DALLAS -- When the Class of 2012 graduates this Saturday, it will do so with a century of Dallas High School history behind it.
Nearly 100 years ago, on June 7, six girls attended a Dallas High graduation ceremony. Their names were Lillian Fellows, Olive Coulter, Roberta Ballard, Anne Garner, Georgia Fiske and Letitia Shewey.
Those six young ladies comprised the first four-year high school graduating class in Dallas history.
Members of this year's senior class were amazed to realize they were part of the 100-year anniversary.
"It's a cool coincidence and exciting to be carrying on that tradition," said Connor Locke, the senior class vice president. "I feel like we (Dallas graduates) have done a lot of cool things in the community and in the world."
As seniors tend to do at the end of their high school careers, Class President Josh Spencer thought about the future when given a glimpse of the past.
"I hope in 100 years, the Class of 2112 will look back on us and think we were a pretty cool class," he said.
Well, as 100 year anniversaries go, 2012 wasn't a bad year.
Courtesy of Dallas High School
Dallas High's first four-year graduating class, from left inset: Lettia Shewey (Blanchard), Lillian Fellows (Bilyeu), Anne Garner (Dashiell), Olive Coulter (Walker), Georgia Fiske (Davis), Roberta Ballard.
Dallas High's 2011-12 wrestling team of destiny grabbed its first state title, followed a month later by the Dragon Fire Dance Team doing the same.
The softball team claimed its first league title since 1993 and the baseball team cruised to its first league championship since 1992. Dallas track and field and swimming teams both sent athletes to state competitions, as well.
Not to be left out, Dallas' theater program had a state champion and national competition qualifier this year.
It seems that success abounds at Dallas High School in 2012, in this Chinese calendar "Year of the Dragon."
DHS Principal Steve Spencer noted achievement in the academic arena, with the success of the school's Extended Campus Program and increasing number of first-generation college students continuing their education.
He said the year started off special with the return of a beloved tradition.
"Bringing back the (homecoming) bonfire, that was a great start to the year," he said. "It emphasizes the culture and the community."
Spencer, who is concluding his first year as school principal, said looking back through the old yearbooks at the school -- dating back to 1917 -- he realized how critical community and history are to DHS.
"It's amazing to see the tattered pages of the 1917 yearbook and know that it's 95 years old," Steve Spencer said. "When you look at all those books lined up, you realize the importance of the history in those books."
Senior Margie Anderson, whose family has attended Dallas schools for generations, is proud to be included in DHS's 100-year anniversary class.
"It's kind of awesome to be part of that history," Anderson said. "We are supported so much by the community, to know that has been going on for 100 years is amazing. It's a lot to live up to."
Indeed, but it may be safe to assume one of the six original DHS graduates would take pride in DHS's first century.
Ralph Blanchard, son of 1912 graduate Shewey (later Blanchard), said he doesn't remember his mother speaking too much about her high school days, or the fact that she belonged to the first four-year graduating class in Dallas High history.
"She was not one to talk about herself," he said. "She, and my father, they were very private people."
Itemizer-Observer article written in 1987 about three generations of Blanchards graduating from DHS -- Letitia, Ralph and his daughter, Angie -- Letitia recalled her memories of her ceremony.
"We all sat up on the stage," she said. "I was in a white dress with a Marsha Neal rose fixed to my belt. In those day it was the custom for friends to bring bouquets of flowers to graduates. And I had a whole chair full of flowers next to me. After graduation we went to the photographer's studio to have our pictures taken."
After graduation, she became a school teacher herself, working in schools in Morrow and Wasco counties before earning a degree from Oregon State University. After graduating from college in 1922, she worked at Oregon Normal School (Western Oregon University) until marrying Roy Blanchard in 1929.
"My mother has a real drive for education," Ralph Blanchard said. "In that day and age, putting yourself through school wasn't typical. She got a good strong start at Dallas, I believe."
Since Letitia's graduation, three more generations of her family have or are currently attending Dallas schools. Her grandson, Michael Blanchard, serves on the school board as well.
"We've got good service out of Dallas schools," Ralph Blanchard said.
Josh Spencer said he hopes those first graduates would be proud of what all those that followed them have accomplished -- and that his class would feel the same about future classes.
"I hope that the progress and changes we tried to make will be carried on in the next 100 years," he said.
Dallas High School song
The Orange and The Black
Independence seems to favor
A maroon and gold design,
And the kids in Monmouth tack on
A white and Purple sign;
These are foxy combinations,
But I'll put up all my stack
On old Dallas as defender
Of the Orange and the Black.
Through the four long years of High School,
Midst the scenes we know so well,
Where the mystic charms of knowledge
We vainly seek to spell.
Though we win athletic victories
On the football field or track,
It will always be for Dallas,
And the Orange and the Black.
When our High School days are over
We may walk these halls no more,
But their presence will be with us,
Though we roam the whole o'er;
And whatever our successes,
We'll in memory go back,
To those happy days in Dallas
Neath the Orange and the Black.
--Glen Brock, Class of 1914