East Meck student body reaches new heights

Story by Gabe Stanton, Staff Writer

Andy Phillippi is, in many respects, just like other high school students. The junior goes to class, eats lunch with his friends and plays sports. But there is one very noticeable difference between Phillippi and his peers: Phillippi is 6 feet 8 inches tall.

East Meck is host to a tremendous variety of identities, and one indicator of East’s diversity is the incredible range of heights present throughout our school. At 6’ 8”, Phillippi is taller than more than 99.9% of his peers. In fourth grade, Phillippi was 5’ 9”, and first began to wonder whether he would continue growing forever.

“I’ve always been taller than everybody, so I was always asking my parents ‘How tall am I going to be?’” Phillippi said. “They said they didn’t know. ‘Am I ever gonna stop growing?’ Obviously yes. ‘When?’ They didn’t know.”

As he grew, Phillippi began to experience more and more difficulties related to his height.

“I think there are advantages,” Phillippi said, “just within society, for being taller than the average person, even to the fact that sometimes in crowds people move away from me instead of crowding up against me, just because I’m taller than them. But there are also disadvantages in society: when I was a cashier, lots of people thought I was ‘the mean one,’ just because of my height. Whereas a shorter person is more comfortable to come up to.”

Senior Osasenaga Idehen, who is 6 foot 4 inches agrees that being tall is, in fact, quite hard in some circumstances.

“It’s not easy at all,” Idehen said. “[For example], I can never buy a lot of clothes in the stores; I have to buy online. Not a lot of stores carry my size, and if they do, it’s usually more expensive than others and when it comes to shoes, my size sells out the fastest. So it’s not that easy.”

In contrast, 6’ 3” junior Jimmy Click thinks that, though there are disadvantages, it is still easier to be tall than to be short.

“I mean, I hit my head on a lot of things,” Click said, “but there’s no social stigma about being tall… There’s definitely more of a social stigma around being short.”

East’s shorter students face a different, but no less frustrating set of challenges.

“If I’m walking in the hallway I try to avoid particularly packed areas of the hall,” 4’ 11” senior Aishworya Khadka said. “It’s easy to get lost in them, or hit. [The most annoying thing is] people always comment on it… It’s mainly guys who do it; they see me and they’re like, ‘Oh God, you’re so short.’”

Despite all this, 4’ 7” senior Andrea Sanchez tries to maintain a positive outlook.

“I’m pretty content with it,” Sanchez said. “I came to accept it; I don’t really care. I know that anything could really be fixed. I could wear heels, so it doesn’t really matter to me in that aspect. I used to think soccer was pretty hard because I was short but then I was able to find a way where I can put my height to the best of its ability. But besides that I’m pretty content with my height. I don’t really have a problem with it.”

Tall or short, East’s students seem to share the same views as Sanchez. Despite their struggles, Phillippi, Idehen, Click and Khadka all prefer their height to the alternative. For Sanchez, it’s just a matter of accepting who you are.

“At the end of the day, we are who we are,” Sanchez said, “and we should be able to love ourselves for who we are in every aspect. I know that at first I was really self-conscious about my height and I hated it. But then I realized it was what made me, me… We should love ourselves for who we are.”