New Hampton History: The Call of Commencement, “Boutez en avant”

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The following article is presented by Gordon-Nash Library Director Jerrica Blackey P’19. In this issue of the history series, she discusses the call to commencement, 

Our History in Commencements

Believe it or not, plans for commencement are well underway. This will be our celebratory bicentennial year for graduation since the school’s inception in September of 1821. We have begun to talk with seniors about their futures, imploring them to “stay in touch” once they depart campus in May.

New Hampton School’s archives are filled with stories, records, and photographs of the past from those alumni who kept their word and stayed in touch. We know from the exemplary work performed by Frank W. Preston, who spent 50 years on campus in several capacities including as headmaster, and who put together one of the first Alumni Catalogs giving us a peek into the past. Within its pages, we know that the graduates of 1898 included 5 male students and 9 females as pictured with Preston himself in the center (below). The two female teachers (back left) are Jessie Waterman and Jennie Hulce. I

was excited to see Atwood Bond Meservey standing beside Preston. This photo is Meservey’s final graduation at the Institution as head, as he retired and passed the torch to Preston. Other teachers pictured are Henry Brown, Henry Bacon, and Shirley Case. Students and teachers, too, stand to the side of Chapel Hall, now called Meservey Hall. To graduate on the lawn is a long-standing tradition, although students graduated home among their families last year in a virtual ceremony.


Boutez en avant

Here again is the Class of 1898, this time without their teachers. Emblazoned on the back drape are the words, “Boutez en avant” (“Push Forward”), adorned with stars. Although all of the graduates went on to live productive lives as they pushed forward, one student would live a significant life here in New Hampton.

Ina Bickford (second from the left) was the daughter of Rev. Lewis P. and Emma (Fox) Bickford, who were NHS alumni. Ina entered the school in the fall of 1893, was a member of the ladies’ literary society, the Germanae; completed the English and classical course and after graduation taught stenography and typewriting as well as assisted her father in the Gordon-Nash Library. From 1917 to 1949 she was the head librarian, retiring at age 70. She made her home in Pillars across the street from the library until the school absorbed it after her death in 1956.


Commencement 1898 New Hampton School  Boutez en avant

As the current Director of the Gordon-Nash Library at New Hampton School, I am grateful to Ina for her decades of service in a small town she obviously adored. I know also that, like the Class of 1898, our graduates will Push Forward into their futures at colleges and universities of their choice, athletics, or into vocations they know they are made for. Cheers to all the work put forward to achieve these goals.

Commencement Diploma

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