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