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Part II Golden Graduates of Winchester High School: The Alumni Association receives a Hawthorne Publishing award as a Leading Light in Indiana History Through Writing

The prior blog detailed the history of the small town of Winchester’s high school alumni association book, Golden Graduates of Winchester High School. We described the town’s history, outstanding religious and educational tradition, and the unified, nurturing culture which produced a group of American leaders from the nineteenth century on to this day.

Now more about some of those grads and the rest of the Winchester story, the first half. More will be told in the forthcoming second volume of Golden Grads, now in process.

  • Eric T. Huddleston, known as the “Dean of New England Architecture” for his decades-long work as Department Chairman of Architecture at the University of New Hampshire. He also had his own architectural firm, serving as the architect, and often construction manager, for more than 100 outstanding university, governmental, and corporate buildings in New England during the first half of the 20th A graduate of Cornell University. 1906 WHS graduate.
  • Chester Burleigh Watt, one of the most accomplished astronomers of the 20th Century, working for more than 50 years at the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C. where he performed lunar and deep-space discoveries that made a significant contribution to NASA’s early days of space exploration. 1908 WHS graduate.
  • Pierre F. Goodrich, son of James P. Goodrich, who became an attorney and president, chairman of the board, or director of more than a dozen Midwest companies, and whose financial bequests, at death, led to the establishment of the largest private education foundation in the country and the largest gifts in the history of the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. A graduate of Wabash College and Harvard Law School. 1912 WHS graduate.
  • John Thornburg, who was a founding partner of the largest law firm in Indiana (Barnes & Thornburg, LLP) and one of the largest law firms in the United States. 1928 WHS graduate.
  • John Diggs Beals, who became Vice President of American Express and President of Wells Fargo Bank in the 1960s. A graduate of Colgate University and Harvard Graduate Business School. 1932 WHS graduate.
  • John Jaqua, a senior partner with the distinguished international law firm Sullivan & Cromwell, who became managing partner of its London office. Jaqua became the lead advisor to the Thatcher Administration giving rise in the mid-1980s to London becoming the financial capital of the world. A graduate of Cornell University and Yale Law School. Editor in Chief, Yale Law Journal, 1942. President, Yale Law School’s Alumni Association, 1973-1975. A Major, U.S. Marine Corp. 1936 WHS graduate.
  • Florence Life Hesser, former Director of George Washington University’s Reading Center, literacy advisor to two “First Ladies” (wives of U.S. Presidents), and who helped found successful schools of education in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. 1942 WHS graduate.
  • Davey Marlin-Jones, one of the most prolific directors in the history of professional American theatre, producing or directing 900 theatrical productions during his life including personally working with such noteworthy playwrights as Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams. 1950 WHS graduate.

These are just a handful of the remarkable graduates of Winchester High School profiled in volume one or who will be featured in the upcoming volume two. Also, the volumes have or will share the stories of several outstanding students of Winchester High School who graduated after 1950.

How did this happen? What kind of education did these graduates receive during their formative years that would have enabled them to leave this small, somewhat provincial community and make their marks in the larger world of government, academia, business, law, medicine, the arts and sciences?

These stories convey what it was like to grow up in a community that shared a certain value and belief system that enabled them to succeed well beyond Winchester. A quote from the noted Swiss psychologist, Carl Jung, offers insight:

The little world of childhood with its familiar surroundings is a model of the greater world. The more intensively the family has stamped its character upon the child, the more it will tend to feel and see its earlier miniature world again in the bigger world of adult life. Naturally this is not a conscious, intellectual process.

Carl Jung, The Theory of Psychoanalysis

In many of the brief biographies contained in Golden Graduates of Winchester High School, it is evident that several factors were at play. They include the role of religion in these individuals’ lives. In 1900, the Winchester Quaker Quarterly Meeting House (comprised of 27 small Society of Friends churches in and around Winchester) made up the largest number of Quakers in the world (4,000 adults and an equal or larger number of children). Other protestant denominations, such as Methodist, Presbyterian, and Disciples of Christ, played a critical role in teaching values, respect for authority, and understanding biblical principles.

