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Sunday, July 25, 2021

Belconnen High rounding up 50 years of yearbooks

To celebrate turning 50 this year, Hawker’s Belconnen High School is rounding up all their yearbooks dating back to 1971.

The effort has been led by passionate former principal, Dennis Flannery; late in 2020, a call went out to the school’s community to help bring a full set together.

“I’m a hoarder myself,” he smiled. “I’ve got a yearbook from most schools I’ve been at over the years, that was the driving force.”

Mr Flannery, Belconnen High principal from 1998 to 2005, said he was first inspired to go through the school’s archives after meeting with current principal, Rebecca Pearce.

“I went up to the school and started going through the boxes and boxes of archives, trying to make some sense of those,” he said.

“Then I said really, we should get a set of yearbooks, 1971 to 2020; they will tell a story.

“The school had some, I had some, my kids had some … but we found we were about 20 short.”

Since spreading the word, the number of missing yearbooks has come down to seven as of 30 March, with books from 1977, 1992, 1995, 1996, 2011, 2012 and 2014 still on the wish list.

They’ve managed to acquire the school’s first yearbooks; with 1972 on hand and 1971 on the way.

Mr Flannery described the vintage copies as “gold”.

“It’s just interesting looking at the different yearbooks, and how they’ve changed,” he said.

The school is currently scanning the collection of yearbooks so they can be digitised and made available via the school’s website.

“It’s so people can look through and have all the old memories flood back,” Mr Flannery said.

Chasing down the missing yearbooks has sent him down a rabbit hole of looking up and contacting previous principals, deputies, other faculty members and alumni.

He’s uncovered former students in an array of impressive jobs including ANU professors, a Coca-Cola executive, a New York-based luxury jeweller, and a United Nations staffer.

“I just found all these fascinating people,” he said.

Without anything else confirmed, Mr Flannery said other plans to celebrate the half century include some school tours for past students through the newly renovated campus.

“It’s reconnecting people in the past with the school in the present,” he said.

Belconnen High School is also investigating ways to have current students connect with various alumni; and an open day in September is being planned to act as the “official culmination” of celebrations.

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