“Dear Photograph” CHS Homecoming Edition

Homecoming is about community, nostalgia, heritage, and history, and this week is the celebration of just that. The CHS Photography I, II, and III classes researched yearbooks dating back to the mid-50s to connect to our modern-day Cherokee High School.

Photo I and II students implemented an idea that originated from a pop culture photo series called “Dear Photograph.”

“Dear Photograph” was a concept of rephotography by photographer, Taylor Jones, where the photographer holds up an older photo in the same location today doing their best to match them up, though some locations have evolved significantly. Then, they write a message to the photograph starting with “Dear Photograph.” After publishing a book, the photographer created a site where, on average, 30-40 people submit their own “Dear Photograph” projects each day.

This inspired the classes to do the same with a high school building that significantly pre-dates all others in the county. Ms. Nechvatal, one of CHS’s media specialists, set out all CHS yearbooks dating from 1957-today where students searched for an original photograph they wanted to recreate, and then directly scanned and printed them.

Here are their entries:

Late submissions will be added.

Photo by Kenneth Jean, Photo I

Dear Photograph from 1974: Did you ever think Elvis Presley’s outfits would ever go out of style?

Photo by Natalie Sarallo, Photo I

Dear Photograph: It’s weird to compare an old, black and white world of 1959 to a new generation of bright, shiny technologies. From projector screens to computer monitors, our education today goes way beyond the ol’ pen and paper. There’s so many exciting things to discover today; it’s too bad they’re all looking at their phones instead. 

Photo by Sophia Melbourne, Photo I

Dear Photograph: The year is 1971. How many students walk along these steps every day? From shiny dress shoes, to clogs, to boots, what’s the big hoot? What lies ahead for these kids and their solemn, pondering faces? 70’s fashion and lifestyle was iconic. I would give anything to spend a moment in this photograph, when people could still pose for a picture without masks and a phone in hand!

Photo by Sophia Melbourne, Photo I

Dear Photograph: The year is 1979. Is tennis a popular sport? Her dress is super cute! This image is so different from what one would see today. She is simply having fun with the world that surrounds her. How often do we get to experience this?

Photo by Sydney Payne, Photo I

Dear Photograph: I wonder what their lives are like now. I wonder if they can think back to 1984 and remember what it was like to be in high school, surrounded by all of these people. Do they still talk to each other or are they complete strangers?

Photo by Faith Burns, Photo I

Dear Photograph: Was it as complicated back then in ‘96 as it is now? Did everyone laugh or was there only worry about the next assignment? Does the future hold the kind of laughs those students enjoy so fondly?

Photo by Faith Burns, Photo I

Dear Photography: gym class 1996. In 2020, I wonder if the students of today still feel the same as students in the past. You show us the hint of laughter yet the dread of running. Thank you for providing me a minute to laugh at how relatable the past is and allowing this year to feel normal, even if just for a second.

Photo by Summer Hodgkinson, Photo II

Dear Photograph: It may be 1993 in the picture, but it’s 2020 now, and we aren’t allowed to hangout by lockers anymore.

Dear Photograph: Thank you for the moments and memories throughout each and every generation. In each generation, we laugh, we get stressed and we make new friends. Each and every moment that leads into our dream job started here at the exact places. Maybe these places have new features for new generations to enjoy this present moment, but we’re still standing in the exact places where they did before. Not everything exists before like it does today, but we share the same ground.

Photo by Sarah Grace Pfanstiel, Photo I

 Dear Photograph: As I walk through the old gym running my laps in P.E., I wonder, where is number 53 today? Looking at the photograph gives me memories of looking through my dads old basketball photos. My dad, born in 1970, was also surprisingly number 53. I cannot help but wonder, however, who that boy from 1967 is, and how great a part he played in the history of Cherokee basketball.

Photo by Liana Radchuk, Photo I

Dear photograph: Cherokee has changed beyond belief since 1986. Rumors of replacing it with a new school spread around the halls, some forgetting the history within the school. Although things have changed, the appreciation students have for Cherokee High School Field remains. Students may leave but those who were once here will always be remembered, my sign, photograph, or even just memories.

Photo by Madison Reineri, Photo I

Dear Very Blurry Old Photograph: What was it like back then? What were the people like? Nowadays we have to social distance and wear masks everywhere we go, and our phones being everywhere anywhere we go; what would’ve it been like for the people back then? The campus has been through so much and many new additions have been added over the years including these new bushes now in the way… I’m curious as to what it looked like back then, what it would’ve been like to attend in 1976.

