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Four generations of Hilzendagers have graduated from Rugby High School

By Staff | May 13, 2011

Bernice Hilzendager is a member of a small exclusive club, those who are the oldest living graduates of Rugby High School. Hilzendager was born in the second decade of the last century. She graduated from RHS 78 years ago.

Little did she know on her high school graduation day in 1933 that she would someday be the matriarch of three more generations of RHS graduates. Her daughter, Vicky Harmel graduated in 1967. Vicky’s daughter, Trica (pronounced Trisha) graduated in 1990. Trica’s daughter, Paige Haman, graduated just last year, in 2010.

They are all proud to say they still live in Rugby today. Vicky was gone from Rugby for a short time right after high school but she missed her hometown and moved back. Paige attends college, but plans to continue to live in Rugby, too.

“We wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” they all agreed.

A lot changed in the educational system and for students over those four generations.

“When I went to school the worst thing you could do was chew gum in school,” laughs Bernice. “We were better behaved.”

Compared to today’s world, that was pretty mild.

In 1967 when Vicky graduated, girls wore dresses to school and respect for teachers and administration was high. The career choices for girls were limited. Girls could expect to be teachers, nurses, or secretaries. Most girls got married soon after high school and ran households and took care of their families. Vicky got a job and got married.

The three later generations all attended Little Flower Catholic School, as well.

Vicky’s favorite teacher, Catharine Hornstein, taught music at Rugby High School.

“I loved Catharine Hornstein,” said Vicky. “I aspired to be Catharine Hornstein.”

Trica remembers Mr. Monson, her English teacher, as her favorite. She and her daughter Paige had some of the same teachers, such as Mr. Mund and Mr. Martz. One of Paige’s favorite teachers was Mr. Higbee.

Trica said that her class had respect for teachers. She admitted to being a little afraid of them, though.

Paige said she wasn’t afraid of any of her teachers, but she still feels that students respect teachers, today. All four ladies said they received a good education from Rugby High School.

“We had a lot of one on one time,” remembers Paige.

Paige, unlike her grandma Vicki, participated in sports. More sports are offered for girls in Paige’s generation. Girls didn’t play sports much in the sixties nor in the thirties. Vicki preferred music to sports, anyway.

These four alumni from Rugby High School are looking forward to the 125th Celebration and All School Reunion in July.

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