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The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

The Student News Site of Kinnelon High School

Colt Chronicle

Party School: Why You Should Read It

The New Book on “School Shaming” and Life After High School
Cover image of the novel Party School by Jon Hart

What are you going to do with your life? More specifically, what are you going to do in the next four years that will get you there? You have 3 months and 650 words to answer. Good luck, you’ll need it. 

At this time in the year, the biggest question on any high school senior’s mind is where they are going to go to college, if anywhere. It’s what every parent’s friends are asking when they bump into you at the supermarket. It’s the CommonApp tab staring you in the face every time you open your computer. But most of all, it’s the fear of judgment if you make the wrong choice.

In author Jon Hart’s first young adult novel “Party School” set in the wealthy village of Castleton, things are no different. If anything, they are worse. As soon as you begin reading, you are launched into the end of senior year, witnessing the chaotic life of the protagonist: Dylan Mills. As a mediocre hockey player, glee club dropout, and amateur songwriter, Dylan is far from popular, and painfully aware of this fact. Fortunately, he does have his amazing girlfriend Rosemary in his corner. The problem? Rosemary is attending an it school, and Dylan is most certainly not. 

In the book, schools are grouped into several categories: the prestigious it schools, the second-rate wannabe it schools, average schools, and party schools. Sound familiar? Where your school of choice falls on this hierarchy has a direct correlation to your popularity, likeability, and quality of life in Castleton. Unfortunately for Dylan, his school “North South” falls into the party school category, well-known for its students doing lots of drugs. This results in some pretty devastating “school shaming” by his friends, and the rest of the town. 

School shaming is best defined as viewing someone differently based on where they choose to go to college. The resultant bullying, negative commentary, or assumptions associated with this practice are what make it so devastating to a person, and so controlling of one’s life. As the lynchpin of the American meritocracy; the college admissions process is incredibly competitive, and almost everyone wants their shot at an it school. I don’t even need to give you the names, because I’m guessing several just popped into your head. The appeal of these prestigious schools is not only the quality of education, but the status and accomplishment that comes with admission. Much of this is due to the perception of an it school student as somehow superior to others. 

Right from the start, Jon Hart writes a witty, yet scathing critique of this phenomenon by chronicling Dylan’s journey and life at North South in contrast to that of the it school students. Despite their seemingly perfect lives, the students like Rosemary that went to it schools come back to Castleton months later as depressed, confused, and having lost their boosted social status. Dylan, however, comes back having made new friends, including his sociology professor Berkowitz, who teaches him important life lessons. Most importantly, it becomes very clear that people misjudged Dylan, and that rather than judging him by his college of choice, he should instead be judged for how he chooses to grow once he gets there. 

Overall, Party School is an engaging and entertaining read filled to the brim with witty humor, lovable characters, and important lessons. I read it in a matter of days, because I just couldn’t put it down. Not only does it tell a creative story that will have you laughing at jokes then biting your nails at the romantic drama, but it also addresses some really big problems in how we think about ourselves and those around us. 

In the coming months, high school seniors will face one of the biggest decisions of their lives. One that will shape their future, their identity, and unfortunately, the way they are perceived by people around them. Quite frankly, the college admissions process is a mess. Nobody knows what the “right decision” is because so many different factors go into deciding on a school. Many people get accepted to prestigious schools and turn them down for a better financial offer, a different location, or even personal preference. The important thing to remember is not to judge someone because of their decision. College is not about where you go, but what you do when you are there. 

Regardless of where you choose to go, don’t let anyone tell you that you are wrong for choosing it. The bottom line is, only you can decide what you want to do with your life, and where you want to go to college. You don’t even have to go to college! Just make sure that whatever decision you make, it is exactly that. Your decision. 


If you’re interested in reading about Dylan’s coming-of-age adventures at North South, Party School can be found on amazon through this link, as well as Barnes and Noble and many other locations. Although this is Jon Hart’s first YA novel, he also has a book called “Man vs. Ball: One Ordinary Guy and His Extraordinary Adventures” which you can find on amazon as well. 

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