The Sims 4 High School Years Speaks To My Awkward Teen Self

Ahh, high school, the theme of the most recent Sims 4 expansion. If you look back fondly on that four-year stretch, congratulations on being luckier than most. I remember only two things we were told at freshman orientation: that we weren’t allowed to wear Heelys in school, and that the next four years would be the best of our lives.

I didn’t have the coordination for Heelys, anyway, but the best years of our lives? Really… ? For most of us, high school is an acne-ridden, obligatory sentence, something we go through and grow through on the way to better things. I graduated in 2011, and it didn't take long before high school had become but a memory.

The Sims 4: High School Years, I think, did a good job at capturing the experience. I followed my legacy family Sim to class each day, and kept track of all the awkward, embarrassing, and ridiculous ways that Shanna Darby’s high school experience looked like my own.

8 My Sim's Popularity (Or Lack Thereof)

Shanna didn’t get off to a great start in school, socially. As she introduced herself to the principal on the sidewalk, other students literally played football over the top of her. Her childhood friend had managed to become the captain of the cheer team, but Shanna couldn’t join no matter how many times she asked, despite having a good athletic skill. Other teens would occasionally stop T-posing when I had her join the challenge.

Most of us do not go through high school as the popular kid, and I was no exception. The dumb challenges feel as well, though – planking was it when I graduated, so I guess some things never change.

7 Befriending The Faculty

Without much luck with her classmates (except for when everyone randomly sat together at lunch, which literally never happened IRL), Shanna turned to the staff at Copperdale. She spent lunch one afternoon in her classroom, talking to the teacher without me even telling her to. The following day, she spent her morning free time in one of the bathrooms chatting with the principal and the janitor.

While I never spent my time loitering in bathrooms, I did spend a couple of lunches with teachers. Some were detentions, but others were of my own free will. I had some stuff going on senior year that my Photography teacher’s support was pivotal to helping me sort out, so spending lunch with a staff member? Check.

6 Prom: A Wonderful Evening Of Pals

Shanna had a crush on a girl in her class, but when it came time for prom preparations, that girl asked her to go platonically. Her best friend – the cheerleader that liked her but not enough to let her join the squad, apparently – also asked her to go as friends. I ended up sending her with her friend, but she managed a dance with the girl she liked at the event, too.

I chose the best friend partially because we all know friends should come first, but also because I went to senior prom with my best friend, and we stopped to buy slushees on the way. We spent the whole night on the dance floor, and the guy I had a crush on tried to teach me how to shuffle – it was a scant few months after “Party Rock Anthem” by LMFAO came out.

But for what it’s worth, I don’t think Shanna looked much more graceful flailing about in evening wear than I did.

5 The Negligent Administration

Unfortunately, I think we’re all familiar with stories of schools who do nothing about bullying, and Copperdale seems to be one of them. Shanna spent one afternoon in the classroom talking to a few girls, who invited her to a fake party before walking away, and the teacher said nothing despite being part of the conversation. There was also the time two kids started fist-fighting in the same classroom, and not only did the teacher hang out on the sidelines, but the principal was watching through the window.

We’ve all been there, seeing administration tout how anti-bullying they are while performing the exact opposite way. I won’t go into me and my friends’ long-gone specifics, but suffice to say, that tracks.

4 Fun, Fears, And Friendships

Shanna was the first Sim I played with after the wants and fears update, so I was especially attentive to hers. Or, so I thought, until she was suddenly afraid of her unfulfilled dreams? Whatever, I gave her time with her group of friends, a guy and girl she’d known since elementary school. They were studious athletes, so any time not spent doing homework was usually spent doing something sporty together.

And while my friends and I definitely did not have the same interests as Shanna and hers, we were still much the same. As an adult, it feels dramatic to whine about falling behind in life because you're a little bored, but as a teenager, so many things felt like the hugest deal. Everything is more dramatic at that age, and The Sims definitely got that right.

3 Pranks And Hijinks

There are a lot of juvenile pranks happening around Copperdale High, and really, the senior prank feels like a rite of passage. Shanna was a saint, but she saw her classmates hacking the loudspeaker, drawing on whiteboards, and putting stink bombs in lockers. They could even summon Bloody Mary, which is usually harmless – except when it’s not.

But my class wasn’t much better. I went to high school at a time when flash mobs were all the rage (and strictly forbidden in school), so our senior prank was distracting the principal with a huge one while some stray kids ran to cover her car in plastic wrap and balloons. Innovative? Not exactly, but deadly? Also no, so at least we had that going for us.

2 That Small Town Feel

Copperdale feels like a pretty decent world for an expansion pack, but where it excels is in capturing the small-town vibe. It’s got an odd charm to it that you can only really appreciate by living there. Shanna and her friends spent time at ThrifTea, the very hip new boba tea thrift store hybrid, or down at Plumbite Pier, the boardwalk area of Plumbite Cove.

Although, it does feel bigger than mine. I was one of about 3,500 people to live there, and we definitely never had anything as trendy as ThrifTea or as fun as Plumbite Pier. My farm-town existed on one main street, featuring a McDonald’s, a pottery shop, and not one but two gas stations.

1 Assorted Awkwardness

Most of Shanna’s time before she headed to the University of Britechester was spent either happy being with friends, tense after too much homework, or embarrassed by the oddities of growing up. I instructed her to finally have her first kiss at the birthday party I threw for her ahead of young adulthood, and it took her forever to approach the other Sim because she was too busy eating cake. She finally did, just as the event timed out, and the game shamed her for her lame birthday party just as she was about to lean in.

And while none of that specific stuff happened to me, plenty of my own awkwardness did. Everyone had stuff like that happen, no matter who you were. Shanna’s three default moods ring familiar for myself back then, and they should for any teen. High school is a beautiful nightmare, a time of exploration, growth, and starting to figure out who you are. It's bittersweet to look back on those four years – embarrassing through and through – but high school is a transitional time for everyone, and although each small thing feels like the end of the world, like Shanna, we make it through somehow.

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