Talking like a Torrey: distinct LJCDS slang

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Lucy Jaffee, Editor-in-Chief

I can recall several occasions when I’ve been discussing my school day with my parents or something LJCDS-related with a friend from a different school, and I am stopped stopped mid-sentence with:

“You went to the where?” Or, “wait, you had to go to what?”

A typical response might be, “I went to the VASC. You know, where my Chem class is?” The VASC, for example, is a seemingly normal term to me as an LJCDS student but is completely foreign to anyone outside of our school community or to brand new students.

Below are 10 words distinct to La Jolla Country Day School: a Torrey’s dictionary, if you will.

1. VASC

Beginning with my initial example, the VASC is where Upper School science classes, and some Lower and Upper school art classes are housed. VASC stands for Visual Arts and Science Center. Pop into a room in the VASC and you may find lab benches, fume hoods, an array of chemicals (for learning purposes, of course), or ready-to-use cameras and oil pastels in every shade. I can personally attest the VASC is one of the coldest locations, temperature speaking, on campus. My classmates and I had to bundle up before entering the Honors Chemistry classroom last year. VASC is certainly a unique term, with a Google search pulling up next-to-nothing about the acronym in a broader context. 

2. Flex

According to Webster’s Dictionary, flex, both a noun and a verb, can refer to causing a muscle contraction, bending a joint, or more commonly, to flaunt something. The phrase is a little dated now, but “Odd flex, but okay” used to flood social media posts a few years ago. Flex assumes a completely different meaning at LJCDS, referring to student-led clubs and organizations. Each club, headed by a faculty advisor, is either on Flex 1, 2, 3, or 4 and given an hour to meet. Being involved in a Flex is mandatory for certain grade levels and is a great opportunity to experiment with your interests and find a niche community within our broader school community. Flex Time activities range from Torrey Mock Trial to Future Doctors and Scientists, to, of course, The Palette. P.S. The Palette meets on Flex 2. Email Mr. Tohidi at [email protected] if you are interested in joining. 

3. Pavilion

To a typical person, a pavilion could mean a house or decorative building, or rather the Californian grocery store Pavilions. To an LJCDS student, the Pavilion is (well, pre-COVID 19) the one-stop shop for school lunch. While the Pavilion’s function has changed throughout the years, from being open for both breakfast and lunch and pay-as-you-go to included in tuition and provided daily, it has always fed Country Day students, staff, and faculty from all divisions. During normal times, the Pavilion has three main sections, ‘The Side’ closest to the tennis courts, the main hot and cold lunch area, and what I like to call, ‘The Other Side’, referring to the food stop closest to the amphitheater. The Pavilion provides a variety of options to accommodate all dietary needs and keep our student body healthy, happy, and well-fed. Located just outside of the Pavilion are lunch tables and where students, excluding the Lower School, and faculty eat.

4. Four Flowers Theatre

Created in 1996, the Four Flowers Theatre is connected to the gym and where performances, grade-wide or division-wide assemblies, and special events take place. Annual upper school performances include several Madrigal’s concerts, the play, the musical, and Rhythm in Blue, just to name a few. The Four Flowers is notorious for its relatively small number of seats and chaotic entrances and exits by the various grade levels when there are assemblies. Nonetheless, the Four Flowers Theatre is certainly missed this school year, as indoor facilities and large, unspaced crowds are not favorable to the spread of COVID-19. 

5. School Pass

A recent introduction to our Torrey vocabulary is School Pass. Before any student is allowed to step on campus this year, they must complete a daily survey on their School Pass app to ensure they are safe to enter. School Pass asks students for their temperature and a variety of questions relating to recent contact with or contracting COVID-19. As a new driver, trying to simultaneously access my School Pass app, put on my mask, and make sure I don’t hit any cones, or people, while pulling up to the Genesee Lot is not an easy task. Regardless, School Pass has been crucial in prohibiting any potentially contagious people from LJCDS’s campus.

