CHICAGO, June 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- In a show of support for the graduating class of Richard T. Crane Medical Prep High School and of pride in their alma mater, Chaz Ebert, president of Ebert Digital and the film criticism site RogerEbert.com, and Verdine White, famed guitarist of R&B supergroup Earth, Wind & Fire, will join their classmates from the Class of 1969 in a special tribute during commencement this Sunday at Symphony Center Orchestra Hall, 220 S. Michigan Ave.
The celebration will culminate a 50th high school reunion weekend of activities. Beginning at 10 a.m., 25 members of the Class of '69, dressed in all white and wearing gold sashes, will lead the procession of the Class of 2019 into the auditorium.
Ebert and White will provide words of encouragement to the students as they prepare to receive their diplomas. This class will be the third to graduate from Crane since it was reimagined as a medical preparatory school in partnership with Rush University Medical Center. Formerly focused on technical careers, Crane benefits from a robust roster of alumni who have gone on to enjoy highly successful careers and remained active with the school, including scholarship support.
"It will be a great opportunity for the students to see the former graduates, their pride and the pride they have for their school," said Crane Principal Fareeda Shabazz. "They're so excited to come back and contribute and share words of wisdom with our current graduates. It's phenomenal the support the alums have shown our people, making the students feel they are part of a larger community and network of graduates."
The campus is divided into four houses named for its distinguished alums, including the Ebert House. The school has a 100 percent college acceptance rate, and the Class of 2019 has been awarded more than $13 million in scholarships.
The commencement keynote speaker will be Jahmal Cole, founder of My Block My Hood My City, a social activist organization in Chicago that takes kids from their neighborhood and exposes them to different parts of the city and the world.
"We want to encourage excellence and encourage them to continue with their education," said Ebert, who went on to pursue a law degree. "Those students are really on the ball. We want to let them know that despite the negative things they hear and read about Chicago in the national media, there are so many positive things that come out of this city, including them. So many people have gone on to achieve and make a profound impact in their fields."
Ebert and White have maintained a close friendship. Ebert recalls going to the Museum of Science and Industry with White and his brothers before their scheduled music sessions with jazz great Ramsey Lewis.
"Chicago is a great city for music and culture," said White, who returns July 27 for a show at the Chicago Theatre. "We've earned the right to be Chicago proud."
The Class of 1969 reunion committee is a close-knit group that believes in giving back. For their 40th reunion, the committee gave scholarships to college-bound seniors with limited access to scholarship opportunities, and treated the graduates to personal computers and their families to a trip to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
"A reunion without good deeds is just not as interesting to me," said Ebert. "Like the song by Earth, Wind & Fire says, each one of the members of the Class of 2019 is a shining star in my eyes."
Read the blog Chaz and Verdine's High School Reunion on rogerebert.com.
SOURCE Chaz Ebert