Additional Yearbooks—and Student Poetry—Available From Olivia Raney

A bookplate of a ship in front of a cloud with the banner "Ex Libris"

From the 1929 Oak Leaf

Did your high school graduating class have a class poem? It might’ve been borrowed from a famous poet, or it could have been written by one of your classmates. Class poems seem to be especially popular in yearbooks from the 1920-1930s, and we’ve got some good one thanks to our latest batch of yearbooks from our partner, the Olivia Raney Local History Library.

From the 1930 Latipac

The 1930 Latipac‘s poem from Raleigh High School was written by class poet Alice Beaman, who decided to focus on the bittersweet feeling of nostalgia in her poem.

“‘Tis true school days were happiest, / But they passed too quickly by,” she writes in the last stanza. Whether or not most high school students today would agree with that sentiment is up for debate.

Perhaps a feeling more relatable to graduates today appears in the first stanza: “Ah! Tho’ our hearts be sad at parting, / They will all with gladness swell, / At our victory in attaining / The goal for which we fought so well.”

From the 1929 Oak Leaf

Less concerned with rhyme scheme than Beaman was class poet Lula Belle Highsmith, who wrote the class poem for the 1929 graduating class of Hugh Morson High School (Raleigh, N.C.)

Highsmith’s poem takes a more somber tone; she writes, “And we half regret departing, / Wish we might step back a little, / But no, no, the door is closing— / We are pushed into the Future— / Let us go with lofty courage, / Ready for the work before us.”

Considering that less than 5% of students completed four years of college in 1940, these poems reflect the feelings that many young people had at the end of their formal education. The feeling of loss, or of learning yet to be had, runs parallel to the well-known poem “The School Where I Studied,” by Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai. One line reads, “All my life I have loved in vain / the things I didn’t learn.” 

To see more class poems and all the yearbooks in this batch, click here. To see all materials from the Olivia Raney Local History Library, visit their partner page or their website. All of our North Carolina Yearbooks can be found here.

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