Thursday, January 29, 2009

I went to high school with Dwight Schrute?!

Like I said, I've been digging up old photos and reading lists of names from the past. I went to a gargantuan high school in north suburban Chicago. We had upwards of 5000 students in attendance at the time I attended in 1981-1985. Hallways between classes were a crush of students. I always knew that we have quite a few notable alumni. I knew about Donald Rumsfeld, but not Rahm Emmanuel for example.

It's funny how you hear names in one context and they mean nothing, but then later when you read a gazillion names from your childhood, suddenly it comes back... Hilarious, talented actor from "The Office", Rainn Wilson went to my high school. Here is proof:
Rainn Wilson went to my high school

I promise you that is him. Unfortunately all my yearbooks have water damage so I can't really browse through their stuck pages.

He was a year ahead of me and he did many of the plays and musicals. I was backstage on stage crew. Here is Rainn Wilson in the show Pygmalion. Seated is actor Jim True-Frost (The Wire). I painted the language chart in the background and was very proud of it. I recall this was a good show but I was mostly focused on the set changes and the lighting cues.
Rainn Wilson

The yearbook notes about the Pygmalion production: "Each role demanded tremendous individual effort by the actor to master the British accent of his character." I think in that photo you can easily see the actual effort expended by Rainn Wilson to affect the cockney vocalizations and body language of his character.

If the pages weren't all stuck, I could tell you what other parts he played in our shows, but I do have him listed as Jud in Oklahoma, so I he must have had a solo singing part at some point. He also played Wint in "Ah, Wilderness" which had the memorable line, "Life is a joke and everything always turns out all wrong in the end."

These classroom photos are so amusing. Here is Rainn Wilson with his advisory (homeroom) in his junior year. Teenage boys have a hard time summoning up the will to smile for pictures. Rainn Wilson is in the center back row.
Dwight Schrute

And just because I know he is reading this and because he and his wife are still good friends of mine, here is a signature from Rob who was 2 years ahead of me in high school:
Yearbook Signature

He calls me a "good little girl"! and well.. it was true.. I was.


alex said...

Susie! that is MEGA COOL!! I love the Office! How crazy! I am one degree from Rainn Wilson!

IamSusie said...

It is CRAZY actually! He explained in one article I read today that he was also a teenaged security guard at the Baha'i temple in Wilmette and chased off wanton skateboarders.

Anonymous yearbook peruser said...

Susie, there is another good shot of the future Dwight Schrute on the Choir section of the '84 book (p 147)... A guy in my office is Rainn Wilson fan, so I brought in the pictures one day. My coworker recommended "The Rocker," a movie with Rainn Wilson that came out earlier this year. It's a comedy about an '80s rocker who joins his teen nephew's high school rock band, called "ADD."

IamSusie said...

Anon- I found that choir page later, but this Pygmalion photo is priceless. Of course our set is perfect, but isn't it funny how his bushy sideburns don't fit at all with his blondish straight hair?

I also read that he modeled his Dwight Schrute character after a kid he went to high school with. I guess there was a kid at New Trier with Battlestar Galactica glasses who went on to fencing glory in college. I also read he played the bassoon in band. I stunk at the clarinet so it is unlikely that I was in the same band with him. Maybe J was.

Anonymous yearbook signer isn't sure he said...

Ahhhh, it's nostalgia week on Susie Can Stitch. The yearbooks from high school are down from the shelf........

Don't remember Rainn Wilson at all, though maybe vaguely in one particularly weak production towards the end of my time. Certainly nothing in line with the glowing memories that his former teachers seemed to conjure once he became slightly famous. The funny thing is how many people I know or at least recognize in that class photo. (And I also note after a quick page through that yearbook how little everyone looks like the stereotype eighties so common on television/movies now.)

I did see Pygmalion, and the phonetic chart is one of the few things I remember, though it was a nicely done set as usual. I think you were skilled at lining (most of the girls only being allowed to paint and sew under the regime in power at the time).

But for the life of me I am stunned by the yearbook quote, no memory of that at all. I wasn't even sure of the hand writing at first. "All-American Kid" was something we referred to you as, but no idea why you're also a "good little girl", though that may have been some sort of running joke at the time. Mostly I am just amazed how I can blank out so completely. Wonder what else I did in high school that is lost to the past? (A lot of it, I hope. It's a form of self-protection to forget some things now and then....)

IamSusie said...

R- When are you and Julie going to get on Facebook? Possibly the good little girl comment was one of those "good lord what do I write on this kid's yearbook" moments. On the same page, Len uses the AAK thing (which I'd forgotten about) and hopes we'll have "fun in the sun this summer". On the back cover, Julie writes many more high school details and plans that we will waste "mucho gas" in her "cruising station wagon" and optimistically imagines that in the following school year we will "rule the stage".

I notice that too about how no one looks stereotypically 80's. I think that fluffy hair and mullets hit the greater culture in the later 80's and in the early 80's we were still mostly just preppy.

You are very kind that you remember my phonetic chart more than what must have been a show full of very entertaining accents.

Sarah said...

That's funny!