Reflections:Cardington Graduation 119 years ago


By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist

May is traditionally the month of graduation. I have been a part of and attended many commencement programs, most of them at Cardington High School. I assume many schools follow the same program schedule.

On the other hand, I don’t know how other schools conducted their graduation programs in past years but I have a 1900 Cardington yearbook, and 119 years ago the graduation program looks nothing like those of today.

Cardington High School’s first graduation class was in 1877, but there were no grad classes in 1879, 1885, or 1893 so this 1900 class was the 21st to graduate. There were 14 members of that class. The school had a football and a baseball team, no basketball. There was a laboratory of Natural Science, Library, a museum and a nature study among the education offerings.

The graduation program was conducted on the third floor of the Union School Building, which had a small stage. Access to the school was on dirt or at times mud covered Nichols Street as there were no paved streets.

As I have noted in the past, the current building on Nichols Street encompasses about 75 percent of the Union School. The third floor was removed during construction of the current building in 1924.

The actual program must have run for several hours. Music was performed by the “Apollo Quartet” which played six times, between each portion of the program. This graduation program — they did not use the term Commencement — included a Symposium in three parts: The Boy of the Period; The Girl of the Period and the Value of a High School Training, each part given by a class member.

There was an oration; a class poem, and a Narrative; then there was a debate on a long topic given by four class members. A paraphrase on “Hawthorne’s Story of Feather Top” was presented by another class member followed by a pantomime of two hymns. Another oration followed with the Valedictory message given by class member Elizabeth May Kaylor. Finally, the presentation of diplomas was made by W. E. Hull , president of the board of education. I cannot imagine the length of this program.

Class members were John Burr, Blanch Campbell, Mable Darling, Bessie Kaylor (Valedictorian), Delphia Kaylor, Wilbert C. Lintz, Clifford Liggett Carl Mozier, Edna Salisbury, Anna Scheurman, Eva Shaw, Walter Shaw, Elsie Smith and Frank Steger.

I wonder if any readers are descendants of these graduates. I’m glad the programs have been shortened and that one no longer has to climb to the third floor to attend the commencement program. This year Cardington-Lincoln High School will graduate its 123rd class.

I know that although there will be five to six times more students, the 2019 commencement program will be less than half the time than that of the Class of 1900.

Looking back

May 1949: The purchase of 17.00 acres of land on State Route 95 at the west edge of Mount Gilead for the site of the Morrow County Hospital was approved by the Morrow County commissioners. The land was contracted by the Morrow County Memorial Hospital Board and was formerly owned by Miss Ruth Newson.

Pictured was Henry Newcomer, Class of 1949, who along with his classmates placed a wreath on the grave of Lt Col Ralph Lowther, in Arlington National Cemetery. The class was on its annual trip to Washington, D.C.. Present at the wreath laying were the Lt. Col’s brother, Major Dale Lowther and his family. Lt Col Lowther, the highest ranking Morrow County Officer killed in World War II, lost his life during the Battle of the Bulge on January 17 1945.

May, 1959: Jane Orewiler, a junior, was crowned the 29th Cardington High School May Queen.

May, 1979: Frank Patterson of Cardington turned 99 years old on May 7. Russell Conant, mail carrier on Cardington Rural Route 3, retired after 28 years of service.

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

Reach us at [email protected]

Reach us at [email protected]