abridged from a Facebook post by Freeman Academy
In the spring of 1904, H.A. Bachman, principal of South Dakota Mennonite College, summarized the first school term as “a successful one. We hardly dared to expect so much. The number of students reached 109. Since there was too much work for two teachers, a part-time teacher had to be secured. Looking back at this past year we can say the outlook is very favorable.”
With the demand for more classes taught in English, additional staff was hired in 1905. The curriculum expanded to four courses: a two-year preparatory course, a three-year academic course, a three-year normal course and a four-year Bible course. By the end of the 1905-06 term, four students had met the requirements for graduation. John Christian Graber, Anna Agnes Schmidt, Susanna Helena Unruh and Carolina Anna Waltner were the first graduating class of South Dakota Mennonite College. They graduated with ceremonies held at Bethany Mennonite Church on Tuesday, May 22, 1906.
(Photo and history credit to Heritage Hall Museum & Archives)