by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Recently I went through a box of “family treasures” to find memorabilia for Coffee with Classmates. I ran across my mother’s 8th grade Certificate of Attainment.
As always, I attempted to find more information about the certificate issued locally, but signed by the State Superintendent of Schools. My Google search revealed no helpful information on this historic document. Currently the state-endorsed credential is to provide school committees with the option of providing a certificate of attainment, based on specified criteria, to students who have completed local requirements but who do not yet qualify for the high school diploma.
In 1928, the certificate was issued to students who had successfully complete the eight elementary grades. Since many students attended rural, one-room schools, the certificate allowed them to attend any four-year high school within the State of Missouri.
The document left me with many more questions than answers. First, did my mother have an 8th Grade Graduation ceremony? When did 8th grade graduation begin?
I remember my own 8th Grade Graduation in 1960. Our teacher was Mrs. Juanita Grayum. We spent weeks preparing and rehearsing for the big event. As the program demonstrates all 30 members of my class had a role in the ceremony. The boys wore suits, their own or a borrowed one. I remember buying a new white dress for the occasion. I also remember that for the girls in my class it was our first pair of high heels and probably our first time to wear nylon hose!
We decorated the stage in the old auditorium/gym to resemble a rose garden. We put homemade red paper roses, our class flower, on the stage curtains and in the pots across the front of the stage. Naturally, we thought it was beautiful!
When did Grain Valley stop having 8th Grade Graduations? Do families today recognize their daughter/son’s “graduation?” I do know the internet provides plenty of gifts to mark the milestone!
Are you curious about events from Grain Valley’s past? Drop by the Historical Society Museum any Wednesday (10:00am – 3:00pm). If we don’t have the answer, we will try and help you find out.