Gerald Ford, Jr. was part of the 14th class to graduate from South High, one of 232 seniors photographed for the 1931 high school yearbook. His reputation was made as an athlete, the tenth of South High’s hundreds of athletes to be named All-State. But Junior was as competitive a scholar as he was an athlete.
Though he was an average student in English and Latin (he particularly struggled with the latter), Jerry was an excellent student of history. Virginia Berry remembered attending the same history class with Jerry. “Our teacher gave weekly exams and the way it went was one week I would get a ninety-six and Jerry a ninety-three, next week he’d get a ninety-seven and I’d get a ninety-four. I sat in the back of the room and Jerry up front, and every time exams were returned he would come back to ask what my grade was. He didn’t resent it if I got a better grade, he was just checking. We both got A’s in that subject, the only two.”
Allan Elliott was the quarterback of South High’s 1930 team. He and Ford were close friends. Elliott eventually would earn a doctorate in psychology. Later he explained, “Not many of us (classmates) harbored a thought of entering college, consequently most of us selected courses of study that would get us through high school. Not Jerry…. He selected the most difficult courses in a liberal-arts college-preparatory program…. What’s more, he was an honor-roll student all the way through high school, while participating in athletics, clubs, student council, and other student activities.”
Ford would make the Honor Society and finish in the upper tier of his graduating class. His teachers remembered him as a quiet yet attentive student. Marion Blanford, his history teacher, described him as “not a real outgoing” student, even “pensive.” “He was never egotistical, but always cooperative. He was an honest, decent sort of kid,” Blanford said. Ford recalled himself being “an excellent student in history and government. I was a pretty fair math student. I took chemistry and several other scientific subjects. I was never a very good student in that regard.”