Yearbook History

Yearbook Home

Welcome! to the complete digital archives of every yearbook (cover) ever published from El Rancho High School. Some books are for sale, while others are one of a kind items locked away in a secret nuclear-bomb-proof room five stories below the A-building (you get there by punching a secret code into a secret control panel in the A-building elevator).

Since only the most deep-down, true-blue dons are allowed access to this chamber, you will be happy to know that you can now see these rare books through this most excellent tour of that great don tradition, ***Por El Año***.


See books from
the years

1953 - 1959


In the beginning...
Take a look back at the earliest ER yearbooks. They range from one to two hundred pages in length (today's average around 320 pages). Physical dimensions varied from year to year, but were generally an inch or two shorter in length and width than the coffee-table sized yearbooks we expect today. For most of the first two decades, the yearbook's opening pages began with a dedication, then coverage of the school's faculty and administration. Co-ed capers began in 1954 (and lasted until 1993). There were "Stamp," "Radio" and "Gun and Rod" clubs on campus, as well as a "Faculty Talent Show." The phrase "Por El Año" first appeared in the 1955 volume. There were no color pages inside these books, and the traditional "Senior Group Photo" was yet to be imagined.

The yearbooks weren't the only things that were different. The city itself was different. The El Rancho campus was built in the city of Pico (adjacent to the city of Rivera). It wasn't until the end of the 50's that our modern city, Pico Rivera, was defined. The school was built as an addition to the Whittier Union School District. The ERUSD didn't exist until 1961, and though ERHS first opened its doors for the 52/53 school year, there were no seniors, so the first graduating class was the Class of 1954. Those students spent just two years at the ranch, but they began a parade of graduating seniors that has lasted over four decades.



See books from
the years

1960 - 1964


1965 - 1969


The 60's: Forming Traditions...
In the 1960s, Por El Año stabilized to its current physical dimensions of 9 x 12 inches. The number of pages averaged in the high 200s. The first photograph to appear on a cover was in 1960. It was a black and white shot of some students looking toward the flag pole. The first "lithograph" style cover (the smooth, shiny covers as opposed to the "calf-skin" like ones) appeared in 1969.

On the inside, pages were still mostly black and white. Color pages began to appear through the "duotone" technology, which involved taking a black and white photo and tinting it a single color. The first color page as we would think of it today (called "process color") appeared in 1963. It was a two-page photo of the front of the school. The following year, these same lonely two color pages were used for a new yearbook tradition, the Senior Class Group Photo. In 1965, the Senior group stood for the first time in the shape of their graduating year (they didn't do it again for 11 years).

Nineteen sixty-one marked the formation of the El Rancho Unified School District, and the building of ERHS's very own swimming pool. The first Powder Puff page appears in 1966, and Don Memorial Stadium was first dedicated on Sept. 15, 1967 (to ER alumni killed in the Vietnam Conflict). Nineteen sixty-seven was the last year the yearbook contained a freshman class. They were moved to the junior high schools and did not return until 1984. Nineteen sixty-seven was also the infamous year ER Football earned the title, "Top Team in the U.S.A." The ROTC classes were first seen on campus in 1968, which was the same year the B, R and S buildings were added to the campus.



See books from
the years

1970 - 1974


1975 - 1979


The 70's: The Growth of Color...
In 1970, the ER yearbook contained only two pages of process color. In 1978, that number had jumped to 88. Throughout the 1970s, Por El Año covers are noticeably more "modern." With the use of more colors, shapes and curves, the books seem more willing to take risks than in the past. The 7-up spin off of 1975 was certainly a rule-breaking cover (Opinions varied on whether or not it was a successful venture).

The 1976 volume called back the idea first seen in 1965 of the seniors standing in the shape of their graduating year. This time the idea took, and it quickly became an inviolable tradition. The nineteen-seventy book did the unthinkable and used the opening pages to present the senior portraits section (not the faculty), and in 1977, this section was printed for the first time entirely in color. The '78 book enlarged the color senior section to a gigantic 58 pages (it's around 32 pages today), thus setting an ER record both for the longest senior section and the longest yearbook (340 pages).

During the early 1970s, the library building was constructed, the "Winterbelle" tradition was established (a reworking of the older "Basketball Belle" tradition), and female sports were admitted into the Whittier League. An annual occurence was the Hypnotist Assembly, and in 1979 the proficiency tests were established (The first class required to pass them for graduation was the class of 1981--boy were they excited!).



See books from
the years

1980 - 1984


1985 - 1989


The 80's: The modern yearbook...
ER yearbooks of the 1980s are in many ways indistinguishable from those today. They contain on average the same number of total pages (280-320) and of color (60-80) as those today. Building on movement begun in the '70s, covers continued to experiment. Seven of the covers during this decade were "Lithograph," which allows much more flexibility for designing than the traditional "calf-skin." Theme grew to dominate the cover. No longer did the words "El Rancho High School" and "Por El Año" outshine all other elements in the design. In some cases, these phrases did not appear on the cover at all, and could only be found on the spine of the book or the first page. The 1985 cover imitated a close up of a "boom box" (a portable stereo); the 1986 edition presents a Hollywood movie theater as its dominate cover image; and the 1987 volume used a large color photograph of students in the gym as part of its cover design.

The shortest ER yearbook since 1960 appeared in this decade (1983, 252 pages), but jumped an amazing 52 pages to 304 the following year. Academic Decathlon makes its first appearance in this decade. Class Debates began in 1980, as does a thing called Donkey Basketball. In 1983, ER held its first ever Night Pep Rally (a reworking of the older tradition, the Back to School Night Assembly). Homecoming half-time shows during the 80s included helicopters, hot air balloons, and parachutists. In the '87 book we see the first appearance of the "Senior Ad," a page of the yearbook dedicated to a particular individual and designed and paid for by that person or his/her family. Co-ed capers continued as a very popular tradition, and was regularly printed in color, as was the Powder Puff page. The Senior section stabilized at around 30-35 pages (in color, of course).



See books from
the years

1990 - 1994


1995 - 1999

2000 - 2002


The 90's: Computers enter the equation...
Some of the biggest changes of the 90s happened behind the scenes. While the design, organization and theme grew in predictable ways from threads begun in the 80s, the method of production changed radically. With the 95 book, the age of desktop publishing began at El Rancho. Computer layout programs gave students a degree of control over the page never before seen in a high school yearbook class. No more would students have to guess as to whether or not a caption or headline would fit in a given space. Now it was all there in front of you on a computer screen--WYSIWYG!!!

In the '96 and after books, additional computer drawing and photo manipulation programs were added to the students' "box of tools," thus making it possible for them to draw their own "clip art" (instead of buying a commercial catalogue of pre-drawn art), and to scan and manipulate photos in the classroom (for details, see Tools of the Trade). Before this point, photo enlargements, reductions, and special effects were all handled by the professional printer (or not done at all). Now students could do it themselves.

The 1990 issue included the first and only 4 page foldout. In 1992, each portrait section began with a two-page photo of students holding their class name at the Night Pep Rally, a popular tradition that continues to this day. Sales of Senior Ads grew from 11 pages in 1990 to a record-breaking 53 pages in 1996. The 96 issue also broke new ground with its plexiglass (see-through) right cover panel. The ER shield, in various forms, on the cover and in the book, appeared often in this decade, and two formidable Don traditions came to an end: Co-ed capers and boys gymnastics.

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