October 11, 2017

PHS Alumni Association Ready to Launch; Events Planned for Homecoming Weekend

CALLING ALL PHS ALUMNI: Donna Wilkinson, PHS class of 1957, at her 60th anniversary reunion. Wilkinson’s daughter, Mia Sacks, PHS ’83, is co-chair of the alumni steering committee and a leading organizer of the newly formed PHS Alumni Association.

By Donald Gilpin

Looking to engage alumni, build a relationship with them, and at the same time benefit current students, the Princeton Public Schools District (PPS) is launching an alumni association for Princeton High School (PHS) graduates.

Homecoming Weekend, October 20 and 21, will mark the official kickoff of the PHS Alumni Association, with alumni festivities offered throughout the weekend.

Under the leadership of the district’s office of communications, the alumni association also looks forward to providing support for current PHS students through mentoring, college and career connections, internships, guest speakers, and other alumni collaborations.

“We hope to build a database of alumni,” said PPS Communications Manager Brenda Sewell. “We would like to engage all of our alumni with all of our students. There are many ways they can be helpful resources for our students. We’re really excited to begin this initiative.”

Mia Sacks, PHS ’83 and co-chair of the alumni steering committee, pointed out some of the motivations behind the creation of the alumni association. “One of the most rewarding experiences of moving back to Princeton as an adult has been the chance to help launch a number of initiatives in our district. I wanted to help make the opportunity to reconnect and give back to the high school — so formative in shaping us — available to more alums here and around the world. From there the idea of an alumni association took root.”

Sacks, Sewell, Assistant Superintendent Lew Goldstein, and Bob James, PHS ’62, president of Friends of Princeton High Athletics and co-chair of the alumni steering committee, have been working during the past year to make the alumni association a reality. Other local alumni on the steering committee include Ben Stentz, Larry Spruill, Tommy Parker, and Izzy Kasdin.

“The launch of the initiative is particularly meaningful for me having just attended my mother’s 60th PHS reunion,” said Sacks. “It is my hope that PPS alumni can help convey to current students that it’s not just about test scores, grades, and getting into college — but what you do with that learning after you graduate to make a difference in the world.”

Kasdin, PHS ’10, who is executive director of the Princeton Historical Society, was eager to get on board when invited by Sewell to join the alumni association planners. “History plays an important role in helping people feel connected to a place,” she said, “providing a sense of belonging, a sense of legacy, the feeling that you’re part of something greater.”

Emphasizing that many people’s reflections on PHS might be complicated, she added, “We want to make sure that we’re being broad and honest in speaking about PHS and people’s memories.” Pointing out the potential value of alumni-student connections, Kasdin, who was an undergraduate at Princeton University, cited the importance of the University network. “Having that broad network of people connected to a place helped in many ways, with many opportunities for career growth, for mentorship, and guest speakers. That was a very special experience for me.”

Homecoming Weekend events on Friday, October 20 will include a 3:45 p.m. historical tour of Princeton; 5-7 p.m. reception for alumni; and the 7 p.m. football game. On Saturday the festivities continue with the Mercer County Tournament (teams and times to be determined); 12-2 p.m. tours of PHS and a presentation by the Princeton Historical Society; and a 2:30 p.m. concert featuring student-led ensembles.