Durham Academy Parent of Alumni Kick OffPosted: November 9, 2014
Years ago when Theky Papas was President of Parents Council at DA and facing her third and last daughter’s graduation from Durham Academy she said, “What am I going to do when I don’t have any children at this school?” Her reality was that she had spent more than 20 years supporting, loving, volunteering and pouring her blood sweat and tears into an institution and knew that as soon as Toni graduated she would have no official connection to the school. She and her husband Ted were just the payers of the tuition; their daughters were the Alumni, not their parents.
Theky started the idea ball rolling and this past spring when I was asked what job I wanted to do for Parents Council at DA Theky went through my mind. In two and a half years I too am going to be put out to parent pasture when my child graduates and becomes the Alum. Forget that I have spent the last twelve years building community, working on committees, being a trustee and doing my favorite job as Benefit Gala Auctioneer. Forget that the majority of my friends have come from relationships made at school.
Thank goodness Lisa Ferrari knows me well enough not to stand in my way when I ask for a job. So the Parents of Alumni Association was born. What was it supposed to do? I had no idea. I had no budget, no committee, and no role model from any other school. What I did know is that staying connected and being a community was enough of an objective and with help from other people we could figure it out.
Here is the crazy thing, the parents of the Alums still live here, but the majority of the Alums are far away at college and the ones that are close at college are busy having fun there without their parents. Parents whose kids are all off at college or finished with college have more time to have fun than they ever did when their kids were at DA.
A committee was gathered together. We initially met over lunch at my house since I wanted the theme of the group to be about keeping people connected and having fun, so food needed to be involved. That group recruited a couple of others and we were on our way.
We decided not to decide exactly what the Parents of Alumni were going to be, but instead to have a cocktail party to introduce the concept to anyone who would come. We thought if we could get 50 it would be good. E-mail invitations were sent out, people responded. We ended up getting closer to 90 people to come to the learning commons and drink a little beer, (Thanks Jay Harris) or a little wine and have a few yummy nibbles.
People who had not seen each other in years reconnected. Ideas for future gatherings were suggested. Fun was had by all. In fact it was hard to get people to go home. POA was born. It was just a small beginning, but a happy and successful one. If you are a Durham Academy Parent of Alumni keep your eye out for news from the POA. The community you invested in wants you to feel that you still belong. The best part about the POA is that it is not a fundraising arm of the school in anyway.
Thanks to Theky for throwing the idea out to begin with. I hope that it will grow into everything you ever wanted. Thanks to Sara Pottenger for helping organize this party when you had a senior starring in a play this week. Thanks to Shelayne Sutton, Kay Peters, Martha King and Margaret Chesson for making this party happen and being willing to be part of something new. Thanks to Leslie Holdsworth for always making all my crazy ideas not seem so outlandish. Thanks to all the people who came to the party. Keep feeding us ideas for activities you want us to create. This is just the beginning.