to your uncoolness. But we should go. It’ll take us ten minutes to walk back.

The boys crumple up their empty paper plates and head to the door.

September 26, 2020, 1:00pm, PST.

Location: The computer room, a half hour later.  Lee is messing around with several 1980’s era telephone modems, some of which he’s taken apart. David and Laurie Pence are at one of the computers.

A person and person looking at a computer screen
Description automatically generated

David: Lee, I want to try it again. Is the modem working now?

Lee: I think so. Give it another go.

David: [Types several sequences and a number of squealing sounds follow.] We’re on!

Lee: Awesome!

David: Here we go: “Caltech Bitnet project. Dr. Sergei Kolov, Project Director.”  

Laurie: Caltech? Bitnet? Are you serious?

David: I know, right? Dr. Friedman isn’t messing around.  He’s got every major university in California in on this thing. They actually rebuilt the goddamned Bitnet network. There’s even talk of CUNY getting in on it.  I mean, that’s where the thing started.

Laurie: Amazing. I feel like I’m in “Wargames” or something.

David: Yeah, except there’s no ARPAnet anymore, so we can’t hack into the Department of Defense and start a nuclear war.

Lee: Alas.

Laurie: [Laughs] You would, wouldn’t you? You guys are fucking crazy.

Lee: [Sighs] The good old days, when the nerds ruled the world, in secret.

David: I’ll just send a message over to Dr. Kolov and let them know that we’re set up here.

Laurie: Wasn’t “Kolov” one of the Klingons in Star Trek?

David: No, that was “Koloth.”

Laurie: I’m still getting my TOS lore down.

Lee: So, what’s on the agenda today?

David: Well, now that this is done, we may as well unload the rest of the IIe’s that just came in from Apple.  The computer classes are swamped and kids are working three on a computer.

Lee: Where are they?

David: In those boxes, piled up in the hall.

Lee: I’ll start bringing ‘em in.  

Laurie: Is that it?

David: No, we’re waiting for Mitch Bennett. He wants to talk to us about something.

Laurie: You know, I haven’t actually met him yet. I keep hearing his name, though.

David: Yeah, he’s definitely juiced in. Kid works fast.

Lee: [Carrying a computer box into the room] What do you expect? He’s got the Chloe Gold Public Relations machine behind him.

David: Jeez, man, you just can’t stand it, can you? Let it go.

A computer with a keyboard and a monitor
Description automatically generated

Lee: [Opens the box, grumbling. Lifts a brand new Apple IIe out and sets it on the table. Stacks two disk drives next to it.]

David: Look at that. It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it?

Lee: That it is.

Laurie: How many new machines do we have?

David: Twenty or so. They’ll send more if there’s demand and I suspect there will be.

Laurie: Fuck, yeah. There’re thirty kids in my Fortran class.

Lee: My Pascal class has twenty-five.

David: Well, this is the first time anyone’s gotten to do actual programming, instead of just learning to use existing software and applications, so I’m not surprised the classes are popular. People graduating from this school are going to know a shitload more about computers than anyone else in the county. 

Mitch Bennett enters the room. He’s carrying a clipboard and has a pen stuck behind his ear.

David: Mitch! What’s happening, man?

Mitch: Heya, David! Lee.

Lee: So, where’s Chloe?

Mitch: Huh?

David: Why don’t you just shut up, Lee? Mitch, this is Laurie Pence. Laurie, Mitch Bennett.

Laurie: [Extends her hand] Nice to meet you, Mitch!

Mitch: [Shaking it] Same here. So, you’re working in the computer room too?

Laurie: Yeah, when Dr. Friedman asked for volunteers, I jumped on it.

Mitch: Awesome! Welcome aboard!

Laurie: Thanks!

Lee: So what’s this all about? I feel summoned.

Mitch: I’ve got something for you guys. Something I think you’re gonna’ like.

David: Shoot.

Mitch: You know the treasure trove of retro tech we have here is being underused. We’ve talked about it.

David: So, what about it?

Mitch: Well, I’m proposing we use it.

David: How?

Mitch: I want to create a multi-media Center, circa 1985. Radio and TV stations, as well as the newspaper and Yearbook.  

Lee: But they didn’t have multi-media networks in the 80s. All that stuff was separate.

Mitch: No they didn’t and that’s not what I’m proposing. It’ll be multi-media in that it’ll include radio, TV, and print media, but the key point is that it will be a Center. I want a single programming, tech, and editorial team managing the whole thing, like a proto-CNN.

Lee: Ho-lee-shit.

Mitch: There’s more.  

Lee: I’ll sit down.

Mitch: I want this Center to manage both internal and external communications.

David: [Looking up] What do you mean, by “internal” and “external.”

Mitch: What I mean is that the Center won’t just produce and distribute media within New Ridgemont High, it’ll produce stuff for the city and maybe even for a statewide audience.

David: What kind of information do you want to produce for the city and the state?

Mitch: I’m not sure yet, but if New Ridgemont High really takes off, there’ll have to be some kind of external PR operation. There’s a lot of politics and money tied up with this thing. I just want to make sure that the nerds are in on it; at the ground floor.

Lee: I have a newfound respect for you, Mitch.  I mean, the Gold thing is good enough – in an annoying way – but this … you’re a serious fucking player.

Mitch: [Laughing] I’m just interested in everything, that’s all. There’s more stuff I want to do than I have time for.  And this place is so open to it. There’s so much freedom.

David: Not everyone is a wannabe gangster, like you, Lee. Seriously, the boy has fantasies: being a gangster and Jaime Cohen.

Lee: Don’t bullshit me, Mitch. This sudden burst of ambition has Chloe Gold written all over it. You were cool enough back at Clark, but nothing like this. 

Mitch: I’ll admit, hanging out with her has been an ego-boost. I mean, the only girl who’d hang out with me at Clark was Polly, and she was fat and wore coke bottle glasses.

Lee: And she was, like, Polynesian or something.

David: You are such a fucking dick sometimes, Lee.

Lee: [Gives David the finger] How do you rate, anyway, Mitch? I mean, why the hell does some Beverly Hills runway model want to hang out with you?

Mitch: She’s not a runway model. She hates all that shit.  That’s why she loves being here so much. She can start over, without all the bullshit expectations and baggage. And I don’t know why she likes me. I’m just glad she does.

Laurie: Well, I think it’s great, Lee’s reptilian instincts notwithstanding.

Lee: Hey!

Laurie: Hey yourself. All we ever did our whole lives is bitch and moan about how the top-clique kids bully and make fun of us, and then when one of them is actually nice and wants to be friends, you trash her?  What is that about, other than the fact that you’re obviously jealous?

Lee: [Points at Laurie] Don’t get too comfortable. You think New Ridgemont High’s gonna’ be any different?  Just wait until this honeymoon “I love the 80’s” trip is over. They’ll be taping “kick me” signs to your back and stealing your lunch money.

Mitch: [Quietly] I don’t think so.

Lee: Yeah? And why not?

Mitch: ‘Cause Chloe’s gonna’ be Student Body President, and that’s not her way. 

David: Also, aren’t you forgetting something, Lee?

Lee: What?

David: Mitch’s media Center? We’re gonna’ be controlling the message. You wanted the nerds to rise again? Mitch is handing it to you on a silver platter.

Lee: You’re right.

David: Uh, yeah, duh.

Lee: Well, never mind then.

[Everyone laughs.]




August 23, 2020, 11:30am PST.

Location: The school auditorium. The students, dressed in period clothes, are seated, while Friedman and a number of teachers – also in 1980’s dress – are on the stage. Friedman comes up to the podium, as a low buzz runs through the gathered students.

William Friedman: Well, well, well, here we are!

The students erupt with applause, shouting, hooting, and whistling.

Friedman: And we’re gonna’ show them aren’t we?  Show them what we can do!

Students: WOO HOO!!!

Friedman [Pointing out at the crowd]: ‘Cause this school is all about you. Your lives, your hopes, your dreams. It’s not about what we want or what they want. It’s about helping you develop and grow and learn and plan your own future.

Girl: We LOVE YOU Principal Friedman!

Friedman: And we love you. Every single one of you.  That’s what New Ridgemont High is, an expression of our love for all of you.

You’ll notice who isn’t on the stage with me: the police. There are no police at New Ridgemont High.

The crowd roars.

Friedman: There are no security guards in New Ridgemont High.

Shouts and loud whistling.

Friedman: There are no security cameras in New Ridgemont High.

