Vignettes about Events & People


Thru the years, graduation ceremonies have been adversely affected by Kansas storms.

Severe Weather Damage

On May 25, 1955, one of the deadliest tornadoes to ever hit Kansas demolished Udall in the middle of the night. The May 25 headline in the Arkansas City Traveler: UDALL DESTROYED; 56 DIE, 200 HURT. May 27 headline: Udall-Oxford tornado toll 80; 12 more bodies. The same storm devastated Blackwell, Okla.


On Friday, May 27, 1955, 90 students from Arkansas City Junior College were to receive their diplomas, along with the graduates of Arkansas City High School. The ceremony was scheduled to be held in the Auditorium/ Gymnasium, now known as W.S. Scott Auditorium. About half way through the presentation of diplomas, an announcement of an approaching storm sent many people to the exits. Students who did not receive their diplomas Friday night were able to pick them up Saturday morning. After what had happened just two days earlier to Udall, nobody was taking any chances. At first, Dr. J.J. Vineyard and J.J. Clark intended to complete the presentation of diplomas. But after the announcement, so many people left that it was decided to conclude the program.


More than 25 years later, in May 1981, the roof of W.S. Scott Auditorium was damaged by a tornado. The graduation ceremony for Cowley County Community College was held in the building at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, May 10, as 226 graduates received diplomas. Cowley President Dr. Gwen Nelson was the featured speaker.


Between Cowley's graduation and Arkansas City High School's ceremony, a tornado took off a portion of the roof of W.S. Scott Auditorium. Because of the damage to the roof, ACHS held its graduation in 1981 in the Agri-Business Building. The current high school on West Radio Lane did not open until January 1983. Neither the college nor the high school was able to hold graduation in W.S. Scott Auditorium in 1982 as yet another storm damaged the roof. The college held graduation for 197 students on May 9, 1982, in the Arkansas City Middle School Auditorium.

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