Remember when: We’ll always remember graduation day
Published 3:04 am Saturday, May 19, 2018
The Beach Boys sang it best in 1965. “There’s a time for joy, a time for tears, a time we’ll treasure through the years. We’ll remember always Graduation Day. When the ivy walls are far behind, no matter where our paths may wind. We’ll remember always Graduation Day.”
As someone once said, “It’s the best and worst of times!” Ceremony, class ring, yearbook, diploma, cap & gown, valedictorian, salutatorian, baccalaureate, halls of ivy – All of these terms are synonymous with the event that comes around every May about this time.
Graduation is getting a diploma or academic degree or the ceremony that is sometimes associated with it. Degree ceremonies are an ancient tradition that originated in the 11th century in the medieval universities of Paris and Bologna. At these universities, students called apprentices learned skill from masters of certain crafts and trades.
The late Mr. Joseph Wingard, teacher of English at the Andalusia High School and founder of the Heritage Room, will always be remembered for instilling a deep and lasting tradition in the AHS graduation ceremonies. He always reminded me and many others, faculty, students, and alumni, and that one “was graduated” and not that one “graduated.”
“Mr. Wingard,” I would say, “I graduated from Andy High in the Class of 1965.” “Oh, no,” he would reply, “You were graduated in 1965.” It was a losing battle!
Decorating the bulletin board in the hallway outside the AHS Heritage Room has been my pleasure since about 2010. It is always an eye-opener when I research the Memolusia yearbooks, copying pictures from the year of the classes being honored each homecoming, and posting some of those on display for visiting classmates and current students to peruse as they walk by.
I am always in awe as faces and names of high school alumni come to mind. So many leave those hallowed halls set off for the great adventure – some for a higher education, some for the workforce, some just to go somewhere else to see what their calling in life might be. This is true in all of our county schools as graduates leave our fair city and surrounding communities to make their way into the world.
There are some fine students who are always graduated from AHS and other county schools from our hometown. I hate to see them go. I love to see some eventually return. What a town this would be if many more of those talented and industrious students could find jobs and careers here at home! It is only natural for these young graduates to want to leave. I remember marking the days on my calendar as to when my friend and I would leave for college to be roommates. Wanting to leave and explore the world is just part of growing up.
There used to be a tv show called “Whatever Happened to the Class of ’65.” Don’t know if anyone remembers that or not, but there were many adventures of our classmates from that era including serving in Vietnam to joining the peace corps.
Memories from every era linger as is penned in that immortal song, “The Halls of Ivy.” “One day a hush will fall, the footsteps of us all will echo down the hall and disappear. But as we sadly start our journeys far apart, a part of every heart will linger here.”
The Class of ’65 will remember when red and white were the school colors; cheerleaders had red corduroy skirts lined in white satin; large onions pierced with a large key were hung around the necks of those Key Clubbers being initiated; a limited number of automobiles were parked in the school parking lot since most students did not own or drive automobiles and were brought to school by parents; memorable songs sung in Glee Club included “No Man is an Island”; skirts and dresses were worn by the girls, sometimes the fashionable culottes; jeans with rope belts were often worn by the boys since belts were required by the dress code; encyclopedias and magazines from the school library were used for reference for writing those dreaded research papers; spirited pep rallies were staged on Court Square and bonfire pep rallies on the school campus before homecoming; the old gym was used for the annual “Twerp Week” dance; “Hoorah for Andy” at all those football games; tapings for the honor society were celebrated with candlelight; keys clinking down the hallway meant Principal James A. Wilson (JAW) was coming; students looked forward to those Andy Hi-Lites, the school newspaper; Anchor Club afternoon meetings in the downtown Scherf Memorial Building; track meets were held in the stadium; morning homerooms included a devotion along with the daily reciting of “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in thy sight, Oh, Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14); and “We love you Coach Ross, oh, yes we do.” (Words straight from the Senior Drama Class play, “Bye, Bye Birdie.”)
Valedictorian and Salutatorian that year were Frank J. Tipler and Phillip Wallace, both of whom ended up in New Orleans as a college professor of theoretical physics and a high school principal, respectively. There were 130 students in that class and are now referred to as “baby boomers.” All or most were born in 1947 right after the end of World War II.
Class president was Jim Hutto while president of the Student Council was Jim Krudop. Both of those exceptional students went on to a career as college deans.
Mr. Wingard was the Memolusia yearbook sponsor when the 1999 Centennial edition was published. “The Booming Sixties” section featured a headline describing the history of that era, “Baby boomers blaze through the 60s at Andy High School.” He wrote, “In 1964-65 the students had their hair ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ when the field day and homecoming activities were instituted.” Yes, those were the days of the folk songs of Peter, Paul, and Mary along with the Beatles who traveled to America to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show for the first time. Every teenager I know was glued that Sunday evening to their black and white televisions!
We didn’t know it then, but in later years, I learned that the tunes to our school fight song, “Corn, Corn,” and the AHS Alma Mater were the most famous educational institution tunes in America – the Notre Dame fight song written around 1906 and “Far Above Cayuga’s Waters,” the Cornell University Alma Mater written around 1906 as well.
Taped in the front flap of my senior scrapbook, is an article which I clipped out of the Andy Hi-Lite back then. It was written by Charlotte Grimes who went on to have an esteemed career in writing. It is titled “Remember When? Who Forgets?” The conclusion reads, “Remember the door that opened as another closed behind you. But, most of all, Senior Class, remember this year, for it was yours!”
Congratulations to all of the Seniors from all of our county and city schools. I hope you will always remember your Graduation Day! Work on your Senior scrapbook this summer and maybe 50 years from now, you will write about your golden memories of graduation. And don’t ever forget Shakespeare from Richard II, “O, call back yesterday, bid time return.”
Sue Bass Wilson, AHS Class of ’65, is a local real estate broker and long-time member of The Covington Historical Society. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.