Abbot Pennings High School 1985


For about 30 years (1959 - 1990) the Norbertine Order ran a small, Catholic, all boys high school between the banks of the Fox River and St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.  In 1990 the diocese decided to merge the two boys' schools, Pennings and Premontre, and the girls' school, St. Joseph's Academy, into one Catholic high school, Notre Dame de la Baie.  I'm sure Notre Dame is a fine school, but Pennings was a pretty special place.

During my Senior year, I was the Photography Editor of The Argos, the Abbot Pennings High School yearbook.  That meant that with few exceptions I took, developed and printed every photo we used in that book.  Fish, Steve La and Dan L were the other editors.  At the beginning of the school year we figured out that the 1985 edition of the Argos would be the 25th and we set a goal to do a good one and get it out on time.  One of the problems with previous years is that the Argos staff spent the first half of the year finishing the previous years' book.  We told our faculty advisor that if we were going to take this on, we were going to get started on the 1985 Argos right away, and let the 1984 edition go to seed (as it turns out, a faculty member actually finished the 1984 edition in 1989 or 90!)

When it was finished, I bought two copies.  One was to be my yearbook, and I thought of the other one as a photo album of all the photos I took that year!  All these years I kept the binder with all the negatives shot for this yearbook.)  I always figured I'd have a darkroom in my house someday, but I got a negative scanner instead, and I've begun to digitize a lot of my personal photos.  So I decided to pluck the best ones from the yearbook collection as well.  Some were in the yearbook and this scan just gives me more detail.  Others I liked, but they didn't make it into the 1985 Argos.

 

October 1984 - Let's start out with the student body.  This was at the homecoming pep rally we held at St. Norbert's Minahan Stadium.  This is just about everyone who wasn't putting on the pep rally (or taking the picture!)  You can see quite a few teachers to the left, and Mr. Richter and Mr. O'Connell keeping an eye on everything from above.  If you want to download a higher resolution version to zoom in, identify people and laugh at our clothes, click here.  It's 5 MB so it may take a bit to download.

 

The highlight of the pep rally was a car fire.  Weber and his buddies painted up an old car in Squire regalia and drove it to school, and then the pep rally.  That was evidently too much for it, and it started on fire in the stadium driveway.  Mr. O'Connell found a fire extinguisher to put it out.  Fish came up with a great caption for this photo and used it in the yearbook, "Faculty cheer for Mr. O'Connell, students cheer for car fire!"  Indeed!  Here's another angle and a close-up of the aftermath.

 

Sean brought a little go-cart they had and buzzed around the cinder track.  I always liked how this one turned out with Sean waving as he drove back over his burnout tracks.

 

This is another great crowd shot from our football game at Premontre that Fall.  I love the contrasts between the parents and students as Jim Y. exhorts the team.  Tim R. was flying a Cessna above with a banner that said, "Squires Rule, Thrash Cadets".  Embarrassingly, we got killed in that game and no one had communication with Tim so the banner continued to wave in spite of the score.  For higher resolution, click here.

 

A bunch of my friends at the Premontre game.  They look happy so it must have been before the game got too out of hand.  That's Mike, Phil, Adam, Fish, Steve, Joe and Pat.

 

I always liked this picture of Steven and me.  I had just told Brian Oett. not to take the shot, but I'm glad he did.  Steven looks like he's preparing to contest a grade he received on that paper.  We had to wear coats and ties at Pennings by the way.

 

November 1984 - Frater Jim leads a guitar quintet.  The funny thing about this picture is that three of them are playing a G chord and two are playing a D, which I didn't notice until I started playing guitar after college.  Perhaps it's some sort of sophisticated harmonic.

 

January 1985 - The Senior year retreat at (Camp Un a Li a?)  In spite of appearances, this is just a boisterous broom hockey game.  It was our Freshman and Junior year retreats where we got in trouble.  Our principal, Fr. Meehan ran the senior year retreat and was there with us.  He was alway fair and took good care of his charges so we behaved.

 

Some of the guys were playing poker so I setup this shot.  I had them throw anything of value into the pot before I took the picture.  If you zoom in on the pot, you'll see we must have setup the hands as well because John is holding three Aces.  I used this photo in the yearbook, but never thought it worked because it was too small to see the joke.

 

Steven La and Chris S. at some sort of a Key Club bowling event.  He's wearing my Grandpa's cotton Cabana shirt which was my go-to party shirt in high school.  Still have it, but it doesn't fit anymore.  Must've shrunk at some point...

 

March 1985 - This is my favorite shot in the yearbook, and it was just part of a joke.  I had my camera and flash at the Talent Show, and Steven was part of the production crew.  They were doing some short skits between acts, and for one, Steven borrowed my camera.  He told the audience he was going to take their picture and asked everyone to squish together.  That was the joke, but he snapped the shutter to make it flash and ended up with this great shot.  I like how some people are laughing, some are just listening and some are lost in their own thoughts.  To see it in full resolution, click here, but it will take awhile.

 

April 1985 - Phil is helping Lenny break into his own car.  Phil is making sure the photographer is clear on who locked the keys inside.  St. Norbert's Minahan Science Building is in the background.  My Dad had an office in there for some time, but he may have moved to Boyle Hall by then, which is just visible at the right.

 

I took some artistic liberties and arranged a better photo.  Now Lenny, Phil and Pat are breaking in.  This one was in the yearbook.

 

A candid shot of Tom with Mr. Simpson (call me Kurt!) and John F. in the background.

 

I always liked this shot of John in front of the computer lab.  Check out the classic TRS-80 behind him!  No need for a cassette player if you have these newfangled dual floppy drives.

 

John and Steve C. work on a program (It looks like I may have set this shot up too.)

 

My home away from home was the darkroom in the basement of the band hall, a former church.  Evidently I spent so much time there that I decorated.  The beer cans were there for effect.  I wanted to see if I could get away with putting a few in the yearbook.  The shoes were indoor soccer shoes that I blacked out the stripes to try to push the dress code.  We used this joke photo with a fake cigarette as my yearbook staff photo instead.

 

After high school Tom and I were roommates at Marquette.  I used this photo as his candid shot in the yearbook.  One time he complained to me about the line through his chin.  I told him that it was something the yearbook folks did when they laid out the pages.  At the time I thought that's what it was, but 20 years later when I scanned the negative, I found the line.  Sorry about that, Tom, it was something I did.  What can I say?  I was hurrying to get these done by the end of the year.

 

Here's a crowd shot from the Mother-Son dance.  Steven's on the right, so I assume his Mom is out of frame.

 

Here's a slightly out-of-focus shot of some of the guys at the Mother-son dance.  Eddie, Chris, Navon and Keith in the back.  Notice how crisply focused the blocks of the wall are.  Slight depth of field issue on my part there.

 

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Contact Eric Elfner at elf(at)abbotpennings.com with additions, corrections or comments on this site.


This page was last updated 8/19/2008 (Happy Birthday, Amy.)

Eric Elfner, the original photographer, retains the copyright to all photos on this page.