Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
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@ElizaBTweetin: July 2, 1873: Public Examination & Graduation

Posted on July 1, 2014

Wheaton Seminary Public Examination & Commencement Program, 1-2 July 1873

Wheaton Seminary Public Examination & Commencement Program, 1-2 July 1873

Another warm day as Wheaton Seminary students participated in the day-long Public Examination. The next day, the entire Wheaton community marched to the commencement ceremony.  Many seminaries and colleges required their students to read original essays and poems before an audience of their fellow students, teachers, trustees, alumnae, parents and friends as part of the annual end-of-year activities.  Presumably these had been reviewed by their teachers and practiced in advance, yet many students were probably quaking in their shoes at the prospect of speaking before an audience that included the founder of Wheaton Seminary! Imagine Mrs. Wheaton's pride and satisfaction when she read the description of Mary Chapin's valedictory presentation. And Mary's relief to have sufficiently recovered from her illness to deliver her address.

An unidentified clipping described the entire Anniversary celebration:

Norton

Commencement at Wheaton Seminary.

Wheaton Seminary Commencement, 1873

Wheaton Seminary Commencement, 1873

The anniversary and public examination at Wheaton Seminary took place Tuesday and Wednesday. On Tuesday the public examination was held in Seminary Hall in the morning and afternoon, the attendance being largely composed of former graduates. Rev. M. Burnham/Bartham acted as Chairman of the Examining Committee. The different classes were examined in algebra, Latin, Butler’s Analogy, English literature, geology and general literature, interspersed with musical compositions and reading of extracts from the “Rushlight,” the literary paper of the seminary, which was originated some years since by Miss Lucy Larcom when a teacher in the seminary. The examinations were creditably passed by the pupils, and evinced much thorough individual research, betraying none of the “priming” frequently displayed on such occasions. The thorough drill which is peculiar to the seminary in English literature, music, composition and elocution, was especially apparent during the examination.

Commencement Procession to Trinitarian Congregational Church, 1910s

Commencement Procession to Trinitarian Congregational Church, 1910s

On Wednesday the attendance at the Congregational Church, where the graduating exercises were held, was very large. The motto of the seminary [sic. class motto], “Stratum super Stratum,” ["layer upon layer"] was wrought of green vines and leaves and placed over the platform which had been erected in the church for the occasion. At ten o’clock the pupils, numbering about two hundred, proceeded from the seminary to the church, preceded by the Mansfield Band, and took their seats on the platform. Among the visitors present at the graduating exercises were the patron of the school, Mrs. E.B. Wheaton, (who has this year contributed $12,000 to the building fund and a number of acres of land), Rev. Mr. Emerson of Lancaster, Rev. Dr. Chickering of Boston, Rev. Dr. Blodgett of Pawtucket, Rev. Dr. Burdett of Clinton, Messrs. T. Newbury of Taunton and Seth Crowell of Cape Cod, the new President of the Seminary, Rev. Dr. Blake of Taunton, Rev. Mr. Emerson of Lancaster and Messrs. Samuel Johnson and Charles G. Chase of Boston of the Board of Trustees.

The exercises were inaugurated by an invocation by Rev. Dr. Chickering of Boston. Compositions were read by the graduates, and were interspersed by singing under the supervision of W.W. Davis of Boston. The compositions displayed an intimate acquaintance with ancient and modern literature, and were written in a style manifesting much independence of thought and experience.

Among the compositions prominent for their excellence and originality were “The Class Idyl,” by Emma S. Nash, which was a salutatory in verse; “Vanity Fair,” a comparison between Bunyan and Thackeray, by Ella L. Stearns, and “An Utmost that is Veiled,” by Mary E. Bachelder, which was very pleasing, especially by reason of the excellence of its reading. The Valedictory was delivered by Mary A. Chapin, and was finely written, evincing remarkable power and intellectual ability.

At the conclusion of the compositions Rev. Dr. Eddy of Chelsea made a brief address, which was very appropriate to the occasion. The diplomas were presented in a fitting speech by the President M. Blake, D.D., to the following graduates: Fannie F. Allen of Hanover, Isolice N. Barns of Bristol, R.I., Mary E. Bachelder of Concord, N.H., Ellen I. Burdett of Clinton, Mary A. Chapin of Uxbridge, Evelyn Crowell of East Dennis, Caroline A. Hodges of Mansfield, Clara W. Keith of Norton, Winifred Marvle of East Jaffrey, N.H., Emma S. Nash of Quincy, Ill., Sarah B. Norton of Goshen, Conn., Alice H. Round of Norton, Ella L. Stearns of Windham, Conn., and Melissa J. Weir of Halifax, N.S.

The benediction, concluding the exercises, was pronounced by Rev. Alfred Emerson of Lancaster.

Commencement collation, 1908

Commencement collation, 1908

At the conclusion of the graduating exercises the scholars, graduates and visitors repaired to the Seminary and partook of a very elegant and bountiful collation. At three o’clock a meeting of the alumnae of the Seminary was held, at which old associations were renewed, letters from members absent or abroad, and reports of the secretaries of the different classes read. During the afternoon the visitors and pupils strolled through the beautiful grounds, enjoying the shade and cool breezes which the situation offered, made more attractive by the music of the band.

In the evening the French play “La Vielle Cousine” was played by pupils of the Seminary, and was a pleasing termination of the day’s exercises.

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