After four years of renovations, Toledo Public Schools and the administration, staff, students, and the Alumni Association of Morrison R. Waite High School will host a rededication ceremony of the school this Friday, May 9 at 1:30 p.m. in the Grant Murray Field House.
The Waite pep band, orchestra, and show choir will perform, and TPS Superintendent and Waite graduate Romules Durant, Business Manager James Gant, and architect Gary Ashford will be among those speaking.
A ceremonial cutting of the ribbon will take place and commemorative cake will be presented to all attendees at the conclusion of the program. Interested individuals will be allowed to take self-guided tours of the building following the program
The following day, Saturday, May 10, the alumni association will host its centennial celebration at the SeaGate Convention Centre in downtown Toledo. Doors open at 5 p.m., social hour begins at 5:30, dinner at 6:30, the program begins at 7:30 and music, dancing and socializing will continue until midnight.
Waite Principal David M. Yenrick expects that about 1,700 reservations will have been made. The deadline has passed and no tickets will be sold at the door. He hopes it will be quite a show.
“Since this is a once-in-a-lifetime event, you don’t know what to expect,” Yenrick said. “But, we’re pretty happy.”
Leo Goldner (1941 Waite graduate), Don J. Baumgartner (’45), Raymond L. Frick (’64), and Darla (Wandtke) Harbaugh (’69) are the honorary chairmen for the event and the Toledo Refining Company is an honorary corporate sponsor.
Timing is everything
The SeaGate banquet is the culmination of a year-long’s worth of activities, that have included reunion banquets for each decades of classes, a Golden Years reunion, an Athletics’ Hall of Fame induction, a Waite Has-Beens luncheon, an Educator’s Luncheon, and a Choral Centennial Banquet. It will conclude with a Centennial Memorial Day Program on May 22 at the newly renovated Waite Auditorium beginning at 1 p.m.
Since the beginning of this year’s centennial festivities more than $250,000 in donations has been received for the Alumni Association Endowment Fund.
Planning for this event has been ongoing since the fall of 2007, said Yenrick, a 1974 Waite graduate who plans to retire as principal after this school year.
“As you know, timing is everything,” Yenrick wrote for the Waite 100-year celebration’s 60-page program. “As students of Waite High School, we shared the same memories, pride and timeless traditions. The same can be said about the youth who currently attend Waite High School. As we look forward to the next 100, Waite High School will remain the mainstay of secondary education in East Toledo in part due to the unwavering support of the school’s graduates.”
Alumni and history
S. Jean (Varwig) Clark, a 1965 graduate and chairman of the Waite High School Alumni Association, notes that the association played a role in making sure Waite was renovated and not rebuilt during Toledo Public School’s partnership with the Ohio Schools Facility Commission.
“Over the last four years, Waite has gone through a transition to prepare it for the next 100 years,” Clark wrote for the program.
“The building has been transformed into a modern facility that honors and maintains historical features such as murals and windows. All the public spaces are welcoming and the classrooms ready for learning. There are new technology systems, science labs, distance learning labs, a fine arts wing, cafeteria improvements, and a field house sound system and floor,” Clark continued.
“The building is air conditioned to guarantee year-round use and is handicap accessible. No more selling elevator tickets to freshman. The library (former cafeteria) looks stunning with new shelving given by alumni. The light through the leaded windows makes the room look like a cathedral.”
Robert Genzman, Waite Class of 1959, in his written history of the school’s beginnings, explains, “Morrison R. Waite High School is located on a plat of land comprising between 10 and 11 acres which was formerly an Ottawa Indian village.
“In the third quarter of the 19th Century, the present location of Waite High School was the site of a brickyard, which produced bricks for construction purposes.This area was also known as the ‘brickyard ball grounds’ due to the fact that this was a favorite site of baseball games. The site was also used for the Ringling Brothers Circus that was held at least once annually. People from all over Toledo and the surrounding vicinity would brave the mud and see the great show.
“The site of the old ‘Waite Bowl’ and the football stadium was part of ‘Highways’ Pond,’ which was probably part of an ancient bed of the Maumee River.
“In 1909, the property bounded by Morrison Drive, East Broadway, Essex, and Second Streets was purchased by the Board of Education as a site for a school, and the City of Toledo was so interested in the project that it bought the adjoining ground between Second and Front Streets as a permanent park. The new school was not to be spoiled by lack of room.
“The construction of the building was begun by the Spieker Company in 1910, but because of labor troubles and the scarcity of materials, the school was not opened for classes until the fall of 1914. The entire cost was $900,000. A field house for physical education and athletics was added in 1954 at a cost of $500,000, and in 1976 a vocational center wing was constructed at a cost of $2.25 million.”