Poly Class of 1970
Follow us on Facebook

A History of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Class of 1970

It was the summer of 1966. Approximately two hundred (200) young men from in and around Baltimore City received their official acceptance letter from Mr. Claude A. Burkert, Principal of the most prestigious, all male high school in the State of Maryland and the entire country. This letter informed each young man that as part of the incoming class of 1970, they had been accepted into the toughest Special College Curriculum, “A” Course with its rigorous program in Math, Science and Engineering, and which, when successfully completed, would prepare them for college level work at any and university in the world. A diverse collection of young men from Baltimore City, Baltimore County, Harford County, Anne Arundel County and countries such as France and Russia. Divided into six (6) homerooms sections, students in D1 thru D6 were about to begin a four year course of study in math, engineering, biology, physics, chemistry, mechanical drawing, surveying, mechanics, electricity as well as the other core curriculum courses including history, English, and a foreign language. This letter received informed each young man that they were to attend a gathering in the famous Poly auditorium on North Avenue where they would be officially greeted and addressed by Mr. Burkert. The letter's last sentence informed each student that, as a Poly Boy, they were expected to wear a tie to school every day. Mr. Burkert’s remarks included that now famous line that each student should look to his left and then to his right and that in four years time, at least one of these students would no longer be a student at Polytechnic. A tough, eye opening, and honest assessment.

Rich in tradition for academics, The Baltimore Polytechnic Institute was also known for its outstanding athletic programs, extracurricular clubs, the famous Poly Follies, structured environment, student self-governance, and its development of young men into manhood. Some of these young men would buckle under the daily pressures, dropping out of the “A” Course by the year's end, and continuing their education in the College Preparatory “B” Course.

The academic year 1966 – 1967 was led by an outstanding faculty under the leadership of Mr. Burkert who was also in the final stages of preparing the school for it’s its move to the “New Poly”, which opened at its current location at the intersection of Falls Road and Cold Spring Lane in September 1967. At that time roughly five hundred (500) more young men joined the class of 1970 as sophomores in the “B” Course. By June 18, 1970, the official graduation date of the Class of 1970, approximately six hundred soon to be graduates would gather in the Baltimore Civic Center for their commencement exercise, dressed in white dinner jackets, and demonstrating their pride in their years of perseverance and hard work.

A few members of our class departed Poly early upon completing the eleventh grade, after an early acceptance by a four-year college or university. The remaining graduates would go off to college, university, military service or employment the following year. While many graduates would go on to receive undergraduate degrees, post graduate degrees, PhD’s and/or establish careers in the public or private sectors, no matter their level of achievement, a considerable number distinguished themselves as engineers, accountants, lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, business owners, and industry leaders. A breakdown of graduates on June 18, 1970 by course of study was: “A” Course – 70 (10.40%), Special “B” Course – 41 (6.09%), “B” Course – 286 (42.50%), “T” Course – 220 (32.99%) and “General Diplomas” – 49 (8.02%). Approximately 49 fellow classmates earned their diplomas after taking makeup classes in summer school. These graduates joined the approximate 23,539 proud, prior graduates.

Food for thought: First, when the “new” Poly campus opened in September 1967, all Poly boys took swimming as part of the physical education program. All of us swam naked. This fact still amazes people to this day. Second, the day after a solid week of final exams, all seniors gathered in the auditorium and Mr. Gerardi, then Principal of Polytechnic, proceeded to read the names of every student who would be allowed to graduate from the stage at the Baltimore Civic Center. As in everything else at Poly, there was structure to this program. Mr. Gerardi started with the “A” Course, then the “Special B” Course, then the “B” Course, followed by the “T” Course. Each homeroom section was read alphabetically, and there was at various times either cheers when a name that many thought had failed was read or boos when a name of another who was expected to graduate was skipped indicating that the student had unexpectedly failed a course.

Because of the close ties established by spending days, months and in some cases, years together in the same homeroom sections, many Poly "boys" have remained loyal and close to each other and the school, no matter where their lives have taken them over the years. Always welcomed back to Baltimore for the annual alumni dinner as well as the oldest public high school football rivalry in the United States, classmates still gather to celebrate their special bonds.

Routinely gathering for reunions every five (5) years, classmates still gather to reminisce about the "Old Days" at Poly. June 18, 2020 will mark 50 years since our graduation. This milestone will be celebrated on September 26, 2020. Please mark your calendars now for this momentous event!

In May of 2019, a kidney specialist, a psychologist, and an OBGYN, along with a lawyer, a financial specialist, and a local small business owner from the Class of 1970, met at a home in Ellicott City to speak fondly about their careers and remember their years and classmates at Falls and Cold Spring. Attending the 50th, The Big One. allows classmates to reconnect, catch-up, and lay the groundwork for future socializing as we travel through our golden years!

Poly’s Foundation and Alumni Association, which would match any small college organization, continues to offer financial, in kind service, and mentoring support to today's Poly students.as it once did to needy students within the Class of 1970. Boasting well in excess of 20,000 active alumni, these two organizations, which are being combined into one, provide the many extras that the Baltimore City school system fails to provide. These extras help to maintain the high standard of a Poly education. Receipt of a “Poly Diploma” still indicates that the recipient has gone well above and beyond to earn a very special document which is not matched anywhere else in the United States.

Plans are now in progress for our upcoming 50th reunion being held on September 26, 2020. Unfortunately, at least sixty-five (65) of our classmates have already passed away and will not be able to join us at the event. Now, as many of the members of the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute Class of 1970 have retired or are planning to retire soon, a new opportunity presents itself to remain committed by "paying forward" and giving back to the school which helped build us into the Poly Men that we have become.

Revised, 09/10/19

Powered by Phoenix Internet Services