Sean Anderson [To Fran Rosenberg]: See! I told you!

Fran Rosenberg: Shush, Sean! I’m listening.

Friedman: And that’s because New Ridgemont High is a school, not a prison.

The students leap up, clapping wildly and stamping their feet. The faculty and staff rise from their chairs, applauding.

Friedman: There were no police or security in a school like this, in the 1980’s, and students went about their daily business largely without incident. That was just a few decades ago, and since the human genome hasn’t changed over that time, I suspect we’ll get along just fine without them now.

More cheers.

Friedman: How do free periods sound?

Guys: YEAH!!!

Friedman: How about no hall monitors or passes?

Girls: Principal FRIIIEEEEDMAN!!!!!

Friedman: And I don’t suppose you’d mind if we have an open campus?

The crowd roars again. A chant of “New Ridgemont High” is struck up.

Friedman: I know it sounds like science fiction, given what your schools have been like up until now. But, remember that your parents went to a school like this, and if anyone can tell you what it was like to have real freedom and how precious it is, they can. Without them, New Ridgemont High never could have happened. Each and every one of you, without exception, has parents who cared enough that they were willing to take a chance on an experimental school. So let’s give them our applause too.

Another roar. Whistles.

Chloe Gold [To Mitch Bennett]: Oh my god, he’s fantastic!

Mitch Bennett: Yeah, I can’t believe what he’s saying.  Adults don’t talk like that. It’s crazy, but in a good way.

Friedman: And let me say a few things about your lives outside of school. New Ridgemont High is based on a sociological model that works on the concept of immersion, so beyond the school, we’ve worked hard to recreate the 1980’s in the larger community; in local businesses, television and radio, even in your own homes. It’ll be VCRs and record and cassette players and an MTV that does nothing but play period music videos. It’ll mean no internet, no social media, no Playstations or XBoxes, no mobile phones. We’re shooting for a total experience.

That probably worries some of you, but by way of closing, let me point something out. Earlier, when we broke out the clothes, you were talking to each other, meeting new people, rediscovering old friends, all in a way that has almost disappeared among young people today. Part of it is because you’re giving your full attention to one another, instead of giving it to whomever it is you’re interacting with texting or on social media, and part of it is because you were able to mingle freely, without adult interference, around points of common interest, in this case, something as simple as clothes.

I believe that the only way to confront the harsh realities you are facing today, both in school and out, is to address all of the forces that conspire to destroy your capacity to interact with one another and with the larger world. Technology is one such force.  Contemporary media is another. But they all play a role, which means that it isn’t enough to change just one or a few of them. In that sense, New Ridgemont High is a social experiment in the truest sense of the word, because what we are creating here is not just an experimental school, but an experimental community.

Friedman turns and gestures towards the teachers on the stage. 

Friedman: Speaking of our community, let me introduce some of our superb teaching staff. Colleagues, please stand as I call your name.

First up is Sal Levy. Sal and I have been friends since childhood, and he was heavily involved in the development of New Ridgemont High. He has master’s degrees in physics and mechanical engineering from CalTech. He not only will chair our science department but will teach physics, as well as our Shop classes. Please show him your appreciation!

Sal Levy stands and waves at the students, who cheer and whistle in return.

Friedman: Next is Jon Jameson, who will chair and teach in our English Department. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English Literature from Yale University. Please extend him a warm welcome!

Jon Jameson stands, a broad smile on his face. More cheers and whistles from the crowd.

Friedman: Third is Patricia Stark, a PhD in Mathematics who got her BA at Wesleyan and her doctorate at the University of Edinburgh. She will be chairing our Math department and teaching trigonometry and calculus. Welcome Pat!

Pat Stark stands, gives a short, slightly nervous wave and sits again quickly.

Friedman: Finally, Jules Longo, who will be heading up our foreign language department and teaching French literature, as well as our AP course in French. Jules did his undergraduate and graduate work at the Sorbonne. Jules!

Jules Longo: [Bounds up energetically. Pumps his fist.] Allons y!!!

The students roar.

Friedman: The rest of our fabulous faculty and staff are busy getting things ready for our first day. You will meet them all soon.

You’ve undoubtedly noticed that I have not introduced any other administrators, and specifically, Assistant Principals. 

A titter runs across the auditorium.

Friedman: AP’s were the ones who “got you in trouble.” A typical suburban high school in the 1980’s had one. Schools today may have a half-dozen, which is … a lot of trouble.

This school’s student body is 100% self-selected, so I’m not expecting much by way of trouble. Regardless, what passes for “trouble” today is mostly BS; stuff that wouldn’t have even gotten a yawn a few decades ago. So we’ll open with zero Assistant Principals.  

Sean Anderson [to Fran]: Trouble is my middle name, and this place is ripe.

Fran Rosenberg: What you call ‘trouble’ is the BS he’s talking about. You’re not exactly an arch-criminal. You really think he’s going to get stressed over you and your boys doing doughnuts in the parking lot?

Sean [singing and air-guitaring while whispering]: “Smokin’ in the boys’ room!”

Fran: I wonder if “trouble” will be as much fun when nobody cares.

Friedman: Well that’s all I have for you. Let’s get our first day started! It’ll be the third period! Welcome to New Ridgemont High!

The students let out a final roar and stand as Friedman gives one last wave and he and the assembled faculty exit stage left.


September 1, 2020, 1:45pm, PST.

Location:  Bobbie Novak’s Biology Class.  The students are sitting at laboratory tables that stretch, two across the room, five rows deep.  Novak is sitting, barefoot, Indian-style, on a single lab table at the front of the room.  Behind her are two chalkboards, covered with drawings of cells and bold, scribbled writing.  Novak has abandoned the scheduled lecture and is chatting with the students.

Scott Tillman [Seated next to Brett Lawrence]: Bobbie, when’s this study thing gonna’ be?

Bobbie Novak: I’m thinking about this weekend.  Saturday, maybe, or Sunday. Whichever is better for you guys.

Brett Lawrence: We’re gonna’ come to school over the weekend? Won’t everything be locked up? 

Bobbie: No, it’ll be at my house. We can hang out around my pool.

Scott: At your house?

Bobbie: Why not?

Brett: In your pool?

Bobbie: Seems like a good idea. You got something better to do? A hot date, maybe?

Scott: Yeah, right!

Kevin Reilly [From the back]: You gonna’ wear a bikini Bobbie?

Bobbie: Would that excite you Kevin?

Marty Savini [Kevin’s lab partner]: Ha!

Jenny Pearl: Do you want us to bring anything?

Bobbie: Just yourself and your class notes. I’ll supply the food and the punch.

Marty: Hope nothing spills into that punch Bobbie!

Bobbie:  I’ll have my eyes on you, at all times, Mr. Savini.

Marty: I’ll be wearing my black Speedos!

Monica Rabin: Well that sounds attractive.

Bobbie: Are you sure they won’t be a little loose Marty?

Kevin: Whoa! You are toast, man.

Marty: Oh, man, bested. It hurts.

Bobbie: I am the best.  Never forget it.

Kevin and Marty [Bowing]: We’re not worthy.

Bobbie [Laughing]: Just be there. Saturday? Sunday?

Class: Saturday!

Bobbie: Okay, Saturday it is, then. Noon. Lunch, drinks, swimming, and the best pre-test study session you’ve ever had.

Kevin [Whispering to Marty]: You know she’s gonna’ wear a bikini. It’ll be mint.

Marty [Whispering]: I’m up for that. Did you just say ‘mint’?

Kevin [Whispering]: I’m practicing my ‘80s lingo. My cousin smoked me out last week and laid all this ‘80s shit on me. Totally rad!

Marty [Laughing]: I’m comin’ with you next time.

Bobbie: Marty, are you still trying to figure out how to fill those Speedos?

Kevin: OHHH!!!

Marty: You’re killing me, Bobbie.

Bobbie: You’re killing my class. Stop the chatter.

Marty: Sorry.

Bobbie: Okay, we’ve got a little time left before the break and then we’ll come back for lab.

Scott: What do you do, during the break, Bobbie?

Kevin: She chain smokes in the supply closet! I’ve seen it.  Smoke pouring out and shit. She’s disabled the smoke detector.

[The students laugh noisily]

Bobbie: Reilly!

Kevin: Yes, ma’am!

Bobbie: You stay out of my supply closet!

Kevin: I will, ma’am!

Bobbie: So who’s got something for the last five minutes?  Scott, you went last time. Monica? Denise?  Got anything? 

