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est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

est. 1930

The Wildcat

Backpacks Unpack Student Personality

Student backpacks aren’t just vessels for transporting books and binders, they’re also symbolic of their owner’s interests and personality.
Nathaniel Huerta
Take a look at most student’s backpacks and you’ll discover an array of unique symbols, from patches of favorite bands, to mini-figures of movie monsters, to cherished gifts from family and friends.

Being a teenager is a journey of self-discovery, and many students showcase their diverse personalities through clothes, jewelry, hairstyles, and shoes. But another way students demonstrate their individuality is through the most ubiquitous accessory of them all: their backpacks

Freshman Rachel Podlovitz, for example, wears a metal dragonfly pin on her backpack to commemorate a trip to Paris with her parents. An artist, she also used her bag as a canvas by painting a white and orange koi to complement a navy blue enamel koi pin. “Not a lot of people like [koi], which makes me feel a little more unique,” Podlovitz said.

Maya Mulay, sophomore, has a mini pink surfboard attached to her bag’s front pocket. The surfboard is a memento she purchased from a beach visit and represents her creativity. “[Many people] have the same backpack as me, so I wanted to make it a bit more individual,” Mulay said. 

An avid Funko Pop collector — over 100 of the figures line her shelves — Madelyn Brewer, sophomore, sports three mini Funko Pop keychains on her bag. The figures are from different media she loves, such as The Little Mermaid and Animal Crossing. Her mini Jason Vorhees — of the Friday the 13th film series — symbolizes her love of horror movies (a passion also represented in her Scream and Halloween t-shirts).  

Some students decorate their backpacks with music-related accessories. Placing a band pin on a backpack often comes with the hope that someone else will see it and react with appreciation and admiration, and make a connection with the bag’s owner through a shared interest in music.

Gianna Zambon, junior, has a collection of buttons on her backpack pocket that range from Gracie Abrams to Conan Gray to an “I Love Harry Styles” pin. “[They] represent the music I like and the artists I like, which represents me,” Zambon said. 

August Azumi, freshman, uses his backpack to show his taste in punk music. Buttons from his favorite bands are scattered across his black Jansport, and a Black Flag band logo is sewn onto the front pocket.

Bardia Kharazizadeh, senior, covered his backpack with patches of his favorite bands: Gatecreeper, Spaz, Doom, Exodus, Corrosion of Conformity, Power Trip, Stormtroopers of Death, At the Gates, and Extreme Noise Terror. “It’s a mixture of grindcore bands, hardcore bands, and a little bit of mincecore,” Kharazizadeh said. Frayed edges on the black-and-white patches reflect Kharazizadeh’s bold style. 

Backpack ornaments also represent close friendships and distant family members. Sophomore Aaron Nguyen wears a small crocheted dinosaur, hand-made by a friend as a going-away gift. “My friend is away at La Quinta, and I don’t get to see her often, so it’s like a memory of her,” Nguyen said. The bright keychain is the sole decoration on his bag, testament to the accessory’s importance.

Isabel Hernandez, sophomore, hangs Pokemon and Darth Vader keychains on her bag, both gifts from her mother. Hernandez said of the keychains: “I got [them] from my mother, [and] since she doesn’t really visit often, I keep whatever she gives to me.” 

Logan Alvarez, senior, has an orange dreamcatcher attached to his bag. The intricate object symbolizes his pride in his Mexican heritage. “My tia, from Mexico, brought it for me. It just shows a little bit of my culture, so I put it on my bag to represent that,” Alvarez said. 

The decor on my backpack displays almost all of the above: favorite media, personal interests, and music I adore. A Gravity Falls button sits next to a Wallows band pin, and under the bag’s main zipper is a nostalgia-triggering quote from the Minecraft “End Poem”: “and the universe said I love you.

Each accessory tells a story about students and their aspirations, their interests, and what matters to them. Finding a self-representing symbol — like Podlovitz’s koi and Kharazizadeh’s grindcore band patches — is often a validating step in an adolescent’s search for self-identity. After all, it’s why students bother to decorate their backpacks in the first place.

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About the Contributors
Sofia Rodriguez, Culture Editor
Sofia Rodriguez, sophomore, is enthusiastic about her first year on staff as Culture Editor of the Wildcat. In addition to her involvement in journalism, Sofia plans to become an active student leader on campus by joining HOSA, Book Club, and NHS. Off campus, Sofia has dedicated her time to other philanthropic causes, including joining and serving in the National Charity League. When Sofia is not busy writing, she delves into fiction and poetry writing. An avid music lover, Sofia also collects vinyl and attends live concerts. 
Nathaniel Huerta, Photo Editor
Nathaniel Huerta, senior, is a Photo Editor on the Wildcat staff. Aside from photography, Nathaniel also enjoys drawing, baking, and interior design, some of his most beloved pastimes. Nathaniel aspires to move to the city, such as New York or Chicago, where he plans to own a bakery. Nathaniel also loves to watch comedy movies from the 2000s, such as EuroTrip, in addition to TV series like Inside Job and Suits.
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