Friday, May 16, 2014

An earlier class...

  This weekend is graduation weekend, and we heartily congratulate all our grads! This isn't the first graduation here of course, there has been one every year since well back in the 1800s. Just for fun, here is a little information on an earlier class, the Class of 1923. Pictured here are some of that class, out on the lawn of the old Normal school.

   You'll notice that they aren't wearing cap and gown, that custom was observed on occasion, but wasn't a regular tradition until some years later.This is a crop of a panoramic image, but even here you can see more women than men. The make up of the school has changed over the years of course, and in the 1920s there were fewer men than in earlier years. The school was a "normal" school, meaning a teacher training institution, and school teaching was becoming more of a female occupation then.

   None of these students lived on campus as there were no dorms at that point. The school consisted of one large building complex, sited where Hartwell Hall is today. (The old Normal school complex was torn down in the 1930s and Hartwell erected in its place.) Students in the 1920s either lived at home in the village, or boarded in houses there, or commuted - in those days some commuted by trolley car!

   At their graduation the Girls Orchestra played the Grand March by Emil Ascher, and the Senior Chorus sang Swift Over the Waters by H. W. Porter. Rev. William Sybrandt of the Sweden Center Presbyterian church gave a prayer (Rev. Synbrandt was a Brockport grad, class of 1870; the Sweden Center Presbyterian church closed in the 1930s.) Then the Senior Chorus sang June by F. F. Harker, following which the commencement address was given by Dr. A. R. Brubacher.

   Dr. Brubacher was president at the time of the State Teachers College in Albany, today's University at Albany. In that period schools like Brockport, Geneseo and so on were Normal schools, with a three year program, which gave a license to teach in the state elementary and junior high schools when completed. The current universities were teachers colleges, which granted a bachelors degree and entitled one to teach in the high schools.

   Then the Girls Orchestra sang  Largo by Handel, following which Robert Whipple presented the class gift, a stained glass window. (This window no longer survives unfortunately, although eight others from that era are still here, in the library.) All this and more took place on June 26, 1923, at 10 in the morning.

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