By Sherrill Gerard
Meet the New “Mayor of the City of Arlington Heights”!
Fellow Heightsters, rest easy. There’s a new principal on the hill and things are under control. It is not an enviable position, considering the bad press and unfortunate issues of the past. Jason Oliver is not one to dwell on the mistakes of the past. He has a larger-than-life presence, relaxed ease, firm handshake, looks you in the eye. He is the first to admit, “There’s no gray area for me. It’s black or white.” His office is full of model ships, keepsakes and photos of family and students. He is apparently something of a technology junkie; a smart phone, iPad, laptop and desktop computer are close at hand. You are not likely to find him closed up in his office, but in the hall talking with students or visiting classrooms. You have probably seen him at a football game, or just as likely at Central Market or your neighborhood Target. He is a FWISD parent. He cares about kids and their success, and he is thrilled to be at Heights.
Mr. Oliver first came to Heights to take the
The new school year started a little rough, but as soon as expectations were established, policies stated, and it became known that consequences were being imposed, things have gone well. Serious discipline matters are not just relegated to vice principals; students in big trouble see the man himself. Issues are discussed, quarrels resolved, and punishment meted out appropriately and fairly. The dress code is really being enforced, not just stated. A new tardy policy incorporates the use of good old lunch detention. The result? Fewer tardies! These kids are serious about their lunch breaks!
Yes, there are still academic challenges, and as Mr. Oliver says, “There is no reason Heights should not be the top school in the District, why it could not be a model for others.” Having come from a FWISD middle school in which he affected a complete turnaround (lowest TAKS scores in the district, to highest) in only a few years, apparently he knows how to make it happen. One of the biggest factors in this turnaround was changing attitudes and helping students and parents understand that middle school and high school are only milestones on the way to bigger and better things. It is providing a purpose for doing well.
Carefully and Lovingly Maintaining Our Records
Meet Judy (Berryman) McCombs, AHHS Class of ’62. Judy puts her organizational skills and passion for historical information to work collecting and documenting news of the passings of Heights alumni. Judy began helping out by doing data entry when the Association first organized, took on the job of Data Base Manager, then “kept the easy job” of Obituary Manager as the amount of data coming in grew and the task of data management became too much for one person. The Association maintains a database of AHHS graduates from 1922 to 2010. She reads the obituaries daily. Today, most deaths are reported by email. Judy verifies graduation year and other information before adding entries to the database and website. “When the first organization entered the lists for the classes it was for reunion purposes and no one thought to include their deceased lists. So that really evolved and continues to this day. I now have the obits--from the papers, programs from actual funerals that are sent in, emails with the news, letters, notes from phone calls, and whole page news reports in binders.”
The most surprising inquiry came from a man who wanted to know who had reported his death. “I assured him I just LOVED hearing his voice.” It was determined the source was a former spouse. This episode resulted in a new rule…Verify First. “I get letters from parents who request that their child be put in their class year although they died before graduation. My class lost nine classmates in one twelve-month period. There are times it can be very overwhelming dealing with this…but I know it is very important for future generations. It has been a fun labor-intensive organizing effort that takes just a few minutes every few days to enter. It is the easiest job and you get the satisfaction of presenting accurate information and interacting with other alumni.”
We exchanged some Q & A:
AHHS Alumni: How do you keep track of everybody?
Judy: First and foremost is to get it correct! Verify, verify, verify. I still have some pending before I will add them to the database or remove them.
(If you wish to report a death of an alumnus, provide as many details as possible—especially including class year, city and state where he/she passed, or mail a copy of the actual obituary.)
AHHS Alumni: Do your lists include alumni prior to the first class to graduate from the 1936 building?
Judy: One good historian finally gave me the correct dates for AHHS vs. Stripling. It was Arlington Heights High School from 1922 through spring graduation of 1927. From the fall of 1927 through graduation 1937, it was in the current Stripling Middle School building and called Stripling High School. Back to Arlington Heights in the fall of 1937 and in the building we all know and love through today. (The data base goes back to 1922.)
AHHS Alumni: How can the alumni assist you?
Judy: I want to thank all who are diligent in reporting obits daily from the papers or personal news. I would like to have a list of every class Data Keeper…the one person who keeps up with addresses and such who will notify me if they learn of an obituary. I would love to have a young assistant-in-training to pass this torch onto in the future so I can retire knowing the web posting and binders will be continued for future generations.”
Judy is married to Pat McCombs (AHHS Class of ’58) and lives in the country outside Aledo.
They have two married children, four grandchildren, and a yellow lab named Vera Carp.
If you’ve been at AHHS in the past year or so, as some reunion groups have, you might have noticed that the paint was peeling badly on the cupola, the small domed structure on the roof of the building above the front door. But if you’ve been by lately, you’ve seen scaffolding which was there to help the workmen who totally repaired and painted the cupola to bring it back to its original pristine white. What a huge improvement and much applauded!
However, if you recently observed that the Yellow Jacket weathervane was missing and assumed it was removed for repair during the painting, you’re wrong…there’s a thief lurking! Sometime during the painting
It's that simple...and we all benefit!
We have been working hard to update our website to allow you to use your credit cards and debit cards on-line for paying your dues or making donations. A click on the link, fill in a form and you're done.
Thank you for your generous support of the Alumni Association and its projects.