All Draft

Dramatic and Literary Clubs – The First 50 Years

by Bob Linnenberg ’63

American playwright Thornton Wilder once said, “I regard the theater as the greatest of all art forms.” In December 1920, students at East High, later Withrow, agreed with that concept and formed the first dramatic club The East High Players. The group’s first year’s presentations were mainly plays written and performed by students. Skits with a holiday theme were presented at Christmas. When Withrow got its new name, The Players was replaced by the Thalian Dramatic Club, whose members performed their first plays in the 1925-26 school year. Eligible juniors and seniors had to try out for membership in Thalian and were judged on the “basis of character, merit, voice qualities, expression and poise.”

In 1928, a dramatic club for sophomores was founded in order to prepare students for Thalian membership. By 1931, freshmen were also admitted to this “preparatory” club, which was called Alphian Dramatic Club. Alphian did not survive but Thalian flourished under the direction of Miss Marjorie Rosenberger for almost 40 years, continuing even after her retirement in 1971.

The Withrow Players was formed in the 1935-36 school year replacing Alphian as the drama club for freshmen and sophomores. By 1944, Players was opened to all students and, like Thalian, required aspiring thespians to try out for membership. By the mid-1950s, Thalian and The Withrow Players merged and the new organization was known as Thalian Players.

Besides presenting such plays as You Can’t Take it With You and The Man Who Came to Dinner throughout the school year, the dramatic clubs also performed skits and short plays at assemblies, pep rallies, and PTA meetings. They also helped supply the end-men and walk-ons for skits in the yearly Minstrels and the Sounds of Withrow productions. The major theater productions also required the assistance of industrial arts students for sets and lighting, business students for ticketing and promotion, and other students for make-up and costumes. These opportunities for other than the dramatic students made these events truly a school-wide activity.

Scribblers, a girl’s literary society, was founded in 1924. Limited to 20 junior and senior members, Scribblers was responsible for publishing a guidebook to Withrow for incoming students. The Withrow Book contained information on school history, activities, and sports and contained all the Withrow songs and cheers that new students would need to know. In 1933, Literatus Club was organized for freshmen and sophomore girls and remained active throughout the 1930s and 40s. Admittance to these clubs was limited to those girls who submitted their own literary efforts such as a poem, essay or short story. Girls also had to be recommended by their teachers. Members had to maintain a “C” average overall and a “B” average in English. The entries submitted for membership were often published in booklet or magazine form; and for many years, Scribbler entries were published in Tower News.

 The oldest organization at Withrow was the Philological Literary Society. Founded at East High’s predecessor, Madisonville High School, in 1912, the club’s objective was to prepare young men for public speaking and debating. The club met every other week and all discussions, talks and debates were held within the bounds of strict parliamentary procedures. There were no dues, and the club made its money by fines on its absent, tardy or disorderly members. Admittance to the club was by application and the submission of a 500-word essay on a current topic of interest. Prospective members were then voted on by the membership. Philologians had to maintain a “B” average in English and Social Studies. By the late 1930s, Philologia was having joint meetings with the girls of Scribblers. The club lasted until the late 1950s. As was typical of such clubs founded in the early part of the 20th century, Philologia had a club song, the chorus of which was:

Onward with each brave endeavor,
In thy name we ’ll fail no ever,
Yet our love will die no never,

Of the literary clubs, the only one open to both boys and girls was Quill and Scroll. Part of a national organization, the Edmund D. Lyon (Withrow’s first principal) chapter was introduced at Withrow in 1942. The club first published a booklet Inklings, which consisted of literary works by student members. Another booklet, Memories of Withrow, was published in 1944. The club appears to have folded by the late 1940s, but was reinstated at Withrow in 1958. As its primary focus was journalistic writing, Quill and Scroll largely consisted of Tower News and Annual literary staff members.

