Special Reports

Grade school reunion unites professionals

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

They identified long lost classmates and screamed with delight upon recognizing once familiar faces decades later.

For most, the last time they laid eyes on one another was in 1960, they were pre-teen graduates of James Rhoades Elementary School in the heart of West Philadelphia. They were actually the first 7th grade class to graduate from that school.

Many grew up in poverty and worse.

"There weren't potentially successful people graduating at that time that we hung out with" said Averill Perry, the ABC-TV technical director.

They went on to various high schools in the city, then many to college and beyond. They lost touch, lived their lives and returned a half century later to celebrate just how successful they had all become.

"I am absolutely amazed at how well everyone has done," said author Claudia Curry, Ed.D. "I am amazed at how well I have done."

Claudia is an author and founding director of Community College of Philadelphia's Women's Center. She was also founding director of the Philadelphia Urban League's Leadership Institute which trained hundreds of minority leaders, including Mayor Nutter!

She and former CEO of the Germantown YMCA remember some fun and naughty times at Rhoades.

Attorney, Ramona Bass, remembers their days in elementary school as a different time with different values and expectations.

"Families were together, teachers were concerned about their students. I mean I had teachers who came to my home."

Fiction writer, Eileen Brown says none of them were really poor.

"We grew up rich in love and life and family, classmates and it was wonderful. That was our richness."

Avrill is an emmy-award winning television director, having won just weeks ago for the ABC soap opera "General Hospital".

(Copyright ©2014 WPVI-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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