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Wayne Memorial dedicates new Wall of Honor

Students, faculty, administration, and city leaders at the Wall of Honor dedication. Photo by Jenny Johnson

By Sarah Shurge – On Friday, May 31st, Wayne Memorial High School had a dedication to their new Wall of Honor. Gwen Fretenborough, Wayne Memorial High School teacher, spoke at the dedication.
Fretenborough explained that during the summer of 2023, she attended the Friends of the World War II Memorial. It was a week-long seminar where they learned more about World War II and how to teach it. When they left, they were to come back to their school and do a service learning project with the students.
The Wall of Honor is that project. The student dedications begin with the history of Wayne Memorial.
The first Wayne High School opened in April 1925 on Michigan Ave and Williams Street. As World War II rolled through the 40s, many students held dances, played sports, and joined clubs to keep their spirits up and have fun as their friends and families fought in the war.
In the 1950s, the new high school was built, and during the 60s and 70s, Wayne Memorial saw its fair share of protests and movements, along with pep rallies every Friday.
The second dedication goes to the Flying Zebra Class of 1945. The Class of 1945 raised over $30,000 in a subscription drive. $5,000 was given to various charities, including the Red Cross and the Polio fund. However, the students spent the remaining $25,000 on buying a new airplane. “The Flying Zebra” was flown into Willow Run Airport by a woman pilot. The entire senior class went to see the plane. Then the plane was donated to the war effort to be used as an air ambulance, flying wounded from the front to military hospitals for treatment.
The next dedication goes to honoring the 50. The new Wayne High School began construction in 1950. It cost $2 million and originally had 41 classrooms. The “Memorial” in Wayne Memorial was added in 1953 to commemorate the 50 servicemen who lost their lives in World War II. (You can find the names of these men and more information about them on the screens in the Wall of Honor display).
The next dedication goes to showcase items. The Wayne Historical Society donated items (on loan) from the museum such as: a vinyl record from the Wayne Memorial Concert Choirs of 1962 and 1972. The Spectator Yearbook from 1940 and 1942. Student ID cards and handbooks from 1950 (the first class to walk the halls). A special original edition of the Wayne Hi-Lite from 1954. These donated artifacts from former students highlight the Zebra Pride and lifestyle from Wayne High’s 150 plus year history.
The last dedication goes to the presentation of poppies. The red poppy is a symbol of remembrance and hope for a peaceful future. Poppies are worn to show support for the Armed Forces community. The poppy is a well-known and well-established symbol, one that carries a wealth of history and meaning with it.
Fretenborough wanted to thank those that helped make the dedication happen: Wayne Westland Community Schools Print Shop and Communications Department for their support, the Class of 1972 for their donations, Wayne Historical Society, and Adrienne Nathan for her dedication. dedicates

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