1 9 8 7 – 1 9 8 9 (Canada)
42 x 30 minute episodes
The trials and triumphs of students at an urban junior high school were explored in this Canadian-produced series which didn’t flinch from tackling serious issues.
Set in the fictitious town of Degrassi, Canada (where the local hamburger hangout was called 13 Busy Street), this series featured many of the same actors who had starred in The Kids of Degrassi Street a few years earlier, including Stacie Mistysyn, Neil Hope, Anais Granofsky, Sarah Charlesworth and others. However, their character names and family situations had been changed.
Stories covered subjects from school dances, contests for class president and cheating at exams to adoption, sexism, shoplifting, pornography, alcoholism and experimenting with drugs.
Stephanie Kaye (Nicole Stoffman), the 14-year-old school bombshell, is the eighth-grade class president (she won the election by trading kisses for votes). She displays her stunning figure in low cut, tight blouses and short skirts. Steph leaves home dressed as a typical teenage girl and at school, she changes into her sexy attire.
Caitlin Ryan (Stacie Mistysyn), the seventh-grade class beauty, wrote for the school newspaper (The Degrassi Digest) and was the school’s crusader, passionately backing any cause she believed in, from animal rights to fighting pollution. She was also a promising actress and journalist and had epilepsy.
Melanie Brody (Sarah Ballingall), a 12-year-old seventh-grader, was a boy-shy girl who had an opinion about everything. She was the first girl in her class to develop her figure and apparently, by the episode ‘The Great Race’, the first girl in that class to wear a bra. Melanie was a member of the swim team.
Kathleen Mead (Rebecca Haines) was also a seventh-grader and one of the smartest girls at Degrassi. She was desperately struggling to do her best and make her alcoholic mother proud of her. She wanted to be an actress and won the drama award at Degrassi.
Kathleen – who founded the Environmental Action Committee at school – feared she would gain weight and become unattractive. She later developed a case of bulimia and overcame it with Melanie’s help.
Eighth-grader Joey Jeremiah (Pat Mastroianni) was the school wise guy and forever getting into trouble. The detention room and the principal’s office were his second home. He formed a band called The Zit Remedy with his friends Wheels (Neil Hope) and Snake (Stefan Brogen).
Joey kept pictures of bikini-clad ‘Sunshine Girls’ in his locker and held a job as a janitor at radio station CRAZ (91.3 FM).
Arthur Kobalewscuy (Duncan Waugh) was a seventh-grader and Stephanie’s brother (their parents were divorced and Stephanie used her mother’s maiden name). Arthur lived with his father (Stephanie lived with her mother) and had a dog named Phil. His best friend was Yick Yu (Siluck Sayanasy). They called each other “Broomhead” when something went wrong.
Lucy Fernandez (Anais Granofsky), was a pretty black eighth-grader with an arrest record for shoplifting. She wanted to become a dancer but also had aspirations of being a filmmaker. Lucy became a victim of child molestation in the episode ‘A Helping Hand’ when a substitute teacher named Mr Colby (Marcus Bruce) became attracted to her. Lucy was famous for giving wild parties.
Christine Nelson (Amanda Stepto) – called ‘Spike’ by her friends because of the spiked hairstyle she wore – became pregnant at the age of 14. Though she contemplated having an abortion, she chose to keep and raise the baby who she named Emma.
Fellow student Shane (Bill Parrott) was Emma’s father and attempted to help by providing Spike with half his allowance. Shane became the first student to experiment with drugs. He eventually jumped off a bridge and suffered severe brain damage.
Teenage twins Erica (Angela Deiseach) and Heather (Maureen Deiseach) Farrell were eighth-graders and identical in almost every way. As the series progressed they changed: Heather remained the conservative one while Erica chose to live on the wild side. Erica was the first one to date and the first one to become pregnant (at the age of 16).
Lorraine “LD” Delacorte (Amanda Cook) was captain of the seventh-grade girls’ swim team and a member of the girls’ soccer team. She was a staunch supporter of girls’ sports and lives with her widowed father, who owned a gas station. At the age of 15, LD developed leukaemia and missed much of her freshman year at Degrassi High.
Michelle Arsepi (Maureen McKay) – originally a very shy eighth-grader – grew out of that shell when she was 16. She began dating a black student named Bryant Thomas (Dayo Ade) and eventually moved into her own apartment when she could no longer get along with her father, supporting herself by working as a waitress at the Donut Express.
Popular eighth-grader Alexa (Irene Courakos) was the only girl who became a threat to Stephanie. While Stephanie considered herself the most beautiful girl at Degrassi and lived to gain the boys’ attention, Alexa was simply herself and got the boy Stephanie wanted – Simon (Michael Carry).
Liz O’Rourke (Cathy Keenan) – “the girl with the weird hair” (crew cut in back, long on the sides, bangs in front) – was an animal rights activist who possessed a tough exterior but was actually very sensitive. When she first arrived at Degrassi, she had a reputation of being easy.
The final episode of Degrassi Junior High saw the school go up in flames during the graduation dance as the students moved on to Degrassi High.
Christine ‘Spike’ Nelson
Lorraine ‘LD’ Delacorte
Derek ‘Wheels’ Wheeler
Archie ‘Snake’ Simpson
Kiss Me, Steph | The Big Dance | The Experiment | The Cover-Up | The Great Race | Rumor Has It | Best Laid Plans | Nothing to Fear | What a Night! | Smokescreen | It’s Late | Parents’ Night | Revolution! || A Helping Hand | Great Expectations | Dinner and a Show | Stage Fright | Fight! | Bottled Up | Sealed with a Kiss | Dog Days | Censored | Trust Me | He’s Back | Pass Tense || Can’t Live with ‘Em: Part 1 | Can’t Live with ‘Em: Part 2 | A Big Girl Now | Season’s Greetings | Loves Me, Loves Me Not | He Ain’t Heavy | The Whole Truth | Star-Crossed | Food for Thought | Twenty Bucks | Taking Off: Part 1 | Taking Off: Part 2 | Making Whoopee | Black & White | Pa-arty! | Bye-Bye Junior High