Filtering by Category: 2011

Celestine Wynder Carter

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Class of 1953, received her B.S. degree from Hampton Institute, and her M.Ed. degree from Boston University. She credits the years at Phenix as providing her the quality experiences necessary for her success in life. She has been described as a community activist and educator.

During the years of teaching, she enriched the lives of hundreds of young people at Huntington and Warwick High Schools in Newport News, VA. 

After the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. she and the late Rev. Cornelius Fauntleroy initiated the largest community march ever to be held in Newport News.

In 1993 she became actively involved in the local NAACP branch and was later elected as the first female president. 

Olivia James Cherry

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Class of 1946, received a certificate from Cortez Peters Business School in Washington D. C. While in school she was selected to work at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

After working at the NLRB for years and no advancement in 1950 she moved to New York where she integrated the Accounts Department at R. H. Macy’s Department Store, the largest store in the world. This was before integration and she was the first black hired in any office position at Macy’s, paving the way for others to follow.

She later became the first black secretary to the president of the Lutheran Church of America, where he governed 180 pastors and their churches. 

Janice E. (Jay) Johnson

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Class of 1957, received a BA degree in Psychology from Wilson College in Chambersburg, PA. and an MA in Guidance and Counseling from Hampton Institute.

Janice has spent most of her life working with and for young people. In professional Girl Scouting she rose through the ranks from field director to national staff member to Executive Director of Western Reserve Girl Scout Council in Akron, Ohio. She then moved back to Hampton where she was employed for 15 years with the City Of Hampton.

During her work with Hampton’s Citizens Unity Commission she cofounded the “Opening the Door to Diversity Book Group”. 


Dr. James E. Lassiter, Jr., DDS

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Class of 1951; had a key role in assisting Mrs. Etta Bright, then Band Director, organize the first marching band at Phenix.

In 1956 he received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Howard University and received his Doctor of Dental Science Degree from the Howard University College of Dentistry. Dr. Lassiter continues to be actively involved in training students at the College of Dentistry in Newark and the Farleigh Dickenson University of Dentistry, to become highly qualified dentist.

Prior to becoming a consultant to the Colgate-Palmolive Company, the Head Start Program, the Job Corps, and the Medicaid Utilization and Review Committee, he was a consultant to the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Congressional Black Caucus Braintrust. 

Alvin N. Puryear, PhD

Dr. Puryear was Valedictorian of the Class of 1955 and, as a member of three varsity teams, was awarded nine letters, a record at the time.

Dr. Puryear received a BA Degree from Yale University where he was a two-way tackle on the football team and a Ranking Scholar in Sociology. He received MBA and PhD degrees from Columbia University where he was both a Samuel Bronfman Fellow and a John Hay Whitney Fellow.

Until 2007, Dr. Puryear was the Lawrence N. Field Professor of Entrepreneurship and Professor of Management at Baruch College of the City University of New York.

During leaves-of-absence from Baruch College, Dr. Puryear served as a Vice-President of the Ford Foundation and First Deputy Comptroller of the City of New York.

Copyright 2016, George P. Phenix High School.