A district with four high schools inevitably has a whole bunch of alumni.

The Olentangy Education Foundation is looking to support those graduates by partnering with district officials to create the Olentangy Alumni Association.

Although it's in its formative stages, the concept has been discussed for some time.

"It's been on the district's radar for years," foundation executive director Rachel Haugk said. "As with any new thing, the time and resources for it aren't always clear. (The foundation) has the tools and database capabilities to collect and organize information, so it made sense for us to work on it."

Olentangy Schools communications director Krista Davis said the district is "thrilled" the foundation is working to create the association, offering a way for alumni to connect with their district, former teachers and classmates.

"Both our community and alumni will benefit from the ability to network, reflect and celebrate the outstanding education and experience they received in our school district," Davis said.

Haugk said despite the current uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus, it's still a good time to begin the effort.

"In this at-home time, with so much focus on the class of 2020, the time seemed right to get back in touch with people from prior classes," she said. "Plus, a lot of us are spending even more time on social media, connecting with people, including our high school classmates."

While numerous alumni groups exist -- many of them on Facebook and representing specific classes or student organizations -- a formal, districtwide effort to create an alumni association hasn't been attempted, Haugk said.

"I'm really excited to get this started," said foundation board member Derek Pentenburg, a 2006 Olentangy High School graduate. "One of the reasons I joined the (foundation) board about three years ago was the idea of forming an alumni association."

"I was at Olentangy when it was so small, and had such a small-town feel, you didn't really need an alumni association," said Emily Robinson, a 1995 Olentangy High School graduate and vice president of the foundation board. "There's obviously been such unbelievable growth, but I think we can create a network that's a virtual small town."

The initial goal, Pentenburg said, is to create awareness among alumni of the kinds of things the district and its students are doing and to promote the work of the foundation.

Both Robinson and Pentenburg acknowledged that building such a network could benefit the foundation's fundraising efforts in support of teachers and students in the district, but both see that as a byproduct of the association rather than an objective.

"I see it as a way to highlight what our grant recipients are doing and the successes our teachers and students are having," Pentenburg said.

Alumni are encouraged to go online to olentangyeducationfoundation.org and click the link for information on the alumni association, where they can learn more about the effort and provide their contact information.

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