Students attach sentimental value to personal collections

Katie Lew, Photo Editor

Caleb Dang (12) puts on his Jordan 4 White Cements, one of the first pairs of shoes he has ever bought. Sneakers are essential to Dang’s sense of style and allow him to express himself. Photo courtesy of Connor Dang.

Tiffany Soe (12) smiled, staring at her test paper in excitement as a big “100” stared back at her. She glanced back and forth from her paper to the big tub of stickers in the back of her classroom. 

As if the treasure of stickers was waiting for her, Soe eagerly skipped to the back and scrutinized her selection. A gorgeous, sapphire stamp sticker stood out. With a fascinating lime green lizard decorating the front and an encouraging message that read “Awesome!” underneath it, Soe knew that sticker was hers. 

That tub of stickers was special, only available for the elite students of her fourth-grade class, the ones who got 100s on their tests.  Soe was determined to be a consistent member of the tub club. 

“I would try really hard to get a 100% on our tests to get stickers,” Soe said. “I started my collection [of stickers] to keep as a reminder of all of my tests that I did well on. It was a source of motivation for me.”

Though Soe initially collected stickers to push herself towards academic success, she found she was drawn to pick up any sticker she came across and asked for stickers as gifts. She realized she attached memories to her stickers.

“I got a box of stickers from my aunt,” Soe said. “It means a lot to me because that was the one gift she ever gave me. It contains nine long rolls of cute animal stickers. Whenever I see them, I’m always reminded of her. All the stickers I’ve collected all come from a place and all those places have memories that are held in the sticker.”

Even before her fourth-grade year, Soe said she had always liked stickers. 

“When I first got stickers, I would display them on my bedroom door,” Soe said. “ I just like the graphics on them and how they stick onto things. Though, in my official collection, I don’t use them. I just hold on to them.”

Soe said the stickers essentially track the events and experiences in her life. Soe has amassed around 930 stickers as of now. 

“I’ve been building my collection for a long time,” Soe said. “That’s the most valuable aspect of my collection. I worked hard and put in the effort to collect all my stickers so I don’t know what I would do if I lost all of them.”

Caleb Dang (12) has been building an expansive shoe collection since he was young. 

“I started collecting shoes in sixth grade,” Dang said. “I saw that [my cousins] were really into [sneakers] and I thought they were really cool too. I liked how shoes looked, plus the whole culture behind them.”

Dang said that sneaker culture often overlaps with skateboarding and music, specifically hip-hop, both of which he is interested in. According to Dang, another aspect of sneaker culture that he enjoys is the chase.

“It’s a fun experience to try and buy sneakers,” Dang said. “When shoes are released, the stock is pretty limited. There’s always a lot of people going for them because there’s a lot of reselling in sneaker culture. Many companies do ‘first come, first serve’ releases online too. Those are going to be harder to get because there are sneaker bots out there that are like computers that automate the checkout process. I rely on luck for those releases.”

While Dang enjoys racing against time to acquire the shoes he wants, he also tests his luck through other types of releases.

“The way I collect shoes is mostly by entering draws or raffles for the shoes,” Dang said. “A lot of companies that sell them will try to hold raffles to make it fair for everyone else.”

Dang has built a large collection over the years, amounting to 25 pairs of shoes. Despite becoming more knowledgeable about the sneaker world as he developed his collection, Dang said his most memorable pairs of shoes are still one of the first pairs he had ever bought.

“I’ve had [my Jordan 4 White Cements] since middle school,” Dang said. “I got them for around $40 used on eBay. I think the shoes have aged really beautifully and have lots of nice, natural wear.”

Dang said that his shoe collection helped build his identity and gave him the opportunity to express himself.

“My style and my sneakers both give me a sense of freedom and expression that helps me stand out from the rest,” Dang said. “In high school, it’s important how you present yourself to others. I try to be a little different with how I present myself with my style. I like to wear sneakers that you don’t see too often. It’s a fun way to set myself apart from the crowd.”