95 Years of The Gristmill

With the 100th anniversary of the current yearbook coming up, Shaker reflects on its long history

For years, the school yearbook team has played a large part in end of year celebrations, releasing new yearbooks each year for students to enjoy. With each yearbook being notable, some have more history than others.

Shaker Heights High school published its first yearbook, The Greenback, in 1922, a short book with a green leather cover. There has been a yearbook published every year since. “Their main thing was a frog because of Shaker Lakes and the ponds around Shaker Heights,” Yearbook Advisor James Rodems said.

In 1927, the name changed to The Gristmill, honoring the old grist mill that was located in Shaker Heights. It stood until 1886, when it was blown up as part of an Independence Day celebration and The Gristmill continues as the name used for the yearbook to this day.  

The first time since 1927 the yearbook wasn’t published under the name The Gristmill was during the 1930-31 school year when it was called The Shaker Silhouette. Printed during the Great Depression, this edition is the only yearbook with a paper cover due to a shortage of funds.

The Shaker Silhouette included more writing and fewer pictures, as it needed to be cheaper to produce than previous years. The yearbook team partnered with The Shakerite and featured plays and comic strips to give the book a literary turn. This publication helped to find light and humor during the poverty stricken year.

A vinyl record narrated by Oscar winning actor and Shaker alum Paul Newman (’43), was included in the 1960 publication titled The Sounds of Shaker. Mr. Rodems recently found the recording in the school library, and hopes to convert it to a digital format soon. “It turned out that Mrs. Harrison from the library had the record in one of those standing file cabinets in a clear plastic sleeve,” Rodems said.

For nearly a century, students have continued to produce unique editions of The Gristmill every year. Students have to sign up to be a part of the yearbook team which classifies as an art elective. Before joining, students are interviewed about certain strengths and weaknesses they have that will make an impact with The Gristmill. “To get an interview, you can ask someone from the yearbook team, ask Mr. Rodems, ask a teacher to ask Mr. Rodems or DM us. There’s multiple different ways to ask us to interview you for the yearbook” senior Sophia Arnoldi, Gristmill editor said.

During the 2026-27 school year, The Gristmill will release the 100th anniversary edition. While still several years away, plans are already being made. Rodems said, “It’s going to take a lot of time and planning but it’s going to be much different than any other yearbook.”

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