Withrow High School Principals – 1919-1971

By Bob Linnenberg ’63

Edmund D. Lyon 1919-1933
The son of a Methodist minister, Edmund Daniel Lyon was born September 6, 1862 In Martinsburg, a small town in northeastern Ohio.  After graduation from Ohio Wesleyan University, Mr. Lyon spent his early tears teaching, and as superintendent in Cuyahoga County and other northern Ohio districts.  He was hired by Cincinnati Public schools in 1901 as superintendent of Madisonville High School. In 1906 Mr. Lyon was appointed principal at Woodward High School and in 1912 was made principal of Hughes High School.  When the new East High School in Hyde Park opened in 1919, Mr. Lyon was named its first principal.  East High replaced Madisonville High where he had begun his career in Cincinnati.  An avid fisherman and reader, Mr. Lyon was also known for his interest in music and his fine singing voice.  His interest in art manifested itself with his formation of the Art League at Withrow which purchased, through student donations, many fine paintings and artwork to beautify the halls.  Having guided East/Withrow High from its infancy into a modern first-class institution, Mr. Lyon concluded his 32 years with Cincinnati public schools, retiring from Withrow in 1933.  Ohio Wesleyan University, of which he was a trustee, awarded Mr. Lyon an honorary master of arts and doctor of pedagogy degree.  He was also so honored by Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.  A resident of Madisonville, Mr. Lyon was president of the Ohio Teachers Association and was active in the National Association of High School Principals.  He was a Mason and a trustee of Madisonville Methodist Church.  Mr. Lyon passed away in November of 1944 at the age of 82 and is buried Laurel Cemetery in Madisonville.  Perhaps the highest honor bestowed upon him was the 1957 dedication of Edmund D. Lyon Junior High School, also in Madisonville.

Walter Peoples 1933-1947
A native of Clark County, Ohio northeast of Dayton, Walter Peoples was born in December 1881 and raised on a farm.  He was a graduate of Juniata College in Huntington, Pennsylvania.  After post-graduate work at Wittenberg University, Ohio State and the University of Wisconsin, Mr. Peoples received a master of education degree in 1933 from the University of Cincinnati.  His early teaching career was at Madisonville High School until he was named assistant principal of the new East High School in 1919.  When Mr. Lyon retired in 1933, Mr. Peoples was made acting principal and was officially made principal of Withrow in 1934.  He was noted for being at Withrow at 7:30 every school day and greeting each teacher as they came to school.  A noted bowler and golfer, he took time from his duties as principal to be the advisor for the Withrow bowling team.  In 1930 he was elected president of the Ohio State High School Athletic Association.  He was also a president of the Southwestern Teachers Association and a member of several educational organizations.  Noted for his friendliness and his laugh, Mr. Peoples was greatly mourned when he died in November of 1947 while still principal of Withrow.  The school closed at 1:00 PM so that faculty and students could attend his funeral.  He is buried in Clark County.  In 1971 Walter Peoples Junior High School in Hyde Park was dedicated by Senator Robert Taft, Jr.  A resident of Madisonville, Mr. Peoples and his family lived just up the street from his predecessor Edmund Lyon.  All three of Mr. Peoples children were Withrow graduates.


A.O. Mathias 1947-1956
In 1907 Anthony Ottis Mathias, who preferred to be known as A.O, began his teaching career in Adams County, Ohio where he had been born.   While teaching there for several years, Mr. Mathias received his bachelor’s degree in 1916 from Ohio University in Athens, majoring in biological sciences.  He came to Cincinnati and began his local teaching career at Woodward High School.  When East High opened in 1919 he was appointed to teach agriculture. When that program was phased out in 1926 he turned to teaching mathematics at Withrow.  In 1946 he became assistant principal and upon the death of Mr. Peoples in November 1947 he was made acting principal.   Mr. Mathias, who would rather have remained a teacher, was persuaded by his fellow teachers to make the job as principal permanent.  He retired as principal in June 1956 after 37 years at Withrow.  He had served as president of the Schoolmaster’s club in 1935 of the Ohio Education Association in 1945.  In 1923 he had help create Teachers Group Insurance Co. which provided benefits to teachers in case of accidents or illnesses. In retirement he became president of Ohio Retired Teachers Association.  Mr. Mathias, who for 13 years had a fruit and poultry farm in Indian Hill, also served as president and clerk of the Indian Hill Board of Education.  He was honored by his alma mater Ohio University in 1969 for his “outstanding leadership in the field of education”.  Mr. Mathias died in March 1982 at age 92 and is buried in Adams County.  He was a resident of Mt Lookout and all five of his children were Withrow graduates.


