Each of the SPS Form plaques has a particular story to tell about the history of the School. John Gregory Wiggins, who briefly taught at SPS, began carving the Form plaques in the early 1920s – carving plaques for all the previous Forms back to 1859 (the first year of graduates) and then continuing until 1953. The styles since then have changed according to the carver, but the concept has been the same. In the Winter 1923 edition of the Alumni Horae it is described this way:
These Medallions are distinguished for their charm of execution and their sympathetic treatment, each one of them being connected with some episode in the history of the school, or of the Country.
Shown above is an example of one of the early plaques carved by Wiggins. The description below (from the same Horae article), likely written by Wiggins himself, describes the events of the year represented in the plaque:
1861—-The outbreak of the Civil War is suggested by Fort Sumter and an old-time cannon, the sort which was raised and lowered by using wooden wedges under the breech. The lower half of the panel shows the schoolboys drilling, and in the corners are a tragic and a comic mask to indicate the charades which were very popular as school entertainments at the time.
All of the plaques from 1859 through 1990 (the last Form a plaque was completed for) have followed this same basic theme – incorporating symbols from the SPS microcosm with major events from U.S. and world history. Collectively they form a visual history of the School, and the experiences of its students in the wider world. It will be interesting to see what transpires during this school year that will add another page to this unique history.