REASONS PEOPLE ASK "WHERE DID YOU GO TO HIGH SCHOOL?" IN ST. LOUIS

We sought to get to the bottom of why people ask the "St. Louis question." Here's what we found when we asked the Missouri History Museum, which recently opened a new gallery exhibit about it, and our listeners.
  1. People ask because they want to know your socioeconomic background.
    Katie emailed: "The St. Louis Question -- where'd you go to high school? -- is so laden with socioeconomic and religious overtones that's it makes me bristle whenever I hear it. I try to dodge it whenever I'm asked, even though I grew up here. This question is code for: ‘Are you Catholic?’ ‘Are your parents rich? Blue collar? Poor?’ ‘Is your neighborhood "black"?’ Asking it is a cagey way of sussing out a person's level of privilege.”
  2. People ask because they want to make connections with people they don't know.
    Curator Emma Kuhn said: “A lot of times, the question is used as a way to make connections with people. People will ask the question and others will respond: ‘Do you know so-and-so?’”
  3. People ask because St. Louis is segregated.
    @braveravebook said: because of how highly segregated it is. You can know so much about a person just from where they grew up at.TRUTH"
  4. People ask because it is a way to stay connected with an important part of one's life.
    One Facebook commenter explained it in a similar way, saying that the question is asked “because we stay close with classmates as lifetime friends.”
  5. Why do you ask people where they went to high school?