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1893 Bluffton High School grads speak their minds

By Fred Steiner

High School graduation weekend is here. The Bluffton High School class of 2022 is the 141st class to graduate from our school system. The first class, of 1881, had six graduates.

A tradition of the early commencement ceremonies at Bluffton High School was that each class member gave a speech. The first graduations took place in the Herr Opera House. Today that location is the second floor of the Black Lab, with its entrance at the Vine Street doors of Greenhorn Restaurant.

A  publication “The Public Schools,” Bluffton Ohio, 1904-05 Rules and Regulations” lists the class member of 1893 in the following manner:

Class of 1893

  • C. D. Althaus, Prin. Com. Dept. O.N.U., Ada
  • I. B. Beeshy, Prin. Com. Dept. Bluffton College,
  • Bluffton Frank Cunningham, Manager Telephone Exchange, Payne
  • Metta Kohli, Teacher, Bluffton Schools
  • Belle Lewis, Mrs. W. C. Augsburger, Bluffton
  • Frank Owens (died Oct. 24, 1900)
  • Robert S. McPeak, Salesman, Lima

The following story is a reprint from a May 1893 Bluffton News. It provides a summary of the Bluffton High School 1893 commencement and the addresses given.

The High School
Opens its doors and sends forth another class 

Superintendent Shappell, his corps of teachers and the friends and relatives of the graduates have just cause to be proud of the class of ’03, the “Columbian Class,” that graduated from the High School last Friday night. 

Considering the individual records of the members made during their progress through the curriculum, and the high grades of merit they have attained, the five young men and two young ladies who have severed their connection with the High School, have left behind a pleasant remembrances and a record that is to be emulated. 

The hall was appropriately decorated and was filled to its fullest seating capacity.

The stage was occupied by Sept. Shappell, Prof. C.C. Miller, and the graduating class.

The exercises were opened by a beautiful instrumental duet by Mrs. Frank A. Eaton and Rosa Eaton. After which the choir, composed of eight of the best singers in the city, sang with pleasing harmony the anthem, “Star of Descending Night.”

Rev. Bair invoked the divine blessing on the exercises of the evening and upon the life that now opens before those going out of school life.

A duet by Misses Grace Russell and Lulu Augsburger was followed by the first orator.

Whose subject was “Moloch.” He compared in a very pleasing and effective manner the ignorant and superstitious devotion of the Ammonites to this brazen God, with the devotion of the people to-day to their gods of fashion, money, ect.

The former in view of the superstitious age in which they lived and the laws governing them were perhaps in a measure excusable, but the latter have no excuse to offer and their blind worship of the gods mentioned is a reproach on our boasted civilization.

Dealt with the topic, “The Lighthouse.”

After aptly describing the great system of light houses along the divers rocky and dangerous coasts and pointing out their invaluable need to the mariner and the consequence of their not being property kept, he represented the  intellect as the great light-house for humanity and urged that it be properly trained and nurtured that it might cast its rays forth and accomplish the great and good intended by the infinite Creator. The comparison was happily made.

Spoke of the well-known maxim “A Little Nonsense Now and Then, is Relished by the Wisest men.” She pointed out the evil effects of the abuse of this and similar maxims and then showed how their proper use may prove happily beneficial to mankind.

Her paper was filled with apt illustrations proving the truth of the subject and delighting the audience. She made a strong pleas for occasional indulgence in nonsense, not to excessive, and urged that one should drive away care and weariness by seeking such recreation.

The effect of the paper itself was an affirmative argument for the subject and was relished by every one present.

The choir at this point rendered the glee, “Return of spring,” after which

Delivered an excellent oration on “The Virtues of a Nation.”

Mr. Owens winced commendably familiarity with the fundamental principles of all the great nations of the earth, past and present, and affirmed that every nation is built on some principle and that their existence and prosperity are secure so long as she adheres to this, but when she abandons it without first substituting another equally as good and as eminently appropriate to that particular people, her days of usefulness and prosperity are over.

This was proven by citing the numerous nations which have risen to preeminent places and then sunk back to nothing.

Strict and persistent and adherence to fundamental principles always wins and holds success.

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