Marty: [Gesturing at Kevin] We went to the Pink Floyd laser light show at the Planetarium last night!

Bobbie: Biology-related, Mr. Savini.

Jenny Pearl: I’ve got something!

Bobbie: Shoot.

Jenny: Okay, so I’m totally hooked on those 70’s nature shows. Jacques Cousteau and stuff like that.

Monica: Why do you like them so much?

Jenny: ‘Cause they’re nice, you know?  None of this “let’s wave bloody meat in front of sharks and have them attack some guy” or wrestling giant snakes.

Monica: Yeah, I hate that too. It’s why I never watch nature programs anymore.

Jenny: Anyway, there was this show on animal intelligence last night.

Bobbie: Now, that is interesting. Tell us a little.

Jenny: They were showing how they test for intelligence in animals. They had dolphins and chimpanzees. The dolphins were amazing. They taught them how to understand instructions.

Bobbie: How?

Jenny: Well, like, they would do these hand signals. You know, both arms out means “go” and waving hands means “bell”…. stuff like that. They were telling the dolphins to ring a bell, bring back a bucket, ask for fish…

Marty: That doesn’t prove they’re intelligent. It could just be like training your dog to fetch a ball.

Bobbie: That’s a very smart observation, Marty. Did they do anything else, Jenny?

Jenny: Well, yeah, they would do the signals in different combinations and the scientists on the show said that the fact that the dolphins could follow new combinations of instructions showed that they had a – what did they call it?  Wait, I wrote it down – a syntax.

Marty: I still think it could just be that they were trained.  It’s not like the dolphin suddenly asked the scientist what time it was or whether he could have the day off.

Jenny: I guess. Anyway, the coolest thing was what they did with the mirror and the video.

Bobbie: What was that?

Jenny: Well, they put a mirror in the tank. Next to it was a television, showing a video of a dolphin swimming.

Bobbie: And?

Jenny: It was the funniest thing. The dolphin looked at the television for a minute and then started making faces into the mirror.

Marty: Whoa!

Bobbie: Why do you say that, Marty?

Marty: Well, does that mean that the dolphin knows who he is?

Bobbie [smiling]: I don’t know, what do you think?

September 20, 2020, 10:00am, PST.

Location: The hallway between the main building and the English wing. One side is lined with windows, overlooking a quad, while the other is lined with lockers. Jaime Cohen, Valerie Saunders, Erica Carlson, Denise Diamond, and Elizabeth Goodman are sitting in front of the lockers, chatting.

Jaime: So, did everyone get called back for cheerleading?

Valeries: Erica and I did.  We just went down to the girls locker room and checked a few minutes ago.

Denise: [Laughs] Liz and I did that yesterday.  We’ve both been called back too.

Jaime: Who else was on the list? I was rushing to class, when I checked, and only had time to look for my name.

Denise: Um, let’s see, there was that girl from Stephens – what’s her name? Anna. That’s it, Anna – and that other girl, the blonde from Beverly Hills High … you know, the one who’s running for Student Body President?

Jaime: Chloe Gold.

Denise: Yeah, that’s her.

Jaime: Ugh.

Denise: Why “ugh”?

Jaime: I can’t stand her. She thinks she’s better than everyone.

Denise: I don’t know, she seems alright. She’s really pretty.

Jaime: [Snorts] That girl has ‘overrated’ written all over her. Anyone with that much money could look good.

Elizabeth: Like you should talk, Miss “my father owns half of downtown L.A.”

Valerie: Yeah, it’s not like any of us are paupers.

Jaime: Are you kidding? That girl’s father is the lawyer for every top Studio exec in Hollywood. She’s got more money than all of us combined.

Elizabeth: You’re crazy. She drives an old 1970’s Chevy Nova. 

Valerie: And she likes to hang out with dweebs. I’ve seen her draped all over that Mitch Bennett kid.

Jaime: You see! You’re proving my point!

Valerie: And how, exactly, does driving a shitty car and hanging out with dweebs prove that Chloe Gold is a snob queen?

Jaime: It’s a moral superiority pose. “Oh, look how tolerant I am, hanging out with losers and driving a loser car.” I mean, how fucking transparent is that?

Elizabeth: Wow, Jaime, you are a serious bitch.

Jaime: Liz!

Erica: [Putting her hand on Jaime’s forehead] You are a little feverish, sweetie.

Jaime: [Growling] You guys are driving me nuts!

Erica: So, are you still having this party on Saturday, Jaime, or are you going to be too traumatized over the fact that Chloe Gold might make cheerleading?

Jaime: No, I’m having it. My parents are gonna’ be gone for three days, and I’m gonna’ be drunk and stoned for all of them.

Erica: Are you inviting Carl?

Jaime: I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet.

Denise: What’s stopping you? He’s hot and he’s Captain of the Football team.

Jaime: I just don’t want to deal with the pressures of a relationship right now, and he’s gonna’ want one – a relationship, I mean. He’s not a casual sex kinda’ guy.

Valerie: So, why don’t you want to “deal with the pressures of a relationship”?

Jaime: I don’t know. I feel like I’m still adjusting to this new school. You have to admit, it’s kinda weird sometimes.

Erica: Yeah, I don’t know what’s weirder, seeing Flock of Seagulls videos on MTV or seeing my mom in a spandex leotard, headband, and legwarmers doing aerobics to Flock of Seagulls videos on MTV.

Jaime: Wow, that’s intense. How are you coping?

Erica: One day at a time. I’m thinking of starting a “My parents are stuck in the ‘80’s” support group.

Elizabeth: Well, I think it’s great. I already hated social media and the music’s way better. I mean, what would you rather have playing on the radio, while you’re driving down to Malibu with the top down, Duran Duran or Taylor Swift?

Valerie: I’d rather cut off my own head than listen to Taylor Swift.

Erica: I have to say, I haven’t missed social media either. It was nothing but a global backstabbing convention.

Denise: [Laughing] Yeah! We can do our backstabbing in person!

All: [Hi-Fives all around] Ha ha! Star Crew!




August 23, 2020, 8:30AM PST.

C-Span’s live coverage of the New Ridgemont High Opening Ceremonies

Location: The front lawn of New Ridgemont High.  John Hughes is at the podium. Behind him, seated on either side, are Bret Easton Ellis, William Friedman, San Fernando Mayor Harris Clark, and congresswoman Susan Best, 28th Congressional District. Several hundred local residents and press are in attendance.

John Hughes:  …and after ten years of conceptualizing and planning and two intense years of fundraising and politicking, all of us at the New Ridgemont High Foundation are thrilled to be able to tell the people of California – and of these greater United States – that the long wait is over. New Ridgemont High is open for business!

Enthusiastic cheers from the crowd.

John Hughes: Today, our teens are about to step into a time-capsule. They will experience High School as it once was and as many of you undoubtedly remember it, in the hope of recovering something that we have lost: that sense of infinite possibility; of boundless optimism; the feeling that your whole life is in front of you and the whole world is behind you. And given what’s happening to our young people today, it isn’t a moment too soon.

So we’re here to celebrate – to raise a glass to the entering class of New Ridgemont High – and to honor the school’s creator, Dr. William Friedman, whose life’s work now stands before us, in all of its glory.

I first met Will at a film festival, at USC, in the Spring of 2000, and we immediately became friends. New Ridgemont High was barely an idea back then – Will was still ironing out some of the details of his “Social Immersion Theory” – but his dedication and enthusiasm were infectious, and it wasn’t long before he had me on board. I remember those long, late night sessions, when Will would talk about his ideas for an experimental school, and they were a powerful and joyous experience.  

Two years ago, I was lucky enough to find myself on Nightline, with Bret Easton Ellis. Our topic was the by-now-famous Priss Pruitt report on today’s high schools and on Will’s work. I’d never met Bret before – other than at a few Industry events, here and there – and our work, of course, is as different as two bodies of work can be, but by the end of the program, he was on board too. Because Bret cares as much about our teens as I do, and he saw in Friedman everything that I did. Our friendship and collaboration are a testament to Will’s vision, and I am proud and honored to introduce him. Ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, I give you Bret Easton Ellis!

Loud applause. Hughes returns to his seat and Ellis takes the podium.

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Bret Easton Ellis: Thanks John. I’m not sure what to say after an introduction like that. But I can definitely agree – that meeting on Nightline was a watershed moment for me. I’ve been like a man on a mission ever since. In fact, I’ve found myself wishing that I was starting at New Ridgemont High today!

