JCHS Class of 1897

JCHS Class of 1897 in an untraditional pose by photographer J.J. Pennell.

Some history about Junction City High School graduations

The 146th Junction City High School class to graduate will be on May 30 in the Al Simpler Stadium. The three hundred twenty students who graduate will be given five wristbands for guests to wear when entering the stadium and students will wear masks. These guidelines have been put in place for safety reasons related to COVID-19.

Wearing academic robes is a tradition that dates to at least the 12th century around the time when the first universities were being founded in Europe. The purpose was to create an appearance of unity.

However, in Geary County caps and gowns (academic robes) were not worn until the graduation of the Class of 1904. This was the first class to graduate from the new City High School building, which is now the Geary County Historical Society Museum. Prior to that time, the lady graduates wore gowns, and the gentlemen graduates wore a suit. (See the picture of the Class of 1897). In 1905 graduates resumed the traditional suits and white gowns of previous years and the academic cap and gown did not reappear until they were worn by the Class of 1927.

Fresh flowers were an important part of graduations in the past. Photos and newspaper accounts of early graduation proceedings describe the floral decorations that adorned the Opera House, the location for commencements until after WWI.

In 1895, the graduating class was represented by a valedictorian, Miss Ida Strack, who in later years became Mrs. Ida Grammar, the Superintendent of County Schools, and a Salutatorian.

By 1929, the number of JCHS graduates had grown to 60 and the program had to be condensed. The only address was given by the President of Kansas State Teachers College. There was an Invocation, a Benediction, and a violin solo.

The Geary County Historical Society congratulates all members of the Class of 2021 and wishes them the best in their future.

Memorial Day: A time to remember

Decorating the graves of fallen soldiers began the spring before the end of the Civil War. The observance of Memorial or Decoration Day did not take place in Junction City until 1883. In 1868, General John A. Logan, then Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic veterans, issued an order fixing May 30 of that year for decorating with flowers the graves of the dead soldiers. However, it took 15 years before an organized observance of this day reached Geary County.

The Union newspaper of June 2, 1883 included an article about the Memorial Day ceremonies. “Sunday afternoon the Opera House was packed to listen to Dr. Reynolds, who delivered a patriotic sermon. The services began at the (Centennial) Hall, which was crowded at half past one and 500 people sat in their wagons under the sun for two solid hours during the speeches. The Ninth Cavalry Band made splendid music on the march and after their return from the cemetery gave an open-air concert from the Bartell balcony.

A few days before the local Memorial Day observance in 1892 was marked by the death of John Anderson in Cairo, Egypt. Anderson was the former Junction City resident who as pastor of the Presbyterian Church had established Highland Cemetery. He left Junction City to serve as President of Kansas State Agricultural College in Manhattan, Kansas and was later elected to Congress. At the time of his death, Anderson was serving as the United States Ambassador to Egypt.

In 1919, Memorial Day had taken on increased significance as the names of those Geary County soldiers and sailors had had fallen in WWI were honored. Although the parade of G.A.R. veterans had become smaller, the Boy Scouts and the American Legion filled the gaps. The program was still familiar with the recitation of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, decorating the cenotaph (a monument or memorial honoring a group or person whose remains are elsewhere), patriotic speeches and the firing of the salute as “Taps” sounded.

On Memorial Day in 1945, an amplification system had been arranged so all attending could hear the program. Another addition to the service that year was a period of silent meditation by the audience in recognition of those who had made the supreme sacrifice for their country.”

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