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A look at Paul Ryan's hometown, high school history

August 11, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • Heather Crandall, left, and Paul Ryan are pictured as prom queen and king in the 1988 Joseph A. Craig High School yearbook in Janesville, Wis.
Heather Crandall, left, and Paul Ryan are pictured as prom queen and king… (Keri Wiginton / Chicago…)

The year Paul Ryan graduated from high school, the Winter Olympics were held in Calgary, Canada, Oliver North testified in front of Congress about the Iran-Contra affair, and Michael Dukakis and  George H.W. Bush were running for president.

Judging from his high school yearbook, the newly minted Republican vice presidential nominee might have been too busy to pay attention to any of that. The 1988 high school yearbook, “Standing Room Only,” for Joseph A. Craig High School in Janesville, Wis., shows a young Ryan, often clad in an oversized Craig Cougars sweatshirt, posing in photos for the student council, the Latin club, the history club, the letterman's club, the outdoors club and the International Geographic Society. The yearbook also says Ryan ran track his sophomore and senior year, was in the pep club his senior year, and was also in the ushers club and the Model U.N. He was also on the school’s varsity soccer team, which went 5-9-3 his senior year, ending up in fifth place.

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Ryan was voted “Biggest Brown-Noser” by his high school class in a vote that also included “Best Looking,” "Best Athlete” and “Most Likely to Succeed,” a title that was won by his cousin Adam Ryan (Ryans pop up in the yearbook as often as pimples on a high schooler's face – the family has a big presence in Janesville). A senior survey indicates that his class was more well-off than many working-class towns in Wisconsin – 72% of seniors said they planned to go to college after high school. Nearly 3 in 4 said they drank alcoholic beverages.

Ryan still lives in the town where he graduated from high school, recently moving into a $420,000, six-bedroom seven-bathroom house in the Courthouse Hill historic district. The area is full of both restored and rambling Victorian homes. The Ryan home, which is 2.5 stories and brick, is in the Georgian Revival style. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was built in 1928 for William G. Wheeler, an attorney.

The home has two lion door knockers on the front door and a door knocker on the side that says “Ryan” on it. A peek into the backyard showed three patio tables under umbrellas, with chairs covered in red and white cushions. The backyard spreads out behind the tables, to a garden where many of the flowers are Republican red. Anyone who tries to get any closer may invoke the ire of the Ryans’ two brown hunting dogs in the backyard.

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Neighbors said the Ryan family was quiet and friendly, with the children often playing in the street.

“He and Janna are very nice people,” said neighbor Paul Benjamin, referring to the congressman and his wife. Benjamin said he was pleased that during the recent campaign to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker, the Ryans did not put any signs on their lawn.

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alana.semuels@latimes.com

Twitter: @alanasemuels

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