Two hundred and forty-nine boys and girls received diplomas at the eight grade commencement Saturday morning. A group of quiet, alert youngsters, every one well dressed. Girls all had their hair curled. The boys wore white shoes.
It was “ad astra per aspera”1 for many of the children and parents in that audience. In order to be in our seats at 9:15 as the directions stated it meant those in the far corners of the county must leave home at 8 o’clock. Farmers must allow time for a flat tire or adjustment of the distribu-tor.
Eighth graders like to plan, and they should probably be given more voice in household manage-ment. One young graduate proposed that a good many things could be done on Friday. Saturday’s baking was combined with Friday cleaning. Small brothers and sisters were scrubbed and shampooed. She work-ed hard and faithfully. Friday night it seemed that everything was working smoothly. The first thing Saturday morning a younger brother came down stairs in his best bib and tucker, expecting to slop the pigs and feed the calves in that garb. He was quickly dispatched back upstairs, mumbling. The little kids who had no definite outdoor chores sallied forth in the dewy morn. All that bathing to do over. It was too much for the sweet girl graduate. She wept.
Experience, that wonder-ful teacher, has taught her that farmers had best get right out of the wash tub into their best duds.
We overheard a youngster in the audience remark, “Mother, there are lots of babies here.” There were lots of babies there. The next crop of rural school children – the hope of America. It is to rural America that cities must look for leadership.
The speaker of the morning echoed our philosophy when he said that every one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the common school by Horace Mann – the man who dreamed of a literate America. A wave of humility and gratitude comes when one thinks of the vision and courage of the founder of our common schools.
One of these graduates may not one day be president but it is to be hoped that each will cling to the heritage of freedom of speech and worship, to the right to trial by jury and to the right to private property. This the birth-right of every American child.