So, let me fill in the story a little bit. After John and I got together that night, we had another meeting – about a week later, I think – and John brought Will with him. We sat out on my deck, until about three in the morning, drinking and chain smoking – well, Will and I were chain smoking – and Will laid the whole thing out for me – Social Immersion Theory, his idea for New Ridgemont High, everything – it was incredible. I’ve never trusted overly earnest people, but Will’s earnestness was heartfelt and tempered by a healthy skepticism.

So that was the night that I first started feeling the Friedman-love, but it wasn’t until almost three months later, after a crazy, caper-filled weekend with him and John – which began with an X reunion concert and ended with us sitting through the night, drafting the New Ridgemont High charter – that everything got going. And no, I’m not going to tell you what happened!

Two weeks later we were meeting with Steve Jobs. A week after that, Madonna joined up. Then, Rick Linklater. After that, it was like a flood.  

We’re all here, because of Will – because of this amazing thing that he’s created – and because we want our kids to feel like their teen years were the best years of their lives. Congresswoman Best, Mayor Clark, Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you…William Friedman.

Wild applause from the audience. Ellis returns to his seat and Friedman takes the podium.

William Friedman: I’m itching to get inside that building and start this ball rolling, so I won’t say much. New Ridgemont High was built on a few fundamental ideas that will guide her operation and development, over the coming years:

First, Young people are our most precious resource, and their happiness and success are our top priority.

Second, The current situation, in which teens and pre-teens are essentially imprisoned for eight hours a day and routinely subjected to punitive treatment at the hands of school administrators and local law enforcement, is destructive and intolerable.

Third, The decades spanning the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s represent the apex of young people’s capacity to develop and act freely, in a broad and accommodating social-cultural space. They also represent the peak of young peoples’ influence on the broader culture, also known as “social capital.”

And finally, fourth, human behavior, especially when taken on a broad scale, is the product of innumerable and complex forces, ranging from the family, the immediate peer group, local culture and mores, mass media, popular culture, the economy, politics, and so on. Any attempt to significantly alter that behavior, especially on a broad scale, must take all of these forces into account.

I would be remiss not to thank people. John and Bret have mentioned a good number of them already.  Steve Jobs has been unbelievably supportive, providing technology, expertise, finance, and most importantly, his remarkable intellect and unique experience.  Madonna has given the project energy and a potent media presence. Rick Linklater, what can I say? After John Hughes, his films have had the greatest impact on my thinking in this area, and his private counsel has been invaluable, throughout the process. And John and Bret? They’ve been the right and left sides of my brain. New Ridgemont High was born out of the creative synergy of our three sensibilities, our perceptions of the present, our visions of the future, our combined hopes and dreams … they’re like my brothers.

I have to say something about our two luminaries here with me, on the stage. I cannot even imagine the number of people that pull on the sleeves of Mayor Clark and Congresswoman Best every minute of every day. That they were able, in the middle of the madhouse that is government, not only to formally support our cause, but to fight for it, to pay hard political cash, to call in favors, to risk making enemies, to take up the time of their administrative staff…it’s more than I ever could have hoped for. I thank the two of you, from the bottom of my heart. Ladies and gentlemen, please give our Mayor and Congresswoman your applause.

Applause from the audience. Mayor Clark and Congresswoman Best join Friedman at the podium. Congresswoman Best is holding a plaque.

Mayor Clark: Will Friedman has given San Fernando, the State of California, and the United States of America his heart, his soul, and the sweat of his brow. One can ask no more of a citizen or of a friend, Will, and you are the best of both. What you begin, here, today, will transform the lives of every Valley resident for the better, and as the elected Mayor of Ridgemont, on behalf of the city, I want to thank you for it!

A shout from the crowd. Mayor Clark grips Friedman’s hand. The two laugh and exchange words, then put their arms around one another and wave to the audience.

Congresswoman Best: Will, the Progressive Caucus has voted unanimously to award you this year’s Freedom Prize, for your unprecedented achievement, with New Ridgemont High. Congratulations!

William Friedman [Accepting the award]:  Thank you, so much. It’s an honor. Especially coming from you and from the Caucus.

Congresswoman Best: They also sent a message.  

William Friedman: And that is?

Congresswoman Best: They say get to work, Will. Get to work!

The Congresswoman puts her arm around Friedman, who raises up the award.  The crowd goes wild. Hughes and Ellis rise from their seats, clapping.

William Friedman: Let’s get to work!

August 23, 2020, 10:00am PST

Location: The opening of New Ridgemont High. Students are streaming from buses and from their cars through the front doors. The camera follows the last group of students through the doors and into a large entry hall, with a balcony, on which Friedman stands, holding a microphone.  Arranged in rows across the hall are tables piled with clothes: t-shirts, jeans, skirts, shoes, sneakers, jackets, all from the 1980’s. 

William Friedman [Into the mic]: Okay everyone, this stuff is for you, and there’s more than enough to go around. Make sure you take enough to carry you for at least a week. The idea is to wear 80’s clothes 24/7, so go to town.

An excited babble ensues, as the students begin crowding around the tables, picking out clothes.  Conversations are struck up, as they gravitate towards the fashions and styles that appeal to them.

Anna Harry [To Billy Johnson, who is admiring a turquoise linen jacket]: That’s nice!

Billy Johnson: Heh, yeah! I was just thinking…my father’s got the same jacket. Actually, he’s got four of them, across the pastel color chart.

Anna: [Extending her hand] I’m Anna, Anna Harry, from Stephens. You’ve gotta’ get the white pants, if you’re taking that jacket. It won’t look good with  jeans.

Billy: [Shaking her hand and laughing] I know…I’m just wondering if I want to walk around looking like Don Johnson. A part of me recoils.

Anna: You’ll look hot in it, though.

Billy: I will, won’t I?

Anna: Totally.

Billy: Sold. Oh, and I’m Billy Johnson. I went to Central.

Anna: Cool, my best friend Danielle goes there. She didn’t make it in the NRH lottery.

Billy: This is gonna’ be great, isn’t it?

Anna: Yeah, I’m pretty floored by the whole thing. I mean, Principal Friedman’s going all the way. It’s like virtual reality, but without the virtual part.

Billy: [Laughing again] Virtual reality, minus the virtual is just…reality.

Anna: You know what I mean.

Billy: So what are you taking?

Anna: I’m deciding whether to channel my inner-Bangles and do the whole permed hair, mini-skirts and thirty bracelets thing or go preppy. The thought of penny loafers, khakis, and Polo shirts seems oddly appealing.

Billy: What was your thing at Stephens?

Anna: I hung out with the sportos some – I was on the cheer squad – but I also liked to go to raves with the club-kids, you know? So, I could go a few ways.

Billy: I vote for Bangles. You’d be wasted in Argyll sweaters.

Anna: Hmm, you might be right. Plus, I like funky nail polish too much, and you can’t wear funky nail polish with Argyll.

Billy: Definitely not.

Anna: So what are you going out for? You play any sports? You a theater kid? What’s your thing?

Billy: Actually, my story’s a lot like yours. I swam varsity, so I’ve got jock friends, but I’m also in a band, so I hang out with the alternative crowd too.

Anna: What kind of band?

Billy: You’re gonna’ laugh, given the whole NRH thing.  It’s a retro-punk and post-punk band. I play bass and sing.

Anna: That is too fucking funny.

Billy: Yeah, so I’m gonna’ go out for swim and see about putting a band together, here. I did a little research, and it turns out that one of the big things in 80’s high schools was “Stage Night,” where the classes would compete against each other, in a music-dance-comedy sketch kinda’ show. Well, New Ridgemont High’s gonna have one, so I’m psyched for that.

Anna: I’ll definitely go out for cheerleading. Not sure what else I’ll do yet. Gotta’ check out the scene first; see what’s available, you know?

Billy: I’ve gotta’ have these classic Ray-Bans. What do you think?

Anna: Smokin’, baby. And with those clothes you’ve picked out…whew!

Billy: I gotta’ hang out with you more. You’re doing wonders for my ego.

Anna: We need more clothes!

Sean Anderson[To Fran Rosenberg]: No way! A Kiss Army t-shirt?!  Fucking vintage. I am so taking this. My uncle Jimmy’s gonna’ shit his pants.  

