Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the alumni scholarship foundation.
YOUNGSTOWN -- They grew up in the same neighborhoods, attended the same school, and this weekend hundreds of East High School alumni returned to celebrate friends, family and fun -- all to benefit the children who will follow in their footsteps.
Louise Bonner Stubbs, Class of 1954, came from Detroit. Her niece, Shirley Davis Stallworth, class of '62, came all the way from Montgomery, Ala. They planned visits with family members who still live in the Youngstown area to coincide with the reunion.
"It's a nice family thing and very enjoyable," Stallworth said, as she visited with Stubbs and another aunt, Edna Jackson, Class of '58 and a resident of Campbell, at an alumni picnic at Willow Ranch in Coitsville on Saturday.
In all, five members of their family graduated from East High.
The women were at the all-alumni picnic at Campbell's Roosevelt Park last year and had such a good time they had to come back, Stubbs said.
"It's great fellowship," Stallworth added.
Putting events together
Last year, the event was free. This year, tickets were sold for three days' worth of events: a dinner dance and awards banquet Friday night, the picnic Saturday and an interfaith service in the auditorium of East Middle School today.
When the old East High School closed its doors for good in 1998, the alumni association disintegrated, Jemison said. A new East High is being built.
Two years ago, a few East High graduates got together and decided to revive the organization. Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the alumni scholarship foundation. Scholarships will be awarded beginning with the first class to graduate from the new school, said John Jemison, alumni association president and one of the event organizers.
Charter members then hosted the free picnic last summer in Roosevelt Park, Jemison said. The success of that event, which attracted more than 3,500 alumni, prompted organizers to plan this year's three-day event.
High attendance
About 500 alumni attended the dinner dance Friday; 700 people -- alumni and their families -- were expected to turn out Saturday for the picnic.
"I brought my son because I wanted him to see the unity of the people who graduated from East High and the people who have done something with their lives," said Diane Morales, '80.
Her 13-year-old son, Mohi Syed, is an eighth-grader at Campbell Middle School.
Morales' classmate, Santa Cruz Santiago, brought her two daughters, Jaclyn Williams, 13, and Alexia Santiago, 8.
Jaclyn is in the eighth grade at Boardman Glenwood Middle School; Alexia is in third grade at Market Street Elementary.
Both girls, especially Alexia, are interested in meeting their mom's friends "and people who knew me from back when," Santiago said.
Sporting a gold T-shirt with all of her classmates' names in blue -- blue and gold are the school's colors -- from the year she graduated, Santiago said, "It's nice seeing people I haven't seen in 20 years. I also wanted to support the honorees."
The alumni association honored six East High graduates who have made a difference in peoples' lives: Gary L. Frost, former pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church, who is now affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention's North American Mission Board in New York; John "Jack" Palermo, former Mahoning County commissioner; Henry Guzman, first executive director for OCCHA and current director of public service in Columbus; Arlette Gatewood, former staff representative for United Steelworkers of America District 27; Harold McRae, former vice president of American Express, New York City, and former global customer director, Glaxo Wellcome, London; and Harry Meshel, former Ohio senator and former Ohio Democratic Party chairman.
The best part of the reunion festivities, Meshel said, "is seeing a kind of revival of the spirit of the East Side and Eastsiders. We had great camaraderie on the East Side, and the alumni committee is doing a great job of bringing people together again."

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