315 seniors from Thomas Carr Howe High School gathered on the evening of May 28, 1948, for their graduation ceremony. There had been a threat of rain, but the weather cooperated so Principal Charles M. Sharp announced that the ceremony would be held outside. Family members jockeyed for seats as nervous graduates waited along the stairs for the rite to begin.
Howe High School had been open for ten years so the evening also served as a milestone for the institution. In 1938, 435 students had been enrolled and were taught by only 13 teachers. By 1948, there were 1,350 students with 60 teachers. Principal Sharp and Vice Principal Clarence R. Clayton had been with the school since the beginning as were thirteen teachers and two custodians. Miss Alice Hankins, an English teacher, had assigned her students to write essays dedicated to the history of the school. The Men's 400 club, a parent organization, successfully raised enough money in 1948 to field and support the school's first baseball team. Mr. Wayne Mellot's journalism students had been corresponding with teens at a school in Stokes-on Trent, England. Mr. Mellot had been a GI and stationed in that area. On May 18, 1948, James Baker, who had been selected as "Philosopher of the Tower," crowned Julia Ann Moore as the "Violet Queen." The elaborate ceremony began that evening with trumpets pealing while the queen and her court walked atop a hill. Then, the choir under the direction of Mr. Frank S. Watkins, performed. The "Philosopher" James Baker then read a history of the school. Another choir under the direction of Darrell H. Gooch then sang. The crowd paused to remember the nine former Howe students who died in World War II. Following that somber moment, P.E. teachers, Jean Westphal and Barbara May led their students out to dance. The evening concluded with Principal Sharp turning the clock forward ten years.
On Friday evening, May 28, 1948, Oscar and Mary King Halcomb found their seats to watch their daughter, Phyllis, accept her diploma. One of them brought a camera and snapped some candid shots of the ceremony. Before the event, Phyllis and her close friends gathered along the stairs to document the night. A chapter in their lives was about to close. It was an exciting time for all of the young women as they were on the cusp of their adult lives.
|Phyllis Halcomb, the daughter of Oscar and Mary King Halcomb, walked down the stairs in front of Howe High School on Mary 28, 1948, before her graduation ceremony. (photo courtesy of Mary Lee Pappas)|
|Oscar or Mary King Halcomb snapped this image of the graduation ceremony at Howe High School on the evening of May 28, 1948. There had been a prediction of rain, but the evening turned out to be beautiful. (photo courtesy of Mary Lee Pappas)|
|Seniors and soon-to-be-graduates paraded into the a seating area in front of Howe High School on the evening of May 28, 1948. (photo courtesy of Mary Lee Pappas)|
|Although Howe High School celebrated ten years as an institution in 1948, this was only the eighth graduating class as juniors and seniors attended other schools in 1938. (document courtesy of Mary Lee Pappas)|
|Page two of the commencement pamphlet for the class of 1948, Howe High School (document courtesy of Mary Lee Pappas)|
|Page three of the commencement pamphlet for the class of 1948 from Howe High School with a listing of most of the graduates (document courtesy of Mary Lee Pappas)|
|Page four of the commencement pamphlet for the class of 1948 from Howe High School (document courtesy of Mary Lee Pappas)|
I would like to thank Mary Lee Pappas for the use of her family photographs and for her stories. I would also like to thank Deedee Davis.
Sources: Howe High School ten-year anniversary--"Youngest High School has Grown," Indianapolis Star, February 1, 1948, 76; Baseball team--"Howe High School to Field Baseball Team," Indianapolis Star, February 12, 1948; Journalism project--"Howe Journalists Turn Correspondents to Improve US-British Understanding," Indianapolis Star, May 10, 1948, 15; Violet Queen--"Howe Violet Queen to Reign at Pageant Tuesday Night," Indianapolis Star, May 16, 1948, 18; Interviews with Mary Lee Pappas, March 18 and 21, 2022.