Saturday, May 14, 2016

Commencement Activities

5 13 2016

In the next few weeks there will be Pre-school graduations, Middle School, High School and College Graduations occurring everywhere we look.  All are important milestones for the students, their families and the communities in which they take place.  Baccalaureate celebrations, Valedictorians, and Commencements Speakers are the norm for today but it was not always so in the past.  The senior classes were the presenters, the speakers and were tasked with reciting what they had learned to include instrumental or vocal performances.  What follows are a few examples of past commencement ceremonies pulled from the Geary County Historical Society archival folder entitled “Schools: Junction City Graduates, Graduation and Ceremonies.”
On Friday May 23rd, 1876 the First Presbyterian church was the sight of First Annual Commencement of Junction City High School.  Four young ladies and three young gentlemen comprised the graduating class. The Band played “Corn Flower Waltz,” as they marched in and took their seats. In addition to a reading by Miss Frankie Davis “The Heroes of Common Life” and Jacob Callen’s presentation of the paper “Theoretical vs. the Practical,” and a performance of the “Good Humor Polka.”
The J.C. Tribune of May 1890 recounts how recent graduates were the invited guest of Mr. and Mrs. D.N. Hicks who accompanied by Professor Batchelder enjoyed a lovely luncheon at their residence.  A group picture was taken by the artist Louis Teitzel followed by individual pictures at his studio. This was followed by a trip to Seven Springs Farm where the 20 Junction City graduates partook of supper at the invitation of Mr. and Mrs. Murphy which was followed by moonlight rides home.  This lovely social event capped off the graduation ceremonies which had begun at 10am that morning.
The Commencement Exercises of May 17, 1899 were held at the Opera House on a Wednesday evening.  Included in the program was the Overture, “The Twilight Hour”-Boetger performed by the orchestra.  A chorus performing “Hail! Smiling Morn” by Spafforth as well as individual recitations of “The Discovery of the Age”-Fredrick Killian, “Monuments” Nettie Swensen and the “Progress of Humanity-Sumner” Ada Coryell.  This was just a small sampling of the variety of performances and recitations included in the evening’s program as well as the number of orchestral performances before Presentation of Diplomas and the Benedictine.
By 1924 the Commencement activities had begun to stretch out over an entire week.  According to the May 15th 1924 Junction City Union the festivities began on Sunday with the Baccalaureate sermon held at the Junior High school auditorium by Dr. D. M, Clagett, who was the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church.  An alumni banquet was held on Tuesday evening at the M.E. Church dining room which is where the senior class were welcomed into the association.  Thursday evening’s festivities included the senior class play entitled “It Pays to Advertise,” which was performed at the Junior High School auditorium.  The commencement exercises were held that Friday and included performances by the Junction City High School Girl’s Glee Club, the Chorus, as well Violin solos by Miss Ruth Glick.
Move forward to the Class of 2002 which heralded Junction City High School’s 127th commencement ceremony.  The size of the graduating class consisted of 244 students, 17 of which had completed their high school requirements at the Geary County Learning center.  This ceremony had no commencement speaker so it was the senior students who took center stage to address their classmates.  Valedictorian Philip Max Guthrie spoke of the past and recalled all those who helped them graduate.  As a military family member he stated “I’ve met some of the best people in the world here,” as well as “I feel proud to be an American, and I feel proud to be a Kansan.” 
It did not matter what year these young men and women graduated or who performed and presented.  While the pomp and circumstance of the event was not lost on these young men and women it is clear that they were not only good students but that Junction City High School had instilled a sense of pride as well as gratitude in the community that had nurtured their intellect.  So it is in that same spirit that The Geary County Historical Society says, “Congratulations Class of 2016 on a job well done.”

Junction City High School Class of 1892