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McKenzie High School graduates who wish for a way to rekindle friendships with old classmates, promote school pride, and help current students – look no further.
A small group of McKenzie alumni have worked since October 2022 to develop the McKenzie High Alumni Association, and the group’s first formal meeting is Thursday, June 8 at 6 p.m. in the McKenzie High School theater.
The McKenzie High Alumni Association is a passion-project of a handful of McKenzie High alumni, including Brad Camp.
Camp, the man behind the nostalgic Instagram page “McKenzie High Throwback,” graduated from McKenzie High School in 1983. Three years ago, after living in Memphis for 27 years, Camp returned to McKenzie to be closer to his parents John and Karen Camp, two former McKenzie High School educators.
“Having been away for almost 30 years, it was always fun to be in Memphis or somewhere, and someone would find out you were from McKenzie,” said Camp. “There was always a sense of pride from being from McKenzie all those years I was away.”
When Camp moved back to his hometown, he started reminiscing. He would dig around in old newspapers and yearbooks to find interesting stories or stories he had been told by alumni older than him. As a third-generation McKenzie High graduate (his grandmother graduated in 1935, and his mother graduated in 1960), he had heard many stories about things that happened with the school and success stories of alumni.
In April 2022, Camp began sharing the stories and photos he uncovered on his Instagram account, which has since amassed 670 followers. The account proved to him that there are students and alumni who take pride in their community and their school’s history. It proved a need for an alumni association.
Talks of the association began way before fall 2022, but former Mayor Jill Holland organized a meeting at City Hall for persons interested in forming the group in October 2022. Only three people showed up for the informal meeting, excluding already-present city council members and press.
As the group continued meeting, attendance grew. Eventually they needed to move from McKenzie’s City Hall to the McKenzie High School Library. Attendance eventually grew to about 30-40 interested alumni per meeting. Because the association was still in its beginning stages, attendees decided to create a steering committee of ten alumni who would create the group’s infrastructure and plans.
Steering committee members included Terry Howell (‘69), Ricky Price (‘74), Mona Bachelor (‘75), Joel Washburn (‘75), Lisa Ramsay Cole (‘82), Brad Camp (‘83), Tracy Brown Teague (‘84), Michele Jarrett (‘87), Tammy Nolan Parsley (‘87) and Joshua Cary (2000).
With Attorney Lisa Ramsay Cole’s help, the steering committee was able to establish bylaws and complete an application to get a charter to create the nonprofit so they can eventually elect officers and board members.
In future meetings, the association plans to input annual membership fees of $10 per year, which will allow members to vote and run for office.
Together, the steering committee communicated plans of creating a scholarship fund for McKenzie High School seniors and a memorabilia fund to preserve pieces of McKenzie High School’s history.
“There’s a lot [of memorabilia] that’s probably out there, that if we don’t get on it now, will maybe get lost or thrown away or be gone,” Camp said.
He mentioned how McKenzie High School’s principal Kelly Spivey has three old letter sweaters from the 1930s from when McKenzie’s colors were blue and gold. The school also stores old trophies from band competitions and state championships. He said the Alumni Association’s goal is to eventually have a “Rebel Room” or memorabilia room.
Another goal is to promote fellowship and reconnect people. The committee discussed a possible annual mega-reunion, scheduled in conjunction with McKenzie’s Sweet Tea Festival.
June 8 is the McKenzie High Alumni Association’s first formal meeting, and steering committees will give an overview of the bylaws and put together a group to plan the group’s first election. The association will elect five board members, a president, a vice president, a secretary and a treasurer in a future meeting. Committee members will also discuss the formation of other committees including a history committee, financial committee, and more.
McKenzie High School alumni of all ages are encouraged to attend the formal informational meeting.
For more information, interested alumni can contact steering committee members or join the McKenzie High School Alumni Association Facebook group.
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