Fran Rosenberg: Your uncle? What about my dad?  Last week, I caught him in his underwear, playing air-guitar to Judas Priest. He’s a metal freak. Wow, they do have some grade-A collector’s shit, here. I’m all over this Van Halen T. You’ve got to be shitting me … are those actually leather pants?

Sean: They are. I can see your ass in them already.

Fran: I’m gonna’ look like Lita Ford.  

Sean: I’d say that’s a good thing.

Fran: I should tease my hair…Aqua-Net it and shit.  

Sean: People will be slipping on their own drool.

Fran: You’re gonna’ be even worse at this school than you were at our last one, aren’t you? I don’t know if I can take Sean-Plus.

Sean: We’ve got it made, here, Francie. 1980’s rules?  That means there aren’t any. No surveillance cameras.  No cops. Open campus. There won’t be shit we can’t do. Uncle Jimmy told me he and his buddies used to smoke joints in the parking lot before classes. Drink beer behind the building, during free periods. I mean, that’s fucking insane!

Fran: It is sweet, isn’t it?  

Sean: Yeah it is. For the first time in my life, I’m actually looking forward to going to school!

Fran: Omigod! they’ve got patent leather boots over there!

Chloe Gold is inspecting a white Camp Beverly Hills sweatshirt. Mitch Bennett, with an armful of polo shirts and jeans, inadvertently backs into her, dropping everything.

Mitch Bennett: Oh! Sorry!

Chloe Gold: No problem! Anyway, it’s not my stuff that’s on the floor.

Mitch [Scrambling to pick up the clothes]: I guess I’m a little bit of a klutz.

Chloe: Join the club. I fell into the bathtub today, while I was brushing my hair and leaned too far back, like this. [Arches back into a bridge.]

Mitch: [Staring at her] Yeah … that’s, uh, way back, isn’t it?

Chloe: Gymnastics. Every girl’s gotta’ do it. I quit as soon as possible.

Mitch [Extending his hand]: I’m Mitch. Mitch Bennett. I went to Clark.

Chloe [Shaking Bennett’s hand]: The private tech school? That’s, like, the best school in the state. Why’d you decide to come here?

Mitch: My parents are scientists, so they liked the idea.  I was all for it, anyway. The whole 80’s technology thing seemed really intriguing. I’m dying to take one of those Apple 2’s apart.

Chloe: Well, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mitch Bennett.  I’m Chloe Gold. I went to Beverly Hills High school.

Mitch: Whoa!

Chloe: I know. Richie Rich High.

Mitch: That school’s like a country club. Why are you coming here?

Chloe: You just said it yourself, my school was a goddamn country club. Let’s not talk about it. [Holds up the sweatshirt] What do you think of this?

Mitch: I like it.

Chloe: I’m dressing down. Baggy sweatshirts, leggings, Chuck Taylor’s… Maybe I’ll biggify my hair a little. But that’s it. I want people to judge me for me.

Mitch: I didn’t know there were people like you at Beverly Hills High. I’d heard they were all stuck up snobs.

Chloe: And I didn’t know there were people like you at Clark. I’d heard they were all dweebs.

Mitch: Well, I’m a dweeb, aren’t I?

Chloe: [Examines the clothes Mitch has selected] Hmm. Let’s see. Izod shirts – in appropriate pastel shades, I should add – jeans … How are you going to wear the shirts? Tucked in or not?

Mitch: Uh, not.

Chloe: Mmhmm. Penny loafers or sneakers?

Mitch: I was thinking penny loafers.

Chloe: No, not a dweeb. A little prep, a little casual – slightly geeky, extremely charming – definitely not a dweeb.

Mitch [Laughing]: You’re the weirdest rich kid I’ve ever met.

Chloe: Glad to hear it! So, what are you planning to do at New Ridgemont High?

Mitch: Well, computers for sure, but I also was thinking of going for student media. The school paper, radio station, you know.

Chloe: That’s perfect!

Mitch: It is?

Chloe: Absolutely. You see, I’m going to be Student Body President.

Mitch: Uh, okay.

Chloe: And once I am, you and I are going to run this place.

Mitch: We are?

Chloe [Taking Mitch’s arm]: Yes, Mr. Bennett, we are.  And it’s gonna’ be awesome!  




August 20, 2019, 9PM EST. 

[One year earlier]

Special Edition of 20/20, with Barbara Walters.

Barbara Walters [In studio]: New Ridgemont High, the exciting new experiment in public schooling and brainchild of USC sociologist, William Friedman, is all that anyone has been talking about since its first public announcement ten days ago. An admittedly radical response to what is being called a national “youth crisis,” New Ridgemont High is for many the last chance to address the disturbing social, psychological and legal problems faced by American young people today. “We are at a watershed moment in our society,” Dr. Friedman said in a recent interview, “Our public schools are about to become indistinguishable from the juvenile offender institutions of decades past, unless someone does something quickly,” and New Ridgemont High is his way of doing just that.  Meticulously designed to replicate a mid-1980’s Valley high school, New Ridgemont High is an effort to recapture a conception of schooling and of the student population, from a time well before the current troubles and yet recent enough to represent an attainable goal.   

But the reforms being proposed extend far beyond the school’s campus. Developed from decades of work on what Friedman refers to as “Social Immersion theory,” the model depends upon substantial social support, which means not just the school, but the entire community will embark upon a trip back to the 1980’s.  Local businesses, radio and TV stations, and most importantly, private homes, will all collaborate in this unprecedented, community-wide turning back of the clock.

Two days ago, Dr. Friedman held the first of what will be a series of town-hall style meetings with the parents of incoming New Ridgemont High students. He – and they – were kind enough to open their first meeting to me and to 20/20’s cameras, and here is what they had to say.

Cut to the Ridgemont Theater, two days prior, and Friedman meeting with NRH parents.

Friedman: [From the stage] I want to welcome you all to what will be the first of several meetings regarding the upcoming school year. And thank you for permitting Barbara Walters and the 20/20 team to listen in and report on what we’re doing here. The problems that New Ridgemont High is designed to address are national problems, and it’s appropriate, therefore – and I think a very hopeful sign – that there is this level of interest nationwide in what we’re doing in Ridgemont.

Let me say a few words about what I’d like us to accomplish, here, tonight. While many of you already know one another, some do not, and we also have a number of parents of students who will be coming from outside the district, so I want to make sure that everyone is part of the family. I’ll start, then, by asking some of you to introduce yourselves and talk a little about why you’ve chosen to send your kids to New Ridgemont High, after which we’ll open it up into more general discussion.

Friedman walks to the front row and hands a microphone to a man, who is sitting with his wife.

Steven Gold [standing up and facing the audience]: I’m Steven Gold, and this is my wife, Rachel. Our seventeen-year-old daughter, Chloe, will be starting at New Ridgemont High, this year, as a Junior.  

I’m an attorney, working mostly with the film industry, and Rachel is a homemaker. We’ve lived in Beverly Hills, since before Chloe was born. Until now, Chloe has been attending Beverly Hills High, and as odd as it may sound, I am beyond thrilled to be able to take her the hell out of there.

Friedman: Could you elaborate?

Steven Gold: I’m not going to insult anyone by pretending that Beverly Hills has the kinds of problems that some of the parents in this room are dealing with, but it certainly has its share of them, as well as some unique problems of its own. Chloe isn’t moving because the school is crime-ridden or because it’s insufficiently funded; with the tax base it draws from, obviously that’s not the case. Nor is the school inadequate academically, though it’s fallen prey to the same worrying academic trends that we’re seeing across the state and nationwide.

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Friedman: So, what is it? Why is Chloe leaving?

Steven Gold: The culture at Beverly Hills High is toxic.  Not just because the school is filled with smug, privileged rich kids, who’ve succeeded in revolutionizing the art of meanness – which of course, it is – but because it embodies the worst of today’s social trends. The kids interact with each other almost entirely through social media, with all the deforming effects that come with it, and the school, rather than fighting it, has embraced it and even integrated these goddamned platforms into the school environment. 

And the obsession with scheduling and supervision – my God – every minute of these kids’ days is filled with a planned, supervised activity, under the most stifling, bureaucratic rules you can possibly imagine…

Man in the back [loudly]: Oh, we can imagine it alright!

Steven Gold: Chloe says the students barely know how to talk to each other anymore, and they lack any ability to settle their own disputes and conflicts. They cut each other to pieces on social media when they’re out of school and run to the administration, when they’re in it. Chloe is a beautiful, smart, talented, friendly girl, and she has virtually no friends. It’s a goddamned disaster is what it is.

