Just three years after the end of World War II in 1948, popular culture was beginning to change. Bing Crosby songs filled the radio, the board game Scrabble was invented, and Miracle on 34th Street was nominated for an Oscar. It was also the year that Shirley Bliss-Barnes graduated from Ottawa High School after being named Miss OHS.
Friday morning, Shirley met with the six candidates for Mr. and Miss OHS in the class of 2018, 70 years after she won the honor. The students met with her at Ottawa Retirement Village. While speaking to the 2018 candidates, Shirley said growing up in Ottawa, she believed, was a great experience.
“I just was blessed,” she said. “I am very thankful for the opportunities I had growing up here in Ottawa. You should be thankful for our school system and our town.”
Shirley said she had a lot of good teachers and was active in plays and Kayettes. She tried a lot of different things and was a baton twirler, a cheerleader and played in the band. When she found out it had been 70 years since she was named Miss OHS she said she was shocked.
“I didn’t believe it at first,” she said. “It was nice to meet the kids and to listen to what they had to say.”
When asked what advice she had for the students she told them to count their blessings.
“You have to sometimes wait until you are my age to start realizing what you have,” she said. “We live in a good place. I never had to be fearful living here.”
Shirley spent time before she met with the candidates combing through her yearbooks. After graduation, Shirley worked at various jobs including serving as the city clerk. She didn’t attend college but said she was thankful for the education she received at OHS.
Shirley will have another chance soon to be with the candidates again. On April 25, she will be at the assembly when the winners are announced and will hand them their awards. She is also excited to see the school building and take a tour of the updated facilities.