Another factor was the opportunity for students to assume leadership positions in the school and community by serving, for example, in student government, on sports teams, on the school newspaper, and other school related activities. Because classes were small, less than 40 during most years, students could be in many clubs and extracurricular activities, such as science and debate clubs, sports teams, and school orchestras, at the same time. There, they learned leadership and cooperation skills. These lessons would later become invaluable as they entered the adult world of government, business, academia, law, and medicine.

There were also the roles that intact and extended families played in setting norms and providing guidance to young people. The majority of students of Winchester High School grew up in a two parent household, often with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins nearby to provide nurturing, instruction, and often emotional and financial support. Even today, the community’s encouragement and support of its youth in education is evident. For example, at the most recent awards ceremony at Winchester Community High School, a total of $1.5 million in college scholarships was given out to a graduating class of only 85 students.

In terms of intellectual endeavors, the community valued learning. It began when Quaker families taught children in their homes and churches prior to construction of 131 one-room school-houses, an amazing number, being built in Randolph County between around 1840 to 1900. In 1842, the Randolph County Seminary was built and operated in Winchester. At the time “seminary” simply meant “secondary” as in “secondary school”; it had no religious connotation. Students from six area counties and three states studied at this high school.

In 1846, the Union Literacy Institute, one of the first, if not the first, racially integrated schools in the Midwest was built a few miles southeast of Winchester. There children of freed African-American slaves, American-Indian, and white families were educated together. This included students Amanda Way, later known as the “Mother” of the Indiana suffrage movement and the first woman from Indiana to run for the U.S. Congress and Hiram Rhodes Revels, who later was the first African-American to serve in the U.S. Senate.

This one-room school house located in rural northern Randolph County is one of just a handful of one-room school houses that remain standing in the county. In the late 1800s, there were as many as 131 such one-room school houses that dotted the Randolph County countryside providing basic, first through eighth grade, education. (Photograph, Courtesy, Greg Sommer, 2018)

Later, in 1894, Winchester was only the second town or city in Indiana to adopt kindergarten as part of its public-school education offered to all children of the town. (Logansport, Indiana, was the first). In 1947, Winchester was the first small town in the country to sponsor a “Great Books Chapter” as part the Great Books program and foundation that originated at the University of Chicago. On at least a monthly basis adults came together in the local high school gymnasium to discuss classic texts of literature, history, law, economics, religion, and moral and political philosophy. Quaker Theologian E. Elton Trueblood of Earlham College and Wabash College history professor Jack Charles would travel to Winchester to serve as discussion leaders. Parade and Pathfinder magazines along with The Indianapolis Star published feature stories about the Winchester Great Books chapter. Such intellectual interest in learning carried over to the children and grandchildren of these adult learners.

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   “It has been said that if one knows the character of the school of today he can foretell exactly what the citizens in twelve years will be.”

 

   “Any democracy can be no higher than its people, and its people no higher than their standards, and their standards are measured by their education.”

 

                                                Lee Driver, Superintendent

                                                Randolph County, Indiana, Schools, 1920           

 

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Leotis (Lee) Lincoln Driver, 1867 to 1960, served as Principal of Winchester High School from 1900 to 1907 and Superintendent of Randolph County Schools from 1907 to 1920. He became one of the most nationally recognized educators of the first half of the 20th Century. From Winchester, he left in 1920 to become head of rural school education for the State of Pennsylvania where he led the consolidation of more than 5,000 schools from 1920 to 1937. (Rendering is from Past & Present: The History of Randolph County 1914)

