Monroe High School to put a modern twist on over 100 years of history with digital yearbook archive

Class of 1955 paying to save photos dating to 1906
Posted at 12:00 PM, Nov 13, 2016

MONROE, Ohio -- Monroe students and graduates soon will have a new way to look back on the past. Thanks to a donation from the Monroe class of 1955, the district over the next few years will be building a digital photo and yearbook archive.

“We reached a point where we felt really confident that this would serve the district and serve the kids,” said Monroe class of 1955 member Bob Helsinger.

School board members approved the $1,046 donation during their regular September meeting.

“I think it’s a good idea to keep track of what’s happened in the past,” said Monroe school board President Tom Leeds.

The class of 1955 made a donation of more than $1,000 to make the project possible. Creating the digital yearbook archive will be a long-term project. (Photo provided)

The computer-based archive will feature old yearbook photos and images of previous graduating classes, which currently are displayed in the halls of Monroe High School.

“Basically what we’re going to try to do is take those composite class photos and get them digitized and displayed on the website,” said Jesse Catanzaro, director of personnel and business operations for Monroe Local Schools.

“It is just us taking what has already been done and making sure it is not just stuck in a hallway."

No timeline has been established for the project, but Monroe High School business-technology teacher Tom Burklow, who is charged with the task, hopes to start getting pictures online by next fall.

“It’ll be a long-term project because we’ve got class pictures dating back to 1906,” Burklow said.

Burklow won’t be working solo to create the digital archive. He anticipates using the opportunity as a project-based learning experience for students in his technology classes.

The donation from the class of 1955 will allow Burklow to purchase supplies and resources needed to get the pictures online. That could include anything from scanners to digital cameras to camera mounts.

“The biggest thing we have to do first is get all these images in a good clean, digital format, so we have an inventory,” Burklow said.

Figuring out how to do that promises to be somewhat of a problem-solving experience, as some photos may have to remain in frames, and many are part of large displays.

Burklow also is still in the early stages of planning how the digital archive will be presented.

“We haven’t worked out actual logistics of how we’re going to do it,” he said.

Although websites and services like and allow users to view old photos from various schools, Monroe’s digital archive is expected to be viewable without an account.

“I believe the intent is that this is viewable in public,” Catanzaro said.

This aspect may be particularly appealing to older generations of graduates who don’t want to create an account to view the pictures, Burklow said.

He said the archive also is unique in its focus on a single district and community.

“It’s more of a personal, community thing,” Burklow said.

While the project is still in the early stages, Burklow ultimately hopes to have the archive available on Monroe’s main website, the district’s student websiteor both, with a search feature to more easily find specific graduates.

“We’re anxious ourselves to see how it all works out,” Helsinger said.