GARY | More than 200 students in grades seven to 12 gathered Thursday to celebrate the rich history of Roosevelt High School.
The event, presented by the National Roosevelt Alumni Association whose president is Annie May, was designed to keep the tradition of the school alive and acquaint students with what it has stood for over the years.
May said the association, which was established in May 2006, stands ready to provide support to students in the inner city school, offering tutoring, mentoring and financial support as needed.
Though the school has been on academic probation for five consecutive years and is under threat of state takeover this summer, May pointed out it has a number of doctors, lawyers, actors, entertainers and other professionals who graduated from Roosevelt. She said many of the alumni have provided scholarships and monetary support to students.
"This school was established in the early 1900s. Several students tried to enroll at Emerson and were denied, so the founding fathers developed Roosevelt," she said. "As graduates of Roosevelt, we want to know what we can do to help you. We would like to propose a truce. Don't point fingers parents, students, teachers and alumni. We all share in the current problems but the question is what are we going to do next."
Roosevelt's black and gold colors are prominent throughout the building, and the auditorium where the program took place has a floor highlighted in black and gold, the drapes are gold and the walls feature gold bricks.
May said the school community has to somehow get back to a system that cares. She encouraged students to research different eras of Roosevelt graduates and review their achievements.
Some students spoke about the history of Roosevelt. Senior Dominique Tillotson talked about the school's purpose. Student David King focused on the history saying the school has a strong African-American legacy with high morals, ethics and values.
Teacher Afriyie Daniels said she comes from a long line of Roosevelt grads, including her late grandmother who graduated in 1947. "I think of her whenever I walk into the auditorium."
Tiffany Talbert, director of the Hobart-based Northwest Field Office Indiana Landmarks, talked about efforts that May initiated four years ago to get Roosevelt named a historic site. She said the process is still under way and she hopes to hear something soon.