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Early Millinocket HS Graduations

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

               

            It’s high school graduation time! The Millinocket school system graduated its first student in June of 1903. Yes, student…only one…Miss Addie Swazey. Millinocket was incorporated as a town in 1901. People were here earlier and the mill was under construction, but it took time to have a school. They tried for a time to hold school in the Union Chapel, but that wasn’t successful due to the increasing large number of school age children arriving with their families.

            Millinocket High School and Common School became ready for occupancy in January of 1902. Located on the corner of Central Street and Katahdin Avenue (where Katahdin Avenue School would later be), Millinocket HS opened with only a few rooms ready for occupancy.

            Addie Swazey was the first to graduate (1903), but only attended school here for a very limited time. She had had schooling elsewhere before her family came to Millinocket. Most attendees of the new school in the first 2-3 years were in the Common School portion (elementary students).

In 1904, a class of nine students graduated from Millinocket High School. They were: Alvernon Adams, Agnes Bradley, Bessie Cox, Sue Downing, Frank & Samuel Fox, Edith O’Connell, Pearl Banks and Marion Walls. A photo displayed at the museum shows all but Bessie and Edith. Also displayed is Sue Downing’s (later Hall) large diploma donated by her grandson and historical society member Ellis Hall. He visited the museum this past summer (2023) and as always mentioned the diploma on the wall!

In 1905 and 1908, there were no graduates, but in 1906 Hazel Butters and Blanche Parsons graduated. The 1907 class had no graduates, and the classes of 1908 and 1909 had just one each. In 1910, there were nine including Murray Morgan who was killed in WWI while serving in the Canadian military before the US entered the war.

The Millinocket High School faculty was Prof. George W. Snow, principal, and Mrs. F.C. Bowler, assistant (mother of author Dorothy Bowler Laverty). There were three terms (fall, winter, spring).

In those early days, the classes were very small, but the lower grades were growing rapidly. The average number of students in the lower grades was as many as 50-60 per classroom while in grades 7-8-9, the numbers were in the low twenties. (statistics from town reports). As the population grew, more classroom spaces were finished in the school.

  A statement by the Superintendent in the 1906 town report states, “Those who attended the graduating exercises (2 students) certainly had no cause to be ashamed of the Millinocket high school. We regret very much to say that there is yet a tendency on the part of the parents of this town to take their children out of school as soon as they have passed the age limit when attendance is required by law. As a result, our high school is not as large as is usually found in older towns of the same population.”



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