Pirates and Thumbprints

My favorite yearbooks are the ones that veer completely from conventionality and make choices that are particularly bizarre. Yearbooks are the chronicles of a school, precious tomes that capture a whole year’s worth of memories between sturdy covers, they are records of a time that matters so dearly to students, books tucked away to be revisited decades later with a smile and blush of memory. So when yearbooks get kooky, some non sequitur on the cover or a bold and unexpected theme, I can’t help but admire the pluck of the editors and the willingness of the advisor to let her or his kids simply have fun.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 8.52.08 AMEnter pirates.

Now for the casual reader, someone maybe not tied to Arts & Communication Magnet Academy, I need to point out that our school does not have a mascot. We are not the Cougars or Mavericks or Vikings, we don’t shout “Go Mustangs!” at the big game (in part because there is no “big game” at ACMA, unless maybe you count the kids playing sharks and minnows at first lunch). So when I spotted the 2002-2003 ACMA yearbook I was struck by the jaunty fellow on the cover, peg legged, hook handed, with a parrot on the shoulder of his captain’s jacket.

Yes, anyone who knows me knows I dig pirates, but just as much I love creativity and the unexpected, and this yearbook offers both, as well as some nice nods to ACMA tradition and a sense of fun that shows up on every page.

One of those traditions is a page of Senior Thumbprints, signatures and stamped fingerprints for every graduate. This tradition, that honors diversity even as it includes everyone in an organized image, is a great example of that balance between individuality and cohesion that is ACMA at its best.

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The Senior Challenge is another tradition, now lost to time, that appears in this and other mid 2000s yearbooks. In 2002-2003 the challenge was to figure out long many metric feet long the class was. They didn’t quite make it. Senior Challenges haven’t been a part of more recent ACMA classes, but as we bid adieu to our C.E. Mason building, it strikes me as a good year to bring this one back.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 9.49.57 AMOther traditions have evolved over time. In 2003, ACMA had a more traditional formal court. These days the court is less constrained by formality or gender specifications, but looking at the posed images from ACMA’s early 21st century royalty is a reminder of where we’ve been.

Less formal are the staff photos, a playful lot, including half a dozen smiling adults (well, alleged adults) who still prowl the hallways of ACMA today. Seeing them then is a reassurance that even as we face great change, there is a certain stability that should reassure us that the heart of ACMA isn’t our building; it is our people.

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Many of those people joined clubs, very much on display in that pirate yearbook. Some are familiar (Dance West, National Honor Society, and Theatre Ensemble), and some delightfully unexpected (Brain Bowl and the Cross Country Ski Team), populate the yearbook, smiling students doing what they love.

Playful candids, and the “so very ACMA” incongruity of Yoda showing up on page 49. It’s a pirate yearbook, sure, but …Yoda.

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It wouldn’t be a vintage ACMA yearbook without a few misspellings, but no matter how you spell “Congratulations” the yearbook shouts that ACMA truth that there is a place for everyone in this colorful world of jazz, art, and creativity.

…and there’s a page simply titled: Attack of the Russian Toilet Paper Princess. This is not Beaverton High School.

Screen Shot 2019-02-15 at 9.50.29 AMIt certainly was not. As 2004 grad Gretchen remembered, “We were the most random smattering of kids that could express ourselves uniquely and be different without judgment. We each had our own claimed part of the L hallway- my spot was this old heater near the stairs to sit, dance around, and eat at- I only ate in the “cafetorium”- as we called it once the hideous stage was built (hah), on brown bag lunch performance days… For me it seemed like the best collaborations started to be born post-2002 and Art is my Voice, when we all realized that coming together could make pretty inspiring projects.”

Inspiring they were, and inspiring they are. The memories artwork that still whisper through our hallways like happy spirits haunting a sacred space make ACMA a magical place. So a decade and a half later, it’s fun to raise our goblet to the playful souls of years past, and especially that swashbuckling crew who put together ACMA’s only pirate themed yearbook (so far). Cheers to Moments to Treasure, a rollicking good adventure and a perfect window into Arts & Communication Magnet Academy.

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9 thoughts on “Pirates and Thumbprints

      • Mostly I read your thoughts from the perspective of “[e.g., a cross-country ski team] isn’t normal? …oh.” It’s interesting to see a reflection on what was just “high school” to me from the perspective of someone who wasn’t there then but is now, teaching those who were… well… who mostly weren’t born yet in ’02-’03.

      • I LOVE that there was a cross country ski team, and wish there were more of them! I also love that there were so many activities that were just the way ACMA did business and would be totally out of the ordinary in a comprehensive high school. We’re still proudly that way, and it makes ACMA the best school to be a part of on the planet!

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