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Alumni Asked to Participate in Directory Project, District's First in 10 Years

Alumni Asked to Participate in Directory Project, District's First in 10 Years
Posted on 05/28/2015
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Copies of the 2005 alumni directories for Pasadena, South Houston, Sam Rayburn and Dobie high schools. The new Pasadena ISD directory project will update those volumes and supply a first-time database of Memorial High alumni.
side 3Ever since he joined the Pasadena ISD’s Communications Department five years ago, Al Carter has maintained the same desk arrangement. On the left, a telephone. And on the right, four books – a set of alumni directories for the district’s four oldest high schools.

“They’re never out of reach,” says Carter, who coordinates alumni development projects for the school district. “There isn’t a day out of the week when I don’t pick up at least one of the directories to help with reunion inquiries or other alumni requests. Some tug at your heartstrings.”

In just the past six months, information from the district’s alumni directories has led to the return of two senior rings lost nearly 50 years ago. Information from the books has helped friends reunite and has assisted in tracking down alumni for hall of fame inductions and other events.

Not all of the inquiries have produced happy endings, such as a recent request from a former teacher for assistance in locating one of her prize pupils -- no longer living, it turned out.

“There were tears,” Carter said, “but also closure.”

Still, just as alumni age, so do alumni directories. As such, the Pasadena ISD has contracted with Harris Connect, a Virginia-based company, to produce updated volumes for directories last published in 2005. New directories will be compiled for Pasadena, South Houston, Sam Rayburn and J. Frank Dobie high schools.

And, for the first time, a database will be produced of alumni from Pasadena Memorial, which opened in 2003-04. Directories for the four oldest high schools will be completed later this year. Advance purchases are now being accepted through Harris Connect.

A data CD with the Pasadena Memorial alumni information will be presented to the school district and made available -- free of charge -- to Memorial alumni and alumni groups with a non-commercial interest in the information.

“Because Memorial is relatively new with a relatively small alumni base, a print edition would not have been cost effective,” Carter said. “But because of the district’s strong desire to include Memorial in the process, we were able to negotiate the production of a data CD that’s sure to be a helpful tool for Memorial classes planning their first reunions.”

The process of collecting information for the 2015 alumni directories began last week with the mailing of postcards to Pasadena ISD alumni. The card asks each alumnus to call a toll-free number and provide contact information and brief biographical information for use in the directory. Memorial graduates are asked to log in to a website to provide their information.

“There is no obligation of any kind attached to the process,” Carter said. “An alumnus can decline to have any or all of his contact and bio information included. What’s important is that we generate a high percentage of responses from our alumni rolls.”

To help the cause, the school district – for the first time – will employ the contact resources generated by alumni associations now in place for South Houston and Sam Rayburn high schools. The district also hopes to spread the word through Facebook pages for alumni groups from all five Pasadena ISD high schools, Memorial included.

“When alumni directories were produced in 1999 and 2005, those organizations and those social media tools were not in place,” Carter said.

“The response rate then depended solely on the number of alums who responded to Harris Connect’s postcards and phone calls. Now we have the means to spread the word in multiple ways, to encourage participation from a Pasadena ISD perspective and, most importantly, to answer questions and relieve any concerns alumni may have about the process.”

Carter said it’s important that alumni understand that they are under no obligation to purchase a directory when they contact Harris Connect.

“Harris Connect, of course, is in business to sell its products and make money,” Carter said. “When contacting the company, a representative will go over product options and pricing. But there is no obligation to buy anything. Inclusion in the book is not contingent on a purchase.”

Carter said the Pasadena ISD has also made arrangements with Harris Connect to include responses from former students from the five district high schools who did not finish high school at that campus.

“Previously, the company worked only with graduation lists provided by the district,” Carter said. “We pointed out that many of our former students closely associate with our schools and our graduating classes. As such, a former student may contact the company, provide his class affiliation and information to be included in the directory.”

The contact numbers for the high schools are:

  • Pasadena High – 800-775-6321
  • South Houston High – 866-615-2110
  • Sam Rayburn High – 800-651-2013
  • J. Frank Dobie High – 800-829-8359
  • Pasadena Memorial High – 800-735-8239

Alumni who do not receive postcards within the next couple of weeks are asked to call the number for their high school. The information gather process will continue through the summer.