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NOVEMBER 17, 2021

A Message From Myra Lawson -
our Executive Director

Hello Weequahic Alumni,
Families, Friends and Community

Due to some changes in our operational organization, the WHS Email Bulletin will be sent out less frequently. We will try to include as much information as possible to ensure this remains a relevant source of information.

We'd like to thank those of you who have joined or renewed your membership. This support enables us to continue doing the important work that we do.

We also thank the contributors to our scholarship program and those who supported our 2021 Hall of Distinction Virtual Ceremony and Fundraiser.

During this program, we inducted an additional 10 notable Weequahic graduates into our Hall of Distinction for their contributions to the community and society.

The money raised from this event, enabled us to provide scholarships to 33 seniors who graduated in June of 2021 and to 11 students who are currently in their sophomore, junior and senior college years. Needless to say, we are very proud of what all these students have accomplished.

We paid out over $53,000 this year and
your generosity made it possible

Again, we thank you for your understanding and appreciate your ongoing support of the WHS Alumni Association.

Myra Lawson
WHS Class of 1970

Phil speaking to his 1964 classmates in the new WHS athletic facility for a tour of the high school on the occasion of its 50th Reunion.
Phil with Myra Lawson, Class of 1970, who became the new Alumni Executive Director in 2014, at the Class of 1956 60th Reunion.

Life sometimes moves in a circular motion. When Phil Yourish graduated from Weequahic in 1964 and did his student teaching at WHS in 1967 and 1968, he never anticipated that 29 years later he would return home again to the high school of his youth to participate in the launching of the Weequahic High School Alumni Association - a group representing alumni from the past and present with the mission to provide assistance to the current students at Weequahic. For the next 23 years, Phil has served the organization in an exemplary manner as a volunteer, founding Executive Director, and advisor.

During his career as an educator in Newark, Phil has not been short on achievements. Starting out as a junior high school Social Studies teacher, he soon became the director of Independence High School - an award-winning alternative high school for high-risk youth for 10 years. In the mid-90s, he became the director of the Newark Literacy Campaign. Yet, he will tell you that his work with the Alumni Association may be his biggest accomplishment.

"It's very special to have contributed from its inception to the birth and growth of an organization that has accomplished so much and has become a model for successful high school alumni groups everywhere. And, most important, it has nobly fulfilled its mission to benefit the the students at Weequahic High School. For me, it can't get much better than that."

Although Weequahic Alumni matters have consumed much of his time over the past years, Phil also found space in his life to serve on the Board of Trustees of a number of local community-based organizations, such as the Newark Public School Historic Preservation Committee, Newark Landmarks, Andy Cappon Community Action Project, Ironbound Theater, Cornucopia Network of NJ, Northeast Earth Coalition, Jewish Historical Society of NJ, and The Jewish Museum of NJ, where he curated the "Synagogues of Newark" exhibit.

Moreover, he has taken three treks across country in his motorhome with his dogs "Beaujangles" and "Red," traveled to Nepal, India and Thailand for 5 months to be with a group teaching sustainable agriculture, and went on a trip through Mexico to Central America with members of the Bread and Puppet Circus from Vermont in a refurbished school bus which was delivered to a performing arts group in Nicaragua.

As to leaving after more than two decades, Phil states "...I've developed many meaningful relationships at WHS and beyond. I will miss working in the Alumni Office; collaborating with current director Myra Lawson; being in touch with graduates all across America; getting to know the wonderful students, teachers, and administrators at the high school - and working with the organization's Co-Presidents and officers and the many alumni board members who have helped build a firm foundation for our ongoing success."

What's next for Phil? "Rest, relaxation, reflection, renewal - and a few more exciting adventures."





Cleta Bradwell - a WHS 1969 graduate -
on “Good Trouble” and Book Club Reunions
Cleta Bradwell knows the value of an open conversation. Whether it was in her work registering people to vote in the Civil Rights Movement or in one of her four diverse book clubs (including Senior Planet’s own virtual book club), Cleta uses interpersonal connections to get into “good trouble.”
Question: What motivated you to join Senior Planet’s Book Club?

"I love to read. But I come for the discussions where I get to hear different interpretations that I did not consider. I have a big problem with people who don’t know how to have a discussion if you disagree with the other person’s opinion. That’s something I like about Senior Planet’s Book Club; the fact that all the members are open to discussion."

Question: Beyond meeting new people, the Book Club helped you connect with someone from your past, right?

"Yes! We were talking about a person* who was very active in the Civil Rights Era and one of the other ladies in Senior Planet’s Book Club said “Oh, I know his sister!” and I shouted out, “me too! She put me back in touch with her and we’ve been corresponding over email since! It was over twenty years since we’d lost touch."
(Senior Planet was asked to keep the identity of this person anonymous.)

Question: What was your involvement in the Civil Rights Movement?

“I was very, very active when I was in college. I was involved in voter registration drives in a small towns and now I want to continue to do “good trouble.” I’ve been sitting for a minute but there is so much going on now that reminds me of the Civil Rights struggle. Maintaining voting rights is a big issue for me and also health issues in the African American community. I wanted to be a part of the solution and if I just sit quietly then I’m a part of the problem. So I’m going to be getting in some trouble! I always intend to speak truth to power. How do I do it? I’m not a marcher. I know marching has its place but in my opinion it’s like a pressure valve. It alleviates the steam but doesn’t get anything done. Because if you stay in your own stew, how do you know somebody else’s stew won’t taste better than yours?”

Question: How cana place like a Book Club where you get a group of people who might not interact otherwise help bring about change?

“I still believe that one-on-one, grass roots, is the way to go. You learn to listen and it helps you to process another person’s thought process. Even if you don’t need to come to an agreement – if you just process what they are saying, it helps open your mind. Because if you stay in your own stew, how do you know somebody else’s stew won’t taste better than yours?

Last question: What does aging with attitude mean to you?

“Oh, I wish you could see me snap. I want to stay up on my feet and I may not be able to do it in high heels anymore, but I still want to turn heads!”