Rachel Gold: [Wrinkling her nose] Can we cool it with the “goddamns”?  

Steven Gold: Well, that’s my reason, anyway. And Chloe’s too. It was her idea to switch schools, not ours, and I don’t blame her one bit. She deserves to have a satisfying and enriching adolescence, just like we did.

Woman in the middle row: Hear! Hear!

Friedman: Thank you, Mr. Gold. Would you mind handing the microphone back to someone else? How about the woman two rows behind you? She’s got her hand up.

Betty Reilly: [Smiles somewhat nervously and gives a small wave] Hi!  I’m Betty Reilly. My husband, Michael,  owns Reilly’s Auto Repair, here in town. Our son, Kevin, will be starting New Ridgemont High this Fall, as a Senior. I’m sorry Michael couldn’t be here tonight, but he had to stay late at the shop. The preparations for this 80’s rewind have been taking a lot of his time.

Friedman: We greatly appreciate your family’s participation in the project. So, what’s Kevin’s story?

Betty Reilly: Kevin goes to Central, and he’s absolutely miserable. I know it’s his last year and everything, but he’s climbing the walls. Getting into trouble with the police. Fighting with his dad, which he never used to do. We had to do something.

Friedman: Why does he hate Central so much?

Betty Reilly: [Visibly upset] The thing is, I understand why he hates it. And I think he’s right. But what were we supposed to do? All the schools are like that now.

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Friedman: Like what?

Betty Reilly: Everybody has to go to college. If you don’t go to college, you’re a failure. The courses you have to take – most of them are preparation for college. But … [looks like she’s struggling]

Friedman: We’re all listening, Mrs. Reilly. Take your time.

Betty Reilly: That’s just not Kevin. He grew up in Michael’s garage. He wants to work on engines, brakes, electrical systems. But there are no shop classes at Central or at any other public school in LA. He’s a clever, smart boy, Dr. Friedman, but not book smart. And those classes they’re making him take – he’s getting C’s and D’s, and every day he becomes angrier; bitter. [Wipes her eyes] And that’s why he’s switching to New Ridgemont High. Because you have a real shop program.

Friedman: A four-year, specially designed, integrated academic and vocational program. Kevin can graduate with a diploma and a Journeyman’s certification in one of half a dozen trades we offer, including auto shop. After high school he can go straight to work, and if he wants, later, he can go back to school for Master-level certification. 

Betty Reilly: [Her eyes shining] That’s what the man who came to the house said! That nice man – I can’t remember his name – he looks like Art Garfunkel.

Friedman: [Clears his throat] That would be Sal Levy, our physics teacher, who also doubles as a mechanical engineer and auto shop teacher. He does all of our outreach to the families interested in vocational ed.

Betty Reilly: Right. Well, the minute we heard that, we signed Kevin up. [Quietly] It’s the first time we’ve all agreed on something in a long time.

Friedman: Kevin is most welcome, Mrs. Reilly. Thank you.

Betty Reilly nods and hands the mic to a couple behind her. Sits down.

Don and Nancy Bennett [standing up]: Hi everyone.

Nancy Bennett [squeezes Don’s arm and whispers] You talk, honey.

Don Bennett: Me? Oh, ok. Well, I’m Don Bennett and this … 

Nancy Bennett: [Leans over to the mic] I’m Nancy Bennett.

Don Bennett: Yes, and, um, our son, Mitch, goes to Clark.

Friedman: The highest ranked private math and science academy in the state.

Don Bennett: Yeah, well when you put it that way…, the thing is, we don’t like it very much.

Nancy Bennett: [Leaning over again] And by “we,” he means both of us and Mitch too.

Don Bennett: [Turns to her and whispers] Look, do you want to share the mic?

Nancy Bennett: [Pats him] No, no, sweetie, you’re doing great.

Friedman: [A hint of a smile on his face] So, what’s wrong with Clark?

Don Bennett: Uh, well, my wife and me, we’re scientists.

Friedman: I see.

Don Bennett: I teach cosmology at UCLA, and Nancy, she’s a marine biologist.

Friedman: At?

Don Bennett: Also at UCLA. With a joint appointment at the University of Miami.

Friedman: I see.

Don Bennett: So, it made sense to send Mitch to Clark. He loves science, and everyone says that Clark is the best in science.

Friedman: So, what’s the problem?

Don Bennett: Well, ah …

Nancy Bennett [takes the mic from him] The problem?  It’s a bunch of crap is what it is.

Friedman: Is it?

Nancy Bennett: [Steelily] It is.

Friedman: How so?

Nancy Bennett: They’re not developing a love for science in the students. They’re drilling them like Marines to make them maximally competitive in college admissions and scholarships.  

Don Bennett: [Leans towards the mic] What my wife is trying to say is … 

Nancy Bennett: And they’re training them to compete with each other. Grade point average. Class Rank. SAT scores. Valedictorian, salutatorian, whatever-the-[bleep]-a-torian …

Don Bennett: [Moving closer to Nancy] Sorry! She’s very…

Nancy Bennett: Very is exactly what I am. These kids are getting home at 3:00 and falling asleep into their books at 11:00. There have been two suicides in the past year.  It’s a disgrace.  

Friedman: [Gravely] New Ridgemont High will be nothing like that. The farthest thing from it.

Nancy Bennett: [Her head held up] We know it. That’s why Mitch will be attending, come Fall. [Sits down and hands the mic back to her husband]

Don Bennett: [Humbly] And we are very grateful for the opportunity. [Sits down and passes the mic to a woman at the end of the row.]

Friedman: As are we, Mr. and Mrs. Bennett. As are we.

Wanda Freelander: I’m Wanda Freelander, and my son Myron will be attending New Ridgemont High, as a Junior.

Friedman: Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what informed your decision, Ms. Freelander?

Wanda Freelander: We live in Compton.

Friedman: I know. I recruited Myron personally. Visited your home.

Wanda Freelander: Myron is a member of the Honor’s Society – as are several of his friends, who also will be attending New Ridgemont High – but that doesn’t change the fact that Compton High is a dangerous place. The gangs actively recruit and maintain a presence there. And it’s poor – very poor. Teachers are shelling out their own money to pay for basic supplies.

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Friedman: [Grimly] I know.

Wanda Freelander: [Looks pointedly around the room]  So, understand me when I say that my reasons – and Myron’s reasons – for attending New Ridgemont High are really basic. He is a smart, good young man who wants to be able to go to school and not wind up in jail or dead.

Friedman: I think everyone can understand that. And it’s part of the reason why I wanted to make sure that kids from Compton and Crenshaw would be a part of New Ridgemont High.

Wanda Freelander: [Quietly, looking down] I just wish there were more.

Friedman: There will be. This is just the beginning.

Wanda Freelander: Well, that’s all I have to say. [Sits down]

Friedman: Would anyone else like to do introductions?

The room remains silent.

Friedman: So, how about questions? Thoughts? Discussion? I’ll have a packet for you next time, with all the details regarding school policies, rules, how the school day will go, etc. 

Man in the back row: [Gestures for the mic, which is passed back to him.] Thomas Harry. My daughter, Anna, goes to Stevens and will be starting at New Ridgemont High as a sophomore. Are you going to empanel a parental School Board?

Friedman: Mr. Harry, welcome. Yes, there will be a School Board. At this point, I plan on taking volunteers.  If there’s a flood, we’ll have to arrange some sort of selection procedure.  

Thomas Harry: Doesn’t sound like you think of it as much of a priority.

Friedman: My thoughts on it are somewhat complicated, so please hear me out.

Thomas Harry: Of course.

Friedman: One of the major differences between the lives of young people today and those of previous generations is the degree of adult involvement.   There’s way more of it today than even would be imaginable in previous generations.

Thomas Harry: Okay…

Friedman: Now, one might think this is a good thing.  After all, the mantra on the part of school officials today is that parents and teachers are “partners in education.” And beyond that, there’s so much fear in the air – both about how young people will behave and about their safety – that pretty much everyone has bought into this idea of wall-to-wall scheduled activities and ubiquitous adult supervision.

Thomas Harry: Can’t disagree with any of that.

Friedman: In the past, adults just didn’t want that much to do with children, and vice versa. Kids were largely left to their own devices, even at very young ages. You could be eight years old and easily spend a good portion of every afternoon and evening out and about the town alone or with your friends, with no adult in sight.

Thomas Harry: [Laughs] That was me alright.  

