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DGS (sub)urban legends: fact or fiction?

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Jacob Casella

More stories from Jacob Casella

Sophomore+Ariel+Oh+throws+penny+at+nerdy+sophomore+Alex+Miranda
Sophomore Ariel Oh throws penny at nerdy sophomore Alex Miranda

Sophomore Ariel Oh throws penny at nerdy sophomore Alex Miranda

Jacob Casella

Jacob Casella

Sophomore Ariel Oh throws penny at nerdy sophomore Alex Miranda

Pennies, porn, prisons and protection — these are just four of the urban legends at DGS.

High school is known for rumors. Usually, rumors spread for a small amount of time and then seem to lose their relevance. However, there are a few rumors at DGS that seem to have never died.

If a rumor does not die, it is born into a new status. This new status is referred to as an “urban legend.”

In conducting research, four main urban legends came up at DGS. In conducting further research, these legends were be proven to be either true or false.

The first urban legend of DGS is that pennies are thrown at freshman when they walk down the halls. The second is that in the Spring of 2014, a Twitter campaign was started to invite a widely known adult-film actress to the DGS prom. The third is that DGS was actually supposed to be a prison, and the fourth is that DGS has a hidden bomb shelter in the basement.

Pennies

It is a well known rumor that pennies are thrown at freshmen when they walk the halls of DGS.  Is this true?

The answer is: not currently. However, in the past DGS did have a penny problem. The penny problem was not as widespread as one is told.

DGS English teacher and graduate Joseph Geocaris was a student during this penny problem.

“I remember that being talked about a lot, and I remember my friends and I joking about it when we were upperclassmen. But, I don’t remember ever actually seeing pennies being thrown at freshmen. I have a vague recollection of one or two students making a throwing motion in a pep assembly toward the freshmen section as they were walking to their own. But, if it happened it was somewhat isolated,” Geocaris said.

Geocaris heard comments from his siblings and father on the rumor as well. Two denied the rumor, and two confirmed it. His father, Jim Geocaris, was an Associate Principal at DGS.

“I believe there was some of that in the early ’90s at the first pep assembly of the year. I vaguely remember an administrative team conversation about it. [We] got it under control pretty quickly,” Jim Geocaris said.

Andrew Geocaris, a DGS graduate and member of the Geoacris family, also confirmed the rumor.

“Yep. [I] saw it happen. [I] knew people who threw them. [I] knew people who got hit by them, usually after assemblies as the crowd was leaving the gym,” A. Geocaris said.

Although DGS is not immune to bullying, pennies are not currently thrown at freshmen. When the penny problem did occur, it was not as widespread as popularly believed.

Freshman Erin Davy said that she never had a penny thrown at her.

“The urban legend is completely false,” Davy said.

Davy also expressed how she would feel if this legend were in fact true.

I think it would be kind of funny, because it never happens,” Davy said.

Davy spoke on how she first heard of the rumor.

“These past high schoolers that used to babysit me told me that I would get pennies thrown at me when I went into high school, but it didn’t happen,” Davy said.

Senior Lexi Gibson also commented.

“I have never seen it happen. I won’t lie — I think it would be funny, but I’ve never seen it actually happen,” Gibson said.

Gibson also commented on upperclassmen hazing underclassmen.

“I think at a football game or two I might have chanted ‘go home freshmen’ but that’s about it. That is the extent,” Gibson said.

Principal Edward Schwartz also offered his two cents on this rumor that has accumulated more than just small change.

“Well, it doesn’t happen. If it did, [the DGS Administration] would treat it like anything else thrown at anyone, causing something to be unsafe. So, I would tell anyone coming in [as a DGS freshman] that is worried about getting a penny thrown at them, if it did happen, we would take care of it– and it’s not just a penny, anything thrown at them for that matter,” Schwartz said.

Porn

Supposedly, in 2014 a Twitter campaign was started to invite an adult-film actress to DGS Prom. Is this true?

Yes, this urban legend is true.

The actress that the campaign was started for is named Ava Taylor. One google search of “Ava Taylor” leads to countless videos that everyone at DGS is legally not allowed to watch unless they are 18 years old.

On Twitter, an account called @Ava2DGSProm is present. The account joined on March 2014 and has a short biography that states “Official Page of Ava Taylor To DGS Prom.”

The account features one tweet.  However, there was also a Change.org petition to allow Taylor to come to prom. It has 998 supporters.

T-shirts were even made in support of Taylor coming to prom.

Courtesy of Mitch Wisniewski
The #Ava2DGSProm T-shirt.

DGS graduate and current college junior Mitch Wisniewski was a sophomore at DGS during the time of the incident.

“It definitely is [true]. It’s something that was infamous among the kids at DGS that year. They even referenced it in the production of Spamalot [the school musical] the next year,” Wisniewski said.

Wisniewski had more details to share about the incident.

