St. Marys, Shaw Send Grads Out Into the World
Posted May 8, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — For one graduating class,the goodbye they said Saturday will be the last heard at that school. After 156 years, St. Mary's College is closing the doors on its junior college.
Staff members say declining enrollment and a lack of interest in a two year program are to blame. But, while the St. Mary's College tradition may be coming to an end, its roots are firmly planted in the hearts of its graduates.
Thirty-two graduates comprised the last graduating class of St. Mary's.
"It's just a unique place," said Terry Jenkins, a St. Mary's alumnus whose daughter, Eleanor, graduated Saturday. "The girls love each other, they love the faculty. It's just unreal."
Each student carried red roses representing each year St. Mary's has been open. The all-female school is steeped in tradition and most of that tradition runs in families.
"I'm excited in some ways, but I'm sad to see the tradition die out," said Anne Scholtz. "I love this place. It's meant the world to me. My mom went here and I'm carrying on the tradition and i wish my daughter could carry on the tradition."
"It was very important because my mom came here and I've always grown up around St. Mary's," said graduate Eleanor Jenkins. "And when I was little, Mom threw a St. Mary's sweatshirt on me.
The final commencement was bittersweet. Even past graduates and faculty couldn't hide their emotions.
"It's such a special place," said Betty Scholtz, Anne's mother and a St. Mary's alumnus herself. "It really touched my heart in so many ways. All the girls and all they expressed today, I still remember from my own days here."
St. Mary's will be a college preparatory school for grades 9 - 12 starting next fall.
Across town, graduates were turning their tassles at Shaw University.
Seniors from Shaw celebrated their commencement at Raleigh's Civic and Convention Center Saturday morning.
Martin Luther King Junior's Daughter, Bernice, an assistant pastor who works in Atlanta, gave the keynote address.
North Carolina Central University in Durham also held their graduation Saturday.
Sunday in Raleigh, Meredith College graduates will get their diplomas beginning at 10 a.m.
Graduation ceremonies for North Carolina State, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and Duke all take place next weekend.