Welcome to the Bubble

Welcome to the Bubble

English teacher Lisa Penninga has taught at FHC for twelve years. She originally moved to Forest Hills when she was a senior in high school. Entering a new school late in a high school career can be challenging for anyone, but especially when you don’t know anyone, it’s even more difficult.

“I went to Portage Central for my first three years of high school and then I moved to FHC,” Penninga said. “I definitely felt like an outsider and found it difficult to make friends, especially because I came so late into high school.”

The idea of the Forest Hills Bubble has been around for years. Depending on whether or not someone is accustomed to the scene at FHC and comfortable with how everything works within the Bubble, the perspective on it is very different to everyone.

“I have never felt like an outsider at FHC,” secretary Tasha Kaminski said. “I went to high school here and have been involved in PTO, so I was used to the scene.”

No matter how the Bubble is viewed from person to person, there are positives and negatives to it. Everyone loves to be happy in their own world; however, people, especially students, have to be willing to branch out of the areas that are uncomfortable to them in order to develop into well rounded people, without their parents assistance in everything.

“If [students’] parents haven’t taught them how to be self sufficient, they never will be,” secretary Mary Beth Stout said. “I make it a point to have my kids do things on their own, like making their own transactions. I made my son buy his snow tires. I think in our Bubble, students have the opportunity to let their parents take care of things, which is not a bad thing, but at some point they have to do it on their own.”

Although students do need to learn to be individuals, the parent involvement at FHC is a great opportunity that many children don’t have in other communities. In some of the less fortunate communities, parents work twelve hours days and they don’t have the ability to be a part of their kids education.

“I think a major positive of our Bubble is the parent involvement,” Kaminski said. “When I taught down in Florida, there was none.”

Those that are outside of the Forest Hills Bubble, look in on the community and all they seem to see is rich snobs that are not generous with their money and they flaunt it around. What they don’t see are those that are very generous with their money and those that don’t even really have any money.

“I think that others see the percentage of the privileged part of us,” Stout said, “and there are some that are not. We are a greater Bubble, and the bigger and more affluent families don’t get as much of the attention for what they give, because they are quiet givers. When people move here from other cities and countries, they’ve heard that this is where they want to be.”

Though Forest Hills has a stereotyped Bubble, so do other communities. Downtown Detroit, for example, is generalized as not being a very nice area with little money, but just like not everyone in Forest Hills is rich, not everyone in Detroit is poor

“I think most affluent communities have a Bubble,” Penninga said, “but I live in Forest Hills and teach at Forest Hills so I am a part of the Bubble. And I am not as aware, but I can imagine that other communities have them as well. And I would say there are some students who have no understanding of the fact that there are families that really struggle.”

No matter what people outside of the Forest Hills Bubble see, there is a lot of good that goes on in the community. Parents, students, and teachers all worked hard together on FHC’s Day of Service to give back to the community, but outsiders don’t always see that.

“We have all sorts of people in our community,” Stout said, “but we are not thought of like that. We don’t have as much publicity for all of the positives that our Bubble has. We have quiet givers that don’t get as much attention.”

While some people believe the Bubble is a place of comfort and community, it can also give a false version of the international realm of different communities.

“I feel like the Bubble is just a comfort zone,” Kaminski said. “We have a very comfortable community. I didn’t have any experience leaving the Bubble until I went to college and that was a very different experience”

Kaminski, like many, never have been able to see the Forest Hills neighborhood is very different once you leave and go to college. Those that do end up leaving the Bubble begin to see outside of their comfort zone.

“I think anyone that goes to college opens up and realizes that there is more out there,” Penninga said. “Most of our big schools are international. It bursts the Bubble for everyone.”

Overall, the Bubble can be good in that it is comfortable and there are good people in it, or bad in that it can close the area up to other people, like a cold shoulder. The Forest Hills Bubble is very wrongly judged in that it is a very wonderful society with an abundance of kindness.

“I don’t think that people outside of our community see the generosity that we have and the kindness and a lot of compassion,” Penninga said. “I think we are very judged by other communities, and wrongly so.”