What the 2016 presidential candidates were like in high school

There are 15 people running for president. 15! (Well, officially there are more than 470 people running, but we’re just focusing on the main 15 who we’ve seen on debate stages etc.) The election is still more than half a year away, and already the nation is tearing itself apart trying to decide who our next president should be.

As we get to know the candidates and make our voting decisions, we decided that a mighty fine way to know the men and women vying to run the free world was to take a look back at their high school selves. Who are these illustrious 15? Or, for today’s purposes, who were they when they were 18 years old? Behold, our presidential candidate high school yearbook. It might not help you decide who to vote for, but at the very least it gives a window into what our candidates were doing back in their teenage glory days.

Phillips Academy in Andover class of 1971


  • Activities: Tennis team (captain)
  • Special Interests: History prize winner for best essay on “human liberty.” Traveled to Mexico with exchange program (where he met his  future-wife, Columba.)
  • Classmates remember him as: More casual, more of a party guy,” but  different after meeting Columba. “He seemed transformed by the Mexico  experience. He was more serious.”
  • In his own words: “I was a cynical little turd at a cynical school.”

Maine South High School class of 1965


  • Activities: Class vice president, class council, class newspaper, National Honor Society, speech and debate club, pep club, senior leader, member of the Brotherhood Society, co-chairman of the Student Council Anti-Vandalism Committee
  • Special Interests: Participated in spring musical and variety show, Junior Miss pageant nominee, winner of the Social Science award, the Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizenship award, and a Good Will award.
  • Superlative: Voted, “Most likely to succeed”
  • In her own words: I loved to hone my debating skills with my friends.”

RICHARD JOHN “RICK” SANTORUM (also called “Rooster”)
Butler High School class of 1975


  • Activities: Bio-Science club, Butler Golden Tornado color guard, baseball team (manager)
  • Special Interests: Junior achievement program
  • Classmates remember him as: “The Rooster” because of a particularly stubborn cowlick. Also, “He would debate anything and everything with you, mostly sports. He was like a rooster. He never backed down.

Southwestern High School class of 1969


  • Activities: ROTC
    Special Interests: Honor student
  • Classmates remember him as: Quiet, bookish, and nerdy.”
  • In his own words: “I had an incredibly horrible temper. I was one of those people who thought they had a lot of rights, and of course, the more rights you think you have, the more likely someone is to infringe upon them. And I did get into fights, I would injure people.”

J.R. Tucker High School class of 1967


  • Activities: Student band director, drum major of the marching band, president of the concert band, member of All-County, All-Regional, and All-Student USA bands
  • Special Interests: Clarinet player.
  • In his own words: All I did in high school was play music.”

Livingston High School class of 1980


  • Activities: Class president, varsity baseball (catcher)
  • Classmates remember him as: If you were to ask who in our class would end up being governor . . . most people would tell you Chris Christie.”
  • In his own words: You know, I was the class president and athlete.”

Second Baptist High School class of 1988


  • Activities: Varsity soccer, varsity basketball, key club, yearbook staff, newspaper staff, drama club (president), speech team
  • Special Interests: Valedictorian, member of the Constitutional Corroborators, honor roll, National Honor Society
  • Classmates remember him as: I don’t think you’ll find a single person who knew him in high school who is at all surprised where he is now. He had direction. I mean, you knew Ted had a plan.”

New York Military Academy class of 1964


  • Activities: Soccer team, football team, baseball team
  • Special Interests: Intramural softball, basketball, bowling
  • Superlatives: Voted,“Ladies man
  • Classmates remember him as: “”Cocksure, positive and anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better kind of stuff — you know, he was very competitive.”
  • In his own words: I wasn’t the most well-behaved person in the world and my parents had no idea what to do with me, and they heard about this school that was a tough place.”

James Madison High School class of 1959


Activities: Track and cross-country team (captain), newspaper staff, class president
Classmates remember him as: I don’t think he was very outgoing at all.”

Hope High School class of 1973


  • Activities: Student council president, governor of Boys State, French club, key club,
  • Special Interests: Involved with radio station KXAR, National Honor Society
  • In his own words: I grew up blue-collar, not blue blood.”

Attended five different high schools including schools in London, Ghana, and the United States. Graduated from Charles E. Jordan High School class of 1972.


Special Interests: Piano, played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at London’s Channing School
Classmates remember her as: She was more of the laid-back smart kid.”
In her own words: I wanted desperately to fit in.”

Sto-Rox High School class of 1970


Classmates remember him as: 90 percent of Catholic boys at some point wanted to be a priest. … John wasn’t just going to be a priest, though. He was going to be the pope.”

Brazoswood High School class of 1979


  • Activities: Swim team, football team (defensive back)
  • Special Interests: Honor student
  • Classmates remember him as: He said when he was a very young man, ‘I’m going to be a medical doctor. He knew exactly what he wanted to be and exactly what he needed to do to get there and be successful.”

Gonzaga College High School class of 1981.


  • Activities: Football team (receiver, cornerback), newscaster for school channel, “Home Room” president on Student Council
  • Special Interests: Drama, played the tin whistle and sang in an Irish music band called “Shannon Tide.”
  • Classmates remember him as: He would lead the [football] team in cheers and he was very funny.”

South Miami High School class of 1989


Activities: Football team
In his own words: I finished my senior year with a 2.1 grade point average.”

(All images courtesy of Classmates.com)