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Starting a staff alumni association


Students will evaluate why they need a staff alumni association and will determine how they could use such an organization to supplement and complement their media program.


  • Students will analyze the role other alumni organizations play for other high school media groups.
  • Students will complete research to learn what other alumni organizations do for their respective media groups.
  • Students will explain and defend why they want to adopt a certain model of alumni organization that they have found in their research.
  • Students will learn the importance of developing connections and maintaining relationships as they continue to strengthen a tradition that students before them have begun in their media program.

Common Core State Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1d Respond thoughtfully to diverse perspectives, summarize points of agreement and disagreement, and, when warranted, qualify or justify their own views and understanding and make new connections in light of the evidence and reasoning presented.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence clearly, concisely, and logically such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, substance, and style are appropriate to purpose, audience, and task.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, taking advantage of technology’s capacity to link to other information and to display information flexibly and dynamically.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.7 Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question) or solve a problem; narrow or broaden the inquiry when appropriate; synthesize multiple sources on the subject, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.8 Gather relevant information from multiple authoritative print and digital sources, using advanced searches effectively; assess the usefulness of each source in answering the research question; integrate information into the text selectively to maintain the flow of ideas, avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.9-10.9 Draw evidence from literary or informational texts to support analysis, reflection, and research.


Four 50-minute classes


Internet access

Examples: Sample organizational structures for alumni organizations

Rubric: Alumni association presentation

Lesson step-by-step

1. Building background — 10 minutes

Explain to students that many successful student groups have an alumni organization that supports them in a variety of ways.  Today we’re going to begin researching some of these groups around the country and we will decide why we want an alumni organization and how we might utilize it once it is formed.

2. Research — 40 minutes and continued for homework

Students will use the Internet to research active media programs around the country who have alumni groups. They will develop a list of questions they would like to use in an interview when they contact an adviser, student editor or alumni group leader with the program that they find.

Questions could include:

–       How long has your alumni program existed?

–       What are their primary responsibilities?

–       How often do they meet? How do they meet?

–       Do they have officers or specific chairmen for different activities?

–       Are they set up with a non-profit status?  Do they run their money through the school or are they independent of the school? What would this entail in your state or your school system?

– Students will set up and conduct their interviews and then present the data they have learned to the class.

3. Presentations — one class block (50 minutes)

Each student will present what he or she has learned from the different schools around the country.  As the presentations are made, someone in the class should create a list of possible alumni group responsibilities on the white board in the front of the class or on a multimedia projector (whatever is available in your classroom).

Examples of activities could include:

–       Involvement in the staff banquet like providing a speaker or financing some aspect of the banquet

–       Fundraising for staff activities like trips to conferences – donating as patrons, taking out ads, buying commercial time on a broadcast

–       Serving as classroom speakers on various journalism topics

–       Granting interviews to students about what they have done since their media experience in high school and how they have used what they learned (whether they are journalists or not)

–       Fundraising for or donating to scholarships for journalism students

–       Coordinating activities that allow for alumni reunions such as a homecoming reception, a Christmas/holiday gathering when most alumni come home for a visit, or a special summer event like an alumni cruise

–       Helping to plan additional sightseeing activities and chaperoning journalism trips

–       Creating an alumni newsletter that can be emailed out to alumni or posted on a website

–       Creating a list of speakers who could provide support and PR by presenting to a school board or civic organization to tout the benefits of the school’s media classes

4. Follow-up — one class block (50 minutes)

Using the data that was presented in the last class block, create a proposal for beginning an alumni group for your media organization.  Your proposal should be a slideshow presentation that includes:

  • How you believe the organization should be structured
  • What you think the organization should do
    • for each specific activity, develop an action plan of exactly what you’d like this group to do and include at least five activities
  • Why it’s important to have an alumni group for your media program
  • Suggested timetable for getting the group going and functioning on its own

5. Combining best ideas from all presentations — one class block (50 minutes)

Looking at all the proposals during this class block, we will decide as a class what ideas we like best and will combine them into one presentation that we can show to a meeting of alumni one evening (or a good time where multiple alumni would be in the area to attend).  We could also figure out other ways to communicate with alumni to get them involved.

Things to consider:

  • Choose who will speak during the presentation – who will introduce the idea, who will speak for each slide, who will lead the conversation, entertain questions, respond, keep a speaker’s list, etc.
  •  Decide if you would like handouts to go along with the presentation
  • Plan light refreshments to have for the alumni at this meeting
  •  Who will create and deliver an invitation to alumni for this meeting? How? Where will the meeting be held? When? How long will it last? Consider running a mock meeting so you’re prepared for any questions parents might ask.
  • What are the suggestions you have for a name for this group? How could you customize your name?
  • How will you use social media to communicate with former members of your media staff? Which social media will you choose?  Who will monitor?
  • Who will keep a database of all alumni and make sure it is update regularly?

6. Hold your first alumni association meeting — one evening

Hold your meeting and then report back to the class the next day if everyone isn’t able to attend. Use the ideas you gather at the first meeting to debrief and possibly develop further ideas that you’d like the alumni group to do for you.