Rayburn Cadwallader 1956-1960
A 1922 graduate of Wilmington College, Wilmington, Ohio, Raymond Woods Cadwallader began his teaching career at Withrow in 1927 in the commercial department.  His mother and father, three of his grandparents and eleven aunts and uncles were teachers.  After a brief hiatus, he became assistant principal in 1933.  He remained at Withrow until 1946 when he was made principal of Western Hills High School.  He returned to Withrow as principal in 1956.  Mr. Cadwallader left Withrow for a research position at the Board of Education in 1960 and retired in 1962 after 35 years with Cincinnati public schools.  He had also served as assistant principal of East Night High School and as principal of the YMCA night school.  He was president of the Schoolmaster’s club and secretary of the South-western Ohio Teachers Association.   “Mr. Cad”, who enjoyed fishing, bowling and golf, was also a member of many civic and fraternal organizations.  In addition to having a master of education degree from the University of Cincinnati, Mr. Cadwallader was the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree from his alma mater, Wilmington College, in 1955.  A resident of Hyde Park, Mr. Cadwallader died in February 1964 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.  All three of his children graduated from Withrow.


Joseph Ayer 1960-1967
Before becoming principal in 1960, Joseph Charles Ayer’s only connection with Withrow was as a student teacher of civics and history in the fall of 1940.  He was then a recent graduate of Otterbein College, In Westerville, Ohio and working for a bachelor of education degree from the University of Cincinnati.  The son of a Congregational Church clergyman, Mr. Ayer was born in Windham, Connecticut in April 1916.  He served as an Army officer during World War II and was badly injured by a landmine in 1944.  He was awarded the Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Medal and Bronze Star.  Mr. Ayer left Withrow in 1967 to become coordinator of Student Affairs at the Middletown campus of Miami University.  He was named Director of Student Affairs in 1975 and retired from that job in 1977.  Mr. Ayer, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, also held a master of education degree from Xavier University.  He died in December 2005 at age 89 and is inurned at Dayton National Cemetery.  He and Mrs. Ayer had no children.


Marvin Renshaw 1967-1971
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Marvin R. Renshaw was a graduate of Norwood High School and had bachelor and masters degrees from the University of Cincinnati.  An officer during World War II, he served in the south Pacific as a navigator in B-29s.  Mr. Renshaw taught American History as a student teacher at Withrow in 1946 and taught English and Journalism as a full-time teacher from 1947 to 1958.  As a student teacher Mr. Renshaw was quoted in Tower News as saying that “he doesn’t know how he would have faced all those kids if it hadn’t been for his training in the army”.  Before returning to Withrow as principal in 1967, he served at Lyon Junior High, Taft High and Cutter Junior High schools.  After serving at Withrow for four years, Mr. Renshaw was made principal of Western Hills High School in 1971 and retired there after nine years in 1980.  There was quite a bit of student unrest during his tenure as principal of both schools and was praised for even handedness and calm.  During his years of teaching at Withrow, Mr. Renshaw, an avid bowler, coached the bowling team.  He was a popular faculty advisor to Tower News.  He also enjoyed golf.  A resident of Mt. Washington, Mr. Renshaw’s two daughters were Withrow graduates.  He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church.  He died in February 1988 and is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery.

