The Classes of 1970 celebrated their belated 50th anniversary in July at the at the Club at Treasure Island.
BY KARIN DAVIS-THOMPSON, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — They may have had to wait two years, but nothing was going to stop the Historic Classes of 1970 from honoring an important milestone last month. The group was set to celebrate their 50th class reunion in 2020 but delayed the celebration because of COVID.
Cynthia Jenkins, the current Classes of 1970 president, said she and her classmates were determined to come together to celebrate 50 years and honor those they’ve lost along the way.
The event, held at the Club at Treasure Island, included a time to remember classmates lost and those who have served in the military.
“The highlight of the banquet was honoring veterans with a certificate of appreciation for their sacrifices and a candlelight vigil for our deceased classmates,” Jenkins said.
Jenkins also enjoyed hearing from the keynote speaker, a blast from the past.
“It was Mr. Charlie Williams,” she said. “He is the former Gibbs High School French teacher. He proudly shared some fond memories of our class.”
And although it’s been more than 50 years since graduation, Jenkins said the class is as close as ever, talking all throughout the year.
“We talk all the time, constantly,” she said. “We will always share that common bond of where we came from.”
The classmates have kept busy over the years and work together to benefit the community and celebrate class milestones along the way.
Jenkins said that while she never desired to be class president in high school, she has enjoyed the role post-graduation.
“I was a proud member of the Future Business Leaders of America and other clubs in high school,” she stated. “But now, as the current president, under my leadership and with the assistance of an outstanding board and classmates, we have displayed the class brick at The Woodson African American Museum of Florida in the Legacy Garden, started a scholarship fund, created a class memory book, planned the 45th class reunion, 65th birthday bash and the 50th class reunion.”
Jenkins, who went on to receive her degree from Eckerd College, said she loves reminiscing with her classmates and their class history. Officially, she said, they call themselves the Classes of 1970.
“I get excited when I talk about the Historic Classes of 1970. Our class is unique because of its rich history,” the mother of three said. “The reason for the name is because of forced integration. Depending on where they lived, some students were enrolled in surrounding white schools — Lakewood, St. Pete, Boca Ciega and Northeast. Even though they attended those [predominantly] white schools, they would always attend the Gibbs class reunions and other events because Gibbs was the primary school [for Black students].”
Now, more than 50 years later, the classes still come together, something Jenkins said she always looks forward to.
Jenkins has wonderful memories of her high school years and the times she spent with her classmates and the teachers.
“Our teachers did not teach for income, but for the outcome of our success,” she said. “They poured their heart and soul to fill in the missing pages of our used class books. The fruits of their labor helped to produce authors, business owners, presidents of organizations and more.”
Jenkins said graduation day was special, too, and she will never forget the look of pride on her parents’ faces as she and her sister Debra Wade graduated together.
“What I remember most about that day was how proud my parents were,” she said. “And sharing a lot of hugs and tears as we departed our beloved high school.”