By Bruce Mastracchio
East Greenwich Academy, which was the predecessor to East Greenwich High School, always had a lot of tradition, and, traditions, that were eventually passed along when it changed from The Academy to East Greenwich High School in 1942-43 or so. Some of those traditions have been carried on, most notably Ivy Day.
But, there was another tradition we had when I was in high school that has apparently fallen by the wayside.
It was called Moving Up Day, and, I actually liked it a lot better than Ivy Day. Of course, as those things go, it was the one that was dropped.
It had a hokeyness to it that I always attribute to small town America, and to the East Greenwich of my youth.
There were a lot of things that were symbolic about it and, to my way of thinking, it was just an uplifting kind of day.
Maybe after the powers-that-be read this story, they might think of reviving it. Boy, I would like to see that. I might even participate.
For me, the fabric that made up small-town old E.G. was strong and important woven first around the outstanding people here, the makeup of things and the traditions that were held dear from ceremonies to parades to celebrations.
Now that I am older, each succeeding death rips a part of the fabric that I knew and, of course for me, the last piece will go with my own death. I don’t want to dwell on that too long as it comes soon enough for most of us.
I used to joke that I couldn’t imagine a world without me in it. Guess I will find out soon enough.
And the world will too.
At The Academy, where I spent my eighth grade year, and, later at East Greenwich High School, the ending of the school year brought on a flurry of activity. The Spring Dance, Junior Prom and graduation were on everyone’s mind. Of course, those events take place at all high schools.
But, at EGHS we had two other special events. Ivy Day and Moving Up Day. As best as I can remember, Moving Up Day came first, and it was the one that I liked best.
We had to practice for all these events and that meant time out of regular classes. Of course, for me at least, that was supreme and a reason for being.
For Moving Up Day, each class was assigned a color. It might be yellow for the eighth grade; white for the freshman; green for the sophomores, gray for the juniors and red for the seniors. There would be a processional with the classes marching into the auditorium in reverse order. Eighth graders first to sit in rows at the back, followed by the freshman who would sit in front of them, then the sophomores, juniors and seniors.
When everyone was seated there would be a welcome from the president of the Student Council, a flag salute and everyone would sing “America the Beautiful.”
Then the yearbook advisor would present the first Crimson yearbook followed by the Class History; Class Will and Class Prophecy.
Next would come from musical selections from the school band.
That was followed by awards, academic ones like Honor Society and Student Council, to those for varsity athletics.
Remember there were only 40 to 50 graduates in those days so it did not take as long as it sounds.
After the greeting from the chairman of the School Committee, the part I liked best started. All the classes would stand up and start to sing the Moving Up Day song. It went like this:
Proudly march the underclassmen
through the rows they filled last year
Wending upward, rushing onward, toward the goal
each term brings near
Sadly march the stately seniors
to the doorway down the stair
Soon to start another pattern
in the fabric started there
Weaving in and out the rows
Every class now slowly goes
Symbolic of our lives ahead
as the shuttle weaves the thread
Building fabrics of the life
Strong enough to stand the strife
Onward, onward ever on
Til the cloth of life is done.
All this time the classes were weaving in and out of the rows advancing to the spots that the class ahead of them had just occupied. Once each class had advanced to the designated spot in front of it and the seniors had advanced to the stage, everybody stopped. On the stage the seniors were in bleachers facing the other classes.
Then the whole school would sing a song titled, “Where, Oh Where.”It went like this:
“Where oh where are the happy eighth graders (sung 3x), safe right now in freshman class.
They then went through the same verses for the verdant freshman, the busy sophomores and the jolly juniors all now safe in the next class.
Then the juniors sang their tribute to the seniors and then, the seniors answered with a song of response.
It all ended with the stately seniors safe now in the wide, wide world. They’ve gone out from their alma mater (3x), safe now in the wide, wide world.
As I said, it was kind of hokey. Kind of cornball America. But I loved it. I think others did too.
In 1949, as I read the program, they then had a recessional march and a tapping of the outstanding senior.
On Ivy Day, after picking a court, they would have a processional, carrying a long ivy chain and then tap the Ivy Day Queen. My memory escapes me on the details of that but I am trying to find out. I am sure they were two separate days and two separate ceremonies.
In the afternoon there was a baseball game for people to go to and, at night, there were family parties. Of course, I am getting on a bit and I am sure someone will tell me different, but, that’s how I remember it. Or disremember it as some guy from ConnTex would say.
Whatever the memory, I wish they would bring Moving Up day back and give today’s kids a little taste of tradition. They need anchors today and they are not getting them.
There was so much symbolism and meaning. I guess the younger generation would scoff at it now, but as you get older the meaning of the whole event seems to grow.
Especially now for us old EG’ers, who see the fabric ripped and torn with every new graduation of names we never knew and the deaths of all those we knew all too well.
Bring it back!
Bruce Mastracchio writes about the way things used to be in East Greenwich and the way he wished they still were.