The HHS Class of 1915 Memorial Rock

Updated: Oct 4, 2021

Mrs. Ethelyn June (Mccullers) Newport - HHS Class of 1915
Mrs. Ethelyn June (Mccullers) Newport - HHS Class of 1915

It's been a fixture, a place to sit, a thing to climb onto and jump off of, for generations of school kids.

HHS Class of 1915 Memorial Rock
HHS Class of 1915 Memorial Rock still located at Beckemeyer School

The rock has sat unmoved on the Beckemeyer School campus for longer than the school's name itself, for longer than most people can remember - save one.

Mrs. Ethelyn June (Mccullers) Newport remembers.

She was one of the Class of 1915 of Hillsboro Community High School, one of the 11 boys and 13 girls who voted to memorialize their class with a rock.

Mrs. Newport will celebrate the 100th anniversary of her June 9, 1895, birth date this week.

The rock came out of the bottom land south and west of the first high school campus, now Beckemeyer. When "Ethel” and her friends decided that an engraved rock would be a proper monument to their Class of '15, Emory Killpatrick said that his dad, Frank, had a rock he wanted out of his field. The rock was hauled from the field to town hanging from a sling underneath a wagon pulled by a team of horses. The local monument works carved out “1915” from its red, hard surface.

The old Opera House at South Main and Wood Streets
The old Opera House at South Main and Wood Streets

Mrs. Newport can name everyone who graduated with her that year, and she remembers the solemn commencement ceremony held in the old Opera House at South Main and Wood Streets.

“We were the first class to wear caps and gowns,” she says.

And what was to become one of her favorite poems was recited during the graduation ceremony, William Wordsworth’s “The Daffodils.”

Every spring, for years and years, Mrs. Newport and her daughter, Dorothy Bass, have greeted the new season by gathering daffodils from the woods behind the Bass home and reading the Wordsworth poem:

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not be but gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed and gazed but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

By: Nancy Slepicka

Published: The Montgomery News - June 7, 1995

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Jeff Dunn

Vice President

Historical Society of

Montgomery County

Advisory Board

Illinois State

Historical Society