Kennard grads hold 50th reunion
CENTREVILLE — On Saturday evening, Oct. 8, the remains of Hurricane Matthew did not dampen the spirits of members of the Kennard High School Class of 1966 as they held their 50th reunion. The event was held at a very special location —inside the recently renovated former high school in Centreville, home to the new Kennard Cultural Heritage Center.
Kennard’s 1966 class was the last to graduate from that high school as segregation ended in Queen Anne’s County Public Schools the next school year. The class graduated 65 seniors; 19 of them were able to attend the reunion.
The 1966 graduation program was reprinted inside the evening’s program, reminding the class members what happened on that special graduation
day 50 years ago, who the speakers were, and the school choir singing. A special note of those was made of those who were not able to attend, either due to illness or those who had died.
A prayer and blessing was offered and dinner served. DJ music of popular tunes of the 1960s era was played, and later dancing took place.
One unidentified member of the class of 1966 who now resides near Harrisburg, Pa., commented, “We were well prepared educationally to meet the challenges of our times.”
Of those who attended, remarks of satisfaction with their education and accomplishments were expressed.
Class member and reunion planning committee member Lee Washington, now Senior Pastor of Reid Temple AME Church, which has three different locations for Sunday services in the Washington, D.C. area — Glenn Dale, Silver Springs, and in D.C., near Howard University — and a membership of over 17,000 parishoners, is among most noted of the Kennard 1966 class. He said, “I’ll be preaching tomorrow (Sunday) at two different locations.”
William “Biil” Green and Beverley Ming proudly displayed their hands as they were both wearing their Kennard H.S. senior class rings. Green said, “I never take it off.”
1966 was the last year smaller segregated high schools in Queen Anne’s County Public Schools existed. There were then four segregated high schools in the county: Sudlersville, Centreville, Stevensville, and Kennard (which is located in Centreville, on Little Kidwell Road). Kennard (built to serve African American students) was originally constructed in the mid-1930s under President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal work programs. Under the leadership of Queen Anne’s County Superintendent of Schools, the late Dr. Harry Rhodes, of Queenstown, segregation ended in 1966.
The ver y next year, Queen Anne’s County High School opened and all high students in the county, beginning with the Class of 1967, attended the same school. A little known fact, in 1966, 30 percent of Queen Anne’s County’s population was African American. Today that number is only 8 percent.
In 1966, the larger African American population worked in the seafood and farming industries in the county. In the immediate years that followed, those two fields of employment declined. African Americans in the county moved to Dover, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., looking for more gainful employment opportunities, not to return to the county.
Integration of schools was slow in Maryland following the U.S, Supreme Court’s ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kan., case in 1954. However, Queen Anne’s County was one of the leading counties in Maryland, especially on the Eastern Shore, to achieve integration of schools with few problems. Many in the community attricuted the successful transition to the efforts of Rhodes, as he personally visited each community and many churches explaining how the transition would take place when combined high school was to open.
Rhodes attended and spoke at the Kennard High School commencement in 1966.
Members of the Kennard High School Class of 1966 gather for their 50th anniversary class reunion. The event was held inside the newly restored Kennard H.S. building in Centreville, Saturday evening, Oct. 8. The Class of 1966 was the last class to graduate from Kennard High School.
A buffet meal was provided for members of the Kennard High School Class of 1966, Saturday evening, Oct. 8, during their 50th class reunion. The event was held inside the newly renovated building that once housed the school.
Just part of the crowd that turned out for the 50th class reunion of Kennard High School 1966 — the last class to graduate from Kennard before segregation ended in Queen Anne’s County Public Schools.
This reproduction of the 65 members of Kennard High School’s Class of 1966 was presented to each class member who attended the school’s 50th reunion, Saturday evening, Oct. 8.
Proudly wearing their Kennard High School 1966 class rings, Beverley Ming, left, and William “Bill” Green.