Wilde Lake Is Like an Onion


Zoe MacDiarmid

Shrek sitting on top of the wildecat.

“They judge me before they even know me,” said Shrek.

This quote, from the movie Shrek, always reminds me of Wilde Lake High School. Wilde Lake has a reputation for things like low achieving students and rumors of violence and drugs. But those who go here know that those judgments don’t tell the full story, because like Shrek says, “Ogres are like onions.” Wilde Lake, too, is like an onion, and our reputation is only the outer layer. 

Shrek is an ogre who lives in a swamp, a long way from the beautiful Duloc, a kingdom that looks perfect but is far from it. Throughout the film, people from Duloc judge the swamp. They see it as dirty, ugly, even dangerous. But it turns out that Duloc, in the end, is not so perfect. And past its outer layer, the swamp is actually a friendly place. 

In one scene, Donkey was trailing Shrek, talking about what people say ogres do, like eat people and terrorize villages. Shrek responds, “There’s a lot more to ogres than people think.” 

“Ogres are like onions,” Shrek says.

“They stink?” Donkey asks. 


“They make you cry? Oh, you leave them out in the sun, they get all brown, start sprouting little white hairs?”

“No! Layers! Onions have layers! Ogres have layers!” 

If Wilde Lake were an onion, its top layer would be what everyone sees: the fights, online gossip, low test scores. That is what most people hear about first, and is the basis of how our school is judged. 

However, people judge what they can’t see. I don’t blame people for seeing our school as a bad place. If I didn’t go to Wilde Lake, I might feel the same way. But hearing other people’s negative opinions about the school when they haven’t been here is disheartening. 

A year ago, I was at a summer camp, and in a few weeks I’m about to start high school at Wilde Lake. I was talking with one of the other guys in my cabin. He asked, “What school do you go to?” 

I told him I go to Wilde Lake High School, and I still remember his response to this day.

“That’s a bad school,” he said. “I heard kids protested because they didn’t want to go there.  That school is ghetto.”

That was not good to hear. And instead of feeling excited to go to a new school, I felt afraid of what it would be like. I thought, “How bad is this school? Am I going to get jumped as soon as I walk through the door?”

But a week later, I talked to a recent graduate who said the opposite. He said the school is a great place and the staff are nice. 

This “great place” as he described Wilde Lake reminds me of Shrek’s swamp. The swamp is Shrek’s home, and he goes on a dangerous adventure to preserve it. It looks muddy and grimy but it’s a sanctuary for Shrek, a place where he can be free from the people who judge him. I feel like our school is just like Shrek’s swamp. 

The swamp is a place that isn’t perfect, but it’s one where you can be yourself.

The swamp is a place that isn’t perfect, but it’s one where you can be yourself. 

Some other schools are like Duloc, a place that looks perfect but the people are just as stressed out and worried as they are in the swamp. 

Just because your place looks perfect doesn’t mean it is.

Now this doesn’t mean Wilde lake is a perfect school. We still have our flaws. But hey, every swamp has its leeches and parasites. And sometimes, you need to pull back a few layers to see the full story.