An Open Door: The New Lutheran East Alumni Office
by Jessica Miller
It’s an unseasonably warm day in late October, and I’m sitting across the desk from Ms. Loretta Childs. We’re at Lutheran East, in the newest space in the building—the recently renovated Admissions & Alumni Center. Her office of course houses a desk, a chair, a file cabinet, a bookcase holding Lutheran East yearbooks—but the most important part of her office is the door. It says “Alumni Director,” and it’s a door she’s hoping all Falcon graduates will become aware is now open for business.
A brand new position, the Alumni Director is a comprehensive resource for graduates of Lutheran High School East. Ms. Childs is charged with facilitating connections (and reconnections!) between alumni, helping alumni to network and promote their businesses, keeping alumni updated on school news and events, working with class members to plan class reunions, encouraging alumni to return for homecomings and school events, and ensuring that alumni who wish to give back to their alma mater can do so in the ways that mean the most to them.
It’s a big job. But Ms. Childs is up for the task.
She’s also no stranger to Lutheran East. Along with having held roles including Assistant Athletic Director and Main Office Staff, she’s the mother of two Lutheran East alumni—Jewell Cotton ’19 and Andrew Cotton ’20. As a parent, she sensed immediately that Lutheran East was the supportive community in which she wanted her children to experience their high school years.“They weren’t sold right away,” she recollects. “They were nervous about making a change and missing their friends, but they knew that Mom always had their best interests at heart. It did not take long for them to develop new friendships and to see the importance of attending Lutheran East. Now they’re young adults in the real world- something every parent prays their children are prepared for-and I can say that they truly are. That’s because of Lutheran East.”
As Lutheran East’s first Alumni Director, she’s working to build connections between the school and its graduates so that many more “real world” successes alumni are having can be recognized and celebrated.
“The Alumni Director position is new for us at Lutheran East,” says Mr. Andrew Prusinski, Lutheran East Principal. “We’re beyond excited that we now have someone whose primary responsibility is to facilitate as many alumni connections as possible. This will be a benefit for everyone. We hope our alumni community will use the Alumni Office as a valuable resource for connections, for networking, for events and gatherings, and for school news. Our alumni are an important part of our school community, and our hope is that as they feel a growing sense of connectedness to their alma mater, they’ll continue to play an active, important, and expanding role in the future of our school.”
Rick Labus, Class of 1961, has worked at Lutheran East since 1999 in capacities including Tuition Manager, Recruitment Coordinator, and
Administrative Assistant. He has also given generously of his time, serving on the CLHSA Board of Directors for 18 years and on the Lutheran East Operating Board from 2001-present, with half of those years as Board Chair. Rick was also a founding member of the Lutheran East Alumni Association. He recalls that throughout the years, many members of the alumni community gave their time and resources in making the Falcon family strong and supportive.
“What we haven’t had until now,” Rick says, “is someone in the building every day whose role is dedicated to alumni outreach and support. As a proud alumnus myself, I’m excited to see what the addition of the Alumni Office does for the school and its alumni.”
The foundation for the Alumni Office was laid in the late 1990s, when a group of dedicated and faithful alumni created the Lutheran East Alumni Association. An excerpt from an archival document outlining the history of the Alumni Association reads:In 1997, Sandy Baumann ’63 met with Principal Dr. Paul Bruhn to discuss the possibility of establishing an alumni association. Sandy had gathered information from parochial and private schools that had active alumni associations, along with input from Cathy Bartlett, Director of Development at the CLHSA. Telephone calls were made to alums (1959-1996) inquiring as to whether they would be interested in activating an alumni association. A meeting held in May 1998, which coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the CLHSA, was attended by many alumni and a foundation for an alumni association was in place. In 1999, the loosely formed Alumni Association sponsored a decade reunion for the Classes of 1959-1969, which was well-received. During the next couple years, a mission statement was created, by-laws were written, an Alumni Hall of Fame was established, a newsletter was produced with Judy (Volf) Chess ’61 serving as Editor, alumni get-togethers were planned during Homecoming, alumni dinners and picnics were held, and alumni mugs and t-shirts were made available. The first officers were elected in April 2001: Sandy Baumann ’63 (President), Rick Labus ’61 (Vice President), Walt Elbrecht ’61 (Treasurer), and Sherrie Tolliver ’74 (Secretary).
One of the most important Alumni Association initiatives was the establishment of the Lutheran East Alumni Hall of Fame, which inducted 19 graduates from 2001- 2020. A continuation of the Alumni Hall of Fame, the school’s Distinguished Alumni program, now recognizes alumni who have had significant success in, and/or notable impact upon, their professional fields or communities. Going forward, the newly established Lutheran East Alumni Office will have a significant role in the management of the Distinguished Alumni program. To see a complete listing of Lutheran East’s Distinguished Alumni, please visit www.LutheranEast.org/DistinguishedAlumni.
Ms. Childs knows that building relationships and connections can take time and perseverance. She is hopeful, though, that alumni will begin to reach out to her just as she’s reaching out to them. Ms. Childs says, “The Alumni Office is here, ready and willing to be a fantastic resource for our thousands of alumni. But I can’t be a resource to those alumni I’m not in touch with—so I’m hopeful that through holding alumni events, connecting on social media, and other efforts, I can continually expand our Falcon alumni family. And I hope that the alumni we’re already connected with will help.”
Now that the Alumni Office has been established, Lutheran East wants to ensure that alumni can take ownership of their alumni experience—the Alumni Office exists to serve the Falcon alumni community, and Ms. Childs is open to any and all ways she can be of assistance. She’s ready to help alumni plan their class reunions, to reconnect classmates to attend the Homecoming game together, to make a class gift to the school in commemoration of a milestone reunion year, or to facilitate an alumni networking group.
“I have some exciting ideas. But I want to make sure that everything I do serves the alumni community in ways that they are looking to be served,” remarks Ms. Childs.
If you are a graduate of Lutheran High School East, we encourage you to send Ms. Childs a brief email at [email protected]: let her know who you are, what year you graduated, and what YOU would like to see the Alumni Office do within the alumni community.
The Falcon family is out there, making their mark on in their careers, their families, their churches, and their communities. Now, there’s a hub for Lutheran East graduates from all class years to connect, share, and build one another up in the name of Falcon pride and fellowship. And that hub has a home: the brand new Alumni Office at Lutheran East.
|Contact the Lutheran East Alumni Office
Ms. Loretta Childs, Alumni Director
Email: [email protected]