Hampton Academy and Winnacunnet High School Alumni Association

Chapter 21 -- Part 5

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By Arthur J. Moody

The Hampton Academy Alumni Association was organized on April 20, 1907, by a small group of graduates and teachers. The first reunion for all classes, held on June 21 of that year with 117 in attendance, visited the academy building and then motored to the Hampton Beach Casino for dinner and activities. The $1 payment from each person covered 25 cents for dues and 75 cents to the Casino management for a dinner featuring salmon, roast lamb, and chicken. After speeches, officers were chosen and a bylaws committee was formed. The first officers, all reelected in 1908 and 1909, were: President Lewis Perkins, who attended the academy in the mid-1860s before it became a high school in 1885; Vice President Ernest G. Cole of the first graduating class of Hampton Academy and High School, 1887; Secretary Lucy (Godfrey) Marston, who attended in the early 1860s; and Treasurer Sarah (Hobbs) Lane, 1887. Lucy Marston, the