Withrow History – Social Clubs

By Bob Linnenberg ’63

From the day Withrow opened in the fall of 1919, social clubs were part of the fabric of high school life. Chapters of existing fraternities and sororities from other Cincinnati schools were quickly established by incoming members at Withrow. In the 1920s, new social clubs were established; and chapters of organizations from Hughes and Walnut Hills were added. Fashioned after college fraternities and sororities, the groups had secret rituals, initiation ceremonies and traditions that presumably would bind the members together. These clubs were not sanctioned by the Board of Education and members met out of school, often secretly. However, pins and other insignia could, and would, be worn by member students at Withrow.

The clubs remained “underground”, or unsanctioned, until November 1949, when the Board of Education accepted the social club rules that had been established after long and careful consideration. It was not without controversy that the Board decided to let the clubs exist inside the schools. Technically, high school fraternities and sororities were illegal in the state of Ohio. Cincinnati Mayor Murray Seasongood and many others vehemently opposed them as insidious, undemocratic organizations. The Board of Education, desiring to exercise control over the social clubs, determined how the clubs could be in compliance with Ohio law and went forward with their recognition.

When the social club rules were accepted by the Board in 1949, 24 percent of the girls and 19 percent of the boys at Withrow belonged to social clubs. (This percentage was far exceeded by Walnut Hills, where 72 percent of the girls and 83 percent of the boys belonged.) The takeover of school social life at Withrow was immediate. Many dances and parties held by the clubs were opened to all Withrow students. Intramural sports contests between the groups continued, but now could be reported on in Tower News. The social clubs could now be featured in the Annual, at a cost of course, as they had to pay for the spots just like any other school organization.

As part of the conditions laid down by the Board, social clubs were now overseen by faculty advisors. The club’s constitutions had to be approved and accepted by the Board, and membership in any organization could not exceed 48 students. Under the agreement, academic rules were established and members had to maintain a “C” average to be allowed to participate in club activities. If a student member failed a course in a grading period, they were suspended from the social club until the next grading period. Club schedules for social events had to be approved by the advisors, so as not to conflict with another club’s activities. If a club had an unscheduled activity, the entire club was suspended from social events for a grading period. Illegal activities such as drinking or gambling would bring a suspension. Chaperones were required at all fraternity/sorority events. The faculty advisors enforced these rules as best they could.

As a byproduct of the academic rules, social club members often maintained a higher grade point average than non-members. As with intramural sports competition, there was also stiff competition among the clubs for scholastic superiority. The clubs also played an outsized role in the life of the school. Usually social club members were the most active in extracurricular activities such as Tower News and the Annual and held most leadership positions in many organizations throughout Withrow. Indeed, in the senior girls service organization Dux Femina, 87 percent of the girls selected for membership during the “legal” period belonged to a sorority. In fact, almost 40 percent of the girls belonged to one particular sorority. Between 1950 and 1963, 72 percent of the boys in the senior service organization Sigma Gamma were fraternity members; and half of these boys were members of the one fraternity whose rules forbade smoking and drinking in high school.

One of the requirements laid down by the Board was the continuation and encouragement of charitable works by the clubs. Many social clubs raised money for charity, provided and distributed Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets for the needy and visited shut-ins and the sick. Several of the clubs had been established for this philanthropic purpose in addition to providing a social network for the members.

However, after 14 years of school supervision and guidance, a new round of studies by the Board recommended that the decision of 1949 be reversed. There was also the threat of a lawsuit challenging the support of such clubs, which the Board wished to avoid. Social clubs were to be banned effective September 1,1963. It had been determined that public funds could no longer be used “to nurture, regulate or control the formation and operation of such clubs.” Unlike in 1949, when the clubs had been flourishing, membership in social clubs had been declining for years. Those clubs remaining at Withrow in 1963 either chose to disband or go back “underground.” Membership under student and parental direction continued for about a decade, but social clubs no longer held the sway they once had.

One cannot deny that the social clubs were often discriminatory and elitist. Whether or not to join a social club was a difficult decision for many Withrow students. The rush period could be very stressful for prospective members. Until 1954, freshman rush occurred in the spring. With the opening of several junior high schools that year, sophomore rush was moved to the fall. One was not always invited to join the desired group. Indeed, singer/actress Rosemary Clooney wrote in her autobiography of the social tension of rush, and the fact that she was “blackballed” by a sorority at Withrow.

