FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                    September 11, 2007


On Sept. 20, 1897, Northwestern Normal School opened its doors and began teaching its first classes in the Congregational Church, which had been rented for $150 for the school year.

"First Day of School Celebration" Poster and Schedule

Five days before classes were to begin, the State Board of Education considered 48 applicants for the office of president, choosing a young school administrator from Illinois, James E. Ament.

Northwestern, which became the second Oklahoma Territorial normal school – the first being in Edmond -- boasted an initial enrollment of about 58 students, but that number grew to 70 by the end of September and 100 by early November. By the end of the first year, enrollment was 166, increasing the concern to have a building to house the growing population.

This first building, erected on a 40-acre tract of land donated by J.T. Fryer and affectionately named “The Castle on the Hill,” was first occupied by 413 students and 10 faculty on Sept. 11, 1899, almost a year after its construction had begun. Northwestern had more students at that time than any other school of higher education in the territory, including Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical College in Stillwater, the Territorial Normal School in Edmond, the University of Oklahoma and Langston University.

To celebrate Northwestern’s beginning 110 years ago while also celebrating the State of Oklahoma’s 100th anniversary, Northwestern Oklahoma State University has planned several special activities for Thursday, Sept. 20, 2007, in which the university community and the surrounding areas are welcome to participate.

            The “First Day of Class Celebration,” planned by the university’s special events sub-committee of the 110/100 Oklahoma/Northwestern Centennial Committee, will begin at 10:45 a.m. with the ringing of the bell on the north Herod Hall lawn, along with opening ceremony remarks by Dr. Janet Cunningham, university president, and Lakin Ragains, Student Government Association president.

            From 11 a.m. to noon and again from 2 to 2:30 p.m., short tours of the one-room schoolhouse, located just north of the Struckle Education Center, will take place.

            The Northwestern Spanish Department is providing piñata festivities twice during the day. Piñata breaking will take place at 11 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. on the east Herod Hall lawn.

            A short reenactment of a 1937 campus visit from Eleanor Roosevelt will take place at 11:30 a.m. in Herod Hall Auditorium. Kimberly Weast, assistant professor of theatre, will portray Roosevelt while sharing a few excerpts from the speeches she presented in 1937 while on campus to help the university celebrate its 40th anniversary and the dedications of new campus buildings, Jesse Dunn Hall (which included a new science annex that is today’s Carter Hall), and Horace Mann Hall (today’s Education Center).

Dr. Jim Yates, chairman of the English, Foreign Language and Humanities department, also will present comments made from the 1937 dedication ceremony by A.L. Crable, the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and president of the State Board of Education, titled “The New Northwestern.”

            At noon, lunch will be served to Northwestern students and employees in the Greenspace parking lot. The Ranger band will provide music selections near the lunch area at 12:30 p.m.

            Another special activity planned includes the re-dedication of the Fine Arts Building (formerly Science Hall) cornerstone. The Masonic Lodge will lead the approximate hour-long ceremony. Items stored away behind the cornerstone in a time capsule 100 years ago will be on display.

            Dr. Aaron Mason, assistant professor of political science, has been working on plans for this ceremony and invites everyone associated with Northwestern to submit items for consideration to be placed inside a new time capsule that will be sealed behind the cornerstone. It is hoped that this type of ceremony will take place again 100 years from now, and that the time capsule items will provide a glimpse into the happenings of the university from 2007. He can be reached at (580) 327-8522.

            Other special activities planned in the mall area of campus near the fountain include various period craft and trade demonstrations such as blacksmithing and making prints on a vintage printing press.

            Educational departments on campus also have been preparing the histories of their departments, which will be on display in the Student Center.

            In case of inclement weather, all activities will move inside to Percefull Fieldhouse.

            For additional information, please contact the 110/100 Northwestern-Oklahoma Centennial Committee co-chairmen Dr. Mike Knedler, (580) 327-8590, or Kathy Earnest, (580) 327-8472.


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Northwestern Oklahoma State University
Steve Valencia, Director
Office of University Relations
709 Oklahoma Blvd., Alva, OK 73717
Phone: (580) 327-8478  Fax: (580) 327-8660

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