Maryland’s oldest public high school, Baltimore City College, turned 175 years old last weekend.
As part of the festivities, City held a Hall of Fame induction ceremony to honor six accomplished alumni. Hosted by college adviser Rodney Joyner, the event was held in the school’s William Donald Schaefer Auditorium. Other events included The Women of City Awards brunch and a gala at Martin’s Valley Mansion.
“These six honorees were once in your shoes,” principal Cindy Harcum said at the induction ceremony. “They walked these halls and sat in your classrooms. One day, you might be on this stage as well.”
This year, the Hall of Fame welcomed assistant secretary of Maryland’s Division of Development Finance and Community Development Administration Frank Coakley, WPI Health Delivery Institute strategic adviser Jay Himmelstein, Big Screen Store owner and business entrepreneur Jack Luskin, WJZ-TV Channel 13 television personality Ron Matz, Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer at the U.S. Agency for International Development Maria Price-Detherage and veteran sportscaster Michael “Mike” Trager.
“The inductee ceremony comes on such a momentous occasion,” said City president Michael Hamilton. “On this stage, we honor six distinguished alumni. I honor our alumni, and I honor all of you: City past, City present, City future, City forever.”
The Friday morning event commenced with a continental breakfast with Hall of Fame members, inductees and guests.
“One of my favorite parts of the whole ceremony is the recognition of the Hall of Fame members. You mean so much to us,” Joyner said.
Himmelstein was thrilled. Working with the late Sen. Edward Kennedy on health care policy and reform, he credited City for providing him a jumpstart in life.
“BCC gave me a window of opportunity,” said Himmelstein. “I loved my time here and am filled with enthusiasm to be back. I am given too much credit as a wrestling star though. It was all about my team.”
Now working on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, he discussed his involvement in health care reform at the ceremony.
“Despite the controversy, we have helped 20 million people get health care who otherwise would not have,” he said. “There is always more work to be done.”
As the “cheapest guy in town,” business owner Luskin said his experiences at City were “the best of times and the worst of times.”
“It was the tale of two cities: just not London or Paris,” said Luskin. “I was born prior to the Great Depression, and lived above a kosher butcher. There were streetcars on Pimlico, and resources were rationed. It was the best of times and the worst of times. Baltimore City College was the best of times.”
Like Luskin, Coakley was thrilled by his education at City. Gazing around the room, he noted the expansions made to the school after his graduation.
“It is unbelievable to me that I was so young when I graduated here and left these halls. You all look a lot better to me. Even the ladies weren’t here yet,” said Coakley. “However, from the great professors to the principal, Baltimore City College isalways in my heart. City forever.”
As the event ended with school anthems “The Castle on the Hill” and “City Forever,” the newly inducted members assembled at the Hall of Fame plaque to see the unveiling of their names.
“I have one thing left to say about City College,” said Luskin. “CCMM — City College made me.”