Lone Star’s Centennial graduation is Sunday

It will be the Centennial graduation for Lone Star when 14 seniors will graduate on May 5, 2024, surpassing the 1924 Lone Star class by two.

The class of 1924 was the largest to graduate from Lone Star for many years until 1930 and 1941 when there were also 12 grads.

The 100th Lone Star High School senior class of 2024 will march to Pomp and Circumstance Sunday, May 5 at 1 p.m.

Because a high school for that area was still in the planning stages during the last half of the 1920’s, incoming freshman needed to wait at least one year before starting high school. Several were 20 years old when they graduated.

This delay caused four pairs of siblings to be in the first Lone Star clas —Grace and Artie Deering, Ruth and Merle Whittenburg, Bruce and Loel Mollison, and Hazel and Helen Oldhausen.

Other class members were Glen Stenson, Claude Sweger, Francis Keenan and Nadine Wheeler.

everal classes in the Lone Star curricula were taught by Mr. D.A. Sawyer, a graduate of Iowa State University. His ability to teach classic literature and Spanish was deeply imprinted on these young country-bred students. He returned to attend their 50th class reunion in 1974.

The Lone Star Longhorn mascot came about because another teacher had attended the University of Texas in Austin.

After Claude Sweger graduated from the University of Denver, he built the modern furniture store that now hosts the Orphanage at the corner of Third Avenue and S. Main Street in Yuma. Claude had become deaf while a student at DU after contracting a serious strep throat. He became a very good lip reader and was an important part of the Yuma community.

Merle Whittenberg and Bruce Mollison founded a coffee company in Denver that delivered high quality coffee to companies, business offices restaurants, homes, and factories throughout Denver until the 1960’s.

Glenn Stenson became Phillip County’s longtime County Treasurer. He also served as one of the original three trustees of the Higgenbotham Trust.

Grace and Artie Deering and Ruth Whittenburg were the only ones who remained in the immediate area. Grace married schoolteacher Vernon Trunde who, later, became Yuma’s City Clerk and Yuma Town Manager. Grace also taught school.

Grace was a good athlete and fleet afoot but Lone Star didn’t have a girls’ basketball team.

There was also no boy’s 1920-1921 basketball season, because the first classes were held in a home near the school that lacked a basketball court.

The first basketball season tipped off in the fall of 1921.

Games and practices were outdoors because the Lone Star gymnasium was still under construction. Mr. Sawyer was their coach.

Because of no lights, all games and practices were held during daylight hours.

Unique basketballs were used for outdoor use — the seams were sewed to the outside instead of being folded to the inside like the ones of today. This reversed design let the players grip the ball better — especially when snow or mud made the ball slippery.

Time was kept on a stopwatch instead of a game clock. The ball was jumped at center court after every basket.

Because cold air caused the basketballs to shrink, several supplemental inflations with a tire pump were needed during games and practices.

Visiting teams who already had cozy gyms weren’t all that enthusiastic about Lone Star’s hospitality.

During Lone Star’s second season, the entire Lone Star team was named All Conference, having won over small school teams of similar size like Wages and Otis as well as larger schools like Yuma and Akron.

John Wheeler, a wisecracking sophomore center and younger brother of Nadine, was known for quoting amusing limericks. He was the tallest player on the team and was also Lone Star’s best player.

The 1924 graduates would be proud to know that the 2024 grads have continued the Longhorn tradition.