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Columbia High’s 1927 graduation events revealed in old program

Matilda Cox recently uncovered a copy of the Commencement Program for the Class of 1927 at Columbia High School. She believes the program, and an announcement card with all the seniors’ names, belonged to her late husband Billy’s aunt, Emily Cox, a senior that year.

The five-night series of events began on Monday evening with a musical recital by the grammar grades, drill and minuette by first and second grades, reading and duet by third and fourth graders, “Topsy Turvy and Welcome Bright Sunshine” by the fourth and fifth grades, recitation by the sixth grade, and song and declamation by seventh grade. Eleven students in various grades played piano solos: Davis Coffield, Hazel Liverman, Lucia Hurdle, Eloise Carawan, Hazel Coffield, Delmar Rogers, Francis Bateman, Ella Knight, Jesse Godwin, Margaret Liverman and Stelma VanHorn. And two young women, Ella Knight and Lillie Mae Holloway, sang a duet.

On Tuesday evening four seniors participated in a declamation contest.

Wednesday night was the baccalaureate sermon preached by Guy M. Madara, rector of Christ’s Church in New Bern.

Thursday evening was the Senior Class three-act play, “Sunshine”. Admission was 25 and 50 cents.

Friday morning at 10 were Class Day Exercises: salutatory address by Davis Coffield, prayer, class history, class poem, last will and testament, class yell, senior close-ups, giftorian’s presentation, “Why So Sad I Pray” skit, class prophecy, and class song.

And at 8 p.m. Friday, April 29, the Commencement Night program opened with all singing “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean.”  Rev. Crumpler offered the invocation, Principal William E. Drake introduced the speaker, Dr. J. Henry Highsmith, state high school department director, who gave his address. County superintendent W. D. Cox make some remarks, students sang “Columbia High,” Daisy Mann gave the valedictory address, Dr. Highsmith awarded diplomas, certificates and prizes, the Junior Class sang, and the principal closed out the program.

The invitation to the commencement exercises contained the time and place of the event on the first page and the name of seniors on the second. The two pages were secured by a ribbon to a cover that featured panels, inscribed with “Class of 1927”, that opened to reveal the two pages inside.

Class motto was luncti cum Spiritu, colors were lavender and gold, and flower was sweet pea.

Graduating seniors were Camille Bateman, India Bateman, Robert Barnes, Emily Cox, Seldon Combs, Davis Coffield, Russell Davenport, Reda Godwin, Vivian Godwin, Adrian Hodges, Daisy Mann, Thelma Owens, Gertrude Overton, Estelle Reynolds, Carley Spencer, Helen Spruill, Jack Sawyer, Mae Sawyer, Murrell Sawyer, and James “Peter” Sawyer.

The program and announcement card are being donated to the Tyrrell County Genealogical and Historical Society for safekeeping.