Friedman: In my view, that sort of freedom is absolutely essential to healthy human development. It’s in that exclusively youthful space that kids learn virtually every important social skill: How far can you push the rules?  How do you resolve conflicts and disputes? How do you manage your social circle? How do you prioritize values? How do you balance recreation with your various responsibilities? All those sorts of things. But if you’re always scheduled and supervised by an adult authority figure, you never learn them. You heard what Mr. Gold said.

Thomas Harry: I did.

Friedman: The results have been disastrous. Which is why I want minimal parental interference in what goes on at New Ridgemont High. It’s a good part of the reason for returning to an earlier model of schooling, in the first place – the open campus; the free periods; the absence of hall monitors – they all serve the goal of allowing for substantial, free teen spaces.

Thomas Harry: I’ll have to think about that. In the meantime, though, what will the Board do?

Friedman: My plans are for it to serve an entirely advisory role, as well as being a clearinghouse for questions and concerns. A lot of the governing functions that Boards typically serve will be taken on by student government, to which I intend to give a substantial amount of authority.

Thomas Harry: That sounds like it’ll certainly increase the sense of investment the kids have in the school.

Friedman: That’s exactly my line of thinking. Anyone else?

A couple in the back corner of the room raise their hands, and a mic is passed back to them.

Mary and Frank Goldstein: [Standing] We’re the Goldsteins.

Friedman: Welcome, Goldsteins!

Mary Goldstein: Our son, Tim, will be starting New Ridgemont High as a Sophomore. He’s been attending Central up until now.

Friedman: We’re thrilled to have him. What led to your decision?

Mary Goldstein: For us, it’s all about the arts. Your representative … [turns to her husband] what was his name, honey?

Frank Goldstein: Jameson.

Friedman: John Jameson, English teacher and theater director.

Mary Goldstein: Right, that’s him. When he came to visit, he told us that New Ridgemont High will offer the best arts and theater programs in southern California.

Friedman: And that’s a major concern for your family?

Mary Goldstein: It is. Central has completely gutted arts education, and what theater it has is a joke. All the money is poured into sports. Stevens is better, but you can’t get in there, as a transfer – the waiting list is years long.

Friedman: As the only arts-oriented public school in LA County, I’m not surprised.

Mary Goldstein: Music and theater are Tim’s loves, and he can’t do them at Central, at least not in any sort of satisfying way. And he has no interest whatsoever in sports.

Friedman: Our programs are carefully balanced so that none receive a lion’s-share of our funds and none are starved for them.

Frank Goldstein: We love it. It’s funny, though.

Friedman: Why?

Frank Goldstein: Well, it might seem nitpicky, but there’s nothing particularly 80’s about that. I was in school in the 80’s and sports were much better funded than the arts. I mean it was the Reagan era, after all. My wife and I talked about this – she’s a bit older than me – and what you’re describing seems more 70’s than 80’s. 60’s even.

Friedman: No, it’s a good question – nothing nitpicky about it at all – and it gives me an opportunity to clarify something.

The Goldsteins sit down.

Friedman: Your perception is correct. New Ridgemont High incorporates pedagogical ideas and practices that derive from the 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s. And you’re also right that the 1980’s is when some of the bad trends that are metastasizing today had their start.

The retro aspects of New Ridgemont High are not a nostalgic exercise. They’re an effort to return to things that worked and never should have been abandoned.  But there are three major reasons why the focus has been – and will continue to be – on the 1980’s and why we are going to the lengths that we are to replicate that particular environment. 

First, the more recent the rewind, the more effectively it can be achieved and the least disruptive it will be, when students return to mainstream education or the workforce, after high school. For example, if we’d modeled the school on the 1960’s or 1970’s, there’d be virtually no computer education, and that strikes me as being essential. And there are many other things like that.

Second, in the realm of marketing, promotion, and politics, there have to be clear identifiers and markers.  To a great degree, we’ve brought this kind of oversimplified misrepresentation of what we’re doing upon ourselves, but one has to be able to describe the project in a clear, pithy way, when one is dealing with politicians and the press.

Third and most importantly, there has to be a strong, visible, tangible identity, in order for social immersion to work. If I thought pedagogical reforms alone were enough, we wouldn’t be doing anything this elaborate.   An enlightened charter or magnet school would be sufficient. But decades of research has convinced me that the damage done to our young people over what is now almost two generations runs so deep that it has become endemic, and for that sort of problem, only an approach with a heavily behavioral component will work. Social immersion makes maximal use of this kind of behavioral technique, but it requires a very well-defined and fully realized social environment in order to be effective.

[Looks down at his watch and gestures to the audience] We’ve been going for a little over an hour, and now wouldn’t be a bad place to stop. Are there any other questions? Thoughts?

The room remains silent.

Friedman: Okay, then. Thank you so much for coming, and I’ll see you next week – same time, same place.  [Waves to the audience and leaves the stage].

Cut back to ABC Studios and Barbara Walters, who has been joined by Hugh Downs.

Barbara Walters: A remarkable project and a fascinating discussion. Your thoughts, Hugh?

Hugh Downs: It’s definitely an ambitious plan, Barbara.  Some might even say it’s a bit too ambitious, though the situation in California and nationwide would seem to be urgent enough to justify it. I was struck by the quote from Friedman that you gave in your Introduction – that our schools are on the brink of essentially becoming juvenile offender facilities. I don’t think that’s an exaggeration.  

Barbara Walters: The data certainly bears him out.  Campuses are all closed. The police presence in schools is way up. Many municipalities are imposing youth curfews. The situation seems to be spiraling out of control.

Hugh Downs: If you recall that recent study that came out of Harvard … the projections are that by 2025, juveniles will make up thirty percent of the prison population and almost entirely for what not long ago would have been considered insignificant, petty offenses. Some of the stronger voices of opposition are even calling it an outright “war on youth.”

Barbara Walters: It’s certainly become the issue of our times. Frustrating. And terrifying. Thank you, Hugh.

Hugh Downs: It’s my pleasure.

Barbara Walters: For continuing coverage of the current youth crisis and New Ridgemont High, stay tuned to ABC News. I’m Barbara Walters, and this is 20/20.

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A documentary written and directed by Mitch Bennett.

Produced by John Hughes.

Copyright © 2022, The X Foundation.

Dedicated to William Friedman

Opening Shot:  Mitch Bennett’s control room. Mitch Bennett is sitting amidst a tangle of video equipment, and behind him are several screens, on which the NEW RIDGEMONT HIGH logo is displayed.

Mitch Bennett:  The film you are about to see was compiled from a year’s worth of broadcast and cable news footage, home video, and material that I shot during my time as a  student at New Ridgemont High. It was the best year of my life, and after countless conversations with other students, I know that this is a feeling widely shared among NRH alums.  

It’s important for me to say this, because as everyone knows, New Ridgemont High was shut down after just that one year. Not because it had failed … no, it had succeeded beyond anyone’s wildest dreams and was considered a triumph of social scientific intervention. In fact, New Ridgemont High was such a success that the State of California was preparing to replicate the experiment – plans had been drawn up to create three more schools, on the NRH model. Indeed, the eyes of the entire nation were on us: from Chicago to Boston to New York, they were all making their own plans, based on what we were doing out here in the Valley. It would have been the most sweeping social change since the 1960’s, but it was all destroyed on one terrible day, by the very people for whom it had been created to save. Destroyed, because we couldn’t free ourselves from the demons that had brought us to this desperate point in the first place.

The purpose of this documentary is to set the record straight; to tell the true story of New Ridgemont High and of William Friedman, whose vision, tireless effort, and love of young people made it a reality. Dr. Friedman embodied the very spirit of our school, and he, more than anyone, has suffered from its fall. This film is dedicated to him.

But before we get started, I want you to meet two friends of mine who were there when it all began – when Dr. Friedman first started thinking about creating an experimental school – and they’ve stuck with him, with New Ridgemont High, and with all of us kids, to the very end. Without them, this documentary wouldn’t have been possible. John Hughes and Bret Easton Ellis.

Cut to John Hughes and Bret Easton Ellis entering the control room. They take turns embracing Mitch Bennett, after which they settle into two chairs flanking him. Ellis is holding a cocktail.

John Hughes: This is a great day, Mitch. You’ve really accomplished something here.

Bret Easton Ellis: I’ve just seen the final cut. It tells the truth. Unflinchingly.

Mitch Bennett: I couldn’t have done it without you guys; without your advice and support.

Bret Easton Ellis: You deserve it, man.  

