Four McKinley High graduates reconnect at nursing home

Four McKinley High School graduates, who had not seen each other since graduation, recently reconnected at Old Jefferson Community Care Center in Baton Rouge.
Published: Jun. 5, 2023 at 3:33 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 5, 2023 at 10:16 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Four McKinley High School graduates, who had not seen each other since graduation, recently reconnected at Old Jefferson Community Care Center in Baton Rouge.

Vera Baker, 101; Frankie Christentery, 95; Estelle Walker, 97; and Genevie Booker, 95; graduated from the high school in 1944 and 1945.

“Well, it just so happens that this one (Estelle) is a cousin by marriage. And I heard that she was in this facility, when I was assigned to come here,” said Frankie Christentery, class of 1944.

“They told me that she (Frankie) was there, so I went looking for her, and I found her. I was glad I had a classmate that was in the same center with me,” said Estelle Walker, class of 1944.

Frankie and Estelle then found Genevie and Vera as well.

“I never knew about it,” said Genevie Booker, McKinley High class of 1945.

“I was so happy,” said Vera Baker, class of 1944.

The four women have some vivid memories of their time at McKinley High back in the day, which is the oldest high school established for African American students in East Baton Rouge Parish.

“I remember about going to the games all the time, because I remember the games. Because I used to love going to the games,” said Walker.

“Our facilities, and getting to and from school was a whole lot different than what it was today, we had no buses,” said Christentery.

Frankie said high school was one of the best things that ever happened to her, and she still remembers some of the fight song.

“I had forgotten most of it, but it’s hail hail McKinley high. something about the true blue. But I would have to go back and think about it,” said Christentery.

There are some friends you never forget, and the moment you meet again, it’s like no time has ever passed. That’s the case for these women, who have some advice for recent high school grads as well.

“Just pay attention to what’s going around you continuously and take advantage of all the opportunities that you have. Because really coming through in my era, we had very few opportunities, but we had to make opportunities,” said Christentery.

“And for them to carry it on to the next generation, which some of them did and I was very proud of that. I love McKinley High. it’s our school,” said Walker.

The staff at Old Jefferson Community Care Center said the women are so delighted to have found each other.

“And then the ladies wanted to send it to the McKinley Alumni Association, and then I heard about it and I said, well that’s that’s a sweet story, we need to get this on the news,” said Lisa Gardner. Vice President Provider Relations & Marketing for CommCare Management Corporation.

Vera Baker loves to cook, and was at the center for it’s skilled nursing program. She left the facility on Monday, June 5.

Frankie Christentery loves hunting, fishing and bowling, and will leave the facility on Friday. She was also there for the skilled nursing program.

Estelle Walker was voted most fashionable and is a long term resident of Old Jefferson Community Care Center.

Genevie Booker loves art and is also a long term resident of the center.

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