The Basking Ridge Bubble
April 21, 2015
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When I was in seventh grade, I described Basking Ridge to a new friend who had moved here. While I drew a map, I explained that there was a bubble over Basking Ridge, blocking them from the things happening outside. There was a bubble tunnel to the Jersey Shore, to the airport, and to ski mountains. Little did I know that the way I was describing our town, with beach houses and ski houses and trips to foreign lands was true to its socio-economic status.
The problem in Basking Ridge is not the status itself, but the bubble idea— how little comes in or goes out, and how similar everyone inside the bubble is. The amount of socio-economic diversity in Basking Ridge is extremely low, to the extent that it is harming Ridge High School’s rankings. Just this past week, Niche.com ranked Ridge as the 19th best high school in the state, as a result of a B- rating in the diversity section. After receiving all A’s and A+’s in every other category, it seems that the school is benefitted by having this higher economic status, as town occupants pay high property taxes to give Ridge new facilities, water fountains and spin bikes.
Contrary to how the school benefits from the less diverse socio-economic range in the occupants of Basking Ridge, the children can be harmed. After growing up shielded from the misfortunes and lives of those outside the “bubble,” students in Ridge High School are unaware of how fortunate they are, and maintain a lack of empathy for those who do not receive the same daily benefits that our student body does as a result of living in this town.
More so than that, there are students who attend Ridge that don’t fit into the perceived socio-economic status, and they are made to feel ashamed of their status, when in reality it is completely acceptable. A junior at Ridge, who prefers to remain unnamed, summarized this feeling perfectly, claiming that “the lack of diversity is immense and Basking Ridge is seen as such a wealthy town which makes the less wealthy people slightly ashamed to be at whatever socioeconomic status they are at when in reality they are all completely acceptable.”
As the years go on, and children grow up, they are slowly exposed to life outside the bubble and begin to grow more aware and more accepting. Learning about lives outside the bubble does not make up for the lack of personal understanding, which occurs when students don’t have a chance to truly experience the other side of life, which they’ve been so shielded from thus far. It comes down to the old phrase, “Don’t judge someone until you walk a mile in their shoes.”
I challenge every student at Ridge to try and walk a mile in the shoes of someone whose life is not yet understood. Use that experience to become more aware and more accepting.