Gibbs High School Class of ’57 still going strong

The Class of 1957 celebrated their 65th class reunion on June 11 at the Rocking Crab Seafood and Bar.

ST. PETERSBURG — The year was 1957. The final episode of I Love Lucy aired on CBS, the Asian flu pandemic was raging, the National Guard prevented the Little Rock 9 from entering the all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Ark., and the Gibbs High School senior class was preparing to enter a world filled with uncertainty as told by their class theme: Facing a world of challenge.

The group, who still meets regularly and just celebrated their 65th class reunion on June 11, said it’s ironic how much their theme from 65 years ago mirrors what we are facing today. The world is dealing with a pandemic, and race relations are as tense now as they were back when the country grappled with racial terror and Jim Crow laws.

“I can’t believe how relevant our theme is all these years later,” said Carolyn Green-Hobbs, the group’s 2022 president.

Back in 1957, the class celebrated their graduation and journey into the next phase of life on May 26 in the Gibbs High auditorium. And while some classmates married each other and others started lives away from the area, they all remain close and stay in contact, meeting for reunions regularly.

Green-Hobbs said with the pandemic and the recent death of a classmate, the group had to cut their usual three-day celebration to a dinner with a small program. The class of 1957 had about 119 graduates, including the cosmetology school. Now, 65 years later, some have passed away and others may not be able to participate, but they still gather together to celebrate the special, tight-knit community they created as classmates of the only high school they were allowed to attend in those days.

About 13 of the class members attended the recent dinner. Along with a poem and a moment to remember classmates they’ve lost, the group always ends with the class song.

“It’s changed since we were in school,” Green-Hobbs said. “Sometimes we sing them both. We know the new one and the old one.”

In a time when many groups don’t make reunions a priority, the 82-year-old said her class meets monthly and has even started a scholarship fund.

“We’ve been doing the scholarships for the past six years,” she said. “We have given students about $2,000.”

Green-Hobbs also said she loves that her classmates still enjoy getting together at a time when class reunions don’t seem to mean as much to younger generations.

“It was like a family,” she recalled. “Gibbs was the only high school for African Americans. The teachers knew all of us; we all knew each other. There was a cohesiveness.”

That feeling of family has lasted for 65 years, with the Class of 1957 keeping in touch all year.

“We meet each month, virtually, since the pandemic,” Green-Hobbs said. “We will pick up our monthly meetings again in September. The second Saturday of every month.”

And while the group had to cut their celebration short this year, they said nothing would get in the way of celebrating how much they have overcome in the last 65 years.

Green-Hobbs still has her graduation and baccalaureate service programs and often looks back on one of the proudest and most memorable moments in her life. And she remembers the classmates that she celebrated that milestone with.

“Our high school was the core of the community, and it meant so much to have that community support,” she said. “Just the love and concern our teachers, parents and the entire community has for us — it was very dear.”

Class of 1957 educators

Mrs. B. Barnes – English

Mr. P.B. Butler – Shoe Repair

Mr. Reynold Davis – Music/Band

Mrs. Claranell Griffin – English

Mrs. Margaret Hart – Biology

Mr. M. Henderson – Spanish

Miss Lois Howard – Librarian

Mr. Ralph James – Chemistry

Mrs. Ann McLin – P.E.

Miss O.B. Mclin – English

Mr. J.K. Neal – Dean

Miss Elouise Perkins – English

Mr. Earnest Ponder – Social Studies

Mrs. Mable Reese – Cosmetology

Mrs. G. Wright – Home Economics

Miss Corine Young — Math

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top