“It was a really big deal. The kid that did it asked her if she would go with him on Twitter, and she said if he got I think 5,000 retweets she would come. There was even a Change.org petition to let her come after DGS said that she couldn’t and the hashtag blew up. It was my entire feed on Twitter for a couple days at least. People were ranting about job discrimination on Twitter. It was genuinely wild,” Wisniewski said.

However, Taylor was not allowed to attend the DGS prom, and the student who invited Taylor received punishment.

“If I remember correctly, he got called down to the dean’s office, and they said that he couldn’t bring Ava, and I think he was suspended or at the very least not allowed to attend prom. I don’t know whether they let him go or not, but I know Ava definitely was not at prom that year. It was insane. Everyone in school was talking about it,” Wisniewski said.

This incident lives on at DGS.

According to Wisniewski, Taylor has left the adult-film industry and is now a photographer. She still lives in the area.

Prison

Another urban legend is that DGS was supposed to be a prison. What this means is that DGS was designed as a prison and the land was also allocated to be a prison.

This legend is completely false.

However, the architects who designed DGS also did design prisons, but DGS was always planned to be a high school.

Senior Jaime Gallegos said what he knows of the rumor.

If you look at rooms like the warehouse off the auditorium and the choir room itself, they have high ceilings with windows at the top. It’s because our school was designed by a man who used to design prisons in the local area,” Gallegos said.

This was just part of the rumor though. Only staff could actually confirm this.

Principal Edward Schwartz confirmed that the rumor was, in fact, false, but that it is true that the architects who designed DGS and surrounding high schools at the time also designed prisons.

Jacob Casella
The original design of DGS– always planned to be a school.

“I have heard that the place looks like a prison, but obviously it was never built to be a prison. Yes, [the legend] is false,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz stated that this occurrence was not rare, and that in fact many other schools were built like DGS.

“You probably know that in the ’60s, when the school was built, they were also building a lot of prisons — and they were all designed similarly. In fact, many other schools that were built in the same time look a lot like ours. If you look at the shell of Hinsdale South, it looks like ours. Addison Trail, the shell, not the additions, looks just like ours. And so a lot the building that were big, industrial building at the time look very similar,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz also spoke of how the new District 99 Master Facility Plan will change the look and feel of DGS that students compare to a prison.

“I’m excited to have a building that kids can be proud of — in how it looks, feels and functions,” Schwartz said.

Protection

The final suburban legend is that DGS is equipped with a bomb shelter.  DGS was constructed in the midst of the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis, so having a designated bomb shelter actually seemed to make sense.

This suburban legend is in fact true. The basement of DGS, which currently houses the weight room and some classrooms, is a registered bomb shelter.

DGS staff member Christopher Blum, who works in the maintenance and grounds office, commented on what he knew about this legend.

I have been told that the basement here has been a registered bomb shelter since the 1960’s, and there actually used to be a sign on the exterior of the building that said so. But that sign has been long deteriorated and not replaced,” Blum said.

Blum could not officially confirm or deny the legend, but seemed to know much about it.

“I wasn’t here then so I can’t confirm if it’s real but that is the urban legend, and that sign, according to Mr. Reyes, does exist,” Blum said.

Head of maintenance and grounds Mike Reyes confirmed the suburban legend to be true.

What I do know is there was a sign on the building for a nuclear fallout shelter, and after doing and digging myself the actual location of that shelter would be the basement. Yes, the legend is true,” Reyes said.

Jacob Casella
The basement of DGS. All that the bomb shelter really is.

Reyes commented on why DGS would have a bomb shelter in the first place, even if the bomb shelter is truly only the basement of the school. 

“So, I did do some digging and the year that this building was probably being designed– which was probably 1962 or 1963, [the design period] was right around the Cuban Missile Crisis.  So that engaged a lot of municipalities to designate bomb shelters around that time period. So that is probably why [the architects] designed the shelter for that particular technology at that time,” Reyes said.

Reyes also commented on his own interests and opinions on the legend.

“I have always find it fascinating, seeing the yellow and black sign on the building. That sign used to be located out here at the north side of the large gym. We recently took it down because it was falling apart, as the sign was over 50 years old.  But I always found it fascinating when I was a student here and I was always wondering what that sign was and had many questions. ‘Was there a secret door?’ But [the bomb shelter] is just the basement, unfortunately. There’s no grand thing at the end here, so I apologize,” Reyes said.

Fact or Fiction

Rumors are not anything new to high school. As shown, some gain a new status.

Sometimes as well, rumors get mixed up. Pennies were thrown at freshmen, but now they are not. Also when it occurred it was not a huge epidemic.

A porn actress was invited to prom — that legend is completely true.

DGS was not supposed to be a prison, but was designed by prison architects, and DGS does have a bomb shelter– even if it is only the basement.

The suburban legends of DGS all have some truth, which is not to say that rumors are truthful.

Sometimes what is told is true, but it is important to take everything with a grain of salt.

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DGS (sub)urban legends: fact or fiction?