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Jim: Commencement in Columbia, 1913 II, Columbia Graded

It was, 100 years ago, a far cry for the graduation ceremonies of this year. In 1913, the two high school graduating classes, one from Lindsey Wilson, the other at Columbia Graded, had a combined total of nine graduates, Jim writes in this second installment of a two part series. He says that, from the review in the newspaper, Judge H.C. Baker gave the oration of the ages. (One wonders from the glowing review of the valedictory address by Heather Jackson, 100 years later, at Adair County High School, whether the 18-year-old may have been the better speaker - with school leaders calling hers the "Best Graduation Address they ever heard. That's a question for the historians and scholars of the ages). It is evident, from the attention paid to the commencements, that Adair County was setting the standard then for the high goals of education in Adair County, today. Click on the headline for a complete look at this Jim masterpiece. - CM
See also: 100 years ago - Commencement in Columbia, 1913: Part I Activities at Lindsey Wilson Training School.

By JIM

Commencement in Columbia, 1913 (continued) Although the Lindseyites held sway with several commencement-related events from May 9th through the 19th, 1913, the Columbia Graded School managed to slide in a couple of their own goings-on during that time frame, then added several more over a three day period.


Before proceeding farther with news now five-score years old, perhaps an introductory note about the Columbia Graded School is in order. A free graded school was finally established in Columbia in 1909, and a second-class (three year) high school was certified the following year as a part of the graded school. It is not known in what year each of the graduates hereafter named started at the CGS, but the class of 1913 is first one that could have begun and finished as a cadre.

The prescribed high school curriculum, shown below, would give most of us today a case the vapors, even gray-pates such as your humble scribe who oft are overheard muttering, "Well, when *I* was a kid...":

First year:
English, Latin, Algebra, and general history.
Second year:
Latin, English, Algebra, Geometry, Physical Geography and Botany.
Third year:
Latin, English Grammar, Geometry, and Physics.

And now, back to the regularly scheduled program....

Commencement in Columbia, 1913 (Part II): The Columbia Graded School

Wednesday, May 14th: "The play's the thing"

The CGS activities fired up on Wednesday evening, May 14hth, with a play, "At the End of the Rainbow," given by the high school students in the Court House. "Rainbow" was a twenty-character comedy that ran ninety minutes curtain to curtain. The following week, the News pronounced the production a roaring success, noting that the Court House auditorium was "filled to capacity" and that "as a whole, it was one of the most enjoyable entertainments ever pulled off in Columbia." The audience, of course, gave "perfect attention" and gave wave after wave of applause, "which greatly stimulated the players." The News slathered a great deal of glory upon the actors themselves as well as the teachers who oversaw the preparations and presentation.

Sunday evening, May 18th: Baccalaureate sermon

Rev. J.N. Crawford delivered the baccalaureate message the Columbia Presbyterian Church. It apparently was a spell-binder, as the paper reported that "His thoughts were practical to every school boy and girl present and he had their attention at all times."

Tuesday, May 20th; Class Day and reception

The Class Day program, presented outside on the Graded School campus, and included a musical program by the graduating class; one of the numbers thus presented was "'Die Loreli,' a quartette sung in German." (This may refer to "Lorelei," a Heinrich Heine poem set to music both by Friedrich Silcher in 1837 and by Clara Schumann in 1843.) Other activities that day included Miss Avis Tupman delivering the Class Prophecy; Miss Lenora Lowe presenting the Class History; Miss Mary Williams reading the Class Will; and Miss Nell Tarter dispensing the Class Knocks. That evening, a reception was given in honor of the graduates. Wednesday morning, May 21st: "The play's the thing" (again) The play Bibi" was given by the younger students of the Graded School. The News referred to it as "a unique little play...a story of Gluepot's Toy Shop and in spite of its nature held the attention of the grownups throughout." Although initial announced as being open to the public, the May 28th edition stated "it was only given to the patrons of the school, standing room was at a premium and many were not permitted to see the play."

Wednesday afternoon, May 21st: Track Meet and Field Day

Despite the threat of impending inclement weather, a sizable crowd gathered at the Columbia Fairgrounds to witness the Field Day activities. Not surprisingly, the boys' events far overshadowed the girls', with Rex Holladay garnering by the slimmest of margins the most overall points and thus earning the gold medal presented by Miss Pearl Hindman, the school superintendent. (Mr. Holladay eked out first place honors over another youngster who a few years later gave up a promising career as the advance man for the Chautauqua to the world of college athletics. One must wonder whatever became of that Diddle lad.)

In the girls' events, the team of Mary Shreave, Nell Hancock, Frances Reed, Ruby Barbee, Margarett Lovett, and Mary Summers won the relay race; Josephine Barbee won the throwing contest; Bonnie Judd took the potato race; and Mary Riggins rolled over the competition in the Wheelbarrow race.)

Thursday evening, May 22nd: Commencement

Thursday night found a large crowd braving the elements -- a downpour, to be exact -- to attend graduation exercises at the Presbyterian Church. The four graduates and the papers they presented were:

Miss Avis Tupman, Feudalism
Miss Mary Williams, The Art of Music
Miss Nell Tarter, The Hellene of the Past
Miss Leonora Lowe, To the Stars through Difficulties

In a moment of awkward praise, the News said of the presenters,

"Contrary to usual feminine abilities on the platform each young lady read her thesis as to be distinctly heard by every one and hardly a member of the audience could tell it was raining in no small quantities."

At points between the various graduation papers, Mrs. Sam Burdette (formerly Miss Ruth Paull) sang "In the Garden of My Heart," and Miss Loretta Dunbar gave a splendid reading of "The Hazing of the Valiant."



Immediately following presentation of the fourth paper, Judge H.C. Baker addressed all those gathered for the proceedings and to the graduates in particular. This apparently was an oration for the ages, as -

"He held the undivided attention of the audience during the entire time. A splendid picture of ideal womanhood was held before the young lady graduates and discussed from a practical standpoint."

Upon completion of Judge Baker's enlightening elucidations, Mr. Chesterfield Turner, the principal of the Graded School, gave "a short, inspiring and interesting talk" before presenting to each of the four graduates her diploma.

And so it was that fourteen days after commencement season began a century ago, it ended with a total of nine young people -- five from the LW Training School and four from the Graded School -- graduated from a high school curriculum.

- JIM


This story was posted on 2013-05-26 08:52:40
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