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I know that the DNC and the RNC had their Conventions, but guess what: It’s time to talk about what’s up in Milwaukee: In relation to the first MPS Alumni Summit.

Coming off the heels of the first All-Alumni Reunion, the summit was gathered at Bradley Tech High School on July 22nd, and yes: IDEAS were flowed about how can we the MPS Alumni can combine our forces to be one voice and one experience to give our ears, our EXPERIENCED ALUMNI EARS to give out to the current district of our schools. I know I’m a Marshall guy. But others were King, Hamiltion, Tech, Vincent, Lincoln High School, South Division, West Division (or Milwaukee High School for the Arts), and many others all under the MPS Alumni Umbrella.

This Summit was all about our Alumni Associations. Our Alumni Groups. Us being combined with many talents, ideas, truthful comments, and a host of collaborative ideas to remain ACTIVELY INVOLVED! – You will see this again towards the end.

When we gathered at Bradley Tech’s Entrance way, we were greeted by members of the Milwaukee Public Schools. They directed us to check in which we were given packets with information about volunteering, upcoming events, an overview how the 2015-16 provided the successes of the academic performances, an overview of Universal Drivers Education, a program that was missing from MPS for a while, is now making a comeback into the high schools. Plus an overview of what Milwaukee Public Schools is doing now to improve the outcomes of students: from White House Turnaround Arts, Community Schools, Partnership Schools, Trauma Sensitive Schools, College and Readiness, and M3 – Collaborating with MPS, Milwaukee Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

However: that was just the first wave of info. We were later divided into groups and were in discussing about the experiences of our Alma Maters. We talked about various experiences of Alumni Associations being an influence and a liaison. We also talked about why those in the Alumni don’t always contribute or gain interests in joining the Alumni Associations. From the lack of interest, to not revealing so much about the past. Even breaking the ice of the saying “Alumni Associations are for old people” commentary. REALLY?! One of the directors, of the committee is a 1997 HS Graduate of the Milwaukee Public Schools and currently active with Milwaukee Public Schools’ Central Services areas. Plus also many might realize that Alumni Groups are in need of the young folks. Those whom are late 80’s – 00’s that are alive and active. We also learned that there were commentary about not enough knowledge about Alumni Associations in terms of not hearing of one, not being knowledgeable about their purpose. Some of us commented about haven’t got started on joining Alumni Associations due to job starts or raising families. Many of us joined Alumni Associations well after 15 -20 years after graduating from High School. Me for example, I joined the John Marshall High School Alumni Association as a board member in 2011 which was about 16 years after my 1995 graduation. We also talked about collaborating with other high schools in the district. As many know here in Milwaukee, Rufus King and Riverside for example have Alumni Competitions in Flag Football, and year after they compete in raising scholarships and charitable causes. With other schools, Bradley Tech has the Turkey Bowl Alumni Classic on Thanksgiving Weekend and usually other schools of Bay View, King, Hamilton, and Riverside all compete under sportsmanship. Plus also, besides the trophy, it’s also about the value of education to the current students, with scholarships and career opportunities.

Also in the first part, we talked about that ALL Schools should have an All-Alumni Reunions every year. This needs to happen. For example: Rufus King has their annual Alumfest on the school grounds each year during late July. Bradley Tech has an All School Cookout and they have been doing it since early 80’s. There was two points that Marshall had an All-Alumni event in which the school celebrated 50 years in 2011. Plus along with the Soccer Game which was organized by a former Marshall High School Coach, the school also had a mini open house in which brought back some Eagles Alumni to view the merchandise and the soccer game as well. Even though there were some of the interests that was successful, but many should have came out or donated to the school for fundraisers. We also talked about the naming of the schools. In keeping the names of the schools to have that connection on the Alumni level. For example: this portrays about in one school in particular, my Alma Mater, John Marshall High School. Just recently the school got it’s original name back.

But what took to long get it going again?

Back around 2011 as most know, I blogged about the name of Samuel Morse*John Marshall School for the Gifted and Talented. Why was it again? Two things – Low Enrollment and also MPS was viewing the Gifted and Talented Program on the Middle School level in which everyone know that Morse was known for, but there was not one on the High School Level. Henceforth, that’s how Morse was fed into Marshall based on the Gifted and Talented program. And the school was going back to it’s 6-12 Grade roots. Just as a reminder who don’t know, Marshall started out as a 6-12 grade school, or a Middle and High School that was established in 1961. Furthermore, according to the history, the thought of Marshall being a Middle School/High School goes back to 1929, when then MPS Superindent Harold S. Vincent was in charge of the school district. Yes, the same Harold S. Vincent that has a school in his honor of Vincent High School here in Milwaukee. The school was placed on a land once owned by the Archdioces of Milwaukee at the time in which it was vacant space. There was no Dominos, no Citgo, no Wendy’s, not even a Mautz Paint Store that was placed. The School itself was state of the art, and once had over 3,000 students enrolled. Even some of the students had to go to the 65th Street School (now the Milwaukee Envriomental Sciences Academy) just across Capitol Drive.

