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Hillsboro High class photos going digital

HIllsboro, ND, school superintendent Paula Pederson looks at a deteriorating composite display of the class of 1969 that the school plans to digitize. The school is planning to convert all class displays into digital format for display on the school website. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

HILLSBORO, N.D. -- The Hillsboro High School Class of 1969 composite portrait -- with individual photos glued to a fading white background framed behind glass -- no longer hangs among the gallery of class photos.

Like other class composites, it's in need of repair.

School officials took it down because several of the individual portraits, including those of then-Superintendent Glenn Schimke, and current Hillsboro School Board member Don Hanson Jr., had fallen off because the dry-mount tissue used to glue them to the board had deteriorated.

"They're just so brittle, and they're all so loose" said current Superintendent Paula Pederson.

The School Board recently approved a proposal from High School Principal Terry Baesler to digitize the entire collection, making it available on the school's website.

It'll be a digital yearbook, covering the entire history of the school.

While some later classes -- say the past 10 years -- might remain on the school walls, others would be stored away, where they're not exposed to sunlight and other elements.

Baesler got his cue from nearby Mayville-Portland/CG High School, which did the same thing about four years ago.

"A big part of it was space in our Commons area was getting tighter. Then we had problems with fading," MayPort-CG Superintendent Mike Bradner said.

It wasn't an easy process, he admitted. After all, the consolidated school has a long history.

At first, school officials figured they could do the entire project themselves.

"Our fear was that they'd fall apart when we were taking them down," he said.

In the end, Ron Jacobson of Jacobson Studio in Mayville, N.D., photographed all of the class composites -- 131 of them -- that could be found and preserved.

"The only ones that really hung us up were those that were in disrepair," he said, adding that he made necessary repairs.

The collection includes:

- Portland High School -- 38 portraits, from 1921 to 1971.

- Mayville High School -- 26, from 1945 to 1971.

- Clifford-Galesburg High School -- 32, from 1962 to 1993.

- MayPort-CG High School -- 13, from 1994 to 2006. The later ones still hang on the walls.

Jacobson preserved the collection on a DVD. Then, MayPort-CG officials uploaded the images to the school website,

The project cost about $450, according to Bradner.

"We think that was inexpensive," he said, "and for the quality, it was well worth it."

The virtual yearbook has proven popular at MayPort-CG.

For a while, the school had a kiosk set up in the Commons, where alumni coming to Patriot basketball games and other school activities could browse the online collection.

"We actually had one gentleman from California who called to say he was so happy about it," he said. "He could pull out the old class photos, print them if he wanted, and reminisce."

In Hillsboro, Heidi Eckart, who teaches photography and speech and also is a coach, will lead the project.

School officials haven't decided whether to try the project totally in-house, or to look for a professional studio. Although some older years are missing, or perhaps never were taken, the collection dates back to 1904.

Pederson said she hopes the project is completed by the start of the 2011-12 school year.

Reach Bonham at (701) 780-1110; (800) 477-6572, ext. 110; or send e-mail to

Kevin Bonham

Kevin Bonham covers regional news, mostly from northeast North Dakota, for the Grand Forks Herald. A North Dakota native who grew up in Mandan and Dickinson, he has been a reporter or an editor with the Herald and Forum Communications for more than 30 years. Find his articles at: He welcomes story ideas via email,, or by phone, (701) 780-1110.