End of School Program

End of School Program

Several years ago, our granddaughter Katie invited us to come to Austin for her graduation from kindergarten. She attended a parochial school, and the exercise was held in the church sanctuary. The theme was “Going to the Circus.” The large class was divided into groups of four or five, and each group represented one animal. I think Katie was an elephant. All of the costumes, music, slides, (projected on the two large screens in front of the church), instructions, and commentary, were furnished by a company specializing in this sort of thing (at no small cost to the parents and the school.) It was interesting and well done. Sitting about 30 rows back, I’m sure that I missed some parts. After meeting the teachers and other parents, we stopped for ice cream on the way back to Katie’s house.

Driving home the next day, I thought about some of my “end of school programs.” Of my first year in a one room school, I have no recollection. My second year at Cypress (now Cy-Fair) is very vivid in my memory. Each homeroom (mine was 2nd and 3rd grade) did a skit. Since I was the smallest boy in the room, I was given a long, yellow wig, made from unraveled new manila rope, and played the part of a spoiled child. The larger boys in my class, cut my curls and gave me a shampoo, revealing short brown hair, all to the horror of my mother, played by Mabel Krugel, and the largest girl in the class. I had no speaking part, thank goodness. After our skit, we sat in the front row. The stage was about 20 feet wide with a small dressing room on either side, (used as a cloakroom by the high school). The only other skit that I remember was about a girl who had been wronged and an angry father, armed with a single-shot shotgun. The villain was played by one of the teachers, Chuck Nichols, the son of H C Nichols who founded Nichols Ranch at Rose Hill. The pellets have been removed from the shell. The father of the girl, to make it more realistic, pointed a gun at the villain and pulled the trigger. Because there were no shot pellets to provide resistance, much of the powder, (in small pellets) flew from the gun, burning as it hit the teacher on the right side of his face. When I dared to open my eyes, I saw Chuck Nichols running across the stage, blood seeping from between the fingers of his right hand. That was the end of that end-of-school program. (Teacher Nichols received no permanent injury.)

The next year we added two more schools, Brink and Fuchs, and the end of the school program needed more room for the audience. The school entrance faced east, and was about 8‘ x 8‘ with cloakrooms on both sides opening to the two rooms behind the porch. Benches were borrowed and set up in front of the porch. I was selected by my fourth grade teacher to recite a poem, which I think was called, “The Old Swimming Hole.” It may have been written by John Greenleaf Whittier. (I love the sound of that name.) During rehearsal I did fine. It was decided, however, that the porch did not let the spoken word project to the audience. Unbeknownst to me a decision was made to close in the porch with windows, stored under the stage, and to use a PA system owned by one of our bus drivers, Calvin Hargrave, who had a small band with banjo, fiddle, guitar, etc. The PA was powered by a car battery and was as large as a small refrigerator. The microphone was as large as a tea cup, and was suspended by four springs in a ring about as large as a dinner plate. I first saw the set-up when I was pushed through the door from one of the classrooms and was told to step up close to the mike. I was frightened. It looked like a giant black spider ready to pounce on me. I promptly forgot most of my speech, and today, after 69 years, I cannot remember one line or the author’s name. I think that was my last participation in an end of school program.

Written by Benjamin H. Scholl as published in:

Scholl, B., (2004), “Growing Up In Rose Hill (We Were Poor But Didn’t Know It)”, ISBN 1583968830