Consolidation of rural schools also enhanced opportunities for learning. The movement was led by Lee L. Driver, a former math and physics teacher who served as Winchester High School’s Principal from 1900 to 1907 and Superintendent of Randolph County Schools from 1907 to 1920. Under Driver’s direction, Randolph County became known as the finest rural school system in the country. Driver spearheaded the consolidation of more than 120 one-room schoolhouses in Randolph County. Eighteen new schools (14 high schools and four elementaries) were constructed from 1900 to 1920 in Winchester or surrounding towns and villages. In these new schools, students had opportunities to have access to science laboratories, industrial arts and agricultural workshops, gymnasiums, playgrounds, and stages, sometimes even theatres, for school theatrical, orchestra, and debate performances.[1]

As a result of the success of the Randolph County schools, hundreds of school administrators, university professors, representatives from teacher associations, and government officials came to Winchester from 1911 to the early 1920s. They traveled to witness this remarkable transformation of rural school education. Not only did they come from dozens of other towns and rural areas within Indiana, but from New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Alabama, Massachusetts, California, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. Even school officials in Canada, Mexico, and China scheduled trips to see how Randolph County had developed such an excellent education system.[2]

Frances E. Willard Elementary School, Winchester, Indiana. One of 18 new school houses built during the time that Lee Driver served as either Principal of Winchester High School or Superintendent of Randolph County Schools. Circa 1907. The school was named after Frances E. Willard, an American educator, temperance reformer, and woman suffragist. (Courtesy, Randolph County Historical Society, Inc.)

Mr. [Calvin N.] Kendall [New Jersey State Commissioner of Education] asked [federal] government authorities for information concerning ‘the best rural schools in the country,’ and was referred to the schools of Randolph County.

-Editorial, Indianapolis News, October 23, 1915

Albert E. Winship, editor of The Journal of Education published in Boston, Massachusetts, was considered the dean of educational journalists at the time. He spoke three separate times at the Randolph County Teachers’ Annual Institute in 1911, 1912, and 1913. After his repeated contact with Randolph County schools, he wrote in 1913 that the county “leads the world in several features of educational progress.”[3]

Repeated praise for Randolph County’s schools came from Philander Claxton who served as the United States Commissioner of Education under three U.S. Presidents from 1911 to 1921. In the fall of 1919, Jasper L. McBrien, Director of Rural Schools Development for the U.S. Bureau of Education, praised Randolph County’s schools as the epitome of kindergarten through 12th grade education. Likewise, Ellwood Patterson Cubberley, Dean of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education from 1917 to 1933, applauded Randolph County schools in his writings. Glowing articles appeared in other Indiana publications as well as national newspapers such as the Christian Science Monitor.

As a result of this state and national attention, Lee Driver became a superstar in education circles. In a matter of several years, Driver addressed 992 different organizations (just shy of 1,000) in 30 states about Randolph County’s educational advances. He spoke at workshops, state, and national educational conferences, and at universities such as Columbia University in New York City, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin, Iowa State, Purdue University, and Indiana University.[4]

The individuals profiled in Golden Graduates of Winchester High School became the beneficiaries of this community’s excellent schools. But in a meaningful way, so did the state of Indiana, the nation, and the world!

 

 

[1] The information about Randolph County’s recognition and Lee L. Driver’s role in making Randolph County the premiere rural school system in the nation comes from the excellent dissertation written by Gregory P. Hinshaw, entitled “The Best Rural Schools in the Country: Lee L. Driver and the Consolidated Schools of Randolph County, Indiana, 1907 -1920”. This dissertation was written and accepted for Dr. Hinshaw’s doctoral studies at Ball State University.

[2] At the 1915 Panama Exposition in San Francisco, an exhibit about the progress that Indiana had made in advancing rural education was focused solely on the success story of Randolph County. That same year, The Indianapolis News published an article claiming that Randolph County had the “best rural schools in the country.”

[3] Winship especially noted how it offered amenities—such as libraries, laboratories, gymnasiums, outdoor recreational facilities–that had been previously unavailable before the consolidation efforts.

[4] Driver also began receiving requests from educators around the world—such as from Germany, England and Canada. These educators wrote, asking him to send literature and advice on how they, too, might restructure rural education to better the outcomes for their own students.