6. Blackboard and My School App

Blackboard is not a distinctly Torrey term, but it definitely is one of the most frequently heard and spoken words at LJCDS. Blackboard houses all information about student courses, grades, and assignments. Considered the ‘big kid’ version of My School App, all Upper School students experience the same confusion when first using the platform, but soon become experts. Blackboard can be accessed by computer or smartphone and can be set to send notifications when new content, assignments, announcements, and grades are posted: a blessing and a curse. While being the first to know about any upcoming project is helpful in planning, seeing the results of your math test on Sunday morning is not always so pleasant. Although less relevant to Upper Schoolers, My School App is essential for accessing important information like quarter grades and comments, transcripts, schedules and directories. Middle Schoolers use My School App to view all of their assignments and classes (as the Upper School does with Blackboard).

7. Blue Bash

Perhaps not as frequently spoken by students as other words on this list, but Blue Bash is a characteristically LJCDS phrase. Blue Bash refers to the Parent’s Association organized charity event that takes place every spring. Blue Bash raises money for endowment, faculty and staff development, and tuition assistance. Community members can attend Blue Bash and bid on a variety of auctionable items and opportunities, from reserved parking spots to vacations. Blue Bash has taken place at a variety of vibrant locations in years past, like the Belly Up Tavern and Del Mar Country Club. 

8. Outdoor Ed.

Outdoor Ed., formally known as Outdoor Education or Experiential Education, refers to the annual week-long trips students in Middle and Upper School attend. In Middle School, the varying grade levels take their trips at different times of the school year, while all Upper School students typically attend Outdoor Ed. the last week of September. The Middle School Outdoor Ed. trips are chosen by the school and don’t usually vary from year to year. Ask any LJCDS Middle School alum and they will tell you about Catalina, Sequoia, or Joshua Tree. In the Upper School, freshmen and seniors each attend a grade-wide retreat, while sophomores and juniors can choose from a variety of experiences. Opportunities range from local day trips and learning about San Diego’s homeless to college trips in the Midwest to building houses for Hurricane Katrina victims in New Orleans. Outdoor Ed. is one of the most fun aspects of LJCDS student life, and the abundance of trip choices are bound to meet your interests. Every student comes home from Outdoor Ed. with a new group of friends and life-long memories.

9. The Bell

Yes, the bell is a literal bell in the middle of the Upper School quad, but it has significance. No LJCDS students or staff are allowed to touch or ring the bell, with the exception of graduating seniors. A long-awaited tradition, each member of the graduating class celebrates their last day of high school by ringing the bell. Ringing the bell is so important part to the senior experience that every graduate from the Class of 2020, despite quarantine and a pandemic preventing them for experiencing an in-person last day of school, was still able to come to campus, precautions and safety ensured, and ring the bell, signifying their completion. 

10. Lifers

To finish the list, Lifers are students who have consistently attended La Jolla Country Day School starting in the ECC, Early Childhood Center, or in Kindergarten. Lifers have watched La Jolla Country Day School grow alongside themselves and truly experience everything our school has to offer. Aside from the tight-knit bond between Lifers and the abundance of memories they have together, Lifers engage in a variety of exclusive activities their senior year. These include special Lifer luncheons and a blast to the past where Lifers can spend the day free of college applications and tough decisions and hang at the Lower School playground, reminiscing with their Lower School teachers.

This list is not all encompassing, as our LJCDS vocabulary will continue to grow and change. And, it’s important to note that certain communities within LJCDS, like specific classes or programs, have their own exclusive slang (bonus points to anyone who knows what a Day-Day is). Distinct language, just as it defines certain global cultures, applies similarly to LJCDS. The words we use contribute to our unique school culture, one shared amongst all divisions. According to Britannica.com, “Language is transmitted culturally; that is, it is learned. Moreover, while taking a French or Spanish class is more explicitly defined as language instruction, these ten terms, plus many others, have all been learned throughout our individual interactions and experiences at LJCDS, whether we have realized it or not. And, “If language is transmitted as part of culture, it is no less true that culture as a whole is transmitted very largely through language.” Culture and Torrey slang go hand and hand and will continue to thrive alongside our school itself. 

Photo credit: La Jolla Country Day School on Facebook