Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Graduating Class

Seventeen young scholars were in the graduating class in the ceremony held at the Fort Meade, Florida, high school on May 2, 1919. Granted, it was a small class by today’s standards, given the size of American public schools and the populations served by most school districts.

Fifty eight years later, as many as could of that original group found their way back to Fort Meade for a reunion. I know my grandmother was there—the items I’ve been sharing over the last few days were keepsakes I found among Rubie McClellan Davis’ personal papers years after her passing. This reunion was one of the highlights of her later years.

By the time of this reunion, Rubie was seventy eight years of age—admittedly, two years older than some of her classmates, as we’ve already noticed—but still quite energetic and involved in her community far to the north of her Florida hometown. This event sounded like it had the makings of the perfect road trip, and Rubie and her husband Jack Davis took the opportunity to make the drive from their home in Columbus, Ohio.

At the point of the reunion, according to the report run by the local newspaper, there were still eleven members remaining of the original seventeen graduates. However, The Fort Meade Leader noted, only six members of the class were actually able to attend the event. These six were joined, at the reunion dinner, by special guests with links to those early school days memories. Incredibly, among those honored attendees were a faculty member from the high school at that time, a member of the preceding class, and a student usher from the 1919 ceremony who graduated the following year.

The October 7, 1977, front page article—complete with photograph—was careful to list not only those in attendance, but the names of each class member from the original graduation program.

With all those details in The Fort Meade Leader, it’s no wonder that my grandmother brought back a copy of that entire edition of the newspaper!

Class Motto:
Now we try a boundless sea.

Class Colors:                                      Class Flower:
Emerald and Gold                                 White Carnation

Class Roll:
         Marie Alderman                                   Pauline Hancock
         Nolie Bryan                                          Joseph Hudson
         Lucile Brice                                          Rubie McClellan
         Zemla Doke                                         Elizabeth Morgan
         Claire Davis                                          Bernard Meek
         John Doke                                            Patrick Nugent
         Bill Enzor                                              James Singleton
         Lottie Hollingsworth                              William Williams
Marian Yearwood

G. H. Williams, Principal of F.M.H.S.
Gertrude Scott, Senior Teacher


  1. Today's 78-year-olds seem younger than in your grandmother's day, so it is rather remarkable that the class held a reunion at all. Then for one of the teachers to attend is a surprise too. However, as I think about my grandaunts' college experiences, I realize the teacher could actually have been your grandmother's age. Of course, the standards might have varied by state, but in Virginia a student with an eighth grade education could enroll at the teachers' college to earn a one or two-year certificate.

    1. I think you are right about that, Wendy. I don't think the course of study was as lengthy as it is now--especially in those states which subsequently added additional credentialing requirements past the four year bachelor's degree!

      Then, too, early graduation can shrink that age difference even more. In my own case, I finished my college undergrad work early, then found myself teaching right out of college. The high school kids I was working with were not really all that much younger than I was at the time.

  2. Some people are real keen on these reunions, like my husband. Me not so much. Your Grandmother must have had some good memories with her classmates:)

    1. You're right about that, Far Side. Some people thrive on those reunions. Then, I've had friends tell me "it wasn't worth it" about traveling cross country to attend my own reunion.

      As far as my grandmother goes, this must have been something that meant a great deal to her. She didn't save that many personal papers, so for these to have survived all those "trash the clutter" vendettas really shows me something.

    2. I've never attended a reunion. I might do my college one on a major anniversary - but it's a long way to go. My high school class was so large (900-ish) students - and me being a class ahead age-wise - means I really hung out with kids in the year after mine - and I hardly know anyone that was in my class.


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