The First Graduating Class of Ouachita Parish High School

So I told you yesterday about the first class of the Monroe City High School, which is the forerunner of Neville. Lets go back about six years, to when the Parish High School was built. Who were the members of OPHS class of 1895? This comes from the New Orleans Times-Democrat (June 7, 1895, Page 7) :



The Event Occurs in Connection with the First Commencement Exercises of the School – A large and Enthusiastic Crowd in Attendance – Much Interest Manifested in the Cause of Education.

Special to The Times-Democrat.
Monroe, La., June 6. – The dedication of the new building of the Ouachita parish High School yesterday and the commencement exercises terminating the first session of this institution, was an occasion of exceeding interest and splendor. A happy throng, bright as the June day, filled the spacious assembly hall; eloquent, enthusiastic speeches, inspiring the audience with hope for the educational future of Monroe and this entire section; music, declamation and drills by the pupils of the school at the evening exercises were the features of this commencement. It was the close of a successful session of the school of nine months, under the principalship of Prof. Henry E. Chambers, assisted by prof. E.H. McClintic, Misses Della Gunby and Carrie McLain – a session gratifying in its results to teachers, pupils and patrons. the school building and grounds, woth $15,000, are the material evidence of the new educational awakening in Ouachita parish, which has all along been abreast of other parishes. The City of Monroe has maintained at its expense during the past year a good school, with 300 pupils, and if the strong and growing sentiment in favor of the consolidation of the parish and city schools for the ensuing year shall have fruition it will be one of the grandest schools of this grade in the State – one that will send an influence throughout this section. Such consolidated action would only hasten this grand result. With their new structure, commodious and built and equipped in the latest approved manner, and the funds at their disposal, the parish authorities will be able to give the benefit of a thorough high school course to every child in the parish under the able and experienced tutilage of Prof. Chambers, who has been elected for another term, and a corps of good assistants.

Inspired by a realization of these auspicious conditions and the grand prospect for education in Ouachita parish, the large audiences envinced pride, hope and enthusiasm. It is but just to mention that Hon. Uriah Millsaps, the able parish superintendent of education, not alone in business but in educational circles, alert, progressive and abreast of the times, has been the main instrument in the accomplishment of so much. The police jury, of which he is president, contributed $3500 and through his efforts the remainder of the necessary funds were raised by private subscription, and under his supervision the beautiful structure was built.

Hon. A.A. Gunby, on behalf of the building committee, presented the building to the parish authorities in an eloquent, impressive speech, and Hon. J.L. Kaliski received it for the parish authorities. Rev. John Foster, one of the most promising of the young preachers in the Methodist Conference, dedicated the building to the glorious use of education in a benefitting speech. Mr. A.D. Russell received the building for the police jury. The school sends forth two graduates this year – Misses Bower Weaks and Lola Loftin – who were highly complimented by Prof. Chambers in presenting them for graduation. He declared that rigid examinations showed their high excellence, and that the standard set so high by the first class should remain. Their diplomas were presented the class by Hon. Uriah Millsaps and Col. A.T. Prescott, president of the State Industrial Institute and College at Ruston, [This is now called LaTech. Their library is named after Col. Prescott] delivered an address to them full of fine thoughts appropriate and inspiring. Prof. E.H. McClintic, who leaves Monroe and the profession of teaching to study law, was presented with a gold-headed cane by the principal and pupils of the school, in token of their appreciation and esteem.

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