Class has 40-year reunion

Singing the class song, "The Impossible Dream," are class members Betty Cobb-Ford, left, and Dr. Ann Simmons-Washington during the reunion banquet held Saturday night at the Paramount.

BRAD McCLENNY/Special to the Guardain
Published: Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2007 at 6:56 p.m.

It had been 40 years since some of the classmates had seen each other, and although they might not have remembered each others' names, they remembered the good times they had as they roamed the halls at all-black Lincoln High School.

Close to 100 members of the class of 1967 were joined by former teachers, coaches, administrators, family and friends as they celebrated their 40th reunion during a banquet Saturday night at the Paramount Plaza Hotel & Suites.

The theme was "Reuniting and Rekindling Classical Friendships," and as people came into the room, there were a lot of hugs and kisses as classmates greeted each other and former teachers.

Class member Charles Baker served as master of ceremony during the event, and he began by acknowledging the significance of the event.

"Tonight, we are here for a special occasion. It has been 40 years! 40 years! 40 years since we graduated," said Baker. "We all look the same, but we have gained a few pounds."

The program began with the singing of the class song, "To Dream the Impossible Dream." Class member Jean Ellis-Williams gave the welcome for the occasion. "We consider it a tremendous honor and a blessing to have you hear tonight," said Ellis-Williams.

After a prayer by the Rev. Nathaniel Ford, also a class member, class member Brenda Williams-Thomas serenade the crowd. She said the song epitomized her life and her testimony, and she received a rousing ovation.

The highlight of the night was the two keynote speakers, class members Dr. J.B. Quisenberry, who was known as Johnnye Brown when she was in high school, and Beulah Flournoy-Banks.

Quisenberry, who lives in Winter Haven, is a professor at Polk County Community College and Webber and Webster universities. Flournoy-Banks is an attorney in Volusia County.

Quisenberry talked about how administrators had to get more than 300 graduates ready for graduation. Some say the 67 class might have been the largest to ever graduate from the school.

"When we started out at Lincoln High School, we were pretty good students," she said. She said they quickly found out pretty good wasn't good enough.

"If you want to be great, pretty good is pretty bad," Quisenberry said. "Because of our teachers, we were able to be great. From the depths of my heart, I say thank you to our teachers. You didn't allow us to be pretty good.

She said she worked as a guidance counselor for more than 30 years, and one day someone came up to her and told her there was a drug problem in the school where she was working.

"When we were in school, the only drug problems we had were being drugged to church, drugged to weddings and other social functions," she said. "We didn't have a drug problem."

She ended her speech by singing two songs.

Class member Flournoy-Banks dealt with how blacks were able to achieve so much during segregation.

"None of us knew we were poor," said Flournoy-Banks, who grew up in Micanopy. She also talked about how attending Lincoln instilled in her that she could be whatever she wanted to be.

She talked about how she envisioned the world being 40 years after she graduated. She said she thought in 1967 that by now there would be a cure for cancer, the drug scene would have been cleaned up, black men would not be incarcerated at the rate they are today, teen pregnancy would not be as big an issue as it is and war would be a thing of the past.

"I'm truly missing Lincoln High School," she said.

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