ST. PETERSBURG – A crowd of hungry Gladiators chowed down on mouthwatering ribs, fried fish and hot dogs as they mingled and reconnected with old friends.
The common thread that brought the crowd out to Dell Holmes Park, 2741 22nd St. S, on an overcast Saturday afternoon wasn’t the good eats; it was a time to remember the old days at Gibbs High School.
For more than 20 years the Gladiator Alumni Association has been putting on this picnic in order to reconnect with each other and remember those loved ones who have passed away such as Rhonda Jackson, the beloved vice president of the association who put all her energy and strength into making it a success.
“I would like to say thank you very much for thinking of my Boo. She was a hard worker and I just wanted to say again thank you, thank you, thank you,” said her husband Thomas “Jet” Jackson who was presented with her award for being a tireless Gladiator.
Not only does the alumni association throw the best cookouts in town, they also give scholarships to college-bound students. This year they gave a $500 award to Caitlin Skinner, a 2015 Gibbs graduate with a 4.0 grade point average.
Shirley Smith Haynes shared information about a meeting that a few of the alumnus had with Gibbs’ current principal and Florida A&M graduate Reuben Hepburn.
“He has really good ideas for the school, but they need help from the parents and the community,” said Haynes.
Hepburn is trying to boost school spirit, and donations are needed to accomplish his visions. They are looking for monies to purchase headsets for the coaches; the student government needs blazers instead of wearing t-shirts to events and volunteer speakers are needed to come out and speak to the kids about career choices.
He is also looking for historical memorabilia. Every freshman class will be required to take a tour through the artifacts to get an idea of the rich history of the school. He’s hoping this will encourage school spirit.
She informed the partygoers that the alumni, parents and boosters are needed to assist with fundraisers. One such project is finding business to hang banners along the school fence. Business will pay a small fee and in return will receive advertisement.
Each alumni class will be asked to donate $500 to the athletic program. They are in need of equipment for the football and basketball teams.
And right down most everyone’s alley, the alumni association will be asked to tailgate at football games. They will get into the games for free and have a special section to sit in.
All of these ideas can be put into place with the help of the community. Hepburn and the alumni association have great things in store for the future.
All of us at The Weekly Challenger are praying for Minson Rubin, Gibbs’ most ardent fan, a speedy recovery, and we missed you at this year’s picnic.