December 2020: 1920s Voices
A “treasure trove” of memories await in the Grossmont High School yearbooks. Since 1921, each El Recuerdo captures in photographs, drawings, and words the experiences of students during the past 100 years. If we listen, we can hear these student voices from the 1920s.
A charming feature of these early yearbooks is the Senior Class History. In 1921, the first entry recalls the three years leading up to their senior year. 17 of them as freshmen attended Riverview HS in the “old upper floor of a store building in Lakeside and for one long year dreamed of the time when they could enter their longed-for new building” at Riverview Union High School. “A much larger (freshman) class entered the old El Cajon Union High which had, since it was built in 1908, sheltered all of the valley’s illustrious students, but which was now fast being filled to overflowing.” In September 1921, “we entered G.U.H.S as the first Senior Class of the newly consolidated school.” Also, in 1921, the Senior Class History ends “the time for our Baccalaureate Services, Class Night and Commencement is fast approaching, and our joy is tinged with sorrow for our happy High School days will soon be over—but never will they be forgotten. Here are three cheers for our dear old G.U.H.S.”
The 1922 yearbook begins with an Editorial entitled “Looking Forward”, written by Alice Porter, Editor-in Chief, Class of 1923. “Since the consolidation of the old El Cajon Valley and Riverview Union High Schools two years ago, the students have worked faithfully to make the name of “Grossmont” stand for all that is good and fair….Now we are looking forward to our school activities amid the splendid buildings, the fine equipment and beautiful surrounding of the new and modern Grossmont; all of which will be constant reminders to us of the kindness and generosity of the people of the valley.”
Within the yearbooks in these early years is a section entitled “Literary”, including poems, reflections, humor, and fictional pieces. In the 1923 El Recuerdo, Thelma Jolliffe ’23, writes of the “Types of Students I Have Met”, beginning with these words, “students to the right of me, students to the left of me,” (with an acknowledgement to Lord Tennyson.) “There is the dreaming student, one we all know, a preoccupied look in his eye, seeing (evidently) far away and above his fellow toilers for knowledge….Follow the athletic scholar. Usually well-built and looking fit, he takes a mild interest in study; sometimes just enough to be eligible for teams.”… Next in line is the comical student, the one who, by some gift of Nature, can be funny without being ridiculous, amusing and clever without becoming tiresome….To pick another, there is the studious youth….the sort who will read ahead in his books and memorize poetry for the love of the thing…..Last scene of all….is the average student…laughing at life’s troubles, smiling his way into the hearts of his fellow classmates….dreaming, studying, playing, working, and finding time for all.”
The 1924 yearbook is dedicated to Ethel Prosser “in appreciation for her tireless and invaluable efforts as Faculty Advisor for this and all previous volumes of the El Recuerdo. The high standard established under Miss Prosser’s tutelage has continued until today. The “Calendar Memories of a Senior” reflects on their school year, beginning “Back again and glad to be here!” The March 20 entry begins, “Such a collection of freaks was never seen before outside the circus for we are celebrating “Tacky Day”….Helen Haskin got a prize for the best costume. Said costume consisted of the fragments of a gunny sack and a black eye.” Tacky Day continued as a tradition for several decades.
The Foreword of the 1925 yearbook states, “The editors and faculty advisors have endeavored to make this a faithful account, a true “Recuerdo” of this year, and to incorporate into it some of the spirit of Grossmont. In years yet to come it is hoped these pages will recall happy memories of your Grossmont days.” Within this year, as in the others, are the calendar (Diary of the Hall Clock), the Class History, and The Class Will. In the Will, each student leaves something to GHS. “Austin Hinck gives his supply of adverbs to the English Department.” “Carmen Meza leaves her walk (home) to Lakeside after basketball practice to Alma Pratt”.
As shown in the 1921-1925 yearbooks, while the details of their daily lives may differ from ours, Foothillers then share much with today’s students: pride in their school, a sense of fun and camaraderie, and a desire to learn.
Become Part of Our Historic Campus
In honor of our historic 100 Years of Excellence Celebration, the GHS Educational Foundation is sponsoring a scholarship fundraising program. $100 for 100 Years donors will have their names, their families', or their businesses’ names engraved on 2x4 inch gray tiles, which will be displayed on a wall near the front of the school.In June 2020, the Foundation awarded $6500 in senior scholarships; our goal is to dramatically increase that amount in the future.
Visit the GHS Educational Foundation website at foothillerfoundation.com, and on the Tile Projects pages; you may order your tile using the gold donate button. Or write a check payable to GHS Educational Foundation and mail to GHS Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 1043, La Mesa, CA 91944. On the check memo, please indicate "scholarship fund" and include the text of your tile with your check (up to 3 lines, 20 spaces each).
To learn more about GHS, past and present, visit the GHS Museum website at foothillermuseum.com. Due to the coronavirus and our continuing move into our larger museum space, the GHS Museum is currently closed, but we are checking our emails at