Fountain Hills High School finally has an alumni association. The association is barely a month into its existence, but director Sof Wycklendt said she feels like she’s done three months’ worth of work already.
“I feel like it’s not actual work,” Wycklendt said. “It’s pleasurable, fulfilling work to give back to the community. I want to create an atmosphere that everyone enjoys.”
Wycklendt attended 14 different schools growing up, but she spent her seventh grade and junior and senior year of high school in Fountain Hills. Wycklendt lives in Scottsdale and has never lived in Fountain Hills, but the connections she made in the community were strong.
She graduated from Fountain Hills High School just a few months ago, and she’s undertaken the creation of the alumni association while taking a full course load of college classes. Wycklendt said the idea for the alumni group came during the second home football game she attended this season with friends from her graduation class.
After coming up with the idea, Wycklendt spoke with alumni who are now teachers at Fountain Hills. Wycklendt then met with high school principal Chris Hartmann. Wycklendt said she runs everything by Hartmann, and she is working with her former English teacher who’s been at the high school for 15 years, Jamie Sunshine.
Wycklendt contacted the mayor and council members of Fountain Hills before sending a letter to The Times announcing the creation of the association. Since then, she’s created Facebook and Instagram accounts for alumni, Google forms for feedback and suggestions, and talked to staff about future plans.
The feedback and suggestion forms have already reaped benefits for Wycklendt. Someone recommended reaching out to businesses who give discounts through PTO cards and asking if they’d start an alumni discount. Wycklendt says she’s spoken with half the businesses on the PTO cards and even found some local alumni turned business owners.
Alumni are sharing information about where they are now on the social media pages. It allows for people to connect, and for current students to network with alumni in professions they may want to pursue. Wycklendt has already connected with lots of alumni in the first month, but she’s starting to realize how big of a task planning will be.
“It’s a little tough because it seems as though everyone who’s contacted me lives out of state,” Wycklendt said. “So, if this is going to happen, then we need to definitely plan ahead of time.”
Another challenge for Wycklendt is that she has never met many of the older alumni. She realizes that it is harder for parents than college kids to attend an alumni event, but she also knows there are a lot of event planning opportunities to capitalize on moving forward.
Wycklendt spoke to the school’s new culinary teacher, chef Jasun Zakro, about using the culinary facilities for reunion dinners. Wycklendt doesn’t know when the first reunion she plans will be, but she is examining all her options for her fellow alumni.
Wycklendt never thought she’d be the one to start the alumni association, but she views it as an honor. She hopes she can help raise the profile of Fountain Hills, while unifying alumni to foster an improved Falcon culture.