Raines Class of 1974 Celebrates Golden Reunion

Event Host/Comedian and DJ Robert Zeller, Betty Seabrooks-Burney ad reunion organizer Renatta Rudolph
Cynthia Rodell, Michael Blaylock and Gloria Chaplain

The William M Raines class of 1974 celebrated their 50th class reunion at the DoubleTree Hotel in Downtown Jacksonville.  The reunion welcomed guests with a meet and greet, game night, entertainment, trivia games and a hospitality room with bottomless snacks and drinks.

“It was a great opportunity for classmates who still reside in the local jurisdiction and those who come from far and wide to come together in a celebratory occasion,” said reunion organizer Renetta Randolph.

Barbara Garrett, Cheryl Hester, Vinter Collier, Bernice Robinson-Smith, Sarah Webb, Vernett Taylor and Patricia Garrett

The Saturday evening culminated with a formal night hosted by DJ and standup comedian Rod Z. and classmate Betty Seabrook Burney addressing the class with motivational words and challenged the class to give back. The celebratory weekend closed on Sunday with a church service held in the hotel with 1974 classmate bishops and ministers who are now serving in the ministerial capacities. The ecumenical service focused on celebrating and praying for their military classmates and highlighted the 1974 chorus gospel singers praising the 50th reunion accomplishments. “This reunion will go down in history as one of the best and emotional reunions for the William M. Raines Class 1974. Special thanks to the Reunion Planning Committee, family and friends,” said classmate Anthony Barlow.

William M. Raines is a historically Black  high school created as a result of segregation. In 1964, after the all-white students and staff at Jean Ribault High school rejected a plan to have Black students admitted, the Duval County School Board decided to build a dedicated school for them.  The board allocated $2 million to build a facility for 2,000 students initially known simply as “School No. 165.” It opened on January 25 1965, and was officially renamed “William M. Raines Senior High School.” In 1990, Raines became the county’s science, math and engineering magnet school. It remains an all black high school and a beacon of pride for its alumni.


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