Reuniting Alumni and Reigniting Adventist Schools

January 30, 2014 | John McGhee

Whether you are an alumnus of an Adventist elementary school, junior academy, academy or university, you are invited to emerge with joy to reunite and reignite your alma mater.

"Alle, Alle auch sind frei!" The idea was to stay hidden until the person who was β€œit” gave up looking. Finally, you would hear the chant, "Ollie, Ollie oxen free!" Like a flash mob, your friends would emerge, laughing joyfully. (The phrase "Ollie, Ollie oxen free" may be derived from the German "Alle, Alle auch sind frei" meaning "everyone, everyone else is also free.")

The game is Hide and Seek. It is called "el escondite" in Spain, "machboim" in Israel and "sumbaggoggil" in Korea.

Hide and Seek was named in the 16th century, but its origin derives back to the Garden of Eden when Adam tried to hide from God, who found him.

Not so when we play. When we don't find everyone, we give up and call, "Ollie, Ollie oxen free."

I have identified three reasons why people aren't found:

1. The "looker" is preoccupied and simply doesn't try very hard to find the "hider."
2. The "hider" doesn't want to be found and effectively eludes capture.
3. The game is stopped.

So how does this apply to alumni of Seventh-day Adventist schools in the Pacific Northwest?

1. Some schools may not treasure their alumni because they are preoccupied with management, financial and disciplinary issues. More than 100,000 alumni from Adventist schools live in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Alumni relations should be a top priority for school administrators. Even if the alumni ball is dropped, Dawn Heilbrun, Auburn Adventist Academy (AAA) alumna from 1980, recommends that alumni consider initiating a culture of philanthropy. "My father, Bob Paulson, '54, showed me it could be done when he began the AAA Committee of 100 fifteen years ago. Members have contributed 1.2 million dollars to date."

2. A small group of alumni simply do not want to be found. Reasons could include painful memories due to broken promises, harsh words, church discipline or financial dealings gone awry. AAA alumni association president Craig Mattson, '97, recommends intercessory prayer and informal class reunions to rebuild fractured bridges of communication. As bridges are rebuilt, retired Gleaner editor Dick Dower, AAA '60, recommends contacting your class coordinators to share current contact information with your alma mater.

3. The "game" is stopped. Schools are closing. Wayne Wentland, AAA '63, asks, "What if successful alumni entrepreneurs capable of employing students were to purchase 99-year leases of vacant school property to build industries providing capital for schools about to close and future dollars for students to self-pay tuition?"

Imagine the blockbuster impact 100,000 active alumni will have when they hear and answer the call of "Ollie, Ollie oxen free." It will reunite alumni and reignite Adventist schools.