SHSAA Scholarships Totaled $390,000
The Salem High School Alumni Association (SHSAA) celebrated Helen Potter Hayes as the 2017 Honored Alumnus at its 136th annual reunion and banquet on Saturday evening.
Hayes, a 1957 Salem High School (SHS) graduate, has been employed as an office coordinator at the association's office since 1997 when she retired from teaching mathematics at SHS. After teaching one year for West Branch, she was hired by the Salem School District in 1966.
With her outgoing personality and knowledge of generations of Salem students, Hayes welcomes visitors to the association's office at 330 East State Street and helps connect them with other alumni and the association's scholarship-giving mission.
New Record for Scholarships
In addition to honoring Hayes, the association set a record, awarding $369,000 in scholarships to 62 SHS seniors who will graduate next weekend, 27 SHS graduates who are pursuing certificates, undergraduate or graduate degrees, and six Salem Junior High School and SHS students who received music camp scholarships.
During the association's annual business meeting, alumni approved revised bylaws and elected trustees. President Amanda Jackson reported on updates to the association's website, which now includes a searchable Remembrance database of deceased alumni, digital versions of all Quaker annuals and newspapers, and recordings of SHS band concerts from the 1950s and 1960s.
Treasurer Daniel T. Moore also reported that at the close of the stock market on Friday the association's investment portfolio, which serves as the endowment fund for scholarships, was valued at $9,964,464. The combination of gifts, investment income, and portfolio valuation gains gave the association an outstanding one-year internal rate of return in 2016 of 10.36 percent. Moore noted the association's operating expenses are lower than the national average for non-profit organizations.
Class gifts are a significant source of income to the association, and Sharon Walker Schmidt, an SHSAA office coordinator, reported on behalf of the Class of 1967 that it would donate $12,900 in honor of its fiftieth anniversary. The Class of 1977 has so far donated $1,600 to the association in advance of its 40-year reunion in October. Representatives of other classes holding reunions in 2017 said they anticipate their classes would make donations later in the year.
Appreciation for "Mrs. Hayes"
When he introduced Hayes, Vice President Frank Zamarelli explained why he always calls her Mrs. Hayes, not Helen, despite their 20-year collaboration on alumni association projects: their relationship began as teacher and pupil.
"As a teacher Mrs. Hayes was in every respect a simply wonderful part of her students' lives. She was kind and compassionate, yet stern in discipline in her steadfast [commitment] to make sure you were the best student you could be. She was fair and honest. But she expected you to put forth the work required to excel in the classroom. Nothing was given for free. You had to earn your grades, and more importantly you had to earn her respect," Zamarelli said.
He emphasized that Hayes not only taught theorems, she showed students how to apply math to accomplish basic life tasks.
"Mrs. Hayes taught mathematics as the universal language of our environment, helping mankind explain and create within it for thousands of years. From playing games to playing music, math is vital to helping students fine tune their creativity and turn their dreams into realities," he said.
Dozens of Hayes's classmates, education colleagues, and former students joined her husband Charlie, her children and their spouses, and grandchildren at the banquet to honor her. Throughout the evening, scholarship presenters and others who addressed the 375 people from the podium spontaneously shared their appreciation of Hayes.
Speaking for the Class on 1957 on the 60th anniversary of their graduation, Virginia Lane Gayheart said, "Helen's been a friend of mine for over 65 years. She was one of the nice ones who accepted us country hicks from United Local who had to be bused into Salem."
Prior to his presentation of scholarships named in honor of his mother and sister, Leo P. Hickey, president of Hickey Metal Fabrication, said, "She taught me geometry, and I still use it every day."
SHSAA Vice President Marilyn Wilson Ward got a big laugh when she shared that Hayes punished her for talking in study hall.
Homework for the Class of 2017
Hayes patterned her speech on a lesson plan, explaining she would have been more comfortable with chalk in her hand and a blackboard behind her. She noted with pleasure that the members of the SHS Class of 2017 have taken to heart the 21st century educational requirements of science, technology, engineering, art, and math.
As a teacher she gave homework as an opportunity for students to practice their new skills in order to extend their learning. So on Saturday evening she gave the Class of 2017 homework noting that "in the lesson plan of life, homework really is the development of the 4C’s: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and compassion."
Her homework is this:
• "Apply yourself to your learning.
• Collaborate with your peers.
• Be open to new ideas and think ideas through.
• Help others.
• Behave yourselves, but have fun."
Hayes also asked the new SHS graduates to stay in touch with the association as well as with their families and classmates.
She closed with several math facts from the association's history, pointing out that more than half of the $6.5 million it has given in scholarships since 1908 has been disbursed in the past decade. "
Only with all of us working together will we be able to support the future graduates of Salem High School in the way we have supported you as you graduate," Hayes said.
Please join us for the next banquet in May 2018.
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