Marshall has gone through it’s naming transformation over the course of the 55 years. It started out with “John Marshall Junior-Senior High School”.  Then around in the early 1980’s, it became “John Marshall Senior High School”. Around the Mid 80’s to the late 90’s, it was “John Marshall High School”. For the early 2000’s, the name and the school was split in three sections with W.E.B. Dubois High School, The Milwaukee Academy of Aviation and Technology or MAAT. Which the building was named “John Marshall Campus”. Thank former MPS Superintendent William Anderkopolus, a Marshall Grad for that. And most recently between 2010 and 2016, “Samuel Morse*John Marshall School for the Gifted and Talented”. Yes, John Marshall has been on the building for 55 years. The Gifted and Talented thing with Morse really had worked. The enrollment was building, the academic of Project Lead the Way, STEM, and many others really clicked. It was budding.

A point for the Alumni was asked in a sense from the staff, regarding the Alumni Association. I remember one of the former board members getting word in a question that asked “The Alumni Association: All they do is come to graduations thanking the graduates, with speeches and having their pictures on the wall. What have the done for us?!”

Ooooh! We were called out.

The Alumni Association had been called out and woken up by the then Morse*Marshall staff. They wanted to see us. They wanted to talk to us. They called us out. For the record, we visited their open houses, their Homecoming Games, Basketball Games, Marched on parade, visited their art galleries, musicals, and partake in their concerts of Winter and Spring. Even represented at their Graduation Ceremonies. So yes, we were “called out” and responded. And supported the students of their gifts and talents. Around last summer, there a flyer going around in regarding the “Morse” side of “Morse*Marshall”.  Early on,  I was approached by a former Parent Coordinator that MPS might pull the Morse Students out of Marshall sometime in the 2015-16 School Semester. I asked is the school going back to the 9th – 12th Grade, and the answer was yes. Later on in the year, the notice was approached to the Alumni Association in regarding a public meeting at the old Burroughs Middle School. Some representatives from MPS showed up at the meeting and talked about the pros and cons of Morse. There was some positive pointers, but the negative pointers of the stats and data was a concern. A concern that had to be examined based on academics and overall performance. One of the parents in the Public Meeting that her children wanted the “Middle School Experience”, in which she wanted a stand alone Middle School. Just 6th – 8th Grade. The data and notes of the meeting were later passed on to the district board for review. Last October, MPS reviewed the notes of the meeting, and it was approved that the district will move the Middle School of Morse out of Marshall to the Burroughs Middle School Building in the 2016-17 year, while Marshall will grow as once again as a 9th – 12th Grade High School. My Alma Mater will also reopen some classrooms and get new textbooks just to name a few upgrades. Later on, the school got another visit from MPS, this time from the Alumni Student Engagement area. Plus this was with the Alumni Association. One of the highlighted reasons I got from meeting was a new way to help strengthen the Alumni through their schools. And the featured part of the meeting what I got out of was the name of “Morse*Marshall”. Personally there was a disconnect between the name of Morse and Marshall. And partially it was due to the identity of the school. Many of feedback, partially from the Alumni wanted the school’s name to return to John Marshall to have that connection not only of the school’s history, but also with connection with the Alumni. When the school name of “Morse*Marshall” came out, not many in the Alumni was not too pleased with it. NOT MANY!  Majority wanted the old name back to reconnect as in once again a sense of identity that many know.

Furthermore, as of now, a new school year is coming, and the name of “John Marshall High School For the Gifted and Talented” is coming to open another chapter in the school’s history. I shared this link on Facebook on my private page, and later on two Milwaukee Marshall Alumni related group pages, and the results HAVE EXPLODED! And currently the word is spreading. So for you Marshall Alumni that wanted the name back, you got it! But I asked this question: Should we back this up? And make it stick? This portion of the news just came in time before the MPS Alumni Summit.

Other parts from the first meeting came about with some ideas to flow to all MPS Alumni:

  • Discussions about Go Fund Me, a page that could use in assisting in fundraising, etc.
  • Questions that might arise of “How can I help” Mixed also with being proactive.

Highlights of three versions of Small groups – These are the small groups that are very common as we know:

  1. Gung Ho – Those whom are always doing the work. Mostly the grunts.
  2. Actively involved or still involved
  3. Waiting List – those who waiting to assist or work with Alumni Associations.

Suggestive Ideas. And all should know:

Again: Have All School reunions every year. Host them during a week or month. Mostly during the summer months as an example.  (King Alumfest, Tech Annual Cookout every summer)

Help marketing to gain interests.

Have highly motivated people.

Help the system/help the school.

Use parent engagement.

