By Rodney V. De Leaver
Special to AFRO

In 1970, four young men made Baltimore City history by winning two out of three possible academic challenge games on WMAR TV station. The show called, High School Bowl, was based on quickest responses to an array of questions based on subjects like math, science, and history. The single word above each person’s head is the key single answer provided at a critical time during one of the games played. In game one, they defeated a two-time champ trying for their third and final win, and became only the second team from Baltimore City to ever win a game on the show up to that point.

(Courtesy Photo)

In game two they came back in the second half to defeat a first time challenger, and became the first team from Baltimore to win two games on that show up to that point. 

In game three the team suffered from an apparent case of stage fright, as they were beaten to the buzzer repeatedly, and incurred a loss in their third game, which would have made them an undefeated champ and winner of three out of three. The on-screen team was only part of a well composed team of nine students chosen by their coach, Arthur Rankin, an English teacher, and the selection committee. The eight seniors, all from the same home room class, and one junior (Preston Jay) became the toast of the town and of Dunbar High. Seniors, Mary McClinton (Tillery), Essie Evans (Macklin), Sandra Jackson (Newbill), Shirley Spence (Baird), Anderson Lyles, Alan Lewis, Gregory Schroeder, and Rodney De Leaver are forever linked with the memories of this joy. To boot, these nine were also treated to the New York  Broadway play “Purlie Victorious” with Sherman Hemsley, Melba Moore, and Cleavon Little, of Blazing Saddle fame. 

Rodney V. De Leaver is a former Dunbar scholar-athlete (class of ‘70), a Morgan State University graduate (class of ‘76), and, more recently, the recipient of the 2016 Dunbar Golden D Alumni Award.