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ESJH alumni rally around alma mater

More than 3,000 East St. John High School alumni, friends and family came together on Sept. 29 to rally around their alma mater and help current students go to college.

The first “Party With a Purpose” coincided with East St. John High School’s homecoming game and was modeled on the success of similar events at neighboring schools such as West St. John High.

“Our goal was not just to have a tailgate party but to come together as one to support current students,” said Paula Henderson, one of the organizers.

With that goal in mind, the East St. John Alumni Association was formed. Organizers asked for a $25 membership fee that included a ticket to the game and collected approximately $20,000 that, after expenses are deducted, will be used to support the ESJH athletic department and to sponsor several academic scholarships to be awarded at ESJH’s Senior Night each year.

Henderson said the results of the first event far exceeded her expectations for an idea that was born just one month before the homecoming game when she was contacted by fellow alum Patrice Wolfe.

“I contacted other individuals and, hence, the committee was formed. This group of individuals shared a vision that it would be epic for all of the East St. John graduates from inception in 1979 to 2017 to come together to support our football team, East St. John school activities and East St. John’s current students’ academic endeavors,” she said. “Our theme was ‘Bridging the Generational Gap.’”

Committee members reached out via a Facebook page and by the end of the week had 500 followers.

Henderson said it truly took a team effort to get such great results in such a short amount of time. She also said the new association got a lot of help and support from the alumni at St. James High.

On game day, people who hadn’t seen each other in years came together to stake out tailgating areas and cheer on their school.

“If you were anywhere on Airline from noon on you saw it,” Superintendent Kevin George said. “It was a great experience. Everybody had a blast and, most importantly, it brought everybody back to support the school.”

East St. John High School Principal Tabari Simon said his favorite part of the day was getting to meet each and every class, from 1979 through the graduates from last year.

“As the principal of East St. John, I love the community feeling of being together and standing in unity to support one another,” he said. “This event created a bond between students and community members while fostering long-term friendships.”

The first spirit award was given to the Class of 1979, represented by Emery Dent, Crystal Collins Jones and Tammy Muilloto, for successfully reaching its goal of registering 79 classmates for the Alumni Association. Nearly 700 alumni across all graduation years signed up for a membership.

Party With a Purpose committee members were Melanie Burl, Class of 1985; Demetria L. Robinson-Carter, Class of 1985; Tronda Banks Crier, Class of 1987; Patrice Wolfe, Class of 1982; Paula Schynder Henderson, Class of 1984 (honorary member); Stacey Brown Millet, Class of 1984; Yvette Schynder Scioneaux, Class of 1986 (honorary member); Rolanda Schexnayder Tircuit, Class of 1982; and Kerry Watkins, Class of 1998.