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Star Wars: The Yearbook

The Force is with you...while you prepare for SATs.

by Dave McAwesome

1979. What a great year. What a terrific, wonderful time. What an unmemorable period of boredom sitting in wait for Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. It was pretty bad. Or at least I'm guessing based on how I felt between Empire and Jedi. That really sucked. Han Solo was frozen. Luke was nicknamed, "Lefty." Yoda's swamp-based Jedi University had still graduated zero new Jedi. It was a bad scene, and us kids were dying to find out what happened next. The gap between Star Wars and Empire was a little different and my statement above is hyperbole. We were pretty content with our action figures, lunch boxes, 1978's shockingly bad holiday special and the fact that Star Wars wrapped up neatly in one tidy package. Unlike Empire, it didn't NEED a sequel.

The delight of the Star Wars marketing experience stretched past even the holiday special for the graduating class of Clark Junior High School in Somewhere, Calif.! They were full-on, balls-out excited about Star Wars. Or at least their yearbook staff was. I can already hear the echoing cries of--particularly the female--students when they got their Jr. High yearbooks during homeroom one June morning. "You nerds ruined our Jr. High graduation!" Anyway, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away...

star wars yearbook darth vader
"Luke, I am your guidance counselor."

How fantastic is that? Darth Vader is on their yearbook cover. This is when Darth Vader was still cool. It had not yet been revealed that he was a whinier brat than Luke. He was the most badass villain since James Mason's Captain Nemo or the Cylons. (Ha, kidding! That one's for George Lucas, who I've read absolutely detests Battlestar Galactica.) That Pink Panther head standing in for Luke Skywalker is probably supposed to be their school mascot. The Clark Panthers? Okay, sure. Sounds reasonable. We'll get back to that in a minute. Let's check out this cover. That 70s com-pu-ter font is a drop-the-ball moment. If you're going to use imagery from Star Wars and put it on damn near every page of the yearbook, you may as well use the Star Wars font on the cover. Lazy.

star wars yearbook stormtroopers
"Panty raid in the girls' locker room. Set blasters to 'ogle.'"

This two-page spread is in both the inside front and inside back covers. If I'd had anything like that in my junior high school yearbook, I'm sure I wouldn't have thrown it out. This is pretty cool. For guys. The girls were wondering why armored death squads were drawn on their 9th grade memento. The guys were simply asking themselves why the stormtroopers' heads were flattened like Silly Putty. To the girls, I say, "because all males need to geek out on something, particularly at this age." To the guys, "I have no idea." To the girls, I add, "and because it's the greatest kids movie of all time! With Errol Flynn's The Adventures of Robin Hood a close second! Goonies is probably third! Why am I shouting!"

star wars yearbook shout
"President Shout, the Cavity Creeps have left Toothopolis and are running amok in the cafeteria."

This is the student government. There's a stick of dynamite at left and a bottle of Shout Laundry Stain Remover. This Shout bottle is later identified as "Shout it Out 9th Grade Mascot" (p.12). So it's a dual role, I guess. Now we go back to an earlier thread in this essay: the Clark Panthers.'s not the Clark Panthers? It's the Clark Shout It Outs? I never knew Shout had the corporate clout to buy a public junior high school. Is this a prototype for the Reaganification of America? To the people so concerned with bringing religion into or out of public schools, can we find out where you stand on the privatization of public education?

star wars yearbook han solo chewbacca
Every Star Wars fan knows Han Solo never graduated junior high.

Characters from the films make cameo appearances in the yearbook. I think it was part of the same contractual obligations that saddled them with the 1978 Star Wars Holiday Special, but I can't be sure. Many a Clark yearbook staffer was chortling over Chewbacca's first name, I'll wager. I do wonder how Han Solo was bested in the "Best Physique" category, but who am I to question the tastes of 15-year-old girls. You'll notice the staff took liberty with those students fortunate enough not to have their picture taken that year (this was the 70s, after all, so sidestepping photographic evidence of the period is an important trait for future politicians). Some were 'on a mission' or 'captured by Jawas' or even 'trapped in the disposal chute.' I began to suspect that maybe I'd had a long-lost crazy older cousin somewhere who'd been the mastermind behind this scheme. It'd certainly be something a long-lost crazy older cousin of mine would do. If I had one. Which I didn't know I'd had until I saw this yearbook. Hi, long-lost crazy older cousin. How you doin'?

70s fashion
Vests and stripes. I blacked out the faces to protect the innocent from sheer embarrassment.

On a side note, I enjoyed the 70s fashion sense throughout this yearbook. I only wish it were in color. I'm guessing earth tones were still in, judging by the fabrics. Vests, too. And count how many boys are wearing horizontal stripes in that picture. Not much to say about the girls except: hair parted down the middle and swished to each side. I assume the girls went on to be giant sluts in disco clubs before the AIDS scare hit.

I'll leave you with this picture of a Tusken Raider dumping an underclassman in a garbage can. It's what Clark Class of 79 would have wanted.

star wars tusken raider
"Take that, nerd! And tell your Yearbook Staff buddies they're next!"

Many thanks to Greg for digging this yearbook out of a flea market bin in California for me.

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