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Badger Yearbook celebrates 125th edition

December 2, 2009 By Kiera Wiatrak

In 1884, a group of University of Wisconsin–Madison juniors pulled out their typewriters and dedicated “The Trochos,” the Latin word for “badger,” to “the ladies of ’85, in testimony of our high appreciation and esteem.”

Now, 125 editions later, Badger Yearbook co-presidents Sarah Ripp and Gerad Bandos and a team of more than 50 enthusiastic staffers boot up their Macs and upload digital photos for their special anniversary edition.

After more than two years in office together, Ripp, a graphic design and photography major, and Bandos, a chemistry education major, are committed to making the 125th edition special.

“We’ve really been working on breaking every budget constraint, breaking every design constraint, every kind of limit that we’ve perceived from the presidents before us,” Bandos says.

They’re paying homage to the past while celebrating the new. “We’re using new design and the new spirit of the campus to really reinforce the old,” Bandos says.

Ripp and Bandos have spent hours perusing old yearbooks for inspiration. They’ll include a timeline of the history of the yearbook and are considering reprinting photos from old yearbooks. This year’s theme will reference the centennial of the fight song “On, Wisconsin!”

Although the past is an important theme for this year’s book, it’s evident in all of their yearbooks that campus memories and traditions are never far from the minds of the yearbook staff.

“We’re always trying to come up with new ideas and new things we can do to make it a fresh publication,” Ripp says, ” but it’s also very important to us to have that Wisconsin spirit about the book.”

In 2009, Ripp and Bandos returned the yearbook to its traditional red-and-white color scheme. UW–Madison’s original “Numen Lumen” seal continues to embellish the yearbook cover, though it’s virtually obsolete on campus.

They’re careful not to neglect what’s new. They talk to professors about what’s new in their departments and reach out to new student organizations and campus businesses.

Every year, they cover Homecoming, big sports rivalry games, Halloween, commencement and construction on campus. There are usually significant portions dedicated to student life, academics, sports, Greek life and, of course, senior portraits.

With the surge of digital technology, questions arise over whether a printed yearbook is still relevant. But Ripp, Bandos and their staff of more than 50 students believe that a hard copy is more important now than ever.

“We really want people to still have a yearbook,” Bandos says. “We really want people to still have something they can show off that won’t expire with a bad link.”

Ripp agrees. “If you still have a Facebook page 20 years down the line, it will be completely different,” she says.

The yearbook staff uses state-of-the-art graphic design software and allows people to preview and order the yearbook online.

Currently, all yearbooks until 1977 are available in UW Digital Collections at

Soon Bandos and Ripp expect to have almost every edition in the collection, except for the most recent issues. Hard copies are also available on the fourth floor of the Steenbock Memorial Library in the University Archives.

Ripp and Bandos held a meeting to decide whether to produce a digital yearbook. The staff unanimously voted no.

“The printed book is a tradition,” Ripp says, “just like ordering your graduation announcements and getting your cap and gown. You’re not going to wear a digital cap and gown.”