Apogee

In early September, 2021, the 1970 class of General William Mitchell High School is going to have its 50th (+1) reunion. There’s a hard-working committee of nice old people working hard to organize it for us. I appreciate their work very much because us young people don’t have time for such foolish things.

Oh, wait.

I have a job hanging fire right now, waiting for some permissions and contracts and so on, but if all that works out, I’ll be designing a book. It will be the umpteenth book I’ve designed if it happens. The first?

My class yearbook. I thought about that this morning that once again I will be earning money via something I learned in high school. My entire teaching career was not much more (or less) than 38 years teaching what I learned in in Mrs. Zinn’s AP English. Even my business communication classes had little to do with my “book larnin’.” They were a combination of Mrs. Zinn and my years in the clerical ghetto as a secretary and paralegal. It’s not school’s fault. It’s that when you come down to it, skills are best obtained early and practiced constantly…

I learned about designing books in high school. Back then it was far more complicated than it is now. Layouts were done in three dimensions, not two. We had big sheets of paper printed with a pale blue grid. We used T-squares, metal rulers, rubber cement and blue pencils. Photos were cropped in the dark room.

I became editor of the yearbook without having had any previous experience, something that upset some of the yearbook staff who thought someone ELSE who’d been “on yearbook” should have gotten the job. But, the thing is, we had a tryout and I won. The faculty sponsor wanted something innovative, creative, different and my submission for this job captured her attention. Still, I was inexperienced and if I hadn’t had such a group of smart and experienced people to work with, the experience would have been a LOT different.

The faculty sponsor — Miss Cohen — knew me well. I had been her student. Now I know that in life we don’t get many full-on fans, but Miss Cohen was such a person for me. After I graduated we built a friendship that I valued very, very much. “Among my souvenirs” is a note from her I got when I was already living in California. She was ill with the cancer that ended up killing her.

Our yearbook won some awards which was pretty cool. I loved the yearbook. I was proud of it.

The yearbook staff in action…



Eleven years ago, when my class had its 40th reunion I went. It was my first reunion since the 10th.

The school had changed dramatically. At 40+ years old, it was a little worse for wear. The demographic of students attending has changed, too, and it’s now thought to be one of Colorado Springs most “troubled” high schools. I didn’t know this, but during the tour one of my classmates who is in education in Colorado Springs was talking to another classmate about this problem. Our high school, back in the day, was “state of the art.” It was a show-piece high school and it is beautifully designed. I think we were the third class to graduate from this lovely building.

One of the beautiful architectural features is a garden courtyard off the cafeteria. As I walked past the door leading from the cafeteria to the courtyard, someone called out, “That’s her. She was the editor.”

A group of women were looking at our old yearbook. “Come out here,” she beckoned to me. I went out. Another woman was looking at the pictures.

“You did this?”

“Well, yeah. There was a whole staff.”

“But you were the editor?”

“Yeah.”

“Thank you,” she said. That was the real apogee. ❀

18 thoughts on “Apogee

    • I was surprised at my 40th. It was far more meaningful than I expected it to be in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I wouldn’t have gone if I hadn’t been in Colorado Springs, anyway.

    • Ours is on a weekend. But only 52 people have signed up out of a class of 270. But who knows what condition some of those people are in (I’m speaking euphemistically).

        • A lot in my class are not alive, too. There was Viet Nam. In the last year we lost at least three. I don’t know. But even though I thought I hated high school, I didn’t. I hated the nightmare that was my family. Now, seeing photos of those “kids” I get a lump in my throat. I might fork out the $65 for the dinner.

  1. I’ve never attended any of my school reunions but it sounds like it was a worthwhile endeavour for you and one that brought truth reality and appreciation. Amazing how those things become clearer as we age. Congratulations on the yearbook. It looks wonderful.

    • At my 40th I learned that 1) I had great friends in high school that I’d still like to hang out with, 2) that I was well liked and respected, 3) that I enjoyed all my opportunities. Most of all I learned the high school had been my sanctuary from my very fucked up family. In my mind, that period of my life was all a painful gray blur of hell. I realized this while on the tour and I started to weep silently. Pretty soon 20 or 30 people were hugging me, including a friend’s little granddaughters. it was one of my life’s treasured moments and an important epiphany. I didn’t expect ANY of that. ❀

      • What a precious gift! I applaud you, I truly do because you could have gone a lifetime without that understanding and what an accomplishment to have learned how much you were respected and liked. I think that’s a huge treasure in and of itself.

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