SOME 37 graduating classes later, Columbus East High School finally has an alumni association.
The formal entity, Columbus East High School Alumni Association, was officially incorporated last year. It already has a bank account, a board of directors with officers, a website and plans for a Wall of Fame that will recognize outstanding contributions and achievements of graduates.
Now, East alums will have to become accustomed to their new status. Despite a history that goes back to the fall of 1972 (1975 marked the first time when the graduating class included students who had attended East for all three years), there is still a sense of newness to the school on Marr Road.
Indeed, there was a time, not all that long ago, when Columbus East was referred to as “the other school” in Columbus. Actually, that was one of the more polite names given to it, especially by some followers of what many considered the city’s “real” high school — Columbus North.
A CLOSER LOOK
Members of the Columbus East High School Alumni Association are seeking nominations for the first inductees into the school’s Wall of Fame and donations to support school projects.
Wall of Fame nominees should have been a graduate of Columbus East and have made significant contributions or achievements in their careers.
Nominations should cite specific achievements and list honors, awards or other forms of recognition that have been accorded the individual.
Nomination forms can be downloaded from the organization’s website (columbuseastalumni.com) and either mailed to Columbus East Alumni Association; PO Box 1372; Columbus, IN 47202-1372 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donations for the association to help support school projects should be made payable to BCSC-East Alumni and sent to:
BCSC Administration Building
Attn: Pam Boles
1200 Central Avenue
Columbus, IN 47201
After all, Columbus North was supposedly the direct descendant of Columbus High School, which, for better than a century, was the only high school in town.
When confronted with a burgeoning teenage population that the one high school was incapable of handling, the Bartholomew Consolidated School Board decided to create a second school that was eventually called Columbus East. A significant portion of the students at the city’s old high school never moved, instead remaining at the 25th Street building, which was renamed Columbus North.
The idea of splitting the schools was not universally approved, and things, indeed, were pretty rocky at the outset, especially for those attending the new school.
Acceptance of East as an equal partner came hard for some people — particularly some who were sure that the split had diluted the talent pool and cost the city any chance at a state championship in a major sport.
Ironically, it was an East team — the 1979 football squad — that brought home the city’s first state title in the years following the split. Other achievements followed, academically as well as athletically. It was blessed with an outstanding faculty. Chemistry teacher Carole Goshorn was named winner of a Presidential Award for Excellence in Teaching, for instance.
Its graduates have gone into all walks of life, several of them assuming leadership positions or registering important achievements.
A school spirit developed not just among the faculty and the student body but among the graduates. A number of booster clubs were formed to help support individual teams or groups, such as the football squad or marching band. Alumni could make donations to help support the individual booster clubs, but until last year, there was no overall entity that would embrace the whole school.
Interestingly, the idea for a booster club stemmed from a conversation East Guidance Director Doug Moore had with a group of East students who had yet to graduate.
“During this conversation, some of these students mentioned that there had to be a number of East graduates who had become noteworthy in life for a variety of contributions,” Moore said. “They just thought it would be appropriate that there be something that would recognize their achievements and even serve as a role model for students still in school.”
The conversation planted a seed in Moore’s mind, one that sprouted on a visit to another school that had a Wall of Fame in place.
“We were standing off to the side and noticed that a number of current students had stopped at the wall to look at the photos and read the text outlining the achievements of the honorees,” he said. “That really struck me because it became obvious that these students were really interested in the accomplishments of those who had graduated from their school.”
Walls of Fame, however, don’t come prepaid. Moore sounded out some East graduates about the possibility of raising money for the project, but out of those discussions came a grander plan.
“In listening to Doug it became obvious that we needed to think beyond this one project,” said Chuck Wells, publisher of The Republic and an East alumnus. “In that discussion it was noted that there were a variety of ways that East graduates could support individual causes like the football team or the band, but there was no central place to make a donation for the good of the school.”
Wells pointed out specific instances where the lack of a central depository hampered school support.
“A few years ago East was developing a new science lab but needed help in acquiring equipment. That would have been an excellent project for an East alumni association to have gotten behind.”
That conversation got the ball rolling, and an informal group of East alumni became very formal. Wells was elected president, Bob Moats vice president, Ike Dougherty treasurer and Michelle Newland secretary.
They even contracted with a Web developer to develop a website (columbuseastalumni.com), which is now up and running.
And they put forth criteria for a Wall of Fame, its first members to be chosen and inducted later this year.
It’s taken 37 years to get to this point, but the newly formed alumni association is one more reason that East is no longer the other school in Columbus.