The Dalles High School Alumni Association has something to crow about: it’s got a revamped webpage with a new portal for sharing stories and lots of new information about the history of both The Dalles and Wahtonka high schools.
Hopes are that it will draw more grads to support the high school, said Association President Mike Elston, TDHS Class of 1965. The goal is to provide a venue where alumni from both schools can reconnect, share, and find reunion information as well as support the school.
The alumni association has waxed and waned over the years, and saw a revitalization in 2014, led by the Class of ‘65.
On the webpage, “We’ve got a great new thing here, it’s called ‘Tell your story’ and we can get people to talk about what they’ve done and where they’re at in their lives. It’s pretty good,” said Elston, a retired train conductor who lives in Gresham.
The webpage focuses very much on both Wahtonka and The Dalles, featuring school logos, history and pictures. “We don’t want to leave the Wahtonka people out. They’ve got kids and grandkids that go to this school,” Elston said.
The page will eventually have a Paypal option for people who wish to make donations. It will be run by Susan Goldstein, now of Seattle.
The association had another webpage for a time, which was run by students and overseen by now-retired teacher Lynn Ewing. The students did all the design and updating of the website for class credit.
With Ewing’s retirement, Michele Lewis, a regional technology specialist at the Columbia Gorge Education Service District, stepped in to create a new look for the page on the school district’s website.
“She’s done an excellent job of getting it together, there’s all kinds of links and information,” he said.
To find the page, access www.nwasco.k12.or.us/alumni.
He encouraged all graduates of Wahtonka, The Dalles, and The Dalles-Wahtonka to register on the webpage. It’s free to register, but any donations are appreciated.
It has links for announcing reunions, and the 10-year reunion of the Class of 2007 – it was The Dalles-Wahtonka High School then -- already has contact information posted, along with a slide show from the Class of 2007.
There are also slide shows from the classes of ’57, ’67, ’77, ’87 and ’97, from both schools, (excpt for ’57, which only has TDHS).
The page has a history of both The Dalles and Wahtonka high schools, and features a slide show of pictures, procured with the help of Rymmel Lovell, who runs the school district’s archive museum.
Elston said, “There’s so much more information” on the webpage now.
His class in particular had a front row seat for the opening of Wahtonka High School in 1964, “We all went to The Dalles High School and all of a sudden our junioir year a third of them went out to Wahtonka,” Elston said.
But they all still stayed in touch, then and now. “We’re a tight class,” he said.
George Dyer, who has been on the reunion committee for the Class of ’65 all along, and was a principal at Salem High School, suggested to the committee in 2014 that it raise funds for the high school.
“We called people from all over the United States, from both schools, The Dalles and Wahtonka, and we got $3,000. And we got this in like two weeks. This wasn’t like a yearlong project,” he said. Helping in in the effort was Goldstein.
They took the money to the high school to see how they wanted to spend it, and there, Elston had an eye-opening experience as he learned how far the school was from having 21st century technology.
“We found out what was going on in public education, not only in The Dalles but throughout the state.
“And when we found out how dire the situation was, it became kind of a goal for me to do as much as I could,” said Elston.
A lot of donations the alumni association receives – all of which go directly to the school – still come from the Class of ’65, but they attend every reunion of the high school to reach out to new classes to get them to join the association.
The Class of ’65 has its own webpage, TDHS1965.com, run by Gary Bradford.
Elston is providing the drive behind the revitalized alumni association. “I’m a bulldog, I don’t take no for an answer.”
The association was last active in about 1996, and then it lost its drive. “We just need to keep it running and hopefully someobdy will see the need” to keep it going.
When the district goes out for a bond to build new facilities — something that is expected this year — Elston said the alumni association and its webpage would be promoting the effort.