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Column: Importance of alumni groups likely to grow

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Columbus now has all the bases covered when it comes to recognizing achievements of local high school alumni.

The newly formed Columbus East Alumni Association (profiled in a column on this page Tuesday) has established a Wall of Fame for its achieving graduates.

The older Columbus North alumni association (actually its proper name is the Bull Dog Alumni Association) has developed a Hall of Fame for its deserving products.

North’s Hall of Fame was created last year, but the first inductees will be selected this year and formally announced Sept. 21. Right now, the Bull Dog alumni officers and executive director Hedy George are seeking nominations based on criteria listed elsewhere on this page.


The Bull Dog Alumni Association is seeking nominees as the first inductees into the newly created Hall of Fame for graduates of Columbus and Columbus North high schools. Nominations must be submitted by March 1. To be eligible for consideration, nominees must have been graduated from the school for at least 20 years.

Statements about the nominee should demonstrate how the graduate has exemplified the qualities of respect, responsibility, relationships and a generous spirit. Nominations should cite outstanding achievements of the nominee and list any honors, awards or other recognitions accorded them.

Nomination forms are available in the main office at Columbus North and on the school’s website, Nomination forms also can be obtained by emailing

Completed forms should be mailed to Bull Dog Alumni Hall of Fame, c/o Hedy George, Columbus North High School, 1400 25th St., Columbus, IN 47201.

The Hall of Fame is the latest venture for the organization that was incorporated in 2008. Before that, the group took a different direction in becoming an important presence in the parent school.

One of the first projects was a “Buy-a-Brick” campaign in which alumni of both North and its predecessor, Columbus High School, were given the opportunity to purchase inscribed bricks that were placed near the entrance to the school in an area dubbed “Alumni Plaza.”

That venture was pretty successful. “We currently have 350 bricks in the plaza,” George said. “There have been two different installations, and the bricks cover both eras in the school’s development.”

That’s reflected in the time span represented by individuals and graduating classes. The oldest graduate listed among the bricks is the late Bob Weber, who was in the Class of 1937. The oldest graduating class is from 1941. The brick project has served to establish or re-establish a link between the graduates and the school.

Some of the other efforts undertaken by the group are more directly related to the future. In less than five years, two scholarships and an endowment have been established within the organization.

The oldest is the Sam Simmermaker Scholarship Fund, named for the legendary local broadcaster when he celebrated his 50th year on the air in Columbus. To date, three $1,000 scholarships have been awarded to local students.

The newest is the John Johnson Studio Productions Scholarship created last year and named for the director of the school’s Judson Erne Auditorium.

The endowment is a tribute to longtime teacher of English Shirley Lyster and was used to pay the salaries of substitute teachers so that teachers in North’s English department could participate in service training projects.

Although there are currently no membership dues, the association has received approximately $20,000 in donations from alumni and friends.

“We intend to assist not only the school but other alumni groups, such as the graduating classes,” George said. “There are already some established support groups, such as booster clubs, that raise money for various projects, and we’ll assist those when we’re able.

On the other hand, there are a number of areas in which there is no direct support mechanism available, particularly in the academic area, and we might be able to provide some assistance.”

In this respect, the importance of alumni associations like those at East and North can only grow as school budgets get tighter. Something else grows as well — the ties that still connect graduates to their schools.

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