Manchester High School alums planning reunion of a lifetime


June 26, 1996|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

AROUND Dorothy Graf Harper's kitchen table last week, immersed in the heavy scent of a baking pot roast, a group of friends gathered to share memories of Manchester High School circa 60 years ago.

Six members of Harper's Class of '32 and four from the Class of '34 survive, and two from each class had gathered that day.

Their hands were busy as they talked, fashioning souvenir paperweights for a reunion to be held July 13.

There are about 400 alumni of Manchester High School, which closed in 1956 when it was merged with Hampstead High to become North Carroll High School.

Both Harper and Grace Seigman Buschman graduated in 1932 from Manchester Academy, and they remember the dust clouds from when the old stucco building was knocked down.

In its wake opened Manchester High, "the new high school" from which Mary Rupp Therit graduated in 1934 and Romaine Hilker Harper in 1944.

Jean Howard, a friend who went to high school in Kentucky, was helping out, and during the busy morning a number of other friends dropped in to help for a minute or two.

At that time, graduating from high school was the exception. Classmates would drop out to begin a lifetime of work on farms, in factories or businesses.

"In the eighth grade, there were 45 of us when we started. After four years, there were 12 left," said Therit. She was in the first graduating class of Manchester High.

The class gift that year to the new school was the flags of Maryland and the United States. "I presented them to the class. It was a stump speech," said Therit.

The new high school offered the first "commercial course," bringing typing and shorthand to students.

Before then, it was "strictly academic," they said.

"Completing seventh grade back then was like completing high school now," said Therit. "You could do as much then with a high school degree as you do now with college," noted Romaine Harper.

Back then, freshmen were in the eighth grade, and seniors graduated in the 11th. They remembered that grade 12 was added in 1950.

Elementary school for Mary Therit and Dorothy Harper was a mixed bag. It seems one attended whichever school was easiest to get to.

For about six months, Dorothy Harper walked three miles from Millers to school in Manchester.

"It was a good walk, about an hour," she said.

"In those days, they never closed the schools. We walked through the drifts. We were lucky to get home. I don't think we lost anybody," said Therit.

At one time, she walked a couple miles to school in Roller. For seventh grade, she went to Lineboro school.

"The fall of 1930 was the first year the buses came to Lineboro, or I'd never have gone, for it was 5 miles," remembered Therit.

Ah, yes, agreed the group. They all remembered the welcome sight of Frank Hunter's old green bus.

Talk of high school, and they remember the strict teachers.

Recalling the antics in French class still creates a laugh.

"When [the teacher] would go out of the room, [one student] who was always sitting at the front seat would pull his pants legs up and make funny faces. Then [the teacher] would come in," said Therit. "[The student would] have sat down with a straight face, while all of us were bursting. And he did graduate."

The first Manchester High School reunion was held three years ago and honored all graduates from 1925 through 1956. The reunion next month will honor the Classes of 1944, 1945 and 1946, which number about 250 graduates.

Charlotte Collett, Class of '43, has planned this second reunion to take place on July 13 at Wilhelm Ltd. Caterers in Westminster. Reservations can be made until July 1.

Dean Minnich has been asked to be the master of ceremonies and Glenn Patterson to lead the reunion sing-along. The Rev. Gerald Kauffman will lead the memorial service, and the Rev. Donald Frederick will give the invocation and blessing.

There will be a shuttle bus from Weis Market.

For more information, call 374-9212.

Pat Brodowski's North Carroll neighborhood column appears each Wednesday in the Carroll County edition of The Sun.

Pub Date: 6/26/96

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