Who will fill the void? Carmel High School Alumni Association can’t attract younger members

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The board of the Carmel High School Alumni Association, from left, Deb May, Trudy Weaver, Cathie Reamer, Ed Wiseman, Natalie Cotton, Johanna Smith and Kathy Venable are disbanding. (Submitted photo)

The board of the Carmel High School Alumni Association, from left, Deb May, Trudy Weaver, Cathie Reamer, Ed Wiseman, Natalie Cotton, Johanna Smith and Kathy Venable are disbanding. (Submitted photo)

Carmel High School Alumni Association can’t attract younger members

By Terri Spilman

The Carmel High School Alumni Association is desperate for youth. Not the “I need a Botox treatment and can’t fit into my favorite pair of old dungarees” kind of youth. Rather, the alumni association needs an influx of younger members to save the group from extinction.

“I keep saying, ‘I hope we are not the Last of the Mohicans,’” said Executive Board President Ed Wiseman, a 1959 graduate of CHS. “This is what is bothering us. I would hate to be at a point where we get more mature and we cannot do this anymore. We are very much afraid. It is a real sickening feeling.”

The Alumni Association is open to all graduates of CHS with the main purpose of funding a college scholarship through its Golden Greyhound program awarded to a CHS senior at the annual Alumni Banquet and recognizing alumni who have contributed greatly to the community through the Hall of Fame.

This marks the 122nd year for the event, which draws an attendance of about 200 people. The total membership of the group is about 400 – a drop in the bucket compared to the tens of thousands of Carmel graduates since the school’s inception.

The Board of Directors is made up of six alumni who graduated between 1957 and 1965 who keep the association operational. According to Wiseman, who has been president primarily by default for the past 19 years, the problem is that younger alumni show no interest in attending the functions or joining the group.

“I know we’re dying and that’s all there is to it,” said Wiseman. “I know when the board is gone, the alumni association will be gone because the young ones don’t care and the school does not care and that hurts. I have to admit, that hurts all of us. My mother graduated from Carmel, I graduated from Carmel, our sons graduated from Carmel and now our grandchildren will graduate from Carmel. I resent the fact that aside from the scholarship we wouldn’t have a prayer in the world because (the association is) going to be gone in the next few years and that’s a tragedy because it is over 100 years old.”

According to Carmel High School Vice Principal Brad Sever, the school is not affiliated with any alumni association though the groups are allowed to use the school for gatherings. The school has its own Hall of Fame alumni recognition program that is student-driven as opposed to the alumni-driven program by the association.

“The more recognition, we give our kids the better. I think if the alumni association does recognitions too, it’s great,” Sever said.

Restrictions on giving out personal information set by privacy laws coupled with a lack of manpower restricts the alumni association’s ability to mine members, yet a lot of it just boils down to apathy among graduates.

This is what worries Wiseman. “I’d love to have young people. One of the reasons we started the scholarship was to hopefully get some of the younger people interested. When I am in a restaurant and I see people using their phones sitting across from each other and they are not communicating, that is a problem. That’s the reason the alumni association is not working or anything else.”

To connect with the Carmel High School Alumni Association or attend the annual banquet on June 14, visit their website at www.carmelhighschoolalumniassociation.com or “like” them on Facebook.

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