When members of the English High School Alumni Association heard the call some years ago by former Supt. Carol Johnson to close the JP high school down – the oldest public high school in America – they immediately called a meeting with her.
To their surprise, Johnson was a little astonished that anyone cared so much for English – and through the advocacy of that small group at the time, tragedy was averted.
However, Alumni President Michael Thomas and a number of other dedicated alums realized they needed to light a spark in the organization and gather more graduates – from long ago and from recent times – to be able to spring into action at any moment in case the school is ever again threatened with closure.
“The former Supt. Carol Johnson had been talking about closing EHS and had a plan in place,” said Thomas. “It was a six-month proposal to close it down or turn it around. We had a meeting with her and voiced our opposition to closing the school and she told us she was surprised because she didn’t expect any pushback. When you look at that, you need to start thinking about what we will do if we need to quickly mobilize more graduates and activate our extensive alumni base quickly. That started our work to build up the Association again.”
That effort, which began a few years ago, has resulted in a lively new organization with a newly-compiled database of thousands of graduates and their contact information – rivalling the noteworthy Boston Latin School database of graduates.
“In the big scheme of things, a school like BLS has an alumni database of 24,000 people,” he said. “Our database is now not that far behind them right now. If we can rally the troops and get them in the fold and communicate with them regularly, then we’ll really have made great progress.”
Thomas said they have upped their game in creating a new website rich with information on the past and present of English High, and they have a very active Instagram and social media presence.
At the moment, the big push is to start planning for the 200th anniversary of English High, an anniversary that is planned for October 2021 and to be held at the JFK Library. Already committed are Gov. Charlie Baker and numerous of the prestigious former alums.
“The 200th Planning Committee, is focused on ways to increase awareness about the storied history of America’s oldest public high school”, said Thomas. “Our purposes, are to increase participation of alumnus for this Gala event and to get more of EHS graduates involved with our on-going effort to help support the school’s tradition of producing ‘Men & Women of Honor and Achievement.’”
All EHS alumni, friends and family are invited to join the Association at the virtual presentation on October 28, (Zoom Meeting 6:55 p.m. – 8:15 p.m.), to hear more about the high school and the transitions it has gone through over the years from 1821 to the present. Much will also be said about the 200th anniversary celebration and building up the alumni base over the coming year.
Famous English High School alumni include: J.P. Morgan, Charles Hayden, Global Business Leaders; Leonard Nimoy, Dr. Spock from Star Trek; Lt. Col. Enoch Woodhouse II, Tuskegee Airman; Robert Prince, Former GM of MBTA; Bruce Bolling, Boston City Councilor; Owen Wells, NBA Player; Herb Chambers, self-made Auto Magnate; Jordan Knight, New Kids On The Block fame; Walter Prince, One of 100 most influential lawyers of color in Boston; Ken Clark, NFL Veteran; Andrew Boch, Founder of Boch Motors; Harry Kraft, Father of Robert Kraft; Gen. Mathew Ridgeway, Supreme Allied Commander Europe; Gen. Paul X Kelly, U. S. Marine Commandant; Louis Sullivan, Father of Skyscrapers; and Samuel Pierpont Langley, American Engineer.
“The Alumni Committee is excited about creating an informative event, not only for Boston, but for the whole country,” Thomas added.
For more information, call 781-956-4774, or visit www.englishhighalumni.org.