Experience of a 1987 Arrowhead Alumni: Jennifer Torphy


Jennifer Torphy, Tricia Solsrud, Nicola Valmanis ,Kristen Berstrom and Debby Halada on their graduation day at Arrowhead in 1987

Jennifer Torphy was a part of Arrowhead’s 1987 graduating class. She now lives in France, and has for the last 27 years, working as a high school teacher. Her experience before, during, and after high school at Arrowhead was shared via email.

She recalls her middle school experience at Hartland North and Hartland South as “pretty average.” However, as she transitioned to high school, she says she struggled with getting to school, since she lived far away and was expected to walk.

While she was at Arrowhead, “big hair [and] acid washed jeans were big.” The students divided themselves into groups of  “jocks and cheerleaders/pom poms [and] then the geeks [and] dirtballs.” She says she was never a part of one single group, but that she navigated through all of them.

When asked if her experience at Arrowhead was similar to those shown in the movies, Torphy says, “John Hughes films represent that period pretty well…there are some stereotypes but those people also existed.”

As for her grades, she says she was a steady A and B student.

She says, “I think too much emphasis is put on grades and not on the implication given to an activity.”

Torphy is grateful to have had great French teachers while at Arrowhead.

She says, “I obviously had no idea how useful the French language would be to me in the future (I have been living in France for the past 27 years) and my teachers (Mr. Peche and Mme Gennerman) really prepared me well.”

Torphy participated in track and field at Arrowhead, and says, “Sport is great for students, especially students who do not excel in academic areas. I think Arrowhead had great coaches and teams.  I do however think there is way too much emphasis on stuff and appearance within sports now.”

Torphy says her children, who are 21 and 18, completed their schooling in France.

She says, “[In France,] there is a lot of pressure on academics, not enough on the arts and sports. My daughter chose the university track and is hoping to get into a masters program after her BS and my son chose the vocational school route and is doing a two year associates degree in industrial mechanics (also what he studied in high school). They did miss out on certain things (dances, prom, homecoming, sports teams).”

If Torphy could go back to high school and do it all again, she says she would participate in more extracurriculars and take more art classes.

Torphy says she would not consider high school some of the best years of her life.

She says, “Don’t get me wrong, they were fine. I wasn’t bullied, I learned a lot, I had friends in all of the crowds, I went to and had amazing (and still talked about) parties but it gets better and more interesting all the time…If you are an optimistic person who is curious, interested and willing to take some risks, life has so much more to offer you than what you can and have experienced the bubble of high school. We live in an amazing world which you’ll never get to experience if you stay fixed in one place and think that it can’t get better than this, it can.”

She recalls her favorite high school memory: “The night before graduation, me and a couple of friends hiked into the area which is now the Aurora health clinic on 94 and wrote ‘AHS ’87 Rocks’ in rocks on the side of the hill.  You could see it from the highway.”

Torphy says she keeps in contact with former classmates and teachers via social media.

Torphy has two things to say to current high schoolers: “Always hold your head up high, but keep it at a friendly level” and “Real life awaits.”