Nevertheless, social clubs helped foster strong, lasting friendships with people one might not have otherwise known in such a large school as Withrow. They provided a sense of place in the turbulent teenage years. An editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer on January 10, 1963 averred “There is much evidence that the clubs contribute in a vitally important way to the social and civic development of the young people who choose to be affiliated with them.” Whether they were good or bad in the life of high school students remains debatable to this day.

Sororities at Withrow during the “legal” years were Aliquippa, Alpha Beta Kappa, Alpha Beta Chi, Alpha Delta Gamma, Alpha Theta Alpha, Altruist (Alpha Chi Delta), Beta Omega Chi, Chi Lambda Chi, Iota Sigma Chi, Ivyettes, Kytyves, Phi Gamma Sigma, Tally Ho (Gamma Delta Alpha), Theta Omega Chi, Sigma Delta Chi and Zeta Beta Kappa.

Fraternities during this period were Beta Tau Omega, Chi Omega Sigma, Chi Sigma Chi, Delta Sigma Chi, Iota Sigma Pi, Kappa Tau Kappa, Omega Kappa, Phi Beta Gamma, Tau Sigma, Tri Chi, and Triginta Optimi. Fraternities known to exist before 1949 include Beta Omega Beta and Delta Beta.

Withrow Class of 1969 Deadline Extended to July 2nd

You Asked For It !

       $85.00 Reservation Deadline has been extended to July 2nd!



    We Want To See You At The 50th Reunion


 Thanks for your assistance

 Karen Carroll Brentley

 On Behalf of The Reunion Committee

Withrow Class of 1969 Reunion Committee

July 12th-13th 2019

Withrow Centennial Gala


Join us for a Centennial Gala celebration of Withrow’s 100th birthday.

 Thanks to all Withrow Alumni – Over 50 Classes Represented

September 7, 2019
Jack Casino, 2nd Floor
Doors open at 6 pm
Dinner will be served promptly at 7 pm

Join your fellow alumni and friends
Need a hotel?

The Withrow Alumni Assn. greatly appreciates the support received from Withrow Alumni. The 700+ attendees represent over 50 class years from 1944 to 2010. This once-in-a-lifetime soiree will celebrate Withrow milestones and memories throughout the decades. The program will be hosted by our very own Tiger Alum Jenell Walton ’89, left, and CPS Superintendent Laura Mitchell, right, will be the keynote speaker. Pastor KZ Smith ’87 will offer a blessing. Invitations to other special guests are in the works. The program will commemorate 100 years of prolific Withrow history, as well as honor a few Tigers who made significant contributions along the journey. 

Proceeds raised from this event will benefit the Withrow Business Education Program

Follow our Facebook page WithrowHSAlumni  If you have any questions, send an email to

Need hotel room to stay:
Hilton Garden Inn – Cincinnati Midtown$125.00 per night plus tax – Free parking and WiFi
2145 Dana Ave, 45207

Reservation Instructions:
Hotel: Hilton Garden Inn Cincinnati/Midtown
Group Name: Withrow High School Centennial Group Block
Arrival Date: 06-Sept-2019 – Departure Date: 08-Sept-2019 

Two easy ways to complete reservations with your group rate:
Booking LinkYour exclusive web booking link is listed below. Simply input the travel dates, and the site will display your group rates. Then proceed with the online reservation.
Note: The entire URL must be copied and pasted for it to work properly:,WW,HILTONLINK,EN,DirectLink&fromId=HILTONLINKDIRECT

Phone Reservations –  A reservations line is available 24 hours a day. Simply dial (513) 361-9800 and press 1 to connect with reservations.
Be sure to reference Withrow High School Centennial Group Block when completing your reservation.

The cutoff date for Withrow High School Centennial Group Block is August 16, 2019, and we ask that your reservation is completed prior to this date.


Proud Sponsors of the Withrow Centennial Celebration Weekend