Burke, school foundation aim to reach alumni

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Posted: Sunday, February 23, 2014 12:00 am

The multitudes to pass through both Papillion-La Vista High School and Papillion-La Vista South High School have spread globally, yet still have the ability to make an impact at home.

To continue outreach and connections within the alumni of the Papillion-La Vista School District, the Papillion-La Vista Schools Foundation has increased efforts and created a new focus on graduates.

“We have 20,000 alumni throughout the world,” Executive Director John Erickson said, “and we are committed to reaching out to them.”

As part of facilitating a sense of community for the alumni, Erickson said the foundation plans to continue and expand programs and events already in place.

“We’re privileged to continue the tradition of our foundation,” he said. “Our alumni have been and always will be a part of that.”

For instance, Erickson said the foundation will continue its annual Swing for Kids golf tournament fundraiser, which was formed a year after the 28-year-old foundation, which will take place June 6 this year, as well as the fifth annual alumni gala set for Aug. 23. The foundation also supports era and class reunions.

However, Erickson said the foundation has new plans for the future, which include hiring Erin Burke as the new alumni manager. Burke graduated from Papillion-La Vista South High School in 2005, though she also attended Papillion-La Vista High School prior to the split.

“I got to go to both schools, and I think that will be great connecting with alumni,” Burke said. “I had friends at both schools, and I got to experience both schools.”

She said she was an actively involved student while attending both schools, participating in activities such as band, speech and student council, all of which, she said, will only help her reach alumni.

“I felt like a Monarch. I felt like a Titan,” Burke said.

Prior to high school, she said she experienced a whole range of the district, attending Anderson Grove Elementary School on one end of the district to La Vista Junior High on the other.

The new alumni manager said she has two goals for herself and the foundation: to continue to thank and recognize the alumni who support the school district and to reach and connect others to what the schools are currently doing.

“This is a community, and we’re all a part of it,” she said.

Erickson said a sense of community is what drives new events planned for the foundation. For instance, he said this year’s homecoming football games at both schools will be followed by an all alumni reception. The foundation is also in the process of creating a social media hub.

“We feel technology is an important part of reaching our alumni,” he said.

This hub will be similar to Facebook, he said, in that members can subscribe to specific groups of interest and will create a free exchange of communication.

Other expanding features will include recreating the newsletter into a magazine-type format as well as a webpage. The foundation will seek out stories and pictures from alumni who want to share their stories.

Another way for alumni to share a legacy, he said, is through endowed gifts. Alumni, or even entire classes, can create funds to allow the next generation to enjoy the education, programs and clubs they may have enjoyed.

“They can invest in the immediate needs of the district, while ensuring these programs for the next generation through endowed gifts,” he said.

Erickson said the foundation is thankful for support it has received from alumni, as well as the Kids Club before- and after-school program, which he said has provided a solid foundation to build upon.

“It’s as strong as ever and allows us to dream big dreams for the foundation to reach out to alumni worldwide,” he said.

Both Erickson and Burke said the best is yet to come for the district.

“I think we understand the possibilities we have,” Erickson said, “but when our alumni become fully aware of their impact on education, it will be great.”

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