A high school yearbook is always kind of special, but this year’s Rouser, the Riverside-Brookfield High School yearbook, is a bit more special, because it is the 100th year that the yearbook has been published.
The first Rouser was published in 1918 and a fragile copy of the original soft cover Rouser is still kept at RBHS. Some of its pages are separating. It was only 33 pages long compared to 264 page Rouser of 2017. And, of course, all the photos of the inaugural edition are in black and white, compared to the newest edition, which is dominated by bright, colorful photos.
RBHS senior Megan Kwilas, the editor in chief of the 2017 Rouser noted how different the Rouser was 100 years ago.
“It is very thin, it’s like paper, it’s a lot of writing,” Kwilas said. “Obviously, the cameras back then weren’t as good as they are now. It was very fragile. We had to hold it piece by piece.”
Profiles of the 1918 seniors – total school enrollment that school year was 127 students — are written in verse. This is how one boy was described:
“Freethrow Evans, the football star:
A dashing player is he
he may seem sleepy but by far
he’s a popular as can be.”
A girl named Caitlin was described this way:
“Caitlin, of all the girls,
Has the prettiest little curls
She is a lovely little miss
Brimful of jollity and bliss.”
Every senior had a nickname, including Gold, Sugar, Rosie, Mug, and Dope.
One senses a simpler time. In a review of the highlights of the year the 1918 Rouser mentions a marshmallow roast, a football dance, a matinee dance, the senior party, the Christmas party, a basketball dance, the junior party, the junior picnic, and a “Hard Times” party.
Two Irish plays were produced: The Twig of Thorn and Cathleen ni Houlihan along with The Puppet Princess.
With World War I going on the superintendent, George Mueller, didn’t finish the school year as he left early on May 10, 1918 to enlist in the Navy. The war also had an effect on students getting inside the classrooms of the new building, which was built in 1917.
A coal shortage delayed occupancy of the building until April 1918.
The 2017 Rouser, titled “Legacy,” pays homage to 100th anniversary in a few ways.
“It’s a little bit longer in past years,” said RBHS English teacher Allison Marsh, who serves as the faculty advisor of the Rouser. “Normally it’s 256 pages this one is 264. We did a couple extra features about legacy, comparing 1918 the first year, to 2017 this year.”
A “then-and-now” feature is on just about every page with photos from past Rousers shown alongside a current photo commemorating a similar event like an athletic competition or the crowning of the homecoming king.
“We went through a lot of yearbooks. We had a full room full of them so we spent a lot of time looking through old pictures and comparing them to then and now and writing the years down and talking about the old pictures and the captions,” said RBHS junior Allison Prasch, the photo editor of the 2017 Rouser. “It’s interesting to see how much has changed over the years. Just the different uniforms they used for sports.”
The 49 students on the Rouser staff, a high in recent years, felt the pressure to turn out a really good product for the 100th anniversary.
“It was really fun, but the pressure was on that we had a really good yearbook to show the senior class since it was the 100th edition,” Prasch said.
With “legacy” as the theme this year’s Rouser features a quotation from a current student on nearly every page.
In keeping with the historic theme of this year’s Rouser the editors decided to go with an old-fashioned cover. They also promoted the Rouser more to build excitement.
“Usually we keep the cover secret until the day of distribution,” Marsh said. “This year we released it a lot earlier because the students wanted to build up hype for it.”
The 2017 Rouser was handed out on May 19 to seniors at the Senior Picnic late in the morning and to other students after school.
Rouser staff take a for-credit double class period class to work on the Rouser, but the staff, especially the editors, put in additional time, especially as deadlines approach.
“I loved being a part of this great experience,” Kwilas said. “I loved having the staff. They were terrific. We worked very hard, day and night, to try and not miss our deadlines. We came out with a fantastic book and I’m proud of everyone.”