In 1900 the first class of the Branch Normal School had completed the necessary course work required for graduation. The first graduating class consisted of six graduates, each of whom received scholarships to proceed to the University of Utah to complete the fourth year of the normal course work. As per requirement of the scholarship, each of the six students agreed to teach for at least three years upon completion of their studies at the university.
It is impossible to grasp the educational impact of the Branch Normal School upon the entire region as you study the lives and service rendered by each of the graduates. However it is possible to see the BNS left an indelible mark upon the region as its first graduates went on to serve in public education. The graduates helped to realize and validate in a remarkably short time the vision of the founders. The first six graduates were Emma Gardner (Abbott), Joseph T. Wilkinson, Alice Redd (Rich), Ella Berry (Leigh), Julius Sylvester Dalley, and Amelia Dalley (Green).
Emma Gardner was one of 13 children of Royal Joseph and Chloe Louisa Snow Gardner of Pine Valley. She completed her elementary education at Pine Valley and Central schools then attended the BNS for her secondary training. Emma fulfilled her scholarship contract by teaching for 25 years in Mesquite, Nevada. She became principal of the school and served in numerous civic capacities. Emma married David Arthur Abbott of Mesquite on September 16, 1909 in the St. George LDS Temple.
Joseph T. Wilkinson Jr., was the fourth of five children born to Joseph T. Wilkinson and Elizabeth Emily Wells of Leeds. Joseph began his education at the local elementary school in Leeds, but when he was nine his family moved to Cedar City where he completed elementary school. He worked with his father and brothers publishing the Iron County Record. When the BNS opened in 1897 Joseph was one of the first students. After graduation from the University of Utah, Joseph fulfilled his scholarship contract teaching at schools in Hurricane, Rockville, Springdale and Moccasin and Cane Beds, Arizona. His normal schooling framed a teaching career that extended over many years.
Alice Redd (Rich) was the 13th child of Lemuel Hardison Redd and Keziah Jane Butler of New Harmony. After her graduation she taught for a year at Pioche, Nevada, then on to Paris, Idaho to teach at the Fielding Academy. It was there that she met and married fellow teacher Abel Sargent Rich. They settled in Brigham City, Utah and three of their seven children became teachers.
Ella Berry (Leigh) was the seventh of eight children born to William Shanks Berry and Rebecca Rocena Beck of Kanarraville. Ella attended the Parowan Stake Academy and entered with the first class. After her graduation from the University of Utah she taught just three years in the Iron County School District before marrying Harry Leigh. Harry was a young businessman and through the years his business prospered as did their family of nine children.
Julius Sylvester Dalley and his twin sister were the eleventh and twelfth children born to James and Johanna Bollette Bertelsen of Summit. Julius loved to learn and attended school through the fifth grade. Because there was no advanced school work available he attended this highest grade three consecutive years. He then attended the Parowan Stake Academy for a year before in the fall of 1897 he entered as part of the first class of the BNS. After his graduation Julius fulfilled his scholarship contract by teaching for a year in the basement of the tabernacle in Parowan. He then spent his life teaching all over southern Utah and Arizona. He taught in Summit, Monticello, Utah and Moccasin, Arizona and finished his career in Kanab, Utah. He was a strong civic leader, involved in education his entire life.
Amelia Dalley (Green) was a half-sister to Julius. She was born to James and Petrine Berleson Dalley. She and her twin sister Minnie were the ninth and tenth kids of fourteen children. Amelia was educated in the elementary schools in Iron County and enrolled at the BNS in the fall of 1897 at age 20 to complete her secondary schooling. Amelia fulfilled her scholarship contract by teaching for a year in a one-room school teaching 1-8th grades in Summit. She then accepted a position teaching 5th grade in Cedar City’s elementary school. She married George Bernard Green in 1907.
This group of six friends moved to Salt Lake City together for their obligatory year at the University of Utah. They rented a small house and all lived together with Petrine Bertlesen Dalley acting as their chaperone and house-mother. The number of lives these six graduates either directly or indirectly impacted is astronomical. And just imagine - the same school that graduated these six students over 115 years ago graduated 1,643 students in 2015. It’s difficult to comprehend just how much these six graduates influenced the future of not only SUU, but the entire region.