Miscellaneous Charitable Reunion Stories


Class donates reunion funds for trees

About 30 members of the Washington High School, Two Rivers, Wisconsin, class of 1934 are still alive. The 60th reunion was their last, so surplus funds from previous reunions will be used to purchase trees for the campus of Two Rivers High School. Classmate Norman Schmeichel has helped the Izaak Walton League beautify school grounds since construction was completed in 2002.

From an article by Amy Weaver in the Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, Manitowoc,Wisconsin

School gets historical marker

The former Ballard-Hudson Senior High, Macon, Georgia, was built in 1949 as a merged public high school for black students in Bibb County. After desegregation in 1970, the building changed names to Southwest and then Southeast High School and closed in 2003.

Carolyn Chambers-Studgeon, a retired DeKalb County, Georgia, educator who’s involved in historic preservation, worked for two years to get an historical marker installed to commemorate the school. Chambers-Studgeon also organized a class reunion.

The first step to get the marker was to set up an archive at Washington Memorial Library in Macon. The collection includes yearbooks, graduation programs, report cards and individual files on notable students, teachers and administrators. The library makes photocopies if someone does not want to donate originals.

After gathering the appropriate historical information and vetting it with local agencies, Chambers-Studgeon applied for a historical marker from the private Georgia Historical Society in a competitive process.

From Maggie Large’s story in the Macon Telegraph, Macon, Georgia

Theatre renovation a class reunion project

Much of Newton (Kansas) High School’s Class of 1965 has left town, but thanks to their efforts a historic 90-year-old vaudeville house-turned-movie palace will make a comeback.

At the class reunion classmates from Atlanta, Washington, DC, and an oil platform in the Gulf of Alaska saw how bad downtown Newton looked and decided to do something. The Fox Theatre was vacant and could be acquired cheaply.

Eight members of the class formed a nonprofit organization called Historic Fox Theatre of Newton, Inc., and bought the theatre, which had been vacant for four years. They began staging events from community orchestra concerts to musical theater to weddings to help raise the $750,000 needed for restoration.

The City of Newton and Harvey County provided a professional grant writer and rehabilitation grant projects. Local businesses offered to pay some costs and organizers planned a rock concert to make up the rest of the cost.

From a story by Bud Norman in the Wichita Eagle, Wichita, Kansas

Needham Education Foundation

The Needham Education Foundation (NEF) is an independent community-based not-for-profit organization whose mission is to raise and then distribute money for the enrichment of public school children in Needham, Massachusetts. Its fundraising programs include the annual Spelling Bee Fund-raiser, teacher recognition cards and a year-end appeal. NEF’s purpose is to stimulate innovation and excellence by supporting educational programs that are outside normal public funding and to maintain a permanent fund to implement such programs and activities.

NEF began in 1990 when a handful of Needham High alumni celebrating their 50th class reunion started a seed fund to pass on their love of learning by underwriting education programs. To date, the NEF has awarded more than $700,000 in grants to support Needham schools.

From an article in the Needham Times, Needham, Massachusetts

Class reunion donates to Education Foundation

The Fayetteville (Arkansas) Public Education Foundation is an independent organization whose goal is to raise private money for Fayetteville schools. Interest from the endowment is used each year to provide grants to teachers.

Fayetteville High School graduates have started using their class reunions as an opportunity to raise money for the foundation. The Class of 1974 raised $6,000 at its recent reunion, surpassing the previous total of $2,600 raised at a reunion of the Class of 1954.

Approximately 160 people attended the 1974 reunion. Seventy percent contributed directly to the donation effort, giving an average of $75 each. The reunion steering committee said raising money for the foundation is a good way to give something back to the school.

Seven local businesses operated by 1974 graduates sponsored the reunion to keep the cost to attend down. Their contributions helped keep the cost of attending the reunion at a relatively low $30 per person. Reunion Committee Chairman Curt Rom said, “I thought if we could hold down our costs, that would facilitate people coming to the reunion and donating to the campaign.”

Among the living graduates who were located, about 30 percent showed up, which is a good attendance rate for class reunions, Rom said. “I believe part of that participation was that it was such an affordable event,” he added.

From an article by Brett Bennett in the Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, Arkansas

Restoration recognized

The dedication of the murals and lobby at Wauwatosa (East) High School, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, was made possible by the hard work and dedication of volunteer alumni and their fundraising, sometimes at reunions. It was recognized in the Extension of Remarks section of the Congressional Record (Pg. E325) by Congressman Fortney Pete Stark of California, a 1946 Wauwatosa graduate.

Stark said, in part: “I join in honoring all alumni, students, the community of Wauwatosa, the many volunteers who have worked for many months to bring these artifacts back to their former glory, as well as the artist, Myron C. Nutting [mural artist and Stark’s constituent], for all their contributions to work and restoration of the mural pieces. These are all wonderful contributions to the school’s valued history and tradition.”

Submitted by one of the dedicated volunteers, Ray Py, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin

Cherry tree replacement plan

For 40 years, the cherry trees in the University of Washington Quad have bloomed with white then pink flowers to lift the spirits of students, employees and visitors who look to them as a sign of spring.

Beautiful as they are, these Japanese Yoshino cherry trees are doomed, nearing the end of their 60- to 100-year lifespan and they’ve begun to succumb to disease and fungus.

In 1999, during their 40-year class reunion, the Class of 1959 discovered the trees would be history in 10 to 15 years. They decided to take on the replacement project as a gift to the university. The alumni donated a single tree before endeavoring to raise money to replace all 33.

After several failed attempts to find and purchase replacement trees that would bloom at the same time in the same color as the existing trees, the UW Center for Urban Horticulture grafted new trees from clippings of the old ones. New trees, growing at a nursery, are each waiting their turn to replace all trees in the Quad.

Class of 1959 alumni have raised $85,000. With a contribution of $3,000 or more, donors are honored with a commemorative plaque on one of the quad’s numerous stone benches beneath the trees.

From an article by Jessica Armstrong in the Daily, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington

Gerena school aid

Massachusetts teachers Ursula K. Hogan of Enfield and Roger J. Hannigan of West Springfield, discussed the idea of a reunion at the time of their 2002 retirement as Gerena Community School teachers. Along with retired teacher Donald E. Hooton of South Hadley, the pair continued to volunteer at Gerena, where they had a combined total of almost 70 years as employees.

A committee of former and current Gerena teachers and students was formed to plan the reunion, with the intention of recruiting mentors for current Gerena students. The idea was to match adults’ talents to children’s needs. Mentors’ voluntarism may include talking with students, tutoring them and visiting their classrooms. A “wall of fame,” with mentors’ photos and biographies, will be established in the school cafeteria.

From a story in The Republican, Springfield, Massachusetts


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