Site launched in the fall, new items added on daily basis
From AAPSNews Service
Are you an Ann Arbor Public Schools grad? Employee? Friend? All are welcome to visit and register at the new Ann Arbor alumni website, which has started to take off since its soft launch last fall.
Organizers at the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation, which makes the site possible, say although the site is still developing, they’re putting the word out so that anyone with an interest in district can find it, sign up and begin networking and finding their long-lost friends.
The site is managed through the AAPSEF and is coordinated by Kristin Kelley Howard, a 2001 Community High School graduate and the daughter of Jerry and Diana Kelley, Jerry a retired AAPS principal and teacher and Diana who still works for the district in the Physical Properties and Operations Department.
Howard likens it to some of the larger websites that allow people to find former classmates, but “it’s only for the Ann Arbor schools, so it’s personalized and it’s free,” she said.
“I think a lot of it is for the events, the reunions, as well as what’s going on at the schools. All kinds of news,” said Howard, a freelance web designer.
Only members at AnnArborAlumni.org have access to information about other members and posted information can also be limited by preferences when you sign up. Members can also use photo avatars, if they so choose. Home addresses are taken, but not published on the site. Registration asks for a visitor’s name, year of graduation, school and an optional paragraph about yourself.
Wendy Correll, executive director of the AAPS Educational Foundation, said the site is a welcome addition to offer information to the Ann Arbor Public Schools educational community.
“We wanted to sponsor this site as a way to bring people interested in the schools together at one, online location,” Correll said. “We wanted to have a simple place for those interested in our schools to connect. We hope to see it grow as friends, graduates and staff and retirees discover it.”
“We were fortunate to have had the Ann Arbor Convention and Visitors Bureau sponsor the site during its early stages. ”
In recent months, Howard has added a variety of feeds including ongoing news posts from local news outlets, the AAPSNews and also added a Facebook group page to encourage activity. There are links to school pages and ways for members to contact each other and search for people with whom they’ve lost touch. The site has a message board for members where they can post class notes, ask questions and suggest jobs for other alumni.
*“I’ve been adding and updating the site on a daily basis or whenever things come up,” she said.
She hopes visitors will send their feedback. “If people would send us suggestions of what they would like to see on the site we can consider adding it,” Howard added. She noted that she would also welcome any alumni who would like to help build the site and offer suggestions in that vein.
One of Howard’s newer projects is looking for scanned versions of Ann Arbor high school yearbooks, which she has started posting on the site. Eventually, she will have software installed where site members can upload their own photos and yearbook pages for others to view. For now, she has collected a 1937 yearbook from Ann Arbor High School and a number of Community High School yearbooks from the 1980s and 1990s.
There is a calendar link on the front page of the site listing all of the different events in date order. “This way, people can see all of the events in one place without needing to scroll through several different months to see what is coming up,” Howard said.
Those who are organizing and promoting Ann Arbor high school reunions can send an e-mail to Howard and she will post both information about reunions and Web links if groups have separate event websites.
Organizers are also considering using sponsorships on the site that would be related items including class reunion ads, local business sponsors and other selected groups. There are currently more than 140 members signed up for the site, but Howard is hoping that number will grow as alumni and other friends find out about it.
Howard is also seeking suggestions for alumni who could be featured on the site on a regular basis in short profiles. Eventually, the plan is to allow members to sign up for a regular newsletter.
One interesting piece that anyone visiting AnnArborAlumni.org can view is a Google map that pinpoints where current members are located (no addresses are listed.) Visitors will see that members live around the world.
Details: visit AnnArborAlumni.org. A link to Howard’s e-mail can be found toward the bottom of the page where she is listed as the site manager. She welcomes suggestions and information to be posted. “I hope visitors will share it with their friends and social media networks too,” she added.