A look at
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High School Graduation

by Albin Johnson

About this time 55 years ago, the Class of 1948 held ceremonies for 34 seniors. We became the last class to be graduated from "Minonk High School, The era of one room school usage and the advent of bussing changed "our" school into a "community" school including Dana and Rutland. More recently it has changed into "Fieldcrest High School, which this year will graduate about 61 seniors. This number probably still qualifies it as a small High School. Of course, building additions and modern classrooms have made it into a much different educational environment, one that will better suit today's needs.

What can these 17-18 year old students expect 55 years from now? Baring any catastrophes, not really much more than my life has produced by advancing technology. What will their reunion be like in 2058? I dare not ask them that question now as there is a whole lot of expectations and living to look forward to.

I have been fortunate to have my health and a desire to help plan a reunion in September. My class shrank by two this year and currently 28 people can be located. What stories can be told? Many will rue the school name change, others will comment about the loss of the railroads, grain elevators, the theatre, auto dealers, hotels, and the "Jumbos". It is hard to return when so many missing monuments to our youth are no more.

The 1948 graduating class had 34 students. Twenty still live within 35 or so miles of Minonk. 7 have died and another 7 live outside of Illinois. These numbers do not mean that we didn't wander before settling down. The Korean Conflict opened the door to new horizons. College transfer was not an option for most and scholarships were rare. Artistic leanings and athletic scholarships were not an answer either.

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A week ago, one of my granddaughters graduated from a Lutheran Grade School with about 40 in her class. They provided a fledgling rock band and singing classmate for our music enjoyment. The boys wore ties and "spiky" hair and the girls wore gowns, heels and "coiffed" hair. The class put together a very high tech video of their past years for the audience of 350 parents and "oldsters" to view. I thought of my parents at my 8th grade graduation in Minonk. Most of these kids will attend a Lutheran High School. My granddaughter opted for the local High School her brother attends. She will share the campus with 2000 others! High school will be "interesting" for her.

One day later, my oldest granddaughter graduated with a senior class of about 850 students. The stadium held about 4000 friends and relatives. What will these graduates remember 55 years from now? Where will their lives take them? Will they settle here in Orange County? Will they be pressed into the military? Will they be asked to work in the family business? Will they go to college? My own children all graduated from large high schools of 1000 plus students. Now they can only recall a few dozen of their classmates and reunions are rare.

I am glad I graduated from Minonk Grade School and then visited Starved Rock as a reward, then graduating Minonk High School with a boat trip to Mackinac Island as our prize. I wouldn't change one iota of those ancient days, but I also wouldn't live any other place but here in Southern California with my children.