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Columbia City High School
Alumni Association

600 N. Whitley St.
Columbia City, Indiana 46725

(260) 244-6136, Ext. 3459

CCHSAA grows beyond social organization

The Post & Mail September 18, 2007:

Since taking over leadership of the Columbia City High School Alumni Association, president Richard Phend has been actively working to build the organization from its new foundation up.

Founded several years ago by 1957 graduate Ted Gruver, the organization has grown considerably, regularly hosting a breakfast event for CCHS and CCJHS alumni in Florida each spring, and since last year, hosting several events in honor of homecoming including an open house event at the high school. Additionally, the organization has operated a Web site for several years at  http://www.cchsaa.org with a database of all 15,550 CCHS and CCJHS graduates since the school’s first graduating class of 1881.

“Between Ted and Brenda (Reeg Robison) and several others in Florida, there was a lot of hard work put in to get the organization going,” Phend said.

Last year at the fall meeting of the CCHSAA, Phend assumed the presidency and began creating several new facets of the organization, including the development of scholarship funds, creation of an endowment,  a membership drive and golf outing.

Phend is a 1951 graduate of Columbia City High School. Though he now lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, Phend regularly visits Columbia City to meet with school officials, members of the community and with CCHSAA board members.

The latest activity, one that has been the fruition of Phend’s dream, is the development of a membership program and scholarship program for the Columbia City High School Alumni Association. The association, in working through the Whitley County Community Foundation, has developed a comprehensive brochure about the scholarship funds and offering details about membership. Additionally, a new logo has been developed for the organization.

“There are two primary functions we have as an organization,” Phend said. “We serve as a liaison between the community and the school and we want to be able to offer scholarships.”

Phend felt that by creating a membership program and through the building of an endowment, the organization would be able to better meet both of those objectives – one day having the ability to provide scholarships, grants and awards as well as to be supportive of the school system.

“This is another way we can help the school system with awareness, being available and supportive and as a matter of pride,” said Phend.

The brochure outlining the new programs was officially unveiled Friday at the CCHS football game. Phend, CCHSAA vice president Bob Brittain and other volunteers plan to host a CCHSAA booth at future events to share the brochure and information about the organization with current CCHS students as well as past graduates and their families. Phend said those who have seen the brochure and who have learned about the new endowment, scholarship fund and membership program are excited and pleased.

“I’ve heard positive comments from everybody I’ve shown it to,” Phend said of the brochure. By the end of September, the brochure will be mailed to approximately 1,800 individuals who have provided their mailing addresses to the CCHSAA.

Lifetime memberships, annual memberships and associate memberships for non-graduates who wish to support the organization are available.

CCHSAA members will enjoy a newsletter, information on upcoming events and, Phend hopes, will one day offer even more – perhaps members only dinners, discounts or other perks.

 “When you buy a membership, you’re saying I want to be a member, I’m proud of CCHS and I want to help build that (scholarship) fund,” Phend said.
“There is a distinction between being an alumni of CCHS (or CCJHS) and wanting to be part of an alumni association,” Phend said. “It’s something you wish to do from willingness to help build a scholarship or from pride,” he said.

From the $12 membership, Phend anticipates $9 going toward a scholarship, awards and grants fund and $3 will be used for operational costs such as mailing the newsletter.

“This is one way to build our scholarship fund,” he said. “The analogy I like to use is that when we get enough little contributions in the bucket, when it runs over, we’ll have enough to begin awarding scholarships,” Phend said. He also hopes to one day be able to assist high school clubs, activities and organizations with grants to help them meet their goals as well.

“I’m more than willing to provide to a pool that will one day provide scholarships,” Phend said, saying he imagines others will feel the same way as well.

There is yet another way those willing to support the CCHSAA and who want to help provide scholarships in the future can get involved – by giving to the newly-created Founder’s Fund, a separate endowment fund created for the CCHSAA.

Phend is also optimistic that as the endowment fund through the Whitley County Community Foundation grows, the size and number of scholarships it may be able to one day award will be enhanced as well.
The endowment is seeking individual, tax-deductible gifts of $1,000 or more.

“We can continue to solicit donations for this fund until we have a sufficient amount,” Phend said of the Founder’s Fund. “But if we have 15 or 20 who donate to this fund, it may be sufficient to give a scholarship in two or three years,” Phend said. At that point, it will be up to the board of the CCHSAA to determine how many scholarships will be awarded and the dollar amount of those awards.

Phend is proud of the work done by CCHSAA to this point and he’s excited about the future as well.

“Ted’s idea is a great idea,” Phend said of the development of the CCHSAA. “I’d like to see the organization go on endlessly in to the future,” he said. “and that when we’re no longer involved, we know it will continue on.”


2005 Columbia City High School Alumni Association.           This page last updated 08/06/2012