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Katie Hibner | Staff Writer

Mean girls never retire. Ester Grishman, a 1942 Mason graduate can vouch for that.

The Cedar Village Retirement Community resident says cliques of elderly people spread rumors at bingo games similar to teenagers gossping in the cafeteria.

“[The cliques] want to sit together [at bingo],” Grisham said. “Don’t you dare break up their little get together. [They] talk behind [each other’s] backs, [and] some have got their noses into everything.”

According to Arizona Central news, Robin Bonifas, an expert on the science of aging, estimated that 10 to 20 percent of nursing home residents were bullied in 2010. While Grisham has not experienced such bullying, she said that clique members often lie to one another.

“[Cliques] help some [people], but they do more harm than good,” Grisham said. “I don’t think clique [members] are true to each other.”

Grisham said that people never outgrow teenage “cliquey-ness.’”

Procter & Gamble employee Charles Walton said he believes that adults who are in cliques are trying to relive the past.

“Most people never grow up and they [re]live their ‘high school’ moments,” Walton said. “It’s so easy to get caught up in what makes you feel secure [like a clique].”

Mason High School assistant principal Joycelyn Senter said that cliques can be harmful to working adults.

“Cliques [can] be invisible in the workplace,” Senter said. “Those ‘invisible’ cliques can work against you if they [don’t approve of] a project you’re working on.”

According to Senter, the negativity of some workplace cliques can hurt the entire company or employer.

“If a clique is formed by negative conversations and [complaints], it will work against the mission [of the company],” Senter said.

Walton said that cliques often don’t consult others and create their own ideas for a company.

“[Cliques] drive clarity because they know where [the company] is going and what it needs to do to be productive,” Walton said. “[But] they tend to have a ‘Group Think’ [for ideas], and they don’t have the diversity of thought, experience, and expertise that [would] allow them to function at a high level.”

One workplace that houses cliques is MHS itself. Senter said that teachers and administrators group into cliques by department.

“Departments are cliquish because they have conversations about the same topics,” Senter said. “[For example] English teachers talk about what [books] they have read. Some teachers that have graduated from Mason [also] form cliques with their [former] teachers.”

Grisham said that MHS has grown since she graduated, but she doesn’t think the size change affects the amount of cliques in the school.

“[Mason City Schools] have changed a lot,” Grisham said. “When I went, there weren’t as many people there. But I think the [amount of exclusivity] is about the same. Cliques are all over the place.”

According to Walton, the best way to combat negative cliques is to stand up for what is right.

“Challenge the status quo but do so in a productive, positive manner,” Walton said. “Be an effective leader. Being a leader is hard and doesn’t always make you popular. But doing the right thing is more important.”

Fortunately, negative encounters with cliques in high school may not affect one’s future. Senter said that her cliques and high school drama don’t have an impact on her life today.

“I was a part of the ‘nerdy’ group, but I was also popular from being on the dance team,” Senter said. “I was active, so I was [in a lot of cliques]. But I probably talk to five people I went to high school with.”

Walton said his greatest advice on dealing with cliques throughout life is to focus on your goals and role models.

“Role model someone who you aspire to be like,” Walton said. “And set goals, aspire to achieve them, and move onto the next goal. The qualities of selflessness, acting maturely, and genuinely being nice to everyone are what we all should aspire [to obtain]. Be yourself.”

Grisham said she follows even simpler advice regarding cliques.

“I mind my own business,” Grisham said. “As long as [cliques] leave me alone I’ll leave them alone. Live the way you want to and [don’t] worry about the cliques.”

“[The cliques] want to sit together [at bingo]. Don’t you dare break up their little get together. [They] talk behind [each other’s] backs, [and] some have got their noses into everything.”

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