"Magic: The Gathering" Takes Hold

the back of the cards
Ketchikan High School has been overrun with Magic: The Gathering in just the last few weeks. I don't think that's an exaggeration. I saw Magic played several times throughout the first semester this year, but in just the last few weeks I feel I've seen the card game everywhere: Students are playing it at lunch, in the library, and even in my study hall class—once they've finished all their homework.

One of the things I love about Ketchikan High School (and Ketchikan in general) is how integrated it is. So many other regions, communities, and schools in the United States are segregated—socio-economically, if not culturally and racially as well. In Ketchikan, trailer parks are found right across the street from upper-middle class homes. Run-down pre-fabs are just a minute away from million-dollar beach houses. No school on the island is the "rich school," and almost everyone goes to the same high school.

Almost everyone at Kayhi has to go through some of the same classes together, too, from Alaska Studies freshman year to American Government senior year. There is some of what teachers call "tracking," to be sure, with A.P. classes and upper-level science and math. Nonetheless, there's a whole lot of interaction that goes on between students of every background.

The same is true for Magic. I've seen guys play each other who I never expected would interact. Freshmen play with seniors, and "jocks" play with students who probably never play sports. I've heard that one Kayhi sports team has even taken up the game en masse. The one group I haven't seen playing Magic is girls. (I suspect there are some female players out there, but haven't seen them yet.) In general, though, the explosion of the game across the school seems like a cool shared experience between guys with all sorts of other interests and friend groups.

A card game craze is a funny phenomenon to observe, but I think it's also another indicator of how great the essential social fundamentals are at Ketchikan High School.