The crowd gathered at the Athletic Hall on Yosemite Avenue for Madera High School’s commencement exercise in June 1903. Folks had to climb the stairs to the second floor that night, as they had for the past six years, but this would be the last time. Madera was going to have a new high school at last.
Those commencement exercises held in Athletic Hall that Friday night were well attended. The audience was so large that some of the latecomers could not find seats and had to stand until the ushers brought chairs from the outside for their accommodation. The gallery at the end of the hall was crowded with people.
In contrast to modern graduation exercises, this one was rather calm and sober. County Superintendent of Schools Estelle Bagnelle presented the diplomas to the following graduates: Mary Alice Cunningham, Ella Reid, Myrtle Saxe, Ethelyn Westfall, Emelia Loinaz, Grace Loinaz, Annie E. Hussey, Mabel Metz and Ruby Nell Metz. She then acknowledged that this was the last graduation to be held in Athletic Hall. The 1904 graduation would take place in a brand new building.
Madera had always taken the education of its youth seriously. The town was not even a year old when the first schoolhouse was built in 1877. Shortly thereafter, a second school was built on the west side of the Southern Pacific tracks, and for years, Madera’s young scholars attended either the Eastside or Westside schools...