An address to the patrons of Wheeling High School concerning the abominations now in practice at that institution:
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Dr. Call of Boston, Mass., tells the following story of his own experience: Once when he was traveling from Boston down to Hartford, a dignified, elderly gentleman entered the car just before it pulled out of the station, carefully deposited his high silk hat on the seat beside him, and leaned out of the window to say good-bye to a friend. Presently in tripped a dainty, sweet girl graduate type of a girl - the airy, fluttering, butterfly, sort of a creature that never seems determined just where to light. She glanced over the car, saw the vacant seat by the old gentleman's side and sat down. But she arose in fear and trembling and nervously touched the old gentleman on the arm. He drew his head in the window and stared at the one who had the audacity to interrupt his conversation. "Sir," she began, in a faltering, humorous voice; "Sir, I think I sat down on your hat." The old gentleman's eyes fell on the ruin beside him. Then he glared savagely at the rosy face of the girl. "Think, Madam!" he roared. "You think you sat down on my hat? You know blamed well you sat down on my hat!" .
And as it was with the old gentleman, so it is with me. I not only think. I know very well that there is something radically wrong with our present High School management.
First, our worthy Professor Brilles insists that the Seniors work. Why, the Seniors know enough to get along without working. At least the Seniors of Wheeling High School do. Our only trouble has been in convincing the Professor of that fact. And again, when one has reached his Senior year it appears to me to be beneath one's dignity to have to offer an excuse for absence just as the under-classmen do. I can't see why each Senior should not be tendered a special excuse good for the entire school term, so that when one felt like going home he could do so with impunity. If the entire class desired to take an afternoon off to go to the Victoria after a glorious football victory, I can't understand why the secretary should be kept busy writing notes home to our parents and putting,the Board of Education to unnecessary expense paying for postage and stationery, besides annoying our already over-burdened guardians, when all the Seniors had to do was to form a combine and manufacture a yarn out of whole cloth and hood- wink our esteemed Professor. All -- did I say all? Well, all but a few poor innocents, who were too young to know better and like lambs, were led to the slaughter, confessed the truth and alas! paid the penalty.
In durance vile we all remained,
For evenings five from sports refrained.
By some unscientific method of reasoning, peculiar to himself, Professor Brilles has decided that the gentlemen of the Senior class of Wheeling High School are not to enjoy the privileges of the gymnasium more than twice a year. In this, to be gallant, we have quietly acquiesced - notwithstanding the fact that we considered the decision of the learned Professor rank and rotten.
Now to Professor McGregor, the Beau Brummel of the school. The creases in his trousers, the set of his coat collar, the hue of his necktie are of vastly more importance than the Battle of Waterloo, the Siege of Troy, or the Fall of Ancient Rome. A strict disciplinarian, he rules with despotic sway, and woe to the classmen who indulge in friendly dispute. These tactics, when applied to lower classmen, are quite the proper caper, but as we Seniors are quite wise enough without studying, it certainly does not apply to us. The wisdom of the class of eleven is proverbial, but it lacks proper direction. It is like ill-directed energy. Why, I once knew a fellow who wasted enough energy in epileptic fits to have made him a fortune. He'd fall down and kick and paw the air - a regular engine of industry, but it was all wasted. But he had a brother, a lazy fellow, and this brother conceived the idea of a sort of gear for him, so that his jerkings and kicks operated a patent churn. And I can but think that if some ingenious teacher like Professor McGregor could only have harnessed the class of eleven that great would have been the result.
Miss Roberts is so sweetly inconsistent. Like the little girl in the Mother Goose melodies, one day we're very, very good, and the next day we're horrid. The trouble with Miss Etta is just this: She expects a Senior to know everything. Why, she actually expects a pupil to remember after only four years of High School drilling whether it was Tennyson or Milton who wrote "Paradise Lost." Now, that is what I call expecting too much of one. She is always trying to impress upon our minds the advisability of preparing for the future, but we, the class of eleven, have agreed among ourselves, to make the most of the present and as far as the future is concerned it will have to look out for itself; it always has.
