Sunday, June 7, 2009

Commencements at Fulton High School

The headline in the Fulton Journal in May 2009 indicated FHS was about to honor its 68th class of graduates. A query at the newspaper office and the school office failed to answer my puzzlement about the number. Library research produced the answer.

1876: 1st graduating class
Fulton Journal: June 16, 1876:

We noticed briefly last week that the First Annual Commencement of the Fulton High School was held at the schoolroom on Wednesday evening, and was attended by a large and appreciative audience. Every available space was filled with seats which were speedily occupied by the throngs coming in, and yet accommodation could not be provided for all, numbers being obliged to stand by the doors, and wherever else they could gain a foothold. This interest was gratifying in the extreme, not only to the teachers and the graduates, but to the friends of the great and beneficent free school system of the State. The day has arrived when this system has become duly understood and appreciated by the people of our land, and nothing short of a revolution which must spring from a source against which every effort for the weal and the welfare of the country will be powerless, can crush it, or even divest it of any of its advantages.
The school room was beautifully and tastefully decorated with pictures, flowers, and festoons of evergreens and forest leaves. The doors between the teachers’ room and the platform were thrown open, thus giving ample space for conducting the exercises, and adding much to the general appearance of the whole room. At 8 ½ o’clock, Prof. Loomis, the Principal, Miss S.E. Linn, the Assistant, Misses Laura Gerrish, Mate Green, Etta Jones and Jennie Knight, the graduates, accompanied by Revs. D.E. Wells and J.S. David and the choir consisting of Prof. Mark Jones, Mrs. A.A. Austin, Miss Lucy Brink, Miss Hattie E. Green, Miss Josie E. Knight and Mr. Chas. Startsman appeared upon the stage…
On June 4, 1941, the 63rd commencement for Fulton high school was held in the Coliseum. It was to be the last commencement for that numbering system because in 1940, Fulton Community High School District No. 306 was organized with 5 new board members: Henry Flikkema, Frank Bell, Howard Abbott, John Sterenberg, and Macy Lockhart. It appears to have been a tumultuous time as people from Garden Plain and portions of Union Grove protested being part of Fulton and preferred to join with Erie. Areas north of Fulton wanted to go to Thomson.
On May 29, 1942, the first annual commencement of the Fulton Community High School was held in the Coliseum with 28 “boys and girls” receiving their diplomas.
The name change went from Fulton High School to Fulton Community High School and the numbering system went from 63 to 1. The current numbering system leaves out 63 years of Fulton’s educational history. It could be adjusted easily by adding dates 1876-2010 and eliminating current numerals.