History of the Opera: The Class of 1920


The first high school opening ceremony recorded at the Opera House was held in 1883, when the elders of St. Mary’s Church graduated from the stage.

According to “The History of the Catholic Faith in Cheboygan,” St. Mary’s School was established in 1881 with 150 students. In 1885 there were 250 students and by 1889 there were 400. The census puts the population of the town of Cheboygan at 2,269 in 1880 and 6,235 in 1890. In 1910 the population reached 6,859, its population. absolute record.

On July 1, 1883, the Cheboygan Democrat reported on the ceremony at St. Mary’s School: “Town Hall last Tuesday night hosted a popular but not very large audience; however, we noticed several there whose taste and sophistication justify a constant interest in youth culture. The animation by the students was musical and dramatic … The whole animation was appreciated. The pleasure of the evening was felt and appreciated. Everywhere there was taste, simplicity, and culture characteristic of the teaching of the Sisters. Miss Martin’s essay was well done, neither too fast nor too slow; everything she said passed through the house and was heard by all. Miss Crumley’s farewell was without note, long and in good taste. The young Miss’s speech suited the conclusion of one of those enjoyable entertainments which we hope will not be confined to St. Mary’s School.

In fact, the graduation ceremony for the new Cheboygan Graded School, the public school, was held the following year at the Opera House. Four girls and two boys took the stage in 1884. The Democrat of Cheboygan called it “The Beginning of the End.” The first annual opening exercises of Cheboygan primary schools, held at the Opera House on the evening of the 20th, must be declared successful. The decorations were beautiful, the musical numbers were well rendered and the audience was large and enthusiastic. The graduates, Miss Kate McDonald, Edith Ramsey, Alice Perry and Messrs. John Van Ardale and George Bunker, were honored with the utmost attention when reading their essays and received many beautiful floral tributes from admiring friends. Miss Kate McDonald, who has distinguished herself throughout the year in her schoolwork, taking first place in her class and triumphantly leading the exams, read a neat essay on “Charity”… a fine cane with a knob. gold from the students of the graduating class, and a real work of art in silver and bronze in the shape of an inkwell, from the students of the middle school, the first and the second primary. Then each graduate received from Professor Sutherland a silver medal with the diploma. The evening was a success. There have been one or two novelties but a step outside the beaten track of tradition in the initiation exercises has the merit of being new and the novelty is always refreshing.

From the Opera House, members of the Class of ’84 traveled to the residence of the Hon. Oscar Adams, where they were royally entertained by third graders including Miss Zaida Adams.

HM Crooks, president of Alma College, gave the opening address to the 1920 graduates.

The following year, 1885, the graduating class consisted of only four girls, Zaida M. Adams, Anna M. Bell, Dora M. Ramsay, and Kate D. Bell. The ceremony at the Opera has been elaborated. Reverend Clark of the Baptist Church invoked a divine blessing, a trio sang on the piano, Reverend Northrup of the ME Church gave a speech on State Pride, several musicians performed and essays were read .

Schools have continued to use the Opera for graduation ceremonies over the years. In 1920, Cheboygan High School graduated a class of 28. Cheboygan Democrat said: “Last night’s drills were widely attended and the spacious Opera House was very charmingly decorated for the event. The class is one of the largest to come out of school in a year since its inception and is among the brightest and most promising young students the school has ever trained. Alma College guest speaker HM Crooks, “a very interesting and energetic speaker”, delivered the keynote address on “Production and Ownership”.

The singing of “America” ​​brought to a close “what has been one of the most successful school years, and there is the promise of a continuation of the same, as school affairs have been going so well. fluid and satisfactory “.

In 1920, The Cheboygan Democrat was proud to display a photo of the entire promotion, possibly for the first time.

“Thanks to the courtesy of Kodak management, this week we are able to print a halftone photo of the young students graduating from Cheboygan High School this year.”

High school graduation ceremonies continued for many years at the Opera House, whenever a public, private or religious school needed a stage. When Cheboygan High School lost its stage in the 1950s, seniors returned to the Opera stage for a ceremony called “Swing Out”.

Kathy King Johnson is the former Executive Director of Cheboygan Opera House.


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