Hopewell High School Yearbook – 1917

Happy Graduation season! Of course it’s been a bit off this year, but thanks to the diligence of the Sudlows in collecting historical materials we have an interesting comparison – the 1917 “Blue and Gold” yearbook from Hopewell High School.

The book is a delight, with fun sections including the Class Yell, Class Motto, Class Flower (Daisy), Senior Class Song, and even a collection of jokes.

And there are numerous looks into the personalities of the students, with the more formal Class Roll and Class History, plus numerous playful sections including a Class Will, Class Prophecy, Remembers[ances], Class Primer, Superlatives (strongest, sweetest, optimistic/pessimistic, “talks the most and says the least”), and Class Roast (nickname, appearance, noted for, favorite expression, hobby).

The yearbook also is illustrated, with a (very somber) class photo plus individual head-shots of the students and teachers (but unfortunately no casual shots).

The People

The High School had five teachers: Mr. Guy L. Corson (Science ), Miss Grace H. Wolfe (English, History), Miss Miriam Diefendorf (Languages), Adele B. Urbany  (English, Math), and Miss E. Grace Rigg (Commercial).

The Hopewell class of 1917 had 14 students, twelve girls and two boys: Florence Allen, Ada Beney, Louie Braunworth, Anabel Cadwallader, Mary Cruser, John Oldis, Lillian Riley, Beatrice Shepherd, Wilbur Skillman, Susie Titus, Ethel Updike, Nellie Whitekettle, Permelia Williamson, and Gladys Young.

The Curricula

The yearbook also lists the class schedule and curricula. The school day ran from 9:15 to 2:55, and was broken into seven 40-minute periods, some with one block for study:
9.15-9.55, 9.55-10.35, 10.35-11.15, 11.15-11.55, [lunch], 12.55-1.35, 1.35-2.15, and 2.15-2.55.

The curricula is familiar, with a focus on English, Latin and German, History, Math (to Geometry), and Science (to Physics). And it included Drawing, both Freehand and Mechanical. But the school also had a major “Commercial” component, including classes on Typewriting, Bookkeeping, Commercial Arithmetic, and Commerce & Industry.

  • Curricula (levels):
    • Science – General, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geography
    • History (4) – Ancient, Modern European, U.S.
    • English (4)
    • Latin (4), German (3)
    • Math – Algebra (3), Geometry, Commercial Arithmetic
    • Commercial – Typewriting, Stenography (2), Bookkeeping (2), Penmanship, Commerce & Industry, Man. Training
    • Drawing – Freehand, Mechanical

The Times

The class of 1917 lived through a difficult time, as World War I had been raging overseas. The United States then declared war on Germany in April 1917, the draft was enacted in May for all males aged 18 to 30 (later 45), and the first U. S. forces were arriving in Europe as the class was graduating in June.

In addition the Spanish Flu was just around the corner, spreading in the U.S. by March 1918 and killing an estimated 195,000 Americans during that October alone. The virus eventually caused at least 50 million deaths worldwide, including approximately 675,000 in the United States [CDC].

The introduction to the yearbook addresses this uncertainty of the time:

“It is with great regret that we will bid farewell to our Alma Mater to take our place in other fields. We do not know what life may have in store for us, but however high or humble a position we may hold, we will ever look back with pleasure upon the four years spent so happily within its walls.
“The conditions now confronting us are so unsettled that some of us may have to give up our personal plans and ambitions, but let us each try to do our bit for the land we love.”

School History

The High School then was located at the corner of South Greenwood and Columbia Avenues (before the building was expanded for the Fire Department).

The four-year high school course had just recently been established, and the first class graduated in 1912.

Note the High School building had three stories in 1917. It somehow was later reduced to the two stories that we are familiar with as Hopewell Borough Hall and the Fire Department. Does anyone have the story behind this?

For more on the history of public schools in Hopewell Borough, see the historical summary in the dedication pamphlet for the current Hopewell Elementary School:

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