In need of support

Membership in the Alumni Association has been falling, but there are hopes for more student involvement


Kelsey Jones

Alumni Association President Rich Elkins talks to The Journal about his history as a member. He has been part of the association for almost eight years.

Providing numerous scholarships, appearances at events such as games and shows and lots of involvement in the Southport community are just a few things that make up the Alumni Association.

The Alumni Association has existed for almost 30 years. The last few years, however, the number of members has been declining, and at one point, the group only had four or five members. SHS has been making plans to get students more connected to the Alumni Association by creating nights where the members of the association can come meet the students.  

SHS 2001 alum and English teacher Brent Bockelman has joined the Alumni Association and taken over the position of Vice President. Bockelman was uncertain for the last few years because of the lack of members.

“Part of it was if we don’t get younger people involved, it’s going to dry up,” Bockelman said. “That was the reason I came in. (It) was to try and help them bring in the younger (graduates).”

The President of the Alumni Association is Rich Elkins, and he has been in the position for almost three years. Elkins graduated from Southport in 1980 and has been part of the association for almost eight years. He too can see the lack of students’ involvement once they graduate SHS. 

“That’s the thing I couldn’t figure out as president, the apathy of the school,” Elkins said. “When you graduate you don’t want to come back, so (I was) trying to figure out ways to bring kids back faster. I was the same way. I didn’t come back for almost 30 years and I still look back and wonder why.”

He is choosing to not re-elect this coming June, which means the position will most likely pass down to Bockelman. 

“I did good,” Elkins said. “I increased the number of members and the amount of scholarships, so there’s a lot of good things I did, but my time’s up.”

The Alumni Association is a group in which any graduated student can enter. The group gets together once every quarter and figures out ways to bring the community closer together. Members also donate thousands of dollars to the school’s seniors every year as part of a series of Alumni Association scholarships. 

Kelsey Jones
These are pieces of memoribilia in the Alumni Association room in the PTEC building. The room is filled with years worth of memories.

The association is currently preparing to reach its $1 million total for scholarships which they have been working towards for the past 30 years. The association does not receive outside donations, and all of the money for the scholarships comes from the members of the association or reserve funds. Bockelman says this is unique.

“There aren’t really any other high schools around here that do that much, they might give a few hundred bucks here and there,” Bockelman said. “(The funding is) not coming from businesses, it’s coming from the alumni.”

Students as well as members of the Alumni Association are gathering their ideas to get ways for the school to help increase the size of the association. Principal Brian Knight’s student leadership group meets once a month and talks about issues at the school. This group consists of the student council members and other students who demonstrate leadership qualities, and they frequently discuss the status of the Alumni Association. 

One of the members of this group is senior Chris De La Cruz. 

“The Alumni Association brings a lot of benefits when it comes to its scholarships,” De La Cruz said. “Students who need an easy way to get scholarships for college, they can go to the Alumni Association for that.”

Knight encourages the group to brainstorm ideas as to how to get the school more involved with the association, both before and after graduation. 

“Southport is unique, and we want students to engage in that,” Knight said. “There is this rich Alumni Association out there that we want the students to connect with.”