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Then & Now: What Happened Between Mike Jett's GHS Yearbook and Mugshot Photos?

A glance at an old Geneva High School yearbook confirms that Mike Jett, the Batavia man charged with multiple counts of sexual assault, did go to school here. But what else do these photos say?

Disparate thoughts on disparate images.

When I saw Charlie Menchaca's story about a on multiple charges of sexual assault, I realized that the face in the mugshot photo looked familiar.

It was Mike Jett, and I thought I remembered going to school with him in Geneva. His age was listed as 55, and I was pretty sure he was in my Geneva High School graduating class.

A quick post on the "You Know Your From Geneva, Illinois When ..." Facebook page and a tour through "Out of the Cradle," my high school yearbook, showed that Jett was a year behind me at GHS.

Some of the Facebook posts noted that Jett had come to the 30-year reunion for the class of '76. There were some interesting anecdotes, as you'd expect, but I'll leave that conversation for the Facebook page.

It's important to note that Jett is arrested and charged with sexual assualt, not convicted. His guilt or innocence will be determined in a court of law. And this essay isn't about his criminal charges—or even Michael Jett specifically.

When I looked in the yearbook, I was simply taking a minute to confirm whether the man in the story was the youth I recalled from way back when. But when you see the yearbook photo next to the mugshot, you can't help thinking about a whole lot of things.

On this, the day of Ray Bradbury's passing, it's hard not to see these images as stories through the prism of time.

How did the bright-eyed kid in the yearbook photo end up as the puffy-eyed man in the police lineup? What happened between then and now? What are the magical and tragic stories behind all those youthful faces that peer back from that same yearbook page?

My oldest daughter just graduated from Geneva High School. And as usual, the pomp and circumstance included student and faculty speeches about the promise of tomorrow and bright futures ahead. I'm sure the speeches we made back in 1975 and '76 were very much the same.

Among the faces in my daughter's 2012 yearbook will be doctors and lawyers, artists and writers, maybe a Nobel Prize winner or Olympic athlete. The overwhelming majority will become wonderful people who lead happy, meaningful and productive lives. And there will be some who don't. It's the same for any high school yearbook, then or now, and probably as long as there are yearbooks.

In life's cosmic timeline (as opposed to the one on my Facebook page), the collective stream of images that follow our yearbook photos will include very few police mugshots and countless volumes of smiling families at exotic vacation locales, proud graduates, wedding ceremonies and trophies held to the sky—birthday-party videos and color photographs nestled in "I Love My Grandpa" frames.

The plain truth is, most of our stories have happy endings, but even in Geneva, we can never really know who or what will leap from "Out of the Cradle."

Tony Pronenko June 08, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Very thought inspiring! Often we take for granted the span of time between one moment and the next. Maybe because they seem to go so quickly... either way very interesting. Thanks Rick.
Tony Franko June 16, 2012 at 08:14 PM
Wow, right on Rick. Didn’t Steve LeMaire graduate that same year from Geneva High School?? Imagine that, two accused of felonies in the same year that graduated the same year from Geneva High school. How could that be?

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