I’ve been scanning more documents and photographs for my Capstone website project. Some of the things I read, today, as well as my upcoming 30-year La Habra High School Reunion have got me thinking about how schools, and especially yearbooks, can act as archives. Lately, my classmates have been posting several mortifying pictures of me on our Facebook Reunion page. Here’s the least embarrassing one, so far.
High Schools often have display cases for historical items. They occasionally donate collections to their local city or county archives. But what happens to the collected memories of high schools like my first one, Lowell High School in Whittier, California; that closed in 1980? Where are the collective memories stored for an institution that no longer exists? Who will be an advocate for it? Three of the people in the above photograph were meant to graduate from Lowell, but instead, graduated from LHHS. Some of our classmates were sent to Sonora High School and another, smaller portion were sent to Sunny Hills High School. Shared memories of a community of students are forever scattered by the closing of a school.
Today I came across a speech Hal Spoden wrote for his senior year at Fredonia High School, class of 1935.
My favorite lines include, “Great statesmanship is measured in term’s of one’s ability to see the right in his opponent’s views.” Also, “One commentator has defined high school as the place where the youth of America learn that necessary quality – tolerance. Here we learn to adjust ourselves to the influence of others. We learn to tolerate other’s opinions.” I wish I had known Hal Spoden.
Mr. Spoden went on to study engineering at the University of Michigan. After all of his accomplishments and lofty dreams and speeches, here is how the U of M pictured its freshman class.