Royal Oak (Dondero) High School, 75th Anniversary

The Daily Tribune, Royal Oak, MI
Saturday, March 24, 1928



President Little Declares Royal Oak Has Shown Vision of Future


George A. Dondero Makes Surprise Gift To School

Dr. Clarence Cook Little, president of the University of Michigan, last night congratulated Royal Oak on its new high school and the opportunities which the building presents, in addressing more than 1000 persons at the dedication ceremony in the auditorium of the school.

A surprise feature on the program was the presentation by George A. Dondero, president of the school board, of a replica of the Lorado Taft statue of Abraham Lincoln. It was given to the school with the hope that it would prove encouraging, helpful and inspiring to the students, he said.

The original of the replica presented to the school by Mr. Dondero is by Lorado Taft, and stands in Urbana, Illinois. It shows Lincoln as he was in his lawyer days in that state.

Mr. Dondero said that he had long wanted to leave with the school some remembrance of his school days in Royal Oak. He chose the statue of Lincoln beeause "he was the greatest American of us all, who in spite of his poverty which deprived him of all schooling, became one of the best educated men."

No essential difference exists between the new Royal Oak high school and any other school, Dr. Little said, but it is the principle on which they rest that can be different. These principles are the only things which can last.

Dr. Little said he hoped that the people of Royal Oal would always retain enough of the spirit of liberality found in our forefathers to place the spiritual above the material, the human being above the organization, and youth above middle and old age.

He said that spirit existed in a community which would construct such a fine building.

"Exactly 68 years ago, on March 23rd, 1860, the land on which the school rests was purchased by Edwin Russell from the state for $100," Mr. Dondero said. "He purchased 20 acres, of which half is included in the school grounds today. The abstract for the land cost the school board more than the entire plat of land cost Mr. Russell."

Another interesting historical fact brought out by Mr. Dondero was the coincidence that the school is located in section 16, which Congress set aside for public schools when it admitted Michigan to the Union. Congress decreed that section 16 of each township should be set aside by the state, the money from the sale of this section to go for the public schools.

Mr. Dondero thanked the many friends of the school who sent the flowers which decorated the platform. Among these was the Knowles family, from whom the site was purchased. He announced that the motto over the entrance of the school: `Enter here to learn, go forth to serve," was the gift of Dr. J.S. Morrison, a member of the school board.

Two reliefs which were presented by the class of 1926 but which have not arrived as yet will depict "Washington at Trenton," and the "Spirit of '76."

James E. Lawson, mayor pro-tem brought greetings from the city, pointing out the importance of the building because "here will be molded the lives of the future citizens of the city."

Greetings from the Parent-Teacher association council were brought by Mrs. Frank B. ????, president, who told of the work of the organization in fostering the bond issue for the new building. She announced that the association had presented an oak tree to the school, the tree being Symbolic of the organization.

"We are not here only to dedicate a building," stated E.J. Lederle, Oakland county commissioner of schools, "but we are here to dedicate something more, the atmosphere or the spirit of the building, the.spirit we find in the finest individuals or finest homes."

"Michigan is great as an educational state as well as for its autumobile industry," declared C. Lloyd Goodrich, deputy state superintendent of public instruction. He cited the growth of education in this state during the last decade, concluding by praising Royal Oak as "one of the leaders in this advance" because of the high school and also the construction of six new grade schools.

Because Frederick D. Madison, architect for the building is out of the state, Lowell M. Price, his construction superintendent, represented him. He said the arehitects were proud of the building, and thanked the members of the school board and Supt. Frank Hendry for their co-operation.

F.R. Patterson, the contractor for the building, said the new high school was the beginning of an epoch of growth for Royal Oak. Not only is the building a school house, but it is a social center for the whole community, he pointed out.

Musical numbers given by the Royal Oak concert orchestra and the high school girls' chorus were well received by the audience. The invocation was given by Rev. Eugene Miles Moore, while the benediction was pronounced by Rev. Charles W. Jones.


"The pioneer spirit is not dead," President Clarence Cook Little, speaking at the Royal Oak high school dedication last night said. "There is greater need for it today than ever before. Today it is the spiritual wilderness which is being explored - things of the mind rather than the physical wilderness.

"Relatively simple ways" of discovering the high spiritual values were listed by the speaker. All can be measured in terms of opportunity

"First, look for opportunity always. Don't be caught by material comforts. Second, learn to recognize opportunity after you look for it. Third, put a value on your opportunity, so that you will be able to pick the true from the false.

In this connection, President Little attacked the present marking system in schools and colleges as "absurd.'' The faculty, he said, "bow down and worship their methods of grading students." He said a better system would be one which divided students into those that fail, those that pass and those that get honors, rather than by marking them with A, B, C plus or other minute divisions.

Fourth, President Little urged that one should use opportunity up to the limit of the energy he possesses. The new school, he said, is a wonderful example of modern development. "It is fine to build up the body so that we can use the mind at higher speed," he continued, "but let us do for the mind and spirit of the boys and girls everything we do for the bodies."

"Fifth, create opportunity for other people. This step does not come to many people, but you have realized it here in this building. This is a fine place to create opportunity for the boys and girls.

"Character is more important than scholarship. It is easy to slouch back, read the tabloid newspapers, see a travel picture once in a while, and not make any more effort than is necessary to build character. But this is a trap to catch the unwary, and the one who can get above it will make the future.

"Higher education is not confined to college or university. It can be found in the grades even - anywhere where a pupil has caught the vision that life is a game, a better game than football, because the past, present and future are watching the players.

"The State of Michigan is a leader in grasping an understanding of the basis of character. The university owes much of its present strength to its policy of admitting students. We would rather have a boy or girl of average ability who throws his whole character into the use of mankind than to take the genius who is lazy or shiftless and content to do only medium work.

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