Eight years in a one room country school was enough for me. I was excited (and terrified) to begin the next journey toward growing up. If you had asked me I would have said we got my graduation dress in Creston and that it was tan with a straight skirt. Instead my diary from Friday, May 10, 1957 says: "Went to Villisca. Got a tan dress and shoes for graduation". The picture was taken on Graduation Day a week later, May 17.
On my left wrist was the most coveted and prized graduation gift from my parents - my first watch. (Much to my everlasting dismay, I was to lose my watch later that summer.)
Another graduation gift I looked forward to was a train case from my teacher, Vera Kimball. It was what she had been giving previous 8th grade graduating girls (I don't remember what she gave the boys) and I was hoping she hadn't decided to give something different. I really wanted a train case. She did not disappoint. Using it made me feel so grown up.
There were 48 rural eighth grade students promoted that year. Along with our diplomas, Miss Friman, the County Superintendent of Schools, also presented reading, attendance and penmanship awards. I'm sure I received the ones for reading and attendance - not so certain about the penmanship.
Eugene Swartz, chairman of the Adams county soil conservation district commissioners, presented conservation awards to twenty-five students. Did I get one of those? I doubt it. I really don't remember - but I certainly do remember working on that soil conservation booklet!
Graduation was held in the high school auditorium. I remember lining up in the first floor hallway and marching into the auditorium. The students and their locations were:
Lincoln Township: Janice Calkins, Donna Evans, Marvin Jacobs, Carolyn Knee, Ronald Ritnour and Janice Sickels.
Washington Township: Len Bauer, Kay Cullen, Joyce Helvie, Richard Johnston, Kathleen Lovely, Dennis Quinn, Dolores Scott and Janice Williams.
Carl Township: Maurice Palmer, Elaine Rex, Larry Spring, Beverly Truman and Sandra Wilkinson.
Colony Township: Dallas Blazek, Larry Palma and Donald Shinkle.
Douglas Township: Gary Anderson, Robert Best, Wayne Orstad and Glenda Sturdevant.
Quincy Township: Gary Kuhn, Carolyn Moore, Stephanie Richey and Donna Westlake.
Prescott Township: William Scanlan.
Nodaway Township: Dorothy Bradway, Carolyn Hamman and Dennis King.
Jasper Township: John Adams, Evelyn Everett, Janet Goldsmith, Michel Leonard, Ramona Lynam and Daniel Sullivan.
Mercer Township: Doloris Bovaird, William Goldsmith, Patricia Hogan, Lawrence Peterson, Ronald Rogers and Ellen Sullivan.
Grant Township: Janet Brotherton and Larry Casey.
Union Township was the only one without a represented graduate.
The traditional picture of all of us lined up on the steps on the east side of the high school appeared on the front page of the Free Press the following Thursday, May 23, 1957. (The quality of the picture was not good enough to copy here.)
One more tidbit my diary reminds me of was that we had to memorize and recite the Creed of Iowa at graduation. I believe it went something like this:
"I believe in Iowa, land of golden grains, whose harvests fill the granaries of the nation, making it opulent with the power of the earth's fruitfulness.
I believe in Iowa, land of limitless prairies, with rolling hills and fertile valleys, with winding and widening streams, with bounteous crops and fruit laden trees, yielding to man their wealth and health.
I believe in our commonwealth, yet young and in the process of making, palpitant with energy and faring forth with high hope and swift step; and I covenant with the God of my fathers to give myself in service, mind and money, hand and heart, to explore her physical, intellectual and moral resources, to sing her praises truthfully, to keep her politics pure, her ideals high and to make better her schools and churches, her lands and homes, and to make her in fact what she is by divine right, the queen of all the commonwealths."
How many of those 48 students really memorized that? Or were just mumbling along? "Winding and widening"? I bet that got twisted. "Keep her politics pure"? Yeah, right. But I was more idealistic then. Yet unjaded by my years. Who wrote that creed and whose idea was it to have us recite it at graduation?
Truth is, it has been fifty-six years ago and I do still believe in Iowa. I've really never wanted to live any where else.