Professor Ebers tells us that Physics, that most dreaded study in the High School curriculum, is the only scientific method of enlargening the mental capacity, sharpening the intellect and enhancing the powers of reasoning. We all agree that it is a quick means to kill or cure. What do we care about electricity, the speed of light, or the length of sound? They are but trivialties, compared to the great problems that confront us in this day of progress and strife. Lofty ambitions impel every member of this class to something nobler and higher than the study of thermometers, batteries and microscopes. We sincerely hope that the Professor of Science will realize his mistake some day and repent in sack-cloth and ashes for the lives that he has doomed to destruction and ruin with his instruments of pain and torture.
And now to Miss Dean, who moves majestically about and with a musical soul rules the school. She "just loves music," and for one of her darlings to assert that he "hath no music in his soul" is a high crime and misdemeanor for which the punishment is the everlasting enmity of this disciple of Apollo. The fame of the vocalists of this class is world-wide. In Mr. Carle we foster a second Caruso, in Mr. Hare lie the uncultivated powers' of entrancing thousands of patrons of grand opera, and with Miss Kraft, Madame Melba compare. It is said that Orpheus moved rocks and stones by the music of his lyre, but the Seniors have done more wonderful things than Orpheus, for it has often taken the combined energy of the faculty to keep the rest of the school from moving bodily out of the building when Miss Dean has been giving us special instruction.
Miss Holiday amid her plants and flowers, her rocks and sands, has been a most pleasant sight for the past two years. The reason is evident. The abominable course is compulsory in the first two years. Days and nights have we poor, delapidated pupils struggled over forty-two botannical names and when that well-nigh impossible task was accomplished with irreparable loss of time, energy and saneness of mind, the heartless teacher would put us to work drawing the cross- sections of lenions. But these names once learned were never forgotten. I will venture to say without fear of successful contradiction, that each and every member of this class could rattle them off in chronological order at this very moment. Our capacity for remembering is unlimited. Why, we even remember when we entered this school as Freshmen and the cruel teachers permitted the upperclassmen to haze us and tell us that we were so green that they couldn't tell us from the surrounding grass. But, revenge is sweet! and lately we have certainly enjoyed ourselves to the utmost degree by imposing in like manner on the under-classman.
With the remainder of the teachers my experiences have been few and extremely far between. They were but incidents on the way to success - necessary evils - ever ready to inflict punishment on unwary pupils who displayed the slightest in- clination of relaxing from the tiresome grind of study. In my case they have performed their duty in an uinfaltering manner, having thrown, in a couple of trips to the office when I actually didn't deserve them. They are a part of the conspiracy to thwart the bloom of childhood, and retribution in abundance will surely accompany their inevitable end. Some have my profound sympathy - they couldn't maintain strict discipline in a kindergarten, others have increased their misery, by their dilatory tactics and deserve what they receive. To a greater or a lesser degree they may all be classed with Mr. Johns, the monarch of the school. As a tyrant, dictator and oppressor of the down-trodden, he stands alone and unequaled. Taking charge of a Freshman as he enters the door he conducts him safely or otherwise through four long years of turbulent storms, unrelieved by calms or fair weather. It is evident that the Professor taught in some primary grade or kindergarten before coming to High school. To compel a dignified Senior to write a lesson out twice is worse than wicked - it is absurd. Such methods in an advanced school are harmful and unproductive. To assign a Senior class a lesson ten pages in length is the height of folly, and on several occasions we have been forced to roam the streets at night because we had nothing to study. Why not read "Virgil" in a day? Nothing could be easier. Cheops built the Pyramid of Gizeh in a limited time; he killed twenty thousand men in doing it - but what of that? There were plenty left.
And now for the class. Inspired by lofty ambitions, elevated by noble thoughts, ever struggling for the right, as a whole, its ability is far above the comprehension of man. But there are exceptions to all rules, and so it is with the class of Nineteen Hundred and Eleven. The progress of the entire class has been hindered more or less by the levity of certain pupils.
Albert Carle with his frolicsome, rolicsome, winning ways has kept more than one of his classmates from reaching the zenith of his ambition. Continually chattering about everything but lessons, he has been the bane of our existence. But perhaps he will forget his childish ways some day and from his mastermind will pour forth something that will benefit humanity at large. For he has a poetic soul. In looking through one of his books I found the following little verse, dated December 21, 1910: