A Brief Retrospective Glance of past Commencements
More Brilliant and Enjoyable than any of its predecessors
The school year of 1875-76 was an interesting one in the history of the public school of Griggsville. Dr. A. C. Cotton was principal that year and it was he who first introduced the commencements that have proved so interesting to the people and so salutary to the school; inciting, as they do, the pupils to greater efforts in their studies, that they may appear well on this last hoped for but dreaded occasion. As Rev. Olds said last Friday evening that "every. commencement was the best commencement, we conclude that the closing exercises of each school year have been better an more interesting than its predecessor. And we think it can be said, in. all seriousness, that the commencement of last Friday night was the best ever held. The class was the handsomest that has ever yet gone forth from the High School; the members of it have been possessed of more life and energy than the members of preceding classes, and as a consequence the essays were the best that have ever been read; and all of them, without exception, were read in clear, distinct tones.
The first commencement was held in the Baptist church Friday afternoon, April 28, '76. The graduates' reception was given at the High School room in the evening. The class of '76 consisted of the following persons. (The figures after the name of each person denotes their standing in the class and their scholarship; the highest mark the best.) Mary Doocy, 90 ; Louie Stone, 88 ; Lizzie Winn, 86 ; George Hensell, 89; Edw. Kenney, 90; Clarence Kenney, 86.
The second commencement with Prof. R. M. Hitch as principal, was held in the Congregational church Friday morning, May 4th, 1877, and the reception was given in the High School room in the evening. The following composed the class: Ada Butler, 82; Emma Dimmitt, 89; Harvey Farrand, 90; Frank Hooper, 89; Charlie Kneeland 84; Wm. Ludlow, 86; Fred Parker 80; N. A. Woodson, 81.
The third commencement and reception were held in the Congregational church, Tuesday evening, May 7th, 1878. The class of this year numbered nine, as follows: Kate Bonnel, 79; Belle Bonnell 81; Lizzie Doocy, 89; Maggie Killoran, 81; Lillie Wade, 90; Lizzie Weeks, 84; Jennie Wilson, 83 ; Charles Horner, 88; Willie Stone, 86.
The fourth commencement and reception were held in the Congregational church Tuesday evening, May 7th 1879. Miss Annie Elledge of this class was the first and last salutatorian who spoke in Latin. The class was as follows: Clara L. Butler, 87i Annie Elledge, 87 ; Lou Hensell, 85; Minnie Lynde, 85 ; Mary Mirfield, 81 ; Mary Riley, 81.
The fifth commencement and reception were held in the Congregational church, Friday evening, May 7th, 1880. The class, the smallest of any was as follows: Maggie Bonnel, 83; Grace Coffey, 84; Mary Emry, 91 ; Ella Mitchell, 84.
The class '81 was composed of the following persons: Aretta Wells 91; Emma Baxter, 88; Henry Shaw, 85; Amy Copson, 84; Carrie Mirfield, 84; Carrie Hensell, 83; Lee Pastor, 82; ZulaTurnbull, 82; Anna Wade, 82.
The total number then, that have graduated from the Griggsville High School is 42--30 girls and 12 boys. The girls, it will be seen, are greatly in the lead, and the highest marks of scholarship also belong to them.
So much for the past. The sixth and best commencement was held last Friday evening in the Congregational church, and as usual, every foot of space was occupied. Promptly at half-past seven Miss Jennie Wilson opened the exercises with two or three pieces of instrumental music, the selections being excellent and well rendered.
At a quarter to eight school directors Wade, McMahan and Pratt; Professors Hitch and Hartwell, Revs. Shaw and Wilcox, and the graduating class took their places on the platform. The appearance of the class called forth a great deal of admiration from the audience, and the verdict was that the beauty of its members surpassed all others that had. gone before. The toilettes of Misses Emma Baxter, Zula Turnbull, Carrie Hensell and Anna Wade were almost exactly alike. The dresses were made of white Persian lawn trimmed with white satin and with white satin bodice. Misses Carrie Mirfield and Aretta Wells appeared in white swiss, the dress of the former trimmed with lace. Miss Lee Pastor's costume consisted of white dotted swiss over blue. Miss Amy Copson was attired in a costume of white India mull with pink satin waist, all trimmed with lace. White kid gloves and white satin and kid slippers were worn by all the ladies. Henry Shaw appeared in the customary black.
During the exercises the lack of flowers was very apparent. A large number of handsome bouquets had been ordered from Jacksonville and Bloomington, but Friday morning's train was 5 hours late and the branch train would not wait at Bluffs. As a consequence the flowers did riot arrive until Saturday morning, entirely too late to be used as was intended. The persons who ordered flowers from the above cities were naturally badly. "put out" at their appearance. Quite, a number of handsome floral tributes were visible however, and the general sending to the front of cards, notes, attested the audience's appreciation of the different essays.
The exercises began with prayer, by Rev. S. M. Wilcox, for God's blessing to rest upon the school and especially this class and occasion.
"The Foresters," the friend of almost if not quite all the commencements, was rendered by the choir in an unexceptionable manner. The singers were: Mrs. Baxter, Mrs. Simmons and Miss Mary Baxter, soprano; Mrs. McMahan, Miss Ada Butler and Miss Laura Cobb, alto; Henry Brakefield and Jas. Winn, tenor ; Clarence Kenney and Fred Parker, bass ; Miss Jennie Wilson, pianist.
(At this point in the newspaper account, student essays were presented as well as descriptions of other parts of the commencement program.)
The singing of "America," by the whole company, ended the evening's. programme, and the people departed for home with a satisfied feeling, and with the conviction that the sixth reception was the most successful of any yet.
It would hardly be right to close without acknowledging the ability of the principal and teachers, and the active acid liberal cooperation of the Board in advancing the interests and standing of the school, Griggsville is justly proud of her her public school, and today it is in better condition than it ever was. About $250 worth of apparatus has been added to the laboratory during the past of term, and this, with other improvements, places Griggsville second to no city in the State, in point of educational advantages. Every succeeding commencement increases the pride of the people in their school buildings, their directors, their teachers, and their principal. We hope to see the same corps of teachers at the school desks at the opening of the next term.(Transcribed from an 1881 Griggsville newspaper and submitted by Delaine Donaldson.)