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The last of the ’90s kids

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Kathryn Chatman and Taylor Simmons

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The graduating  class of 2017 is not like any other. These seniors mark the last high schoolers who were born in the 1990s, or, even more remarkably, the 20th century. In fact, students with birthdays in 1999 were born in an entirely separate millennium than the rest of their peers.

“It feels really nostalgic and kind of strange to be the last of the ‘90s babies,” senior Gabi Rodriguez said. “It’s crazy to think how fast time flies, but the honor feels great.”

Television is perhaps one of the most significant aspects of ‘90s culture, because of popular shows like “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” “Family Matters” and “Full House.” “Friends,” a sitcom that came out in 1994, maintains the title as one of the greatest TV shows of all-time.

“I have several TV shows from the ‘90s that I love,” Rodriguez said. “But my favorite would have to be ‘Friends.’”

Cartoons especially had an influence on kids growing up in the 2000s, as shows like ‘Rugrats,’ ‘Ren and Stimpy,’ ‘Beavis and Butthead,’ ‘Hey Arnold’ and others continue to be viewed well in the 2010s.

“I still watch a ton of ‘90s shows and movies like ‘Spongebob [Squarepants]’ and ‘The Matrix’ after school,” senior Claire McPherson said. “I also still play my old Nintendo games from time to time.”

Movies from the ‘90s continue to have a tremendous effect on pop culture. “Forrest Gump” and “Home Alone” are mentioned almost a daily basis, and the romantic drama ‘Titanic’ still manages to produce tears from movie-watchers across the globe.

“My favorite movie from the ‘90s is ‘Clueless,’” Rodriguez said. “I just think it’s hilarious and in a way so relatable.”

The musical impact of the 1990s is not one that should soon be forgotten. The band Guns n’ Roses reached international success during the decade. Artists Tim McGraw, Tupac Shakur, and the groups Boyz II Men and TLC gained fame during this time. Beyonce started her rise into international notoriety with the group Destiny’s Child. Rodriguez says that music is one of her closest connections to the ‘90s decade.

“There are a few differences [between the decades], such as music,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t think I incorporate much of the ‘90s into my life, but I do jam out to ‘90s hits like Britney Spears’s ‘Baby One More Time.’”

Given that this was such an influential decade, it’s not surprising that some ‘90s trends have started to make a comeback. Crop tops, flannel shirts and denim jackets used to be considered hipster clothing and were rarely seen worn by 2000s fashion elite, but have recently made its way into the closets of teenagers across America.

“Sometimes there is a certain nostalgia for a simpler time,” English teacher Ms. Burke said. “For instance, when I was in the ‘90s I was super obsessed with the  ‘60s…Trends repeat and come back all the time so I guess now it’s just time for the ‘90s to come back.”

Rodriguez is enjoying the fashion throwback.

“I love that trends from the 90’s are coming back,” Rodriguez said. “My favorite pieces that are coming back are chokers, oversized jean jackets and platform shoes. You really can’t go wrong with them and I have definitely made a comeback myself with some of these pieces.”

3D developments in gaming technology are part of what defined this generation. The Game Boy became popular during this time, with many young boys and girls using it to play “Donkey Kong,” “Legend of Zelda” and “Mortal Kombat” throughout the ‘90s years. In fact, many of these games have remained notable well into the 2000s: for instance, the popular gaming franchise Pokémon, which came out in 1996, regained some of the prominence it lost throughout the years when it emerged with a new app, “Pokemon Go,” in mid-2016.

Electronics, gaming or otherwise, continued to develop through the ‘90s and into the 2000s. Today, technological success is considered a pillar of 2010s society, as smartphones now adorn the hands of many Americans. Ms. Burke says that technology is one of the largest differences between ‘90s and 2000s kids.

“The advent of technology and the prevalence of smartphones has changed everything, like the way we communicate,” Ms. Burke said. “The ‘90s didn’t have that at all. We had the big huge block cell phones, and people didn’t even have them that much.”

Though the 1990s was a decade in a class of its own, McPherson doesn’t believe that there aren’t many differences between the two generations.

“I don’t know that there are any huge differences, since I wasn’t around the 90s for too long, but I think the early 2000s and the late 90s were basically the same thing,” McPherson said. “The shows we watched were the same and the toys, like Tamagotchi and Barbie, carried on from the era.”

Rodriguez shares a similar sentiment to McPherson.

“I don’t think there is a huge amount of difference between the ‘90s and the 2000s,” Rodriguez said. “However, just like any decade or period changing I do think that there are a few differences such as music and definitely a huge advance and easy access to technology that I would not be able to live without.”

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The last of the ’90s kids