Commencement Day, that never-to-be-forgotten third of June, dawned hot.
(from Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace)
(The article below is reprinted from the pages of the Mankato Free Press, June 4, 1910)
HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS BID ADIEU TO THEIR ALMA MATER LAST NIGHT
Forty-One Graduates Were Presented With Diplomas at the Theatre
The Commencement Exercises Held in Presence of Large Audience
Young Men and Women Acquit Themselves in Creditable Manner
Forty-one high school students bid farewell to their Alma Mater last evening and stepped out into the world to either make good or not, according to the use that they make of their opportunities. It was the ending of school days for most of them, and the commencement of other but perhaps no pleasanter duties of life. The exercises that marked this change in their lives were of as high an order as ever before presented by the school, and the citizens of Mankato could not but have had a feeling of pride in their excellent school system as they listened to the exercises and looked upon the imposing array of nice appearing and intelligent young people who filled the large stage, rising row upon row toward the rear.
The thirty-fifth annual commencement of the high school was in every way a success. The theatre was filled from pit to dome. The members of the school board and high school faculty occupied boxes. The class colors of purple and gray were brought out in the decorations, mingled with green, and the stage and boxes looked very pretty. The figures “1910” were brought out in gray. On the stage, besides the graduating class, was the large chorus.
The program opened with an overture by Lamm’s orchestra, “Morning, Noon and Night in Vienna,” by Suppe, and was very nicely done. Rev. P. K. Edwards pronounced an invocation, and a large chorus of 100 voices, directed by Miss Fanny Pitcher, the supervisor of music and drawing, rendered “Hark, Hark, the Lark,” by Schubert, “The Owl,” by Hotchkiss, and “In the Dawn,” by Capua. The work of the chorus showed that it had received most careful and painstaking instruction, and the result was very good. A great deal of effort is due Miss Pitcher for the effectiveness of the different musical numbers on the program.
All Did Finely.
The essays and orations were of an unusually high order, and interesting in the subjects and the way that they were handled, as well as effective in the manner of delivery, denoting not only native talent of a high order on the part of the speakers, but careful training on the art of appearing in public and delivery. Each young lady and gentleman on the program did herself and himself proud.
Miss Vera Schmeltzer was the first speaker, her subject being “American Women of Action.” She said that the fact that woman is no longer a clinging vine was shown by the fact that 6,000,000 of them were earning their own livelihood. They were fast surpassing men in teaching. She instanced the success of some of the most prominent women workers of the world, and closed by saying that the opinion of women on vital things was to count enormously more in the future than in the past.
Philip Comstock spoke on “The Farmer of the Twentieth Century.” The gauge of a nation’s prosperity now, he said, was its crop report. Rapid changes have been made in methods of farming, and the American farmer of the future would be a broad minded citizen and a good business man. Business ability will be one of the imperative requirements of the future. Small farms and rural communities will make farm life much more enjoyable.
Miss Ethel Korsell’s subject was “The Value of Play.” She said that the multiplicity of vehicles no longer left any room on the street for children to play, and she told of the advantages to be derived from play grounds. The repression of play in children was a dangerous thing, as it meant disease, and perhaps the white plague. Play grounds could do a great deal toward reforming the character of children.
The chorus sang “Old Ironsides,” by Klein.
Miss Maud Hart read a delightful dissertation on “The Heroines of Shakespeare.” She said that some of his characters were good and some bad, but the most were divided between good and bad, like real people nowadays. Women had no interpreter as sympathetic as Shakespeare. She reviewed the characters of Juliet, Rosalind, Ophelia, Lady Macbeth and Imogene, “the crowning flower of womanhood.”
“The Measure of a Man” was the subject treated by Herman Hayward. He showed how standards had varied with the changes of the times, from brute strength in the feudal age down to our own age, which he said was one of money madness. Commercial success was our ideal, but wealth does not bring true happiness, but brings out the coarser side of man’s nature. The roll of honor of those who achieve real success will contain many names unfamiliar to us.
Earned An Encore
Miss Frances Kenney rendered the solo, “The Evening Wind,” (Samson and Delilah) by Saint-Saens, assisted by the mixed glee club of thirty-two voices. It was so well done that it was encored and Miss Kenney sang “Sylvia,” assisted by the boys’ glee club of sixteen. She possesses a very sweet soprano voice.
Miss Harriet Ahlers described “Oberammergau and the Passion Play,” very effectively. She told of the city and how the villagers first happened to give the play, in compliance with the promise made in a prayer to dispel a plague. The audience listened breathlessly to her description.
Miss Alice Alworth told of “Factory Life for Women.” She said that the American people should know that what hurts the girls hurts the nation. She told of factory life, and of its unwholesomeness, with lunch time too short, poor light that was hard on eyes, etc. The system of factory inspection was causing but a slow improvement in conditions. When the work ceases to be a drudgery the first step will have been solved in the problem of improving factory conditions.
Miss Katherine Mae Jones sang the solo part of “Swords Out for Charlie,” from Bullard, the boys’ glee club rendering the chorus. This was encored, and they sang “Blue Danube.” It was a choice number. Miss Jones has a soprano voice of much range and clearness.
Willard Washburn was the last speaker, and his subject was “party Solidarity.” He said that there were many advantages of having political parties and some disadvantages, one being that most members must make some sacrifice of principle. Party reform should lie not in making a line of cleavage, like the present insurgent movement on the part of some republicans, which causes a split and gives the opposition a coveted chance, but by the quieter and slower policy of education inside of the party.
Dr. J. S. Holbrook, president of the board of education, presented the diplomas, after addressing the class as follows:
Presentation of Diplomas
“This day is the one you have long looked forward to. Perhaps some of you tonight have not attained all that you could have during your high school course, and think if you could only live over the past few years–if you could only start afresh with your present knowledge and experience–you would be better prepared for the commencement of your life work. There is an old saying that ‘If we were not so busy looking back at yesterday and forward to tomorrow, we would make better things of today.’ Chances are all about you, and all you have to do is to reach out and take them. Every day is a fresh beginning, every sunrise is but a new birth for you and the rest of us–the beginning of a new existence and a great chance to put to new and higher uses the knowledge you have gained.
“If you are sincere in your desires that this day may be the commencement of great things for you, you will not waste the golden hours of opportunity in regret, but will put to use the lessons learned.
“I care not what you have learned from your studies, if you have developed an honest character and a determination to win by fair methods, and stick to that determination through thick and thin. If you will ‘let conscience lead and approbation follow,’ you cannot fail.
“The board of education congratulated you, the class of 1910, on your success in fulfilling the requirements for graduation, and extend their hearty wishes for continued success in your life work, whatever it may be, and I have the honor to present to you for this board your well earned diplomas. I hope you will hang them where you will see them daily, so that they will be constant reminders of your determination to make each day a new beginning of a newer, brighter, and truer life for yourselves and those about you.”
The chorus sang “Hark, Hear the Cannon’s Thunder Pealing” (Tannhauser) by Wagner. The rendition was splendid.
The program closed with a benediction by Rev. T. Ross Paden.
(NOTE: For more see Essay Contests and Commencement Orations)