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WICHITA, Kan. – All for one and one for all. That could be the motto of North High’s alumni board. When its president, Bill Bequette, was approached about being inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame he said sure, as long as the full board was part of the honor. So the the group now has the distinction of being the Hall of Fame’s first board induction.
“The alumni board operates on one basic principle,” says Bequette. “‘Once a Redskin, Always a Redskin.’ Our purpose is to support the students, staff and administration through financial aid and volunteerism. We especially don’t want students not participating in school activities because they can’t afford to.”
That goal let to the alumni board’s creation. Six years ago Jacob Johnston, a new wrestling coach at Wichita North High, reached out to an alumni email list of former wrestlers asking them to come to the school, take a tour and offer fundraising ideas. The wrestling team hadn’t had new uniforms in years. Most team members couldn’t afford to go to training camps (mostly funded by individuals now) and his team was growing. Johnston saw an opportunity to help athletes get to the next level, learn some lifelong skills and serve as positive role models. Bequette, Judge Robb Rumsey, John Lent, David Franklin, Dean Rankin and Herschel West decided to act.
“We said, ‘Let’s have a BBQ, invite our reunion class to join us and see what kind of money we could bring in,’” says Bequette. “The event was simple: a poolside party and quick auction. It brought it a few thousand dollars. That success got us to think we could help more than just wrestling.”
Over the past six years, North High’s Alumni Association has raised more than $90,000. Alumni board members run the logistics for the annual fundraiser, however, it’s the alumni who show up and donate that really make the difference.
“The party continues to be kept simple, thrown on a very slim budget covered primarily by alumni donations for venue expenses and security so that funds raised go to the cause,” says Jordan Walker, who got involved in the second year after meeting Bequette and Rumsey to talk about marketing the event online.
“I was 23 when I was asked to join the board and I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” says Walker. “Now, five years later, I’m a big believer in the power behind the incredible North High alumni network. All the hard work is worth it. We see how even the smallest donation makes a positive impact on everything from individual students to entire classrooms.”
The association has donated to nearly every athletic organization as well as drama, journalism, history, art, chemistry, physical education, special education, family counseling, AP mechanics, JROTC, AVID, ESOL, BIOMed, Business Professionals of America, and such annual events as the North High Waterfestival and Project Graduation.
The Wichita North High Alumni Association will be inducted into the North High Hall of Fame Saturday, October 7 at 9:30a in the North High Auditorium, following a reception in the library. The event is open to the public.
Wichita North High Alumni Association Board Leadership:
President – Bill Bequette
Vice President – Honorable Judge Robb Rumsey
Treasurer – Barbara Rumsey
Marketing – Jordan Walker
Event Fare – Cathy Rankin
Debbie John – School Advisor