Mandan News

Diane Boit: Supreme Court Justice Burr speaks to Class of 1938

Diane Boit25 Years Ago – 1988

Mandan High School students jammed the school’s decorated gym to participate in a special taping of “Dance Party USA” hosted by Andy Grury, along with 12 of the popular television show’s 24 regular dancers. Mandan’s “party” also featured teenage superstar, Debbie Gibson. MHS won the “Another Chance to Dance” contest by mailing more than 600,000 postcards to Dance Party, more than double the ballots of last year’s winning high school.

Dressed as a typical teenager in a short dress, sneakers and jean jacket, Gibson sang eight songs, including “Foolish Beat” and “Out of the Blue.” Toward the end of her performance, she went off-stage and reappeared wearing a Mandan T-shirt, which greatly increased the noise level in the building. In appreciation of her appearance at Mandan’s party, several MHS students presented her with roses, a North Dakota T-shirt, a graduation card and a Mandan letterman’s jacket.

“Dance Party USA” was taped for broadcast on June 24 on Cable Channel 9, the USA Network.

Debbie Gibson, who performed at Mandan High in 1988 during a special taping of "Dance Party USA," a show that aired in Mandan after high school students submitted more than 600,000 postcards to the show, as part of the show's Another Chance to Dance contest.

Debbie Gibson, who performed at Mandan High in 1988 during a special taping of “Dance Party USA,” a show that aired in Mandan after high school students submitted more than 600,000 postcards to the show, as part of the show’s Another Chance to Dance contest.

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Albert Zachmeier, owner of Zack’s Cooking, recently hosted a special guest at his farm, three miles north on Collins Ave., when Angie Dickinson arrived for Zack’s pit beef feed. The North Dakota-born movie star came to Mandan to help host a 60th birthday party-fundraiser for North Dakota Governor George Sinner. The perfect spring evening brought several hundred people to the event; tickets were $25 per person.


50 Years Ago – 1963

Approximately 1,400 people attended graduation ceremonies for the class of 1963 at the Mandan High School gymnasium. The Salutatorian address was given by Beverly Boyd, followed by speeches given by co-Valedictorians Gayle Neill and Alan Inglis, who expressed farewell to the community as well as to history instructor Mable Planer and to Dr. William Neff, Superintendent of Mandan Schools, who are retiring from the teaching profession.

Commencement exercises were also held at Marmot High School this past week. Valedictorian of the graduating class is Roger Sobolik; Salutatorian is Larry Evenson.

Graduation exercises for 67 eighth-grade students of St. Joseph’s Grade School were held on May 29. The graduates participated in a 7 p.m. High Mass, celebrated by the Rev. Thomas Chambers, by singing the responses. Mothers of the seventh grade students were hostesses for the dinner, which preceded the ceremony.

Mrs. J. D. Fogle is the new Mandan American Legion Auxiliary president. Mrs. Fogle and other new officers were all installed by Mrs. Hadley Wickham, Seventh District president.


75 Years Ago – 1938

“At no other time within the knowledge of mankind has history been made as fast as it is being made now,” said North Dakota Supreme Court Justice A.G. Burr to the 92 members of the 1938 graduating class of the Mandan High School and to an estimated audience of 800 parents, relatives and friends attending the annual commencement exercises held in the Mandan World War Memorial building. Judge Burr also advised the class to spend part of their reading time in the study of world history because that is where they will find adventure, romance and thrills instead of reading the cheaper literature of the ordinary novel of the day.

Next on the program were the Salutatory address by Carol Unkenholz and the Valedictory given by Elaine Nelson. Those speeches were followed by vocal selections by the girls’ and boys’ glee clubs under the direction of Miss Helma Taipale.

Valedictorian Elaine Nelson

Valedictorian Elaine Nelson

W.L. Neff, superintendent of Mandan High School, presented the graduating class; diplomas were awarded by R.F. Gallagher, president of the school board.

The exercises closed with the singing of “America” by the audience, a benediction by Rev. T.A. Simpson of Mandan and the recessional played by the high school band.

Class of 1938- Motto: “Launched But Not Anchored;” Class Colors: Purple and Gold; Class Flower: Purple Gladiola.


Salutatorian Carol Unkenholz

Salutatorian Carol Unkenholz

100 Years Ago – 1913

“On Tuesday evening, June 3, six young ladies and two young men were presented with their diplomas from the Mandan High School by Mr. T. A. Cummins, president of the Board of Education. The opera house was filled with parents, friends and citizens, all interested in the evening’s exercises which marked the close of the year 1913 for the public schools.

“The curtain first rose showing the graduates garbed in caps and gowns in the foreground of the stage and high school students in the rear, all of whom sang ‘Love’s Old Sweet Song’ and ‘Our High School.’ The curtain was then lowered and when it rose again, the audience saw the graduates, the school board, the professors and the speaker of the evening, Gov. L. B. Hanna..

“The evening’s program was given by the senior class: a class poem read by Elizabeth Draper, a piano solo by Mary McGillic, an essay by Esther Sullivan, a reading of the class will and prophecy by Margaret Cummins and Florence Adler, a humorous reading by Dora Spath and a debate on the ‘Pros and Cons of Capital Punishment’ by Isadore Greengard and Sylvan Miller.

“Gov. Hanna was then introduced, and he spoke of what the great state of North Dakota was doing in the matter of education so that the boys and girls of today might secure a better and broader education than their parents. Following the address, the class of 1913 received their diplomas, and the Recessional by DeKoven was sung by the high school chorus.”


125 Years Ago – 1888

The village of Mandan was organized in the spring of 1881; by 1888 its population was at 2,600.

June 7, 1888: “On Thursday at 3:30 p.m. the thermometer stood at 65 degrees above zero.

“This morning seven companies of soldiers from Fort Keogh, under the command of Col. Gibbon, went through Mandan on their way to Texas. They made a train load of 12 cars, including 350 men and non-commissioned officers, plus the band and about 30 commissioned officers. When the train stopped here, there was rather a lively scene between the depot and Curley’s Saloon where the soldiers disposed of $41.25 worth of liquor.

“The ball game at Bismarck yesterday was won by the Mandan Club, with a score of 39 to 21. This is another evidence of Mandan superiority.

“And here’s a little Poem brought in by a wandering young man who apparently did not have much to do this week…

The June bug disappears in June.

The lightning bug in May,

The Skeeter takes his bonnet off

And says: ‘I’ve come to stay!'”


(To contact Diane Boit, email

Mandan High School's cover of the 1938 yearbook.

Mandan High School’s cover of the 1938 yearbook.