July event will reunite Campbell’s Class of 1969

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

It’s been 50 years since the Campbell Senior High School Class of 1969 were all together.

June 6 marked the 50th anniversary of the 141 students who graduated that day – the last graduating class of the all-Black high school in Daytona Beach.

The high school was operational from 1929 until 1969. Volusia County schools integrated in 1970.

The Class of 1969’s 50th reunion with the motto “A Moment in Time – 1969” is scheduled for July 11-15. It will include a banquet and dance at the Palmetto Club on July 13. Other activities include a meet and greet and picnic.

“We want everyone to come out, come together and have a good time,” said Valarese Poole, reunion coordinator.

Other classes welcome

Poole admits that getting everyone there will be a challenge.

“We are hoping for a great turnout. We want the Class of ‘69 to show up as well as other classes and the community. We hope to have at least 50 members of the Class of ‘69,” Poole told the Daytona Times.

Valerese Poole has fond memories of her days at Campbell.

“We were a senior and junior high at that time. What I can remember while in school is how dedicated the teachers and staff were. We didn’t have updated textbooks but they were dedicated to making sure we had current information for learning and they prepared us for both higher education and the real world,’’ Poole reflected.

“They made sure our education was on par as if, not better, than those who attended Mainland, Seabreeze and Father Lopez.”

Reflecting on past

She noted that there weren’t great expectations for Black students to excel.

“It was a time that we were marching for civil rights. Dr. (Martin Luther) King was assassinated and the Vietnam War. If you lived in poor neighborhoods like Pine Haven and South Street projects, you were not expected to excel.

“Expectations were for you to go work in a hotel, be a janitor at a schools, end up in jail or get pregnant or be on welfare,” expressed Poole.

‘Good students’ lost

The Class of 1969 had its share of tragedy. Classmates Gerald Weaver and George Givins died in a car crash.

“They were very good students. Gerald was voted most likely to succeed. George was a star basketball player. They say he probably could have gone pro. Being at that age it was very difficult on us losing our classmates.’’

Campbell High was housed from 1948 to 1962 in what is now the John H. Dickerson Community Center at 308 S. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. The high school was moved to Keech Street in 1969.

On integration

When the school was desegregated, she believes students were ready.

“I think a lot of us kids didn’t mind integrating. We were starting to party on the beach side and going to the pier,” Poole added.

“Up until high school, we only went to Bethune Beach, the Black beach. By that time, we were starting to go to the beach here.’’

For the “Centipedes’’ who will attend the July reunion, the official reunion hotel is the Homewood Suites by Hilton, 151 Bill France Blvd., Daytona Beach.

For more information about the reunion, contact Doris Sampson Wright at 386-252-0107 or Valarese Poole via email at VPoole2@cfl.rr.com.

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