5 months ago

Varsity Brands, the market leader in sport, spirit and achievement, announced on Feb. 15, 2019 that Panhandle High School was named one of four finalists for 2019 School Spirit Awards in the Graduation category. This marks the event’s fourth consecutive year of recognizing schools, organizations and individuals across 25 categories that go above and beyond the call of duty to build school pride, student engagement and community spirit. All winners will be announced at the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards Show on May 11, 2019 at Walt Disney World Resort® in Orlando.

Below is the essay that Panhandle High School Counselor Jill Reynolds submitted on Panhandle High School’s Commencement Ceremony.

A Proud Tradition for 90 years - 2019
Panhandle High School’s graduation is like none other. This year will be the 90th year that our traditional ceremony has taken place. Everything is very special and symbolic. The ceremony begins with a brief word from a distinguished alumnus who talks about the meaning behind the graduation tradition. Our junior students dressed in formal attire hold arches covered in greenery down the aisles that the seniors pass through as they enter the stage.

Then the ceremony order is as follows
1. Welcome by the Distinguished Honor Grad (3rd in class)
2. Salutatory Address
3. Recognition of Honor Graduates and Distinguished Honor Student, Salutatorian and Valedictorian by the Principal
4. Scholarship awards and grand total announced by the Counselor
5. Special Recognition of Military Enlistees
6. Valedictory Address
7. Presentation of the Class Gift to the school by the Senior Class President
8. Principal presents the class to the superintendent and school board to receive their diplomas
9. Class President calls the names of the students to receive their diplomas
10. Class President has the class as a group move their tassels from right to left

The next part of graduation is extraordinary. The juniors return to the aisles with the greenery arches as the seniors exit the stage and stand next to the juniors. The seniors then take the arches from the juniors and the juniors go through the arches and take the stage as a symbolic gesture of the juniors now taking leadership of the school. Once the juniors are on the stage, they will lead the auditorium with the singing of the school song. The seniors then carry the arches and exit the auditorium. The juniors are then presented their class rings and the ceremony is over.

This tradition of graduation began in 1929, a young teacher named Mary Wilma Ingham came to Panhandle for her first teaching position. After having seen a similar commencement exercise in California and with the help of an experienced teacher at PHS, this impressive ceremony was introduced at PHS. Originally using fresh flowers and greenery, the ceremony is very well accepted and as a thoughtful nod to tradition, has continued now for 90 years. Members of the Junior class begin the Pageant March and line the aisles in pairs holding the familiar arches honoring the Seniors who pass through the arches onto the stage. After receiving their diplomas, the Graduates hold the arches for the Juniors in the same manner. The recessional signifies the passing of class status from the Graduates to the new Seniors who will lead PHS into next year. The night will end with all singing the School Song and the new Seniors will receive their class rings. Family and friends are welcome to gather and photograph the Ring Ceremony on stage following the Commencement.

According to Betty Naylor Biggs PHS Alumni Class of 1949, “Miss Ingham taught in Panhandle one year before she married, started raising and family, and moved away. She died in 1946, but she would have been pleased to know that she initiated a beautiful long-lasting special event in the lives of thousands.” She knew because she was Betty’s mother.

If you have or haven’t attended a Panhandle High School Commencement, please join the Class of 2019 on Friday, May 24, 2019, at 8 p.m. as they continue this magnificent Panhandle tradition in honor of Mrs. Ingham.