The West Philadelphia High School’s Class of 1969 recently celebrated its 50th Class Reunion at Galdo’s Caterers in South Philadelphia. The reunion committee worked tirelessly preparing for this auspicious occasion. There were 160 guests in attendance who received a surprise gift bag containing a beautiful program booklet, a DVD of their high school yearbook, a supplement to the yearbook, and a wonderful flashlight-stylus ink pen. The Marlon Merritt Jazz Band and DJ Julius Brown who were both introduced by Marcel Harris provided the music for the evening.
Dr. Delores White Williams, former principal of West Philadelphia High School, opened the event and continued as the emcee for the evening. Elder George Smith delivered the invocation and Dr. Williams lead the class in singing the Black National Anthem. Victoria Huggins Peurifoy welcomed the class of ‘69 by reminding them of the old marble halls that they used to frequent every day. She then presented a poem entitled “I Came Up With”, which reminded the audience of how the music, the Civil Rights era, and the church of the 60’s had helped them evolve. A highlight of the reunion was the attendance of 1969 staff: Bernie Ivens (class sponsor), Doris Evan-White (yearbook sponsor), and Jettie Newkirk (counselor). Other dignitaries were Mary Dean, former principal and current principal, Marla Travis.
The committee chose one of their own as the keynote speaker, Paula McKinney-Rainey, who gave a rousing speech about the events of 1969 and challenged everyone to continue to live up to the legacy of service. Sharon Tolbert Coleman gave a “down memory lane” presentation reflecting on senior year events and the awesome Speedboys. West Philadelphia Alumni President, Mike Brown from the class of 1969, shared how the alumni association’s involvement had and continues to benefit the school’s students.
When W. Dash Jordan and Rev. Dr. Dorette Ligons-Ham conducted the memorial service for classmates that had transitioned, rather than having candles burn, everyone simply let the flashlight from their pen flicker in remembrance.
Classmates came as far as Belize, California, Florida, Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland, New York and from the tri-state area to celebrate. Among those who attended, there were individuals who had gone to the Henry Charles Lea School from the first grade until 12th grade and had not seen each other in over 50 years.
The evening ended with plenty of line dancing, bopping and the cha-cha. The Class of 1969 set the bar for class reunion celebrations and this elegant event was one that will forever be remembered.