By Emily Feenstra and Claire Domanick
Alumni Day was brought to life by former Loy Norrix High School Principal Johnny Edwards in the fall of 2008. Alumni Day gives current LNHS students an opportunity to connect with recent LNHS graduates. The day is a tradition that has been running for five years and former LNHS principal Johnny Edwards hopes it continues for years to come.
“It started as a way to energize the school and it took off from there,” said Edwards.
When alumni come into the classrooms, most teachers allow them to run the show. They talk about college life and let the students ask questions to find out what college is really like.
With more and more students taking advantage of The Kalamazoo Promise and attending college, this interaction is vital to students on the path to graduation.
“I think there’s tremendous value [in Alumni Day]. What I’ve seen at Norrix over a period of years is that the alums coming back have become more and more serious about it as The Kalamazoo Promise gets older and as people realize that there’s tremendous opportunity and value for younger generations,” said Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice.
“Students don’t always listen to what teachers say, but I believe there is a little more buy into what the recent graduates have to say,” said Science Teacher Mark Lowrie.
Organized by Principal Rodney Prewitt’s Assistant Betse Klepper, there are over 60 alumni scheduled to attend, many of who are currently taking advantage of the Kalamazoo Promise.
Ferris State University freshman David Mann said, “The Kalamazoo Promise allowed me to have little debt in college. I only had to take out one minor loan. It allowed me to be more favorable for college football programs because I only had to use a partial scholarship.”
Mann plays offensive tackle for the university. His team went 8-3 this year and missed the play-offs by one game.
Western Michigan University freshman Allie Creamer said, “I like alumni day because you were in these people’s shoes so you know what to say to them. You know how to talk on their level to get the information across. You’re not just some high up person, you were just them.”
While many schools have a “Career Day,” LNHS Principal Rodney Prewitt noted the value of having young people connect and talk about the next chapter of their lives they will soon embark on. “[Alumni Day] is like Link Crew with the freshmen and is a good transitional piece,” said Principal Prewitt. Sharing stories, experiences, and tips, current high school students appreciate Alumni Day.
“[Alumni Day] gives me a good idea of what it’s like for the people that have the full Kalamazoo Promise and how it benefits them,” said LNHS junior Scott May.