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The Northern Lights

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum

The Northern Lights” was the name of Millinocket’s first high school yearbook (actually more of a newsletter). The earliest surviving issue at the museum is Vol. 1, June 1912, No. 3 and was published by the students of Millinocket High School. Printed by The Journal (the local newspaper), it sold for 10 cents a copy or 25 cents a year. About 6” x 8”, it had a paper cover as did all the local school yearbooks until the 1940’s. Included in this original copy is an editorial which mentions the sinking of the Titanic which had taken place that year.

The next issue in the museum collection is 1920 and appears to be more of a yearbook with it being the only publication that year. It opens with a welcome to the incoming freshman class. “We are glad to have you with us. We are glad that you know the right kind of school spirit and the right kind of class spirit, for these are lessons to learn even before your Mathematics and Latin.”

The pages contain humor, reports of performances, sports and more. Examples include “Of course Don Wallace is red on top, but why is Francis Brown. When the seniors graduate, will Frank Marshall?” “If the building were on fire would Raymond Rush?” And then there is “Under the direction of Miss Ella Wall, the School Director of Music, the Operetta ‘Sylvia’ is being rehearsed for presentation on the evening of May 9th. As we go to press the Operetta promises to be a huge success and tickets are selling fast.”

On a bitter cold night, November 13, 1921, Millinocket HS students schooling was interrupted as fire destroyed their school building. For the remainder of that school year and until fall 1923, the high school students crowded into the National Guard Armory on Central Street. Some younger students had still been housed at MHS and they were added to the numbers at the Oxford Street and Aroostook Avenue elementary schools.

There was no 1921 issue of “The Northern Lights.” A 1922 issue came out featuring before and after the fire photos of the school. It was published from the temporary school site with an apology that the loss of their school caused “many inconveniences and peculiar circumstances” under which they “had to labor and this paper may not be as good as it might have been.” The 1923 issue was also published from the temporary school.

Stearns HS opened in the fall of 1923 with 743 students (225 high school and the remainder grade 4-8 students due to overcrowding at the two elementary schools). The 1924 issue of “The Northern Lights” was the first to be written and published by Stearns High School students. This is the issue with a detailed description of the new SHS building and a biography of George W. Stearns.

Included in 1924 are the usual yearbook sections including favorite pastimes, favorite songs and teenager jokes… “Bradley has always wanted to be a farmer. He says he is going to ‘Maine’ next year because they teach Pharmacy down there!”

A few photos first appear in the late 1920’s. Individual senior photos first appear in 1929. The publishing of “The Northern Lights” publication still continues. Visit the museum to purchase the book on the history of the school buildings and to view or purchase a vintage yearbook.

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