Student graduates 100 years after relative
By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer
CHECOTAH — Bertha Reed and six classmates were part of Checotah High School’s first graduating class in 1909, family members say.
Reed’s great-grandson, Grayson Schuering, will graduate with 18 times as many classmates, approximately 116, when Checotah High School’s Class of 2009 graduates at 8 p.m. today at Ogle Field.
The school is marking the 100th anniversary with a bronze plaque bearing the names of Reed’s class on two small rows and the names of Scheuring’s class on four lengthy columns.
Schuering, who grew up in Checotah, said his great-grandmother must have had a close bond with her classmates.
“I definitely feel very close with my classmates,” he said. “But I run around with eight or nine people.”
The 2009 senior said he does not know much about his great-grandmother other than that she came from Muldrow and taught school in Checotah. He said Bertha Reed had five girls and two boys in her 1909 graduating class.
Scheuring’s grandmother, Sarah “Emmy” Stidham, said her mother grew up to become a teacher.
One of Bertha Reed’s classmates, Effie Griffing, was the mother of Pulitzer Prize-winning World War II correspondent and former Muskogee Phoenix reporter James Lucas. The Checotah library is named for him.
“My mother was his godmother,” Stidham said.
“She came here when she was 1-year-old from Muldrow, crossing the Canadian River in high tide in a wagon,” she said. ”She was a very southern girl. She went to what is called a subscription school.”
According to the Oklahoma Historical Society Web site, subscription schools in pre-statehood Oklahoma were funded by a monthly tuition fee parents paid to teachers. Native American children could go to subscription, mission or tribal schools while blacks and whites could only attend subscription and mission schools, the Web site said.
After graduation, Reed attended a normal school, or teacher’s school, in McIntosh County and later went on to attend and teach at what is now the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond, Stidham said. Reed taught at Pryor and Checotah.
“She did not marry young,” said Stidham, who graduated from Checotah High School in 1945.
Stidham, whose daughter now teaches at Checotah High School, said she sees how valuable education has been to the community.
“There is a continuity here,” she said. “The people then had great scholars and took trigonometry, calculus. Every child was a member of a literary club and learned debate and public speaking. Administrators were here for 15-20 years.”
This year’s graduating class has more valedictorians, nine, than the class of 1909 had members.
One of this year’s valedictorians, Ryan Lane, said he sees a lot of interest in this year’s class.
“It seems weird that this year we celebrate the 100th anniversary because our football team did so well, as well as our band program,” Lane said. “At the San Antonio Music Festival, our band got best in class and our jazz band got best in class. Our (graduating) class got $1.4 million in scholarships this year.”
Grayson Schuering said Checotah continues to support the school.
“We get great community support,” he said. “They come out and support our athletes. We had a good football team and the community just jumped behind them the whole season long.”
High school graduations
• Checotah, 8 p.m., today, Ogle Field.
• Hilldale, 7 p.m. today, Hilldale Event Center.
• Fort Gibson, 7 p.m. today, Fort Gibson gymnasium.
• Haskell, 7 p.m. today, event center.
• Porter, 7 p.m. today, field house.
• Webbers Falls, 7 p.m. today, event center.
• Hulbert, 7 p.m. today, Rider Field.
• Tahlequah, 7 p.m. today, Doc Wadley Stadium, Northeastern State University Tahlequah Campus.
• Okay, 7:30 p.m. today, school auditorium.
• Braggs, 7:30 p.m. today, new gym.
• Muskogee, 7:30 p.m. May 29, Indian Bowl Stadium.
Reach Cathy Spaulding at 918-684-2928
Grayson Schuering, a senior at Checotah High School, holds a plaque commemorating the schools 100th graduating class. Scheuring’s grandmother was in the school’s first class in 1909.
Staff photo by Jennifer Lyles /
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