Polar Bear picnic produced warm hearts

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BY JURRY TAALIB-DEEN
Journal Staff Writer

“Out Stickney,” or “Those people out there,” were what the students of Woodward High School were always referred as, Marion Bell, class of 1973 graduate, and committee member for the all Alumni Reunion, told The Toledo Journal, on Sunday, August 6. Those terms, Mr. Bell said, always made them feel isolated from the rest of the city. But that isolation he said caused them to become more like family.

Polar Bear picnic
Relaxing in under the shade, former Polar Bears enjoy the gospel fest.

That family love continued to shine at the conclusion of their weekend long with a picnic at Ottawa Park. There, besides picnicking, former students, teachers, and administration, as well as people who considered themselves, “honorary Polar Bears,” were treated to a gospel fest that featured seven groups, said Sheila Daniels, class of 1978 graduate.

After a cruise on the Detroit River, via the Detroit Princess on Saturday, she said alumni will be able to enjoy the free gospel fest that had as their headliner, The Byrd’s Family; all former Woodward students.

First group to perform at the gospel fest was, Dramatically Inspired Works.
First group to perform at the gospel fest was, Dramatically Inspired Works.

Dennis Byrd, who formed the group in January of 1969, during his freshmen year, said a lot of milestones occurred that year which helped cause their formation. It was the schools first ever, Black History Month Program, as well as the school’s first, African American history teachers was hired. “It was a beautiful time,” Mr. Byrd said. And it was the first time the band had officially got back together since high school.

In addition to the All-Class Reunion, the class of 1967 was celebrating their 50th class reunion. Nineteen sixty seven graduate, and committee member, Yvonne Harper, Toledo City Councilwoman, for District 4 was also actively engaged at making sure both events were successful.

Not only does the family love that all Woodward students experience helped inspire her, but she uses it as an opportunity to inform her former classmates about the importance of voting, she said.

Karen Woodard didn’t attend Woodward; she went to Libbey High School. She was busy cooking on the grill, and making sure everyone got something to eat. Ms. Woodard said she grew up in the area, attending all the schools that fed into Woodward High School, so she felt like an “Honorary Polar Bear.”

Working the grill are Alyna Mays, class of 2005 and Karen Woodard, a Libbey High School graduate who grew up in the Woodward district, and always felt like a member of the Polar Bear nation.
Working the grill are Alyna Mays, class of 2005 and Karen Woodard, a Libbey High School graduate who grew up in the Woodward district, and always felt like a member of the Polar Bear nation.

“I know many of the people that attended Woodward, and I grew up in the area; so we’re like family. That’s what happened to anyone who lived in that area; they became family,” she said.

 

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