With a new school year, many students greet the end of summer with mixed emotions and a celebration of the return of school.
Last year, the first day was made memorable by a school-wide water balloon toss held on the front lawn. Just as the current students of SHS may feel anxious for new beginnings or excited to celebrate, the alumni of the past are able to recall the feelings and events that kicked off each new year.
“The seniors would always get a little crazy on the first day, painting ‘SENIORS’ on their cars, toilet-papering each other’s houses and generally just making a lot of noise,” said Josh Modell, class of 1992.
Modell also remembers looking over his class schedule and finding distance between each class and the following one.
“I … recall trying to figure out how far away each class was from the next and figuring out when I could stop at my locker. Eventually I think that gave way to trying to figure out the best hour to have study hall, so I could catch a little nap,” Modell said.
Michelle Toll, a current resident of Shorewood and class of 1994, recalls being anxious starting as a freshman, and also the events surrounding the start of school.
“The first day of my freshman year, I remember walking down the sidewalk to the gym for an assembly. All the seniors lined each side of the sidewalk and threw dog bones at us as we walked in,” Toll said.
Toll also remembers a prank she and her friends pulled once at the start of the school year.
“Early in the morning of the first day of school, we had a bunch of ‘house for sale’ signs from a mom who was a realtor, and we put them all over the front lawn. We also toilet papered the trees,” Toll said. “Looking back through the darkness lit up by the street lights, the sale signs and toilet paper were quite a sight.”
Sue Rebholz, whose uncle was a student at the high school the year it opened in 1925 and whose father attended in the 1930s, brought to mind many things about the high school and events spurred by the beginning of the school year. Rebholz and her husband Tom graduated in 1958.
“In the fifties, going to SHS meant starting seventh grade. 7th and 8th grades were located on the second floor of the administration building,” Rebholz said. “Homerooms, language arts and social studies were on that floor, as were our lockers. The library was just the north side of a hall that ran from east to west on that floor.”
Like many new high school students today, Rebholz said she felt nervous going into her first day.
“In those days, Lake Bluff kids didn’t know Atwater or St. Robert kids, so we were all mixed for the first time,” Rebholz said. “I remember getting supplies at the bookstore on the first floor and being very nervous about finding my way around so as not to receive a tardy slip.”
According to Rebholz, the rules of high school in her time were very different than today. Hall monitors, a common sight starting in 1932, were at every staircase on each floor.
“Starting in the forties, you could not walk on the grass [of the high school]. The Building and Ground Committee could give you a citation and you would have to appear at student court. There were monitors and a court in the 50s and 60s. With so many do’s and don’ts, you can appreciate some new student nervousness,” Rebholz said.
Rebholz also remembers discussing with her friends what to wear on the first day of school. When she was in high school, pants were not allowed for girls, and boys were not allowed to wear blue jeans.
Rebholz also remembered a program that helped students adjust to high school.
“We had an orientation class the first part of the year to help us adjust, and there was a group of high school kids called Greyhound Guides that looked out for us, as well as a Dean of Girls and a Dean of Boys,” Rebholz said.
Rebholz’s children graduated in the years 1983, 1988 and 1991, and she can recall some of the things her children did to celebrate the school year, as well as the emotions they felt.
“Since they had the advantages of the middle school and some shared classes with the high school, they were prepared for their freshman year, but the seniors were still scary and intimidating,” Rebholz said.
In recent years, students waking up on the first day of school might hear the blasts of horns as students drive along the streets of Shorewood celebrating the brand new school year to come. Similarly, Rebholz can recall her children doing the same.
“Their first day of their senior year was marked with a very noisy parade around the village in cars … everyone would come out of their homes and wave,” Rebholz said.
Shorewood has changed a lot over the years, but when we dig deep into our history, there are still similar themes we can see in our past.
by Celeste Carroll