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A Different Kind of High School Yearbook

As far back as anyone can recall, American high schools have printed yearbooks to celebrate the accomplishments of their graduating seniors and other students, and to serve as a souvenir book with pictures of their carefree student days. This high school yearbook called '43 Ramblings chronicled the proud students of Topaz High School in Utah, which was the school for residents of Topaz Internment Camp. The students had been shipped in from their original schools up and down the West Coast, and continued their education at the school created for them. Topaz was several times the size of the better-known Manzanar Camp, with over 8,000 people at its peak.

Utah State University has archived the 1943 and 1944 editions of the Topaz High School Ramblings yearbook. With a cursory browse, the Topaz High Rams look just like any other 1940s high school students. They played sports, printed alma mater lyrics that probably nobody knew by heart, and produced a slick-looking literary magazine. Topaz High was a prison camp school for unjustly incarcerated Americans, but the yearbooks provide the perception of normalcy.

In the 1943 Ramblings, the beginning dedication reads, “This year finds us vastly different from our naive selves of previous years.” Alongside photos of students, the old high schools they attended, mostly in California and Washington, are listed directly above their Topaz High School activities.

Imagine showing your grandchildren that you were once "The Brainiest of the brainier girls," and then explaining why you graduated from a school in Utah. Read about Topaz High School at Atlas Obscura, and browse through the yearbooks at Utah State University's Digital Collections.


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