A Message From the President

Dear Alumni,

After many years of experiencing maintenance benign neglect, and the harsh winter vortex of 2019, Roosevelt was closed and is no longer on the active list of schools for Gary Community Schools. Also, our school’s name has been used to solicit funds for projects that are not affiliated with the goals of the National Alumni organization. Many Alumni and citizens of Gary have given to these “efforts.”

We strongly feel that Roosevelt is salvageable and can be repurposed. The alumni would like to see Roosevelt continue to be a positive focal point in the community and a destination for Gary citizens and visitors.

Through the efforts of Dr. Bernard C. Watson and Ms. Annie Mae F. May, Roosevelt was placed on the Department of the Interior’s National Registry of Historical Sites (December 2012). The National Alumni, Lady Panthers & Supporters of the class of ’63, and the Roosevelt Booster Club applied for and received the State of Indiana’s Historical Marker (2019). The Marker was dedicated and placed on Roosevelt’s campus on September 19, 2020. The National Alumni is committed to highlighting the history and legacy of Roosevelt’s prominence in the development of the City of Gary for generations to come. The history and pride that Theodore Roosevelt High School represents to us and the City of Gary are inseparable. Yet, the struggle continues. We are currently enlisting the support of the Gary Common Council to add Roosevelt High School to the City’s Preservation List, which would be a strong commitment to the salvation of our structure.

It has been said that, “It’s the friends we meet along life’s road who help us appreciate the journey.” The bonds we forged and the wonderful experiences we had at Roosevelt were unparalleled. We have a proud history of academic, athletic, and fine arts achievements. Roosevelt was the center of Gary’s Black community life and hosted numerous cultural events. Many of our alumni have excelled in their chosen fields to heights that were never imagined. We have excelled all over the world in education, science, medicine, business, communication, athletics, politics, and in the world of entertainment.

We feel that due to the legacy and history of this edifice it should be repurposed and remain in use. As alumni, we want to and should be involved in the direction and future of the Roosevelt property.

The Gary School Corporation along with the state board of education have been in the process for several years of seeking to transfer the ownership and/or responsibility of Roosevelt to some other corporations or individuals. There were FIVE (5) proposals for redesign and usage of the building that were all “rejected” in late 2020. We have frequently asked for updates and information on any progress regarding the status of the Roosevelt property, with limited success. We feel that the alumni should be involved in the determination and future of the property. Join us in letting the Gary School Corporation know our interests and position on Roosevelt’s future.

In the past, we have wanted and requested an itemized list of Roosevelt’s memorabilia and valuables (i.e., Paintings, Statues, Figurines, etc.) at the time before and after the Winter Vortex.  We are aware that there may have been some damage of items. We have informed the current manager of this request.

As a footnote, the state having control of the GCSC, has placed managers that we believe had no interest in preserving the Legacy of Roosevelt. Currently there is talk of all of Gary’s Closed High Schools’ memorabilia, currently stored in Chicago, IL, would be displayed in a designated hallway at West Side High School. We as Alumni strongly oppose this plan.

We look forward to you becoming an active member again. Remember, we are forever Panthers with a whole lot of “Panther Pride!”

We are a 501(c)3 organization, with full “tax deductible” privileges for our membership fees and/or donations. As stated earlier, we are NOT affiliated with groups that have collected funds in the name of Roosevelt. Any donors to these groups should check their tax status before using it as a tax deduction. We are not aware of the status of those projects.

Judith Leek-Mead