Have 2 schools to collaborate: (i.e. – Marshall/Washington)An example raised about the Alumni Games of King and Riverside.

MPS Mentoring Program – Mentoring students while in school. Keep track on their progress, goals, objectives, etc.

Have businesses/trade colleges fairs and career fairs in the schools. This would be excellent for the Alumni to collaborate.

 

The second part of the meeting was more of what could be about our ideas to reach out as a MPS Alumni Member. One the things I said in the part of the meeting was these two words: “Actively Involved.” That is what EVERY MPS ALUMNI Member must do to be paying attention of what’s going on in our Alma Maters. Mainly some just come for party and glory which is fine, but many of us want to work! That should send signals to those that we want this to happen.

Reach out to businesses – mainly around the schools. Many of the businesses that the schools know, should support. For example, if a small business or well know business knows Marshall High School or Washington High School very well, that business needs to be reached out. This is where sponsors and support needs to happen! The same for those whom are well known Alums that work for a business that the schools really need to reach out.

Adopt a school. Some alumni can get together and form a group to adopt a school in the district. It could be a Elementary, Middle, or High School.

Identify the products of MPS: Add High School and year on business cards. (As in with Colleges and Universities) EVERY ALUMNI NEEDS TO DO THIS! Even though its not wanted, but still everyone in the MPS ALUMNI needs to add the their MPS ALUMNI to help connect and advertise. As an example: Milwaukee Public Schools Alumni: 1995; Milwaukee Area Technical College Alumni: 2000; University of Wisconsin-Stout Alumni: 2006. And matter of fact, that needs to be added on LinkedIn. Just saying.

Put a “good news” newsletter for the MPS Alumni Hub. Over the course of the year, we hear about all the scandals of Milwaukee Public Schools. Fights, suspensions, bringing a gun, racism etc. No matter the scandal, it seems to say “NO MPS FOR MY CHILD!” Or “Oh, it’s a fight at Marshall with all the gangs, or Bradley Tech got some word of N*GGER on the front of a locker”. “Or Riverside High School had some crazy fights on Facebook Live or Periscope. And Vincent joined in with King.”

Stop me if you heard this before. Why is it that when stuff like this happens it’s bad for the district and everyone goes hysterical about one MPS Fight strikes everyone to fear?! We ALUMNI need to talk about the good side of MPS, and what we the ALUMNI need to talk about that is positive, uplifting, inspiring, and a good opening reach to get us going for our kids that are currently in MPS and doing great things.

Speaking of that, I kept scratching my head on this, and it’s for us music folks. I know that MPS has an Alumni Choir, is there space for making an MPS Alumni Band? Think about it, MPS! An Alumni Band with horns, keyboards, drummers, guitar players, a DJ if you mind that can play instrumental music. And the idea can be formed with those who want to play for concerts with the Alumni Choir, have you Alma Mater Colors in full force, and even play at the MPS Music Festival. Or Summerfest. THINK ABOUT IT! Even an MPS Alumni Orchestra needs to be formed. I’m just saying. Who’s in?

And the last point: Strengthen all of our schools. All of our neighborhood, charter, special, and many other schools in Milwaukee Public Schools need to have strength to carry on. Never forget, we have to do this for the kids. We Alums had our day way back when, and yet we need to have that power to support. For many years, it was the parents, tax payers, staff, and neighborhoods that stood up. Now adding the Alumni to the mix is really going to generate new ideas to thrive. Think about this: many tax payers, educators, business owner, worker, parent, veteran, ambassador, or other title might have gone on to better things, but MANY started at Milwaukee Public Schools, and this would be a great time to support this new energy!

The last part of the Summit was more like a summary. In which what was discussed and what was learned. I think part of my summary was described above when I said the words “ACTIVELY INVOLVED”. That is what we need to do as MPS ALUMNI the most. I mean already we got the tools and talents. We need to put them to work.

Also, for anyone is a MPS Alumni Member, a website on the website has been created for us who want to be further engaged. The Milwaukee Public Schools has created the MPS Alumni Hub  for us Alums who want to know about any upcoming events, news, reunions, activities and many other we can keep track. There is a sign up sheet online in which you can register and the info will be delivered to your inbox. And for the record, this new areas of Alumni and Student Engagement been active since last September. And it took off since.

Overall, I’ve gained some insight about this. And I’m glad that I got the chance to get this info. What I have learned that we Alums can be valuable in the district based on what we do. I think also the idea of creating an Alumni Hub or an Alumni Area per se, is not to forget about us. But also realize that there is more we can gain. Of course we got our schools to upkeep, but combined with our stenghts and ideas, we can say that we are so MPS PROUD!

So MPS Alumni, its time to be real, be legit, and be giving. Our ideas must work to gain new ideas and to continue to spread “NEW ENERGY!” in the district that many of us grew out.

Oh, ask the MPS Alumni Office for a MPS Alumni pin to add to your collection!

 

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