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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

"Where'd You Go To High School?" Is Not Just a St. Louis Question

Posted By on Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 7:00 AM

Where did you go to high school? - RIVERFRONT TIMES
  • Riverfront Times
  • Where did you go to high school?

Are you Catholic? How rich is your family? What kind of person are you?

One seven-word question answers these three intrusive queries and more for people in St. Louis: Where did you go to high school?

St. Louisans are notorious for replacing, "Hi, how are you?" with this question about one's alma mater, to the bewilderment of transplants.

Turns out, St. Louis is not alone.

See also: Where You Should've Gone to High School

In a piece about American greetings, The Atlantic lists five other places -- Louisville, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Baltimore and the island of Oahu -- where readers wrote in to say their typical greeting asks about high school.

click to enlarge Was this where you went to high school? - PAUL SABLEMAN ON FLICKR
  • Paul Sableman on Flickr
  • Was this where you went to high school?

"Baltimoreans always ask, 'Where did you go to school?' and it always means, 'Where did you go to high school,'" one reader tells The Atlantic. "Baltimore is a working-class town, and college was not an aspiration for folks. Your identity, character, life's trajectory was defined in toto by the place you went to high school."

Asking about high school is so common in New Orleans that "no doctor would think you were asking about med school," says the reader from the Big Easy.

Like in St. Louis, people in New Orleans ask where someone went to high school to judge which neighborhood they're from and to tell, to some extent, their class: Private school? Possibly wealthy. Expensive private school? Totally wealthy. Poor public school? Not so much.

The question is hardly a scientific (or even fair) way to judge someone's background, but that doesn't stop people from asking it.

Didn't go to high school in St. Louis? Never fear. We have a quiz for that. Find out which St. Louis High School best fits you.

Follow Lindsay Toler on Twitter at @StLouisLindsay. E-mail the author at

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