John Hughes: As did Will. You did right by him, Mitch.

Bret Easton Ellis [raising his glass]. To Will.

All: To Will.

Mitch Bennett: I was hoping that you’d be able to fill in the audience on the business-side of the film. There are some interesting things there that people might not know about.

Bret Easton Ellis: You handled a lot of that, John.

John Hughes: Yeah, I can speak a little bit on that end of things. As you know, Mitch, we didn’t go the conventional studio route on this one. With all the controversy surrounding the school’s closing and given the risk-averse mentality in Hollywood today, it wouldn’t have flown. 

Bret Easton Ellis: The decision also had to do with larger issues. We wanted to keep pushing, to continue Will’s work.

John Hughes: That’s right. Bret and I, as well as a good number of the original backers of New Ridgemont High, still believe in Will and in the urgency of his project.

Bret Easton Ellis: I’d say that what happened to the school and to Will pretty much proves that we were right about that; the urgency, I mean.

John Hughes: After the school closed, we knew we wanted to advance Will’s ideas in whatever ways we could, so we created the X-Foundation, a 501 C not-for-profit organization. In addition to producing, marketing, and distributing the film, the Foundation has created a new online presence, “X,” which will focus its reporting and editorial attention on the current youth situation. We also have a political arm, a lobbying group, that pushes Friedman-inspired policies in Congress and the White House.

Bret Easton Ellis: This point can’t be made often enough: NRH students and their parents overwhelmingly supported the school and Will. This was an outside job.

John Hughes: Don’t front load things, Bret. Let the audience see it as it happened.

Bret Easton Ellis: Right. I’ll zip it.

Mitch Bennett: Well, then, why don’t we get started?  Like we agreed?

Bennett, Hughes, and Ellis move together into a huddle, with their arms around each other’s shoulders.

All: For all of the young people across America, we are very proud to welcome you to NEW RIDGEMONT HIGH.


August 1, 2020, 6:20pm PST.

Special segment on New Ridgemont High, The Evening News, KABC, Los Angeles. John Stacy Reporting, 

Stacy, from the studio.

John Stacy: “New Ridgemont High is the most daring experiment in public education to be performed in more than a generation.” So says William Friedman, the intellectual, creative, and active force behind the project, and a man whose persona, style, and energy give the impression of a guru, as much as of an award-winning sociologist at USC. But given the scale of the task Dr. Friedman has before him, it is fair to wonder whether only someone like him – a true believer, in every sense of the word – could hope to pull it off.

The idea is to replicate a typical San Fernando Valley high school of the mid 1980’s, in every detail, from the physical structure and layout of the campus to the curriculum, to the administrative structure and school policies. But the program goes much further than that: the very clothes that students will wear, the equipment and technology they will use, and the rules under which they will operate, will all be circa the1980’s. 

The reason? The deteriorating condition of American youth across the country, whether with respect to mental health, educational achievement, or trouble with the law. Young people in America are no longer just lagging behind their counterparts in other countries, they now suffer rates of substance abuse, mental illness, and incarceration that have reached crisis levels. The independent journalist and documentary filmmaker, Priss Pruitt, whose recent documentary The Rise and Fall of the American Teenager, has called it a “teen apocalypse,” one that “demands attention, for the sake of the very future of our country,” and New Ridgemont High is the first serious attempt to find a solution.  

It’s all part of what Dr. Friedman calls “Social Immersion Theory in action,” referring to the sociological model he developed while still a graduate student, at the New School for Social Research, in New York. The basic idea is to effect social change, through the extensive manipulation of social, cultural, economic, civic, and legal institutions and practices.

Cut to location. Stacy, standing inside Tony’s pizzeria, with the owner, Antonio Bruno. 

John Stacy: I’m inside Tony’s Pizzeria, located less than a quarter mile from the New Ridgemont High campus.  In his quest for what he calls “total immersion,” Dr. Friedman has arranged for local businesses and television and radio stations to provide 80’s products, services, and programming, all at 80’s prices and in 80’s formats. Those who participate will receive significant subsidies to make up for any financial losses, funded by a combination of private donations and government grants. The response has been overwhelming: from local restaurants and retailers to athletics organizations and nightclubs, it seems like everyone in the city of Ridgemont has gotten into the game. And in a recent development, local law enforcement has offered to lend a hand, agreeing to implement 80’s policing policies, with respect to the local juvenile population, an unprecedented collaboration between the police, civil authorities, and the social science community.

Standing with me, here, to talk for a few moments about his own participation in the New Ridgemont High experiment, is Antonio Bruno, owner and manager of Tony’s Pizza, which undoubtedly will become a popular lunch spot with New Ridgemont High students, who will enjoy an open campus, under the school’s 80’s-inspired policies. Mr. Bruno, are you looking forward to seeing students from New Ridgemont High in your pizzeria, during the lunch hour?

Antonio Bruno: Very much, John. It’ll be wonderful having the kids around. They’re good customers and  bring a lot of energy and excitement with them wherever they go. Our sleepy lunch shifts are going to get turned upside down, and that’s just fine with me.

John Stacy: And you’ll be offering an authentic 80’s experience? Even with respect to prices?

Antonio Bruno: Yes. We’ll be receiving a private grant to help make up for the loss in revenue. I have to say, it was a lot of fun doing the research. How much was a slice in a typical pizzeria in 1985? How were food and drinks served? What was the décor? What kind of music was playing? What arcade games did you have? I found a few things on the internet, but fortunately, my family has been in pizza for three generations, and I was able to get a lot of information from my father, his brother, and a few older cousins.

John Stacy: What made you decide to participate in the New Ridgemont High experiment?  Even with the subsidies, it must be a real disruption for your business.

Antonio Bruno: I’m worried, John. My daughter, Vanessa, is that age and will be starting at New Ridgemont High this Fall. I don’t like what I’m seeing, what’s happening with kids today, both in school and out.  

John Stacy: Yes, but why this particular project?  Why Friedman?

Antonio Bruno: He’s the only one not blaming the kids for what’s going on. I mean, the idea’s great, but it was Friedman’s attitude that really sold me. He cares about the kids, and that’s more than I can say about anyone else I’ve heard talking about this issue.

John Stacy: Thank you for speaking with us, Mr. Bruno,  and best of luck to you in the coming months. I hope we’ll be able to visit with you again, once the school year is underway.

Antonio Bruno: I look forward to it.

Cut to a press conference, at Apple Headquarters, where Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs is offering remarks.

John Stacy [voiceover]: From the smallest family-owned businesses to the country’s largest corporations, Dr. Friedman has tapped into virtually every sector of Californian society to create the most comprehensive and immersive 1980’s high school environment possible.  Yesterday, Apple Founder and CEO, Steve Jobs, announced that Apple would be donating several hundred Apple II’s and Apple 2’s, as well as 1980s era mainframes, printers, modems, and software, for use in New Ridgemont High. Jobs spoke with reporters about the decision earlier today.

Steve Jobs: Apple has taken this step, in support of Will Friedman and his project. New Ridgemont High is one of the most innovative and inspired civic projects I’ve ever seen, and it deserves all of our backing. 

Reporter 1: You said in an earlier release that you’ve been invited to serve on Friedman’s board of directors.

Steve Jobs: That’s right, and I’ve accepted. I’ve also made a substantial donation to the New Ridgemont High Foundation.

Reporter 1: Will Apple do the installation and provide ongoing tech support?

Steve Jobs: No. That will be done in-school, by computer lab teachers and student techs. It’s essential to Will’s project that the school run as it would have in the 1980’s and that includes the computer facilities and classes. They’re going to learn how to do this stuff themselves and that will only intensify the immersive effect. They’ll also learn a hell of a lot about computer hardware and programming.

Reporter 2: What do you say to critics who have argued that Friedman’s “Social Immersion Theory” is nothing more than thinly veiled social engineering?

Steve Jobs: It’s a foolish argument. Mortgage deductions are social engineering. Okay, folks, that’s  it.  Thanks. [Waves to the reporters and crowd.]

John Stacy: You can see the interview that our own Heidi Bell did with William Friedman this Saturday, on Focus America, 6pm Pacific Time. New Ridgemont High is set to open, with the rest of L.A.’s public schools, on August 23rd. We’ll have live coverage of the opening ceremonies, as well as the first day of school, so be sure to stay tuned to KABC for ongoing coverage. And now, back to Studio One, and Scott Wilson, who has the local five-day weather forecast.