THE UNTAPPED RESOURCE: Scholastic Media Alumni THE QUESTION FOR ALL SUCCESSFUL MEDIA STAFFS: HOW CAN ALUMNI PAY BACK THEIR APPRECIATION FOR WAYS JOURNALISM CONTRIBUTED TO A COMPLETE EDUCATION IN HIGH SCHOOL? HOW CAN THEY MAKE A DIFFERENCE NOW? By Howard Spanogle W hat did the adviser learn? Two Chicago alumnae, artist Julie Murphy, 1989, and attorney Anastasia Katinas, 1988, initiated the energizing idea and kidnapped me, their loyal adviser who was the only omniscient source. At the first planning meeting on Sept. 15, 2013, Chicago architect Pam Hutter, 1979, added an important impetus with her dream: “We have all of this energy emerging instantly. We need to do something for the nation.” That statement led to a major goal: Donating money from alumni to the Student Press Law Center, an important support force of the Glenbard East Echo (Lombard, Illinois) from 1976 through 1993, the year I retired. Most of all, I learned how much students value journalism education. Though we had no alumni records and all the annual bound volumes had disappeared from the school, our lead researcher, Ray Cubberley, 1971, a videography marketing specialist at Purdue University, found all but 34 of the 325 editors/ leaders plus more than 100 additional staff members. Hundreds attended even though most had no Echo contact for decades. Dozens apologized because they could not attend. As sponsors, they donated more than $15,000 to Student Press Law Center. As celebrants, they laughed, hugged and marveled at the experience of becoming one Echo staff at the EchoXtra May 2, 2015, celebration at the McCormick Foundation location: Cantigny in Wheaton, Illinois. They represented every year of my Illinois adviser life and came from states coast to coast plus Manila. The magnet was a powerful echo they still value. ALUMNI WITH VISION To make that happen for hundreds of staffs, there is still so much work to do — work that includes stewardship of responsibility to maintain connections with alumni. The extra effort could provide support for an ongoing and ever-expanding media lab for current students. Rather than ignoring alumni, advisers can regard them as a professional resource to safeguard and to strengthen current media efforts. Who are these people who can add energetic support for the future of media training programs? They are doctors, attorneys and business executives. But they are also Environmental Protection Agency program directors, national survey specialists and computer game developers. For sure they are vice presidents of development, vice presidents of college connections and professors of new fields of journalism as well as freelance artists, high school coordinators of social programs and executive directors of community art organizations.