Tuesday, April 14, 2015

1915 Dreams and Decisions

“Now Henrietta, sit still while we go through these choices.  I know you’re excited and so am I, but we must get down to business here.  Let’s see, the Course of Studies list they sent from Notre Dame Academy presents so many considerations.  First we must decide which program you’ll get into: the Scientific,  or General, or Commercial Program.  Your father thinks you should go into the Commercial, but I like the idea of the Scientific.  It’s college preparatory, you know, and wouldn’t it be wonderful if you would go to college.  You always talk about being a teacher, although your father would like for you to work your way into his business.  Your brother disappointed him by choosing the military.  But you, Henrietta, would be the first girl in the family on either side to go to college.  Let’s just examine what the four year requirements are for the Scientific Program and talk your father into it bye and bye.

“First year: Religion, English, Mathematics, Latin (good for nursing), Physical Training, and an elective of History, Science or Music.  You’re good in arithmetic, so the Mathematics shouldn’t give you any problem.
Second year: the same four required: English, etc. and the electives have language choices along with History, Biology (that would be good for nursing, too), and Music.  Too bad you can take only one elective.
Third year: The required now include Chemistry instead of Mathematics, and you can choose three electives!  The languages are Latin moved from the required, Spanish, French, German, Mathematics, History, and Music.  They certainly feel strongly about those last three.  I guess they hope all the girls will get Music at some point.
Fourth year: Oh my, Physics, dear.  They require Physics along with American History, Civics, and Physical Training.  They seem to be determined to keep you in shape.  Let’s see: the electives include Advanced Chemistry along with the languages and Music.  You may take three electives, but imagine taking two sciences at the same time.  Yes, I suppose you will want the Chemistry.   But, dear, Advanced along with Physics?  Well I’m sure you can, Henrietta, but you’ll have to work hard.

“Now to convince your father that this will be the best way for you to go.  He was so impressed when your cousin Lydia took the Commercial Program and then got a good job at the Big Four Rail Road office over on Central Ave. and Pearl St.  But we will work on him with all the good arguments we can come up with, and Henrietta, we’ll pray to Mother Mary who will certainly pull us through.  How wonderful to have a nurse in the family!”

Now Henrietta is fictional, but if you really want to know what the graduates of the Scientific Program (and the rest of the high school) really looked like, here they are.  No problem in seating their families at the ceremony.