Yearbook of Kings

So, did anybody I know attend a high school where every graduating senior had his or her own “personal page” in the yearbook? I’ve never even heard of that before — closest thing I’ve seen is National Lampoon‘s 1964 High School Yearbook parody (C. Estes Kefauver High in Dacron, Ohio), where there were five profiles to a page — Emily May “Preggers” Praeger, Faun Laurel “Weirdo” Rosenberg, Gilbert Bunsen “Univac” Scrabbler, Purdy Lee “Psycho” Spackle and Maria Teresa “Quickie” Spermatozoa, for instance. But even in that one, I’m pretty sure the personal profiles weren’t “designed and written by the individual students” (then supposedly “reviewed” by a faculty advisor), as the New York Times says Brett Kavanaugh and his 1983 Georgia Preparatory School classmates’ were.

We didn’t even get a quote in our yearbook! Just a photo. With seniors’ extracurricular-activity histories compiled in the index in the back. And even in that Lampoon thing (presumably based on yearbooks from the mid ’60s, before our time), the only senior who gets an entire page is, well, the one who died — Howard Lewis Havermeyer. (“He used to smile at people when he wasn’t coughing, and he was supposed to have been really good at baseball when he wasn’t coughing.”) Though as RJ Smith reminds me about the creators, “most of those Lampoon folks went to schools way more like Georgetown Prep than like Estes Kefauver.” So maybe the real yearbook-profile (and cultural) difference isn’t so much chronological as class-based — prep vs. public.

For what it’s worth, as far as Catholic preps go, it seems like the really exclusive all-boys Catholic schools are the ones we have to worry about — a culture unto themselves, at least according to this column in progressive Catholic publication Commonweal a couple days ago, written by someone who also attended one. “The values taught also existed within another context rarely acknowledged but ever present,” John Gehrig writes. “A culture of entitlement where young men born into privilege walked with the jaunty confidence of those who knew instinctively that society was organized to defer to them.” Not sure whether or not that category would include Brother Rice High School in deeply entitled Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, near where I grew up; a bunch of my eighth-grade classmates wound up going there. Motto on their website: “Act Manfully in Christ Jesus.”

There was also the Polish-American Catholic prep St. Mary’s in Orchard Lake, associated with Saints Cyril and Methodius Seminary — went there for ninth grade algebra when I was still in eighth grade across the street at Our Lady of Refuge, then interviewed the seminary’s new chancellor for the Spinal Column when I was reporting on sports and local news for a summer at that weekly paper in the early ’80s.(He’d just met John Paul II, and was excited to finally have a Polish pope.) Can’t remember whether anybody I knew wound up going to high school there, and if any did, how privileged they acted.

Bruce Bevier, who like me graduated from public West Bloomfield High School in 1978, admits he’d “be just as concerned with public schools turning out dudes lacking oral hygiene and decent social graces in general.” Maybe a good point, and I’m all for brushing and flossing, no matter where your diploma’s from. C. Estes Kefauver does not seem to have had a Future Dentistry Club — Just Future Optometrists, who of course all wore glasses. But who knows? They might agree, too.

facebook, 25 September 2018

1 comment

  1. via facebook:

    Phil Dellio
    A whole page for every student? No, I’ve never heard of that–good way to teach humility. My whole senior yearbook is online, although the photos and comments are microscopic.

    Piotr Orlov
    I did. It’s totally a private school thing, my graduating class had, I believe, 52 people, which made it one of the biggest in the school’s history.

    Diane Aguilar
    I attended a Catholic high school with a grand total enrollment of 515, which was the highest amount of students they could accept into the school. My graduating class was one of the largest in the school’s history at 112. We still didn’t get more than little graduation ads our parents paid for in our senior year yearbooks.

    Annie Zed
    In my public high school (grad class of 160) were able to have private in-joke blurbs next to photos of ourselves as kids. I don’t remember what basically any of what I wrote means anymore, ha. But not a full page to ourselves.

    Bruce Be Vier
    Did you know the Gignacs’? Pete, Mary, Carolynn and maybe Charlotte all went to Refuge I think. The girls went on to Mercy. Pete went to WBHS. They lived on our street

    Chuck Eddy
    Doesn’t ring a bell, sad to say. But I was only there for a few years, and my memory’s pretty unreliable.

    Bruce Be Vier
    Many of the ones i knew that went to Refuge went to Rice. My long term memory is good, short term is terrible

    Laura Morgan
    We got to write our own little blurb. Mine quoted Queensrÿche, I think.

    Chuck Eddy
    I would have guessed Kik Tracee!

    René Spencer Saller
    Mine has a career goal (I wrote in “writer/dilettante,” which is more or less accurate, I guess.

    Andy Zax
    Very common in private schools in that area. I spent two unhappy years at the (better) private boys school a mile or two down the road from where Kavanaugh went. (I’m three months older than he is.) The senior pages in the yearbook there were insane. My favorite was the four dudes who teamed up to include on their pages the letters a, c, i and d (in a large psychedelic font). Lotsa dumb lyric quotes from the likes of the Pousette-Dart Band, too. (The culture of those places was exactly what you’d imagine from the current reportage: plaid-sportcoated lacrosse-playing scions of Nixon/Ford Administration dads alpha-dude-ing their way through life.)

    Nicole Kessler
    My sympathies, Andy.

    Sara Sherr
    I went to a large public school, graduating class of 800, so we got the standard little square photo with the list of activities and a quote. (Lots of people quoted the theme of Dirty Dancing, since it was 1988 or Billy Joel).
    But I think friends who went to schools like Masterman who had smaller classes maybe didn’t get a whole page, but at least a half? I need to ask my cousins.
    Did any of your kids go to Masterman when they were in Philly?

    Chuck Eddy
    Only briefly. Don’t remember any yearbooks.

    Raymond Cummings
    I went to a Catholic high school. We each had a blurb at the back of the book – like an index of sorts – where we could include a quote, activities through the years, etc. Presumably there was room to mess around but no one would’ve gotten away with what BK and his friends did (I know this because I was on staff and we read everything realllll damn close). Class of 1995.

    Adam Sobolak
    My 1976-78 tenure at Richview Collegiate in Etobicoke corresponded with the tail end of future Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s presence there– this was the 1978 RCI “Rizmah” yearbook state of the art.

    Laura Sell
    We shared a page with a friend. Private school. We thought we were very clever with our literary references and our photo taken behind barbed wire.

    Holly Kruse
    I am learning a lot. I went to a large-ish, progressive public school, and we didn’t get a blurb or anything. Just our senior photo. In mine I had braces and a bad perm. A blurb in which I could have demonstrated my brilliance juxtaposed against my tragic photo would have been nice.

    Diane Aguilar
    I too would have loved the opportunity to have some kind of blurb or creative freedom along with my hilarious senior photo, though I would have surprised no one by including a quote from “Ordinary World” or “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes” or somesuch.

    Cindy Widner
    I think a few of the big shots did (like Miss and Mr. [Name of School], that kind of thing. But those were mostly big pictures and an inspirational quote. DId you go to a public high school? I think private schools are a whole different scene, man.

    Chuck Eddy
    I did (public). And yeah, judging from this thread (see above), your theory seems right.

    Nicole Kessler
    I was on the yearbook committee, and still didn’t get to write anything.
    Again though, public school.

    Jason Gross
    I let my friends write my yearbook profile and they picked the funniest, most embarrassing things about me. I’m toast when I apply for SCOTUS now

    Adam Sobolak
    Revisiting this to offer an educated supposition re the subsequent Yearbook alumni timeline: Larry Kroger would probably wind up #MeToo ‘d by one or more of his students


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