The Coastal Journal asked the current officers of the Bath High School Alumni Association a few questions in advance of Morse Alumni Weekend. Current President Ann Vaillancourt London (Class of 1980), Vice President Holly Bisson Lowe (‘79), Treasurer Ann Edgett Carlton (‘80) and Secretary Tamara Lilly (‘86) offered some insight into what makes the BHSAA so special.

What is the association’s mission?
Ann L: “As stated in the bylaws of the organization, ‘The object of the association shall be to encourage sociability among the graduates, to aid in promoting the welfare of Morse High School, and to plan and oversee the annual alumni weekend events and to promote and educate future MHS graduates on the history and tradition of the association.’ ”

What’s so special about being a member of the BHSAA?
Tamara: “There are as many answers to this as there are members, because we each have individual as well as shared experiences. I’m a third-generation alumnus, so I’m blessed to have been raised with the tradition, and for those of us who were fortunate to attend Morse High School, the cycle of alumni events is something we take a bit for granted, like it’s just the way it is for everyone. Not the case.

“Many high school graduates have reunions only every 10 years, if at all, and many of those are not coordinated with events including other classes either via the school or an association. The tradition and camaraderie and shared history is huge, and really nurtures the nostalgia and connection, but it’s the continuity and focus of the association which serves as the backbone, and I believe, the reason we’ve thrived to be one of, if not the, oldest active associations in the country.

“A sampling of our numbers tells a great story: Over 30 alumni from the 1938 to 1948 classes are part of the over 500 scheduled to be at the 127th banquet.”

What makes the weekend special?
Ann C: “I love seeing all of the smiles, hugs and togetherness that happens throughout the weekend. When you hear from other people that have been through the streets of Bath and they say to you, ‘I wish our school did something like that.’ That gives you a great sense of Shipbuilder pride.

“Being a part of the association and being involved in the 125th anniversary celebration will always be a special memory for me, what a special weekend that was. I look forward to alumni weekend, just wish it wouldn’t go by so fast.”

What’s special about the alumni banquet?
Holly: “The alumni banquet is like the ‘field of dreams,’ if you set the tables on the second weekend in June, there will be Alumni Banquet. Alumni from all over the world will arrive early Saturday for class meetings, there will be students to wait tables, advice will come from all ages, donations will be made, and the class of 2018 will become the newest members of an organization 127 years in the making. The banquet is what the weekend is all about. It is the reason we bleed blue and white, it is the reason that tradition never graduates.”

What’s the difference between the Bath High School Alumni Association Fund and the Morse High School Scholarship Fund?
Holly: “These two accounts are completely separate. Donations to the BHSAA are used for any operating expenses pertaining to the alumni association activities, such as mailings, holiday celebrations and parades, buying memorabilia for resale, pre-banquet dance and banquet expenses.

“The association often goes in the red due to subsidizing tickets for the senior class, invited guests (reunion years of 70-plus) and other special guests. This year we have launched the Bath High School Alumni Room Campaign. Classes were challenged to pledge funds to create a room in the new school. Our goal is to raise $25,000 to $35,000 for display cases, storage, and the preservation and conservation of our growing collection.”

“The Morse High School Scholarship Fund is a collection of private, family, and reunion class donations many set up in memory of loved ones or lost classmates. Funds are currently managed by Vigilant Capital Management, LLC, of Portland.

“From a recent report, ‘the market value of the fund as of March 31, 2018, was over $3,600,000. In 2000, the trustees of the fund voted to allot 5 percent of the fund’s market value to scholarships and prizes. We also receive the annual interest from a million-dollar educational trust bequeathed by Muriel L. McCaffrey to benefit Morse High graduates who have need.

“At commencement 2018, over $244,000 will be awarded to more than 75 students in scholarships ranging from $500 to $10,000. The Alumni Fund and the McCaffrey Fund will provide over $8,000 to Morse Alumni who attend Southern Maine Community College.’ “

What is future of the association?
Ann L.: “On June 10, 2017, I assumed the privilege of becoming the alumni association president for the next two years. As we move forward, many changes will take place. History and tradition are very important to the association.

“In the Fall of 2020, we will have a new home, a new location and a new Alumni Room. The Alumni Room will be in the center of the main corridor of the new school on Shipbuilder Way. A place we can call our own. A place where Alumni can come back and reminisce, a place we will continue to collect memorabilia and a place where you will always feel the Shipbuilder pride.

“We continue to fund raise for our own space. If you or your class would like to donate, assist with the construction and design, display cases, furniture and additional building costs related to the Alumni Room, please make a donation or pledge to BHSAA, Attention Fundraising Campaign, 309 Old Stage Road, Arrowsic, Maine 04530. We’re asking that pledges be made by June 15, 2018.”