CHS alumni association benefits today’s students
The Centralia Rotary Club met on October 26, 2020. Reid Shipley, principal of Centralia High School, spoke about the Centralia High School Alumni Association (CHSAA). The alumni association was started in 2008 and is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Membership is primarily open to anyone who graduated from Centralia Township High School or Centralia High School, but is also open to anyone who would like to support the school in any way.
One of the purposes of the CHSAA is to provide scholarships to graduates of CHS. The alumni association has scholarships for graduating seniors and also has continuing education scholarships. These scholarships are funded by donations to the CHSAA Scholarship fund. The first year the association awarded one scholarship for $500; however, since then they have awarded a total of over $156,000 in scholarships to many deserving students.
CHSAA scholarships are made possible through the Nelda (Francis) Bundy endowment, the 1969 CHS “Wild Bunch” Football Team, and other scholarship fund donations throughout the year. Any and all donations to the scholarship fund are very appreciated. This year’s annual spring raffle had to be cancelled, so donations are even more critical.
Another objective of CHSAA is to provide services for CTHS and CHS alumni and to encourage alumni support for the school district. To do this they keep in touch with the alumni by distributing information about what’s going on at the school presently, and they help share information about alumni activities such as reunions.
One activity of the alumni association dear to Shipley’s heart is the Distinguished Alumni Awards. These awards honor CHS graduates who have done great things for their community (no matter where they live), or have been highly successful in their personal and/or professional lives. Nominations are basically by word of mouth, although there is a nomination form available on the CHSAA website. Some nominations are submitted by readers who bring in a newspaper or magazine article about a CHS alumni. Nominees who are not selected are kept on the list for five years. Those selected must have been chosen on 60% of the ballots turned in that year.
Students also benefit from the selection of alumni. The winners are encouraged to come back to the school and show the students that they too can accomplish great things. Knowing that these alumni grew up on their street, in their neighborhood, or in their town can greatly encourage students to reach for similar success.
The Centralia High School Alumni Association was formed to bring alumni back to Centralia High School to get them involved in doing things that help facilitate academic programs, extracurricular programs, and other student activities. Some of the activities the CHSAA has already established are based on allowing the students to have a choice of safer extracurricular activities like Post Prom Parties and the annual Homecoming Tailgate for which the association will provide pizza, sodas, snacks, and prizes of gift cards.
CHSAA needs not only volunteers, but donations to make these things happen. You can choose a specific interest to support with your donation. There are different funds within the alumni association to which one can donate: The Landscaping Fund, Scholarship Fund, Memorials, and the Capital Fund. For example, thanks to a donation in 2016 by Patricia Carlyle Hicks, the cafetorium was renovated into a much more usable space for hosting plays and musicals with the addition of curtains, wireless microphones, audience risers, etc. Donations can also be used for essentials such as classroom supplies, textbooks, etc.
Another example of donations in action, using their Capital Fund, the alumni association pledged $15,000/year for 10 years toward getting the new tennis courts at CHS funded and helped purchase land to expand athletic facilities. Shipley remarked that the tennis courts are not just for tournaments, they are used for physical education and presently are also used to give the students a place to go out and get some fresh air and exercise without wearing their masks.
Remember, you do not have to be a graduate of CHS to be a member of the alumni association. If you have a love for education, and for helping the high school be the best that it can be, check into becoming a member. There is more information on their website at http://www.chsalumniassociation.org/home.htm