Photo by Katie Snyder, Photo I

Dear Photograph from 1986: You make me think about all the different kinds of people who have walked up those stairs. You make me wonder if life as a teenager was really was different back then. I wonder where these people are now?

Photo by Ellie Williamson

Dear Photograph: What was the excitement like in the room on this day in 1965? Could you feel the energy and nerves running up and down the court? Or was the school spirt raging in hope of a warrior win? Although I wasn’t around for this day and age in sports I see it now everyday. Whether it’s on a Friday night with the football teams neck and neck with the opposing team or on the court like this photo when the buzzer getting ready to go off and declare the winner.

Photo by Grace Johnson, Photo I

Dear Photograph: In 2000, Cherokee’s seniors sat together smiling in the stands of a football game. Memories were made while enjoying their final year of high school. Back when there was no pandemic and you didn’t have to sit six feet apart.

Dear Photograph:
1979 had a whole different feeling back then, years passed and even the tress that were once there or no more. These walls might just be walls but hold so much memories and events that only you know. Today you’re still here and here you continue to provide a roof for us. Thank you!  ~Ana P.


Rephotography is a little more of an advanced concept where the photographer recreates a photo from the same location of a previously taken photo. In modern photography, the photographs are often meshed together in editing contrasting the past with present (which makes it more challenging). This process was said to have started in the 1850s as a scientific process to measure differences in typography and urban development, but became popular around the 1970s as a form of contemporary photography.

Photo III students took on the challenge of finding a location to recreate and carefully blend with its modern background.

Photo by Meredith Rice, Photo III

Entrance stairs leading to cafeteria. Date: 1970

It’s interesting to see how the clothes are the only thing that seemingly dates this photo.

Photo by Meredith Rice, Photo III

Photo of tree in front of the Main campus building. Date: 1990 (see how much growth there is in the tree in 30 years!)

Photo by Ainsley Webb

This photo shows the merging of a full spread yearbook photo of the still-newly built Cherokee High School in 1958. Ainsley merged some of the starkest differences such as the addition of more space (400 and 600 halls) and the dramatic growth of the bushes that had been recently planted at the time. However, the original front of the building as seen in the photo was left revealed demonstrating how the modern-day entrance was not originally part of the campus.

Although these photos span generations apart, they reveal so many commonalities we share with each other. They also reveal just how quickly time passes by reminding us to enjoy the moments we live as we live them. There may come a time when Cherokee High School is no longer housed in these buildings, so we do have a very unique opportunity to connect with those who walked these halls before us that those in the future may not have.

For those who graduated years before–do you recognize any of these photos? What are your favorite memories of CHS we can celebrate this Homecoming Week? Leave a comment!


  1. I love this project! I am in the photo from 1986. To answer your question… some of us are still in contact in some format, even if it is just on Facebook. And yes, I do remember what it was like that year. So much fun!


  2. This is so neat! Awesome job! I am the girl on the shoulders of a guy in the theatre picture. We were performing the play Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”. So fun seeing this!


  3. What a great way to propagate the phrase “Once a Warrior, Always a Warrior” and “Tradition of Excellence”. I’m proud to be a part of the Warrior history! Great job Photo!


  4. Pictures brought back many memories, dated my high school boyfriend in those halls for over 2 yrs, married him weekend after graduation 1965, daughter and grandson also CHS graduates,


  5. These projects are fascinating! Great job. I wish these could be printed out and become a bulletin board so I can see them again and again. While I am not in any of the photos, I remember the clothes and hairstyles! Thanks for this creative twist on a trip down memory lane.


  6. Thank you so much for choosing my photo. I am the tennis player. I am honored by your words.
    I loved playing for Cherokee and miss those days.


  7. This is such a great project! I am Christy “Cagle” Witherow, the girl at the bottom of the stairs in 1986 photo in the old gym. I am a lifetime resident of Cherokee County. My father, and both of my boys graduated from Cherokee High. Enjoyed our FCA and Young Life events as well as playing softball and basketball. Memories: finding Squat when he would disappear. Homecoming was always so much fun! Parade, dance & football game excitement.


  8. What a unique project! Love these photos! I graduated in the class of ‘67 and can identify the basketball player you featured. His name is Gary Holcomb and he was a terrific Warrior player! He was a beloved member of our Class of ‘67, but unfortunately he passed away several years ago.


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