By Margaretta Maguire (282)
On October 19, 2022, the Associated Alumni of Central High School inducted several members of the alumni into the hall of fame. The banquet was held at architect Frank Furness’ stunning Knowlton mansion in Northeast Philadelphia. Attendees were joined by a star studded cast of inductees, with emcee Quiara Alegría Hudes. Members of the Centralizer staff were lucky enough to be in attendance and speak with some of the esteemed guests and inductees.
A team of highly dedicated people organized the event so that it proceeded without a hitch, including but not limited to: Dr. Steven Shapiro (225), George Mosse Jr. (232), Mr. Blazer and the music department, the staff at the Knowlton Manor, President Davis, Central Administration, Mr. Innamorato running the merchandise table, and countless student ambassadors.
The event was emceed by Quiara Alegría Hudes, known to all Central students as the woman behind the acclaimed summer reading book of last summer, My Broken Language. In speaking with her, she highlighted how the freedom that came with Central cultivated artistic development in the school. Reminiscing, Hudes recalls that she and her peers, “were organizing the kind of world that we wanted to build.”
The inductees were an awe-inspiring group: Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz (255), a poet and author published in The Atlantic and Smithsonian Magazine; Sean Gee (248),
manager for The Roots and Jill Scott, as well as working on the executive managing team of other acclaimed music acts such as Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj, and President of Live Nation Urban; Michele D. Hangley (243), Judge of Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and one of the first women to come to Central; Major Jackson (245), a professor in the Chair of Humanities at Vanderbilt University, poetry editor of the Harvard Review, and poet with five collections of poetry; Hankus H. Netsky (231), co-chair of New England Conervatory’s Contemporary Improvisation Department and founder of the Jazz Band at Central; Larry Sklar (225), scientist renowned for his work in flow cytometry as director of the Center for Molecular Discovery; James Warren Taubman (190), previous art editor for The Centralizer – according to archivist Dr. Khan – and renowned comic book publisher; and Stephen Werblun (229), a courtroom artist whose work includes the O.J. Simpson Murder Trial.
There was an air of joy and connection at the event; all seemed happy to be reunited at the first alumni induction event since 2015. Hankus T. Netsky remarked, “My lunch table is right over there!” Interim President Mr. Petty emphasized how happy he was to “renew old friendships” and be a part of the Central community. Sean Gee (248) expressed his excitement to be honored in the hall of fame; “I’ve accomplished some things in my life but when I got this call I was like ‘wow.”
Present at the event was a pronounced representation of the Arts at Central; six out of the eight inductees had or have a career in the arts. Stephen Werblun (229) remarked, “I think this induction ceremony is so important because it does celebrate the arts” as with our robust school community, “whatever it is that you want to pursue, you can pursue it at Central.”
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz and Quiara Alegría Hudes had an apparent Central bond. Aptowicz, one year behind Hudes at Central, emphasized the path Hudes blazed as a burgeoning writer coming from Central. The two also spoke on the evolution of the Queer club at Central; “the fact of its existence automatically makes Central a safer place” said Hudes. The pair’s friendship was heartwarming, Aptowicz mentioning that the pair even shared Hudes’ prom dress.