Alumni Association going strong

Ames High School has graduated over 27,000 students since its inception and has produced several who have achieved a certain degree of fame: Jenkins of CNN Radio, Bartley, an editor of the Wall Street Journal, Thompson, an ex-actor, director and current teacher as well as several authors, musicians and a poet laureate. There are still about 20,000 AHS grads alive and kicking today, although it’s rare that students ever receive news of their exploits. Yet just because students hardly hear from them after they’ve graduated doesn’t mean ex-Ames-Highschoolers have cut off all ties with their beloved bastion of education. About 3500 are currently members of the AHS Alumni Assocation and frequently gather for class reunions, share current AHS news, and make donations for the betterment of Ames High. “Our main function is to try and keep graduates connected with Ames High school,” Bill Ripp, president of the Alum Association said. “You become an alum as soon as you graduate although we get very few memberships from students the first 10 years after they graduate. Until they get through college get a job, maybe get a spouse, family. We have people who are 90 years old who keep up their membership and they graduated in the 1930s.” The Association began in 1990 when the Ron Rice, the superintendent of the time, asked Ripp about starting one. After 21 years, it’s still going strong, sending out a newsletter three times a year to its 3500 some members, keeping track of mailing addresses and organizing class reunions. With over 300 students graduating every year, this is no small task. Most public schools don’t even have an alumni association (most are in private schools, as a main source of funds) yet Ripp has been told on several occasions that the AHS alumni association is probably as good as any in the US. In addition to keeping graduates connected, the association also generates funds for any projects that need money. “We just gave $100 to post prom party,” Ripp said. “$1400 I think to the band drive and we gave a couple thousand maybe to the turf project. We’ve also been doing five $1000 dollar scholarships to Ames High seniors.” So why do they do it? Why are they giving away so much money?! “I know that [some] you will come back and tell some of your teachers, ‘Boy, am I glad that I went to Ames High school.’” Ripp said. “And you’ll brag about Ames High School to your roommate or classmates in college. Most people who graduate from Ames High are really pleased to have graduated from high school and to have grown up in Ames. We have graduates who move back once their kids gets to junior high because they want them to go through the Ames School system.” And so, seniors, although you may forget about Ames High the next ten years after you graduate, if you should ever feel like coming back and catching up with your chums, the Alumni Association can help make it happen.