By Carmen M. Woodson-Wray, Gary Crusader
A group of West Side alumni that make up classes from 1977, 1978, 1980 and 1981 came up with the idea to help support the students at their alma mater, as well as raise money to repair the school’s track and field. Both of their endeavors were a big success.
Members of the West Side Restoration Pride Alumni Group were aware that the school’s track field was in dire need of repair. The school’s 2014 Boys Track Team were the State Champions and couldn’t even use their own track field throughout the season because of its condition. The only place they could practice was on the East Chicago Central track field and workout in their own weight room.
This did not sit well with the alumni. Because of the massive crowds at the Pride of the Side Annual Picnic each year this group decided to hold an alumni picnic at the school and raise money by charging people $2 for parking.
Brigette McClain a member of the class of 1978 said those who attended the picnic at the school had no problem with donating for the parking to benefit the school. She said some even donated more than the $2 for parking to help raise money for the school.
When the picnic was over, the West Side Restoration Pride Alumni Group was able to present a check in the amount of $1,000 to the Gary Community School Corporation for West Side’s track field.
This wasn’t all that the group wanted to do. They decided to collect money from other alumni, retired teachers and school board members to purchase prom dresses and other accessories for the young ladies of West Side in need of outfits to wear to the prom and gift cards from The Men’s Warehouse and Dunhill Formal Wear for the young men of the school.
McClain said, “We had all types of dresses available for the girls to try on and take whatever they wanted. They were not under any type of pressure to take any specific item. They could take whatever dress they wanted. The boys received gift cards to use for the rental of their apparel.”
This was the first initiative for the group. McClain said because of the success all of the girls and the boys were really excited about what they were able to receive and were very grateful. She said, “Some of the students said if it wasn’t for what they were able to obtain they wouldn’t have anything to wear to the prom.”