About a year ago, Rich Williams became president of the Thomas Jefferson High School Alumni Association, at which time he tried to corral his counterparts 'round town for a little brainstorming session. The reason being, Williams says, the TJ group had started strong some five years back but began to lose more and more momentum as time passed. "Interest," he says, "had plateaued." If nothing else, he figured, maybe folks heading the other DISD high-school alumni groups might be able to tell him "what works and what doesn't."
But a hoped-for get-together -- something Willliams calls a "DISD Alumni Association Summit" -- never came together. Which is why, today, Williams has been swapping e-mails with other associations' members (among them Friend of Unfair Park Kyle Rains, repping Woodrow Wilson, and John Ruiz, head of W.H. Adamson's alumni group), in the hopes of getting everyone together for a June 25 eat-and-meet at Ozona Grill & Bar on Greenville Ave.
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The goals of such a get-together are modest -- to swap ideas and encourage associations that are otherwise running out of steam as membership levels dip. So far, that hasn't stopped T.J.'s from raising five-figure scholarships via golf tourneys and other events. But, look, not all are as active as Woodrow's, what with its parades and DVDs and all-star Hall of Fame.
"T.J. pride still runs deep, and any time you meet someone who went to T.J., they have a story to tell, and that goes on with other DISD schools as well," Williams says. (In the interest of full disclosure, I'm embarrassed to note I am not a member of the TJHSAA. Not yet. Not till they put Mike Nesmith and Meat Loaf in the freshly minted Hall of Fame.) "There's a core group at each school that wants to make a difference and give back. There are good things at T.J., but you don't hear about them that often. The front page will sell when there's a cheese death or a gang issue, as opposed to, 'T.J. had X number of kids get X millions in scholarships.'"
Williams asks other almuni organization members to e-mail him if they'd can attend the June 25 confab.