Senior Sneak Day 1943

Gathering in front of the BYH Beehive.

By Iris Ramey Seyfried
Brigham Young High School
Class of 1943

Shortly before our graduation in May of 1943, our acting principal, A. John Clarke, made a surprise announcement to the seniors that we were to take the day off -- for something he called "Senior Sneak Day".

This was a school tradition that I hadn't heard of before -- something to relieve the stress of our senior exams. I needed extra relief, because I took two sets of final exams, one for my junior year and one for my senior year, at the same time, but that's another story.

We seniors gathered together out on the lawn in front of the Academy building, and didn't know what to do with ourselves.

Soon the principal came out and told us to leave the campus.

"Get lost!" he ordered us.

One of our classmates suggested that we go to Heber to swim in the Hot Springs. I hadn't ever been there, and didn't know where it was located, but we agreed. Some of us changed from our school clothes, grabbed our swimsuits, and we rode in vehicles the boys provided.

In those days we usually dressed in fairly nice clothes for school. Some of the girls wore loose oversized sweaters over pleated skirts. The sweaters or sweatshirts were called "Sloppy Joes".

For this special day, we girls quickly changed into slacks, because we couldn't wear them to classes. Mine were forest green, and I wore a white blouse under my jacket. I remember I wore green leather moccasin-style shoes.

We made the trip towards Heber by driving up Provo Canyon. I stood up in the back of a truck that had wooden slat sides. I suppose the sides were added to the truck so they could transport stock or feed. We had to hang on for dear life. We sang on the way to and from the Hot Springs, and had a lot of fun.

We spent several delightful hours in the pool. Everybody loved it.What we ate and where, I don't remember. On the way back, my long hair was flying in the breeze. It had been curled for school, but swimming in the pool took all the curl out.

On our way back to the Lower Campus, the boys took us on a detour to a baseball field in Provo, where we played softball. They managed to borrow bats and softballs, and the game was on!

Those boys were so gentle with us girls. You know, in those days, there were very few sports in school for girls. We tried but we weren't very practiced. The boys didn't make fun of us when we were put out at a base or in-between, or when we lost, but I do remember how the boys grinned when they tagged us out.

Earlier I had decided to give up P.E. during my senior year because my right knee sometimes wouldn't behave. After graduation, I went to Children's Hospital in Los Angeles where they examined my knee and performed an operation to remove a cyst from under my kneecap.

However, I did swim and play softball on that beautiful Senior Sneak Day!

We paid ahead of time for our 1943 Wildcat yearbooks. The yearbooks were passed out after the exams during the last week. I treasured the book, but some years later lost it in a house fire.

We weren't allowed class rings or pins -- because of the war, or so we were told. A bunch of hooey! The jewelry stores were full of all kinds of gold items, and they were not even that expensive.

We girls were not even allowed time off between school and graduation to do our hair, so we had to wear our hair in curlers to school on graduation morning.

Our promenade to the stage had been carefully planned so that none of us would have to walk directly across the stage in front of our classmates to get to our assigned seats.

Well, at the last minute, the administration decided that one of the boys couldn't graduate, which threw our numbers out of kilter, so guess who had to walk to her seat like a shopper racing for a bargain!

Yes! When I reached the stage, I had to climb up the wrong steps and walk from the left to the extreme right side right across the stage. Not my fault. I assume our classmate finished his work and received his diploma sometime later.

After the commencement ceremony, we attended our Class of 1943 Graduation Ball. Even though I could have gone with a classmate, I chose to go with my older brother, because he had taken me to his graduation ball when we lived in New York. Turn about is fair play.

At the graduation ball I met a Japanese college student and spent most of the dance with him. He was a lot of fun. Because of the war, I thought all of the Japanese were in the detention camps. I haven't any idea how he became an exception, but I enjoyed meeting him.

BYH Graduation Night

A common tradition in high schools in the United States, variously called Senior Sneak Day, Senior Sluff Day, or Senior Ditch Day, was a welcome break from intense studying for finals.

In the 1940s it was not unusual for this extra day of vacation to be organized as a group, including chaperones. Sometimes members of the senior class formed a committee to determine what the class activity would be, but the actual date was always a closely guarded secret.

Few of these brief holidays have been documented. True, photographs were often taken during that day, but because it took place just before graduation, and after annuals had already been printed, almost nothing appears in high school yearbooks concerning this venerable tradition.

The memoir above describes the Senior Sneak Day in May of 1943 at Brigham Young High School, Provo, Utah, and the graduation that followed.

The cast of "Incognito" 1943

Iris Helen Ramey

Iris Helen Ramey, BYH Class of 1943
Iris Ramey, Class of 1943
Iris Helen Ramey was born on March 23, 1926 in Orofino, Idaho. Her family moved around the country, and she attended high school in New York and Idaho before transferring to BYH for her senior year.

She turned 17 just before her graduation from BYH.

She says she didn't do a lot of dating, because she had the goal in mind to become a nurse. High grades were necessary for college entrance.

Iris married Edward Lee Seyfried in 1944, and together they had nine children, and raised seven: three boys and four girls.
Although it was a church school, Iris says the education provided at Brigham Young High School was not significantly different than that offered by the public schools -- even the one-room schools she sometimes attended -- it was as good as she had seen in the public schools.

"Somebody must have done something right, because I passed the Civil Service exam with 96 out of a possible 100," she says.

"I never taught school, but did teach in Sunday School and Primary at all age levels, sang and taught singing, and taught my own children at home to believe in God, which is where we should start."

Iris is an active genealogist, and she has held many other Church positions in a small branch at Riggins, Idaho, and in Odgen, Utah.

Her BYH Class of 1943 celebrated its 65th graduation anniversary in 2008.

BYH Class of '43

A Broken Necklace