psy·chot·ic leop·ard sīˈkädik/ˈlepərd/ noun · anything that is funky, interesting, beautiful, niche, useful, and grabs one's attention

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Back to School Fashion: JANSPORT Backpacks and High School Student Identity

Posted by Lisa Johnson on

Nothing like a new, or “new to you” backpack in the month of August for a middle or high school student. Just before the first semester starts, it's a whole new beginning, and sometimes a whole new identity.

A backpack for a teenager is often an extension of him/herself, because it goes back and forth to school, and is worn right against the body every day. So choosing one that fits just right, on multiple levels, is very important.

When I was in high school, Jansport was always a favorite and classic brand, though there were not as many fashion choices as there are these days for funky backpacks. So we tended to embellish ours, with buttons advertising our favorite bands or silly quotes. Often we would hang lots of charms and fuzzy creatures on the zipper pulls.

My daughter is off to high school in less than a month, and I really enjoy watching her getting her wardrobe ready. She's already picked out two backpacks, one for her new summer job and one for when school starts. She’s not really into pink roses or Grateful Dead style skulls, like those of the one pictured,, but she did choose a seafoam blue / green large canvas one from Pottery Barn Teen, which I, of course thrifted and she snatched out of the “to be listed” pile.

She took her SwissBlue backpack to her Youth Conservation job this morning, as it was her first day of work.  She chose it not only because she could stash her frozen water bottle in one of the handy, exterior slip pockets made just for that, but because there is also an easy to reach interior pocket where she can keep her cell phone, and even a section where headphones could fit through, in case she wants to listen to music.  Just not during work hours!

So many changes….  This is the first time I didn’t have to shell out more camp tuition, as she is getting paid - finally!  In the past year, she’s grown taller than me, and she certainly knows how to put on makeup way better, and style hair so much more elaborately than I ever knew how to.  She certainly doesn’t seem as awkward as I remember feeling at fourteen.

Ninth grade was such a scary time for me...starting high school was daunting.  I was on the outs with my best friend after being chained at the hip all through middle school, and our town was one where there wasn’t a fresh new crop of teens making their way in.  Most of us had grown up and gone to school together our whole lives, and pickings were slim for brand new friends.  Still, I managed fine, after a slightly bumpy start.

My daughter’s experience will be very different from mine also because her older brother is already a senior in high school, and he has paved the way.  I was the oldest of three girls, and always yearned for an older brother to look out for me; she has always had this.

However, she will be entering a magnet school in another town, and know almost no one else.  So in a way, it will be for her similar to going to college, and having to make her way in the social world.  I envy her possibilities, and am sure there will probably be a crowd of new friends, probably artsy and interesting, and am so looking forward to seeing their colorful backpacks piling up by our front door!

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