Website can bring alumni of LFHS together again

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Website can bring alumni of LFHS together again

By LORRAINE HEATH
Evening Times Staff Writer

Once graduates leave the halls of Little Falls High School, many loose touch with their fellow classmates as well as their hometown. Now, there is a Website, www.lfhsalumni.org, that can change all that. Class of 1973 alum Martin Babinec spear-headed the site.

“While still in a formative stage, an active Alumni Network can fulfill many needs for both LFHS Alumni and our community,” Babinec said.

Here are some possible outcomes from a coordinated effort of Alumni working together: Maintain an online directory of alumni which allows each person registering to decide how their contact information can be disclosed to other alumni; Alumni Network infrastructure such as directory maintenance, online announcements, bulletin boards and e-mail distribution being used to assist individual class reunion volunteers in promoting and coordinating successful reunion events; facilitate building of life long relationships among LFHS Alumni, including connecting with former Little Falls residents now living throughout the world; communicating needs of today’s LF High School and community which Alumni can assist.

Babinec is hopeful the Website will begin the profiling of LFHS success stories that can be role models for students who attend LFHS today and put the students in the direction of career paths and life choices. The site can also raise visibility to program and facility needs not met by existing budget and local resources, Babinec said. And, the site may also increase donor participation in Little Falls Community Chest and volunteer participation in LFHS and community organizations.

“Not long ago, the work of keeping large directories current, publishing and distributing updated content, and facilitating contact between members of a large group were all functions requiring huge amounts of labor, printing costs, postage expense and other overhead to perform. So much overhead, in fact, that none of these functions were ever attempted to be undertaken for a school-wide alumni network,” said Babinec. “In a school the size of Little Falls High, one of the benefits we enjoyed was the opportunity to know virtually every member of our class something very difficult to do in the more typical big school environment of many cities today. However, once our journey through high school was completed, it has been all too easy to lose track of friends and relationships, as well as the opportunity to give back to the school that did so much to shape our lives.”

The Website can do something that in years past has been difficult for classes to obtain: Addresses of their class members for class reunions. The Website will give classes planning class reunions a vehicle by which to contact their members.

Registering for the site is easy. Anyone from the Little Falls School District can log onto http://www.lfhsalumni.org and go to “Alumni Registration.” Enter the information requested and send. After about 24 hours, an e-mail will be sent indicating the alumnus is registered. Safety precautions have been placed into the site to protect those who register.

“We have built in security,” Babinec said.

One of the security precautions is class registrars who receive the registrants information and verify that the person is indeed a graduate of Little Falls. Registrars for the class list so far are : 1940 Rosamond A. Primmar Doxtater; 1960 Karin Hotaling Boepple; 1961 Richard Brown; 1963 Joyce Petrie Vickery; 1964 Lynn Snyder; 1965 Mary Haggerty; 1967 John Frazier; 1970 John Dussault; 1971 Marchell George Scarano; 1973 Vincent Polite; 1973 Martin Babinec; 1974 Mike McEvoy; 1975 Brian J. Molinaro; 1976 David Kaiser; 1977 Rose Derkay Oliver; 1979 Joe Lawrence; 1980 Dave Casullo; 1984 Norma Chrisman Douglas; 1985 Lisa Santopadre Munster; 1988 Kimberly Thompson Demag; 1991 Marcus Andrews; 1992 Jacqueline Lovrin Battisti; 1995 Brittani Day Halaquist; 1997 Sarah Mocko; 1998 Jenny Scarano; 2001 David Armstrong; 2002 Julie Scarano; 2004 Delana Spaulding; 2005 Stephanie Hadcock; 2006 Andrea Babinec.

“We have had 20-30 attempts at individuals trying to register for the site that are not graduates,” Babinec said.

Babinec is hoping the Website will bring back to the community many who have graduated from Little Falls. Babinec himself is one of those people. Babinec works in California, but lives in Little Falls.

“I hope to see an increased number of ‘geographically independent’ alumni who work elsewhere, but live here,” Babinec said. “We have had many high-quality graduates from Little Falls and all of us have fond memories of growing up here. Many do not like living in the big city, but would rather live in the small community like this one.”

Babinec says Little Falls offers a smaller education base, the arts, and scenic beauty and puts the city in a strong position to attract back the grads who have moved elsewhere. The Website will provide a strong base for those features. Links to the Little Falls School District, The Evening Times and the city’s own Website are available through the alumni site.

“I am looking at 20 years from now and see many who have left returning. This Website provides a strong base to start enticing people to move back. What better group to start with than actual alumni,” Babinec said.

Eventually Babinec hopes that each class will maintain their own web page that will be user friendly. He also hopes more alumni will volunteer to help with the alumni site.

“Like a lot of things in life, progress gets made because a few people step up and give of themselves. One of the goals of this alumni site is to help people who would like to give back to Little Falls get matched up with a specific school or community need of personal interest,” said Babinec.

“Forming a LFHS Alumni Network will make it possible to reconnect with those we would like to find and also to help the school and community. Whether we still live in Little Falls or not, we can help make a difference for the school and community by giving a bit of ourselves,” Babinec said.

Babinec said while today’s LFHS Alumni site is still in its infancy, a continual effort towards improvement can increase the functionality and content so that it could become an instrumental communications vehicle for current and former residents of Little Falls. Babinec noted that with each passing year, the technological sophistication of the community’s children surpass that of earlier generations. Many of the more recent and coming graduates are equipped to not just participate in an online community, but lead in the development of web based capabilities that can benefit the entire Alumni Network.

“We would like to see by their graduation day all senior class members enrolled on the site,” said Babinec.

Short-term goals of the Website are publicize site, drawing in participates to register for access to school wide alumni directory; expand volunteer participation by creating a series of smaller roles requiring limited time commitment; identify core team of interested volunteers willing to serve in leadership roles for the overall alumni network; increase donation levels to expand site functionality for ease in publishing new content and coordinating class reunions; charter a non profit organization; share alumni network infrastructure to help coordinators of class reunions; conduct Canal Days reception to recognize LFHS Alumni Network donors and volunteers.

“There are challenges in this community. The biggest is the decline of the tax base. We need graduates to stay or to return home,” Babinec said.