Historic Pelham

Presenting the rich history of Pelham, NY in Westchester County: current historical research, descriptions of how to research Pelham history online and genealogy discussions of Pelham families.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

1907 Commencement Exercises at Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in Pelham Manor

Yesterday I wrote about the three houses of the Pelham Manor private school known as "Pelham Hall" and "Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls."  See Mon., Feb. 02, 2015:  The Three Houses of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls in the Late 19th Century.

Today's posting to the Historic Pelham Blog addresses Pelham Hall once again.  It transcribes an article containing a detailed description of the commencement ceremonies held at the school on May 31, 1907.  In addition to a listing of the twelve seniors who graduated from the school that year, the article also describes the ceremonies, lists the prizes and honors awarded, and details the remarks of the keynote speaker, the Rev. Charles R. Wood, pastor of the Walnut street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia.

Post Card Image of Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls Showing, From Left
to Right:  Chester House, Edgewood House, and Marbury House in About 1906.


Pelham Manor, May 31.  In the presence of parents, relatives and friends, the members of the graduating class of Mrs. Hazen's school held their commencement exercises in Pelham hall Wednesday morning.  There was a large attendance.  The hall presented a pretty scene with its decorations of wild flowers and green boughs which adorned the walls of the room and the platform.  

The program of the morning was opened shortly after eleven o'clock when the scholars of the school from the senior to the smallest member of the primary department marched into the hall singing their professional hymn.  The last to enter were the seniors who were attired in white cap and gowns.

After the scholars had taken their seats, Mrs. J. C. Hazen, the principal of the school, welcomed the visitors most cordially and referred to the past school year as one of unusual prosperity and happiness.  She spoke among other things, about the health of the scholars and said that there had not been a single case of contagious disease.  'With grateful heart we acknowledge our exemption from death and accident,' she said.  She mentioned several Pelham Manor residents to whom the school was particularly indebted for their interest in the same and remarked, 'We extend thanks to one and all who have manifested any interest in this school.'  She then read a report of the standing of the scholars in the primary and intermediate departments.  In this connection special mention should be made of George and Marie Suter of New Rochelle who had a percentage of 100 for punctuality.

After singing by the scholars, Mrs. Hazen continued her report of department work in the other branches of the school and then proceeded to call the members of the graduating class to the front each scholar being briefly eulogized by the principal.  Then followed the award of the diplomas and the following testimonials and prizzes [sic].  Testimonials to Ada Clara Connor, Claire Chichester Curran and Lulu Belle Jones; Abbie Hagaman Hall Memorial prizes in United States History to Lucy Angeline Soper and Genevieve Story De Klyn; Corlies Literary prize, Dorothy Donald; Houghton Scholastic prize, Marietta Russell; Robert C. Black recreation prize, Anne Evelyn Harris; Edith Hazen Tiers honor prizes, Marguerite Temple both of whom were equal in percentage; Bessie Cowee gymnasium prize, Mabel Violet Wetzel; intermediate first grade prize, Esther King Norton; intermediate second grade prize, Louisa Lear Eyre; Hatch medal, Katherine Seymour; primary first grade prize, Mabel Marie Damon; Hazen medal, Eda Evelyn Cooper.

Then followed the presentation of the United States flag which is always the first prize for the best United States historical essay.  The winner of this prize was Miss Lucy Angeline Soper and she was awarded the flag by Col. W. C. Gorgas who has charge of the sanitary department of the work of the Isthmus of Panama.  Col. Gorgas made a brief remark.

After singing of the Star Spangled Banner, the Rev. Charles R. Wood, D. D., LL. D., pastor of the Walnut street Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, delivered the address to the graduating class.  Dr. Wood spoke upon certain phases of education which make one truly responsive to the light that comes to the educated mind.  In the course of his remarks he took opportunity to score certain kinds of society which he said was referred to as 'the survival of the slickest rather than the survival of the fittest.'

He said in part:  'One of the highest privileges is that of scattering good advice among the young people.  And it is your privilege to receive the advice, weigh it, and do what you choose with it.'  Dr. Wood then spoke upon the personal application of education and said that it is the response to the light that we have.  He stated further:  'The response of a tense violin string when it is struck is visible and audible but not more reliable than every molecule of matter exposed to the external stroke.  The responses of the rays of light are different in various parts of the earth.  The response in the Arctic zone is a modest white flower; in the temperate zone it is broad fields of waving grass, or a stately tree, etc.; in response to the tropics is a growth of palms or an impenetrable jungle or extravagant vegetation.  The moon moves across the sky and the great waves lift themselves up to do its bidding.  The man of science holds out in his hand a triangle of glass and a star, billions of miles away, unfolds to him its secrets and tells him just what it has held in its heart.

'The world is a great music hall.  Every voice has its echo.  Between voice and echo there runs great shining paths and avenues and over them we may walk with the utmost confidence.  Man in the world stands at the very apex of possibility.  He alone has in his power to say what his response shall be to the light.  He may stand sullen and silent and not open eyes.  Then all the channels of usefulness are shut to him and he dies in his sulleness [sic].  If he becomes responsive, then there is nothing to good for him to learn about.  Then nature tells him why the winds blow, etc.; the stars tell him their secretes.  The truth is unfolded to him.  All our sciences have become to us through the men who have made the fitting response to circumstances.

'As with science, so with art.  Look out on the world of color.  You make your response to it.  You paint upon the canvas your impressions and soon living creatures look down on you.

'What is an education?  An education is a knowledge of facts and the relation of facts and the laws that govern these facts.  Education does not begin at the school.  It begins long before the school.  It begins in the cradle when the infant cries.  With the cry the infant has found the fact of its own need.  The desire to have this need gratified is made known through the medium of a cry.  That is about as far as a great many people get in this world.  With them it is a continual cry for clothing, for jewels, for amusements, for sensationals.  Their only language is a cry and that cry is kept up all through life.  They known nothing more than a cry.  They believe that if they only cry loud enough the world will gratify their wants.  These are the spoiled children:  the paragoric indulgents:  the mollicodles that the President refers to.  

'What are all these powers for, that we possess?  They were given to us to use.  Not by crying but by self-reliance-by-deeds.  Self reliance is the beginning of education.  Now you return to your homes.  Can you adapt yourselves there?  You have made the fitting response to your circumstances in this school.  What about those homes that you are to establish?  Are you to be a joy, a delight, an inspiration?  What will be your response under the circumstances?  What will be your response in society; in its alurements [sic], its vulgarity; its corruptions; in that society which someone has called, 'not the survival of the fittest, but of the slickest.'  Blessed are you if you have learned your position in life.  Blessed is that sould that has come to realize and to see that no life as attained its ideal until the response of the soul to righteousness is glad and meek submission.  It will not be long before you will see how very hard it is not only to be a Christian, but to be a woman; to be a man.

'They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; all power is given unto me.  Trusting in the great leader of the universe, you shall conquer and the world will rejoice.'

The prayer was offered by the Rev. Charles E. Robinson, D. D., of Pelham Manor.

The following are the graduates:  Genevieve Story DeKlyn, Dorothy Donald, Aileen Lyster Gorgas, Alice Margaret Knight, Helen Louise McDonnell, Margaret Flaccus Miller, Marguerite Elizabeth Stearns, Marietta Russell, Anna Cady Smith, Lucy Angeline Soper, Helen Margaret Splane, Marguerite Temple."

Source:  GRADUATION AT PELHAM MANOR, The Daily Argus [Mount Vernon, NY], May 31, 1907, p. 7, cols. 1-2.  

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I have written extensively about the private school known as "Pelham Hall" and "Mrs. Hazen's School for Girls."  For a few of the many examples, see:
Tue., Feb. 16, 2010:  Photograph of Only Known 19th Century Women's Baseball Team in Pelham, New York.

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