Annapolis High is celebrating 100-year mark A century: Hundreds of Annapolis High School alumni are expected to celebrate the 100th anniversary of their alma mater today.

October 30, 1998|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

It opened in a two-story building on Green Street next to its older sibling, the Annapolis Grammar School, with only three grades and five students in its first graduating class.

Since then, Annapolis High School has outgrown its home twice and graduated hundreds of thousands of students, including five city mayors, a county executive, lawyers and educators.

Hundreds of Annapolis High graduates, going back to 1927, are expected to return to the city today to celebrate the school's 100th anniversary with a Centennial Homecoming parade and a football game. Vintage cars packed with vintage alumni will glide through downtown streets at 5: 30 p.m. to City Dock.

"I love the idea of turning 100," said Bessie Gritz, the 90-year-old owner of a West Street convenience store who graduated in 1927. "Maybe I'll get to see some people I haven't seen in a long time. That is, if they're still alive."

Annapolis High moved to Riva Road south of the city in 1980, but former students say the connection to their alma mater is still strong.

"I look back on those years, and they were absolutely wonderful years," said Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner, 66, who graduated in 1948. "Back then, no one was allowed to bring a car to school. There were no drugs because that was unheard of, and if anyone was to smoke, they used to go several streets away."

When the school opened, most of the students lived within HTC walking distance in what now is Annapolis' downtown historic district and went home for lunch. Now, they come from all over the city and parts of the county and hardly any of them walk.

The class of 1899 had four students named Linthicum and one called Duvall. The list of names in the class of 1999 seems to go on forever.

The school moved in 1929 to the building on Chase Street that now houses Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. It was there that Lerner, and before him, Alfred A. Hopkins and his friends, roamed the halls.

"We didn't have a football team when I was there," recalled Hopkins, the former mayor who graduated in 1943. "It was a grand time to grow up. Now, I have children who graduated from there and grandchildren who are still going to school there."

He and classmate Leonard Berman sold war bonds and collected scrap metal in those years.

"The war effort was going strong so we knew we'd either go to college for a short time or you went into the service or you were drafted," Berman said. "You didn't have a whole hell of a lot to look forward to."

In 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate education for blacks was inherently unequal, and white Annapolis High gradually integrated in the 1960s, taking students from the black school, nearby Wiley H. Bates High School. The names of some of those students are among the 200 in the Annapolis High School Hall of Fame.

Along with Berman, Hopkins and former Mayor Richard L. Hillman is John T. Chambers, the city's only black mayor.

"I don't feel like I'm a part of the school, but I support it," said Chambers, a 1945 Bates High graduate who will join today's parade. "My kids went to school there, though. It makes up for a little bit of the past."

Pub Date: 10/30/98

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