On behalf of the York High School Alumni Association committee, I would like to take this opportunity to tell you about the association and its beginnings. We can thank Taylor Hogge ’67, for planting the seed that has grown into the YHS alumni association. Because in 2002 she reminded those in her presence, myself included, that in two years York High School would turn 50 and asked us “what were we going to do about it?” I doubt anyone else had thought about it at all, except maybe for some 1955 graduates. But Taylor, being the ultimate “Falcon”, had already given it much thought and big things were about to happen.
Since February of 2003, when we held our first official meeting at YHS, many alumni have worked diligently for their alma mater. And from that time until the end of June 2004, YHS alumni, past and present faculty, parents, school board officers, and school employees dedicated their time and effort to the goal of making York High’s 50th Anniversary a spectacular three day event. Opening its doors in the fall of 1954, York High educated students in grades 6 through 12, and 41 proud seniors graduated in June of 1955. This celebration would be a remembrance of that banner year as well as the many following years and graduations. Today York County has four high schools, but York High is still the first and the BEST!
If you were one of the fortunate ones who attended the YHS Golden Jubilee (GJ), I need not remind you what a very successful celebration it was. It was a joy to be a part of and see so many classmates gather together again in the halls of YHS. Many months of planning, work, legwork, logistics, rounding up classmates, etc., went into this event. The result was a total of approximately 2,100 attending including faculty and guests. The GJ committee members did not set a goal of making money on this event. In fact our main fear was that we would fail and go into the red. After much deliberation, we set a price of $25 per person which included: attendance to the event, memorabilia items, food, entertainment, a sock hop in the gym, a scrumptious Sunday afternoon picnic and much more. If I remember correctly the $25 covered our actual costs for the items above except for maybe 50 cents. So we certainly did not expect the incredible profits made - approximately $30,000!! Needless to say, we were simply awestruck and exhilarated by this fortunate result. How did this happen and now what were we going to do with this windfall? I’d say it’s primarily because we had a large group of dedicated people determined to make this event succeed. During the 15 months prior to the Golden Jubilee, we held fundraising events such as yard sales, memorabilia sales, and a fantastic golf tournament, to mention a few. We pounded the streets for contributions from our local businesses (some owned by former YHS alumni), including donations of food, newspaper ads, merchandise, sponsorships, and too many more to mention here.
After the Golden Jubilee, the committee continued meeting to discuss the issue of what we should do with the funds raised. We decided to start a YHS scholarship for graduating seniors. After several more months of work, “The York High School Alumni Association Scholarship” was formed, which, in partnership with Christopher Newport University (and taking advantage of available matching funds), established a $50,000 fund for a perpetual scholarship awarded yearly to a qualifying YHS graduate attending CNU. Once this was accomplished the remaining GJ committee members knew we had a great thing going. We had started something special and had the initiative and desire to stay together to do even greater things for YHS and its future. This was the origin of the YHS alumni association.
In January of 2005, we officially became “The York High School Alumni Association, Inc.,” a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, and we continue to raise money within our community for additional scholarships. In the beginning we held yard sales to get our name known and establish ourselves. But soon the best fundraiser by far would be the Alumni Mixers, the first of which was held on a very cold waterside evening on November 5, 2005, at the Watermen’s Museum in Yorktown. They became such a success that we now hold an annual spring and fall mixer. Profits from these festive gatherings currently fund an annual scholarship of significant value for at least one YHS senior. The scholarship is presented to a competitively selected student attending the college of their choice and applied to their educational costs. For the last two years we have proudly funded two scholarships. We have also supported the YHS community in other ways. For example, we have contributed to the placement of flags on the drive in front of the school, supported the annual YHS PTSA “After Prom Party” for several years and helped defray the costs of commemorative plaques and bricks at YHS.
We have very dedicated alumni supporting our association as well. We ask you to consider helping us in any way you can which will further our goals and efforts. You may volunteer to help us by giving donations of time, talent, money, food for our mixers, and even sponsorships where your contribution will be acknowledged at our mixers and/or on our web site. These are just some suggestions and possible ideas. We are still growing and feel we already have had a strong and positive influence on our future YHS alumni. We encourage you to stay involved with your alumni association (there is no fee!) and join in the many memories we share and the camaraderie that we experience when we are together.
Mary Ann Fisher Foell ’67