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Familiar faces among early high school graduates

Dibbles Dabbles

June 28, 2011
By (the late) Billie Dibble, Former Westfield Historian (1975-2006)
First published June 23, 1983:

Every year when June rolls around our thoughts turn to school – the budget meeting, the election of new school board members, and finally the end, happy vacation days for the small fry and graduation for the seniors.

The last days of June and the first of July seem to be traditional times for high school class reunions. The further one is removed from his actual graduation the more exciting the get-together seems to become.

Seventeen years ago the Class of 1916 of Westfield High School had a happy reunion. They gathered for a social hour at the Marine Midland Bank, visited the new Westfield Republican Building (now Key Bank Building) and had dinner at the Lake View Restaurant at Barcelona [now Zebro’s].

The Westfield Republican of June 28, 1916 had this to say about their commencement, “In accordance with the plan of substituting a trip to Washington for the Commencement Exercises and combining the presentation of diplomas and awarding of prizes with the Baccalaureate Sermon on the Sunday evening following the final examination week of the year, the commencement exercises of the 45th class to graduate from our High School were held in the Methodist Church Sunday evening, June 25th, 1916. Weather conditions were perfect. The church was packed and many people were turned away for lack of seating space. The church was handsomely decorated with cut flowers and the Reverend R.N. Merrill delivered the address, “The Challenge of the Child.”

I discovered that in that same year, Ralph Keopka’s sister Ella was teaching eighth grade in Westfield School. She graduated from the Teachers’ Training Class in 1909 the same year Clara Keopka Trump graduated from the academic department of Westfield High School.

Earl Beckman graduated in 1911. That was one of the largest classes in the history of the school up to that time and that was the first year that Class Night was held on the night before Commencement.

Walter Falvay was among the graduates of 1912.

Two of my good neighbors graduated in 1915 – James Lichtenwalter with a “degree” in Academic German, and Hazel Higgs Hankel from the Teachers’ Training Class. My friend, Agnes Schwartz, also graduated from Teachers’ Training Class in 1915.

So it seems that the orchids go to Clara Trump and Ella Keopka for being the earliest graduates of Westfield High School who are still living in the area. They graduated 74 years ago. Does anyone know of earlier graduates?

DIBS AND DABS – The summer travelers are beginning to come into the History Center and Patterson Library searching for their roots. Today Dr. and Mrs. Glenn A. Noble from San Luis Obispo, CA, were in the library and were both surprised and delighted that I remembered Mrs. Noble’s grandparents, Rev. and Mrs. F.A. Mills.

Marybelle Beigh is the current Westfield Historian and her office is in the Parkview Ice Cream Parlor at 3 East Main Street in Westfield NY. She can be contacted at 397-9254, or

Article Photos

Photos courtesy Patterson Library
Class of 1909 from Westfield High School at graduation. Row 1, left to right: Edith M. Colt; Clara W. Keopka, valedictorian. Row 2: Katherine Wratten; Sadie Judd; Elsie Wratten; Pauline Wratten; Burr Hiller, president; Adelaide Flagler, vice president; Edith M. Titus; Ella M. Keopka, salutatorian. Row 3: William Sawin; Ruth McFadden; Alice Neill; Mabel Tempas; Valetta Hamilton; Lena Piehl; Laura Nelson; William Welch; Maria Ellis. Missing from the picture were Clara E. Craig, Hazel M. Jenks, Bernice M. Jenks, Paul G. Axman, Glenn C Hart, Alice Willing, secretary, Etta M. Culver and Fred C. Ossman.



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