School: NHS Graduating Class of 1975 (100th Class)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Lukes, Urban, Kunze, Bensen, Dopp, Embke, Hansen, Marg, Meier, Schnabel, Smagacz, Thoma, Watenpuhl, Austin, Thayer, Head, Burgess, Mason, Drew, Hoesly, Campman, Noble

----Source: Clark County Press (Neillsville, Clark Co., WI) 5/15/1975

NHS Graduating Class of 1975 (100th Class – 15 May 1975)

A century of operation will be marked by Neillsville High School with the graduation of 114 seniors at commencement ceremonies tonight (Thursday) in the high school, starting at 8 p.m.

While not the largest senior class in the 100 years of its existence, this year’s class, however, ranks as one of the larger in recent years. It is led by Gary Lukes as valedictorian, and Brenda Urban as salutatorian.

Presentation of diplomas will be made by Prin. Henry J. Lukes, father of the class valedictorian and veteran teacher and coach of the high school. He will; be assisted by Robert Kunze, president of the board of education.

Other honor students to be recognized are Mabel Bensen, Mark Dopp, Susan Embke, Lorraine Hansen, Kathleen Marg, Mike Meier, Joan Schnabel, Lori Smagacz and Patricia Thoma.

The invocation and benediction will be given by the Rev. William Noble of the United Methodist Church.

Taking part in the program will be the high school mixed chorus, which will sing, “I’ll Walk with God,” and a vocal duet by Barbara Watenpuhl and Lorraine Hansen.

The first graduating class of Neillsville High School numbered three members: Mrs. John (Mary Austin) Thayer of Minneapolis, Mn; Mrs. Frank (Rosa M. Head) Burgess; and Walter Mason, who was an attorney in Redfield, N.D. It is not clear who was then principal (or teacher and superintendent) at the time of the first commencement exercise; but it may have been John S. Drew. Mr. Drew is credited with having been the first teacher when the Neillsville school was launched in 1856.

Nor was it clear exactly where the first school was established. There are some indications that it may have been on the north side of O’Neill Creek, and certainly the city’s first grade school was said to have been somewhere in that area.

However, there is some evidence, also, to establish the first high school’s graduating class in a school on or near the present site of the United Methodist Church.

The history of the school district has been researched and written by Mr. and Mrs. Hoesly and will be presented at the time of the 50-year reunion of class of 1925 Sunday. Mr. Hoesly was a member of that class.

Insofar as the Hoesly’s research is concerned, Wm. A. Campman, 96-year-old local attorney now retired, is the oldest living graduate of Neillsville High School. He was graduated with the Class of 1896.



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