Lifelong Chicago area resident Mr. Otto Hardy had a simple piece of advice for students at Proviso East High School.
"If you don’t get an education, you have nothing to offer," he said. "If you believe it, you can achieve it."
Mr. Hardy was among 18 members of the Maywood Senior Club to visit Proviso East on February 23. During their visit, they took a tour of the school, including the newly renovated science laboratories, spoke to classes about their experiences during the Civil Rights movement, watched a performance of the Proviso East jazz band, and ate a lunch of spaghetti and meatballs prepared by culinary students at Proviso East.
"This is our high school," said Mr. Tony Valente, principal at Proviso East. "We have a long tradition, and we’ve had a lot of great alumni. I want our kids to hear from our seniors. That’s the best way to learn history, by it being handed down."
In the classrooms, the Maywood Senior Club members spoke of their experiences during the Civil Rights movement.
Mr. Hardy talked of his meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and how he enjoyed listening to the civil rights leader every chance he got.
"He was a great speaker, very dynamic," Mr. Hardy said. "He taught me as a person how to live, how to take things in stride. Those speeches he made, you listened."
Mr. Jesse Davis said that he was born in Mississippi in 1935, and moved to Chicago in 1946 after his father died. He said that it was not easy growing up in the South, where segregationist Jim Crow laws were in effect.
"It was rough growing up where you had no rights, where you had to be careful how you addressed people," said Mr. Davis, whose children later attended Proviso East. "Animals were treated better than you. You were taught that if you wanted to stay alive, you had to treat people a certain way."
Being able to talk with the students at Proviso East was what Ms. Barbara Jean Wilson of the Maywood Senior Club wanted to do.
"I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I like to help people with their children," she said. "I want to tell them about some of my life experiences."
Thank you to the students, faculty, and staff of Proviso East High School for their roles in showing that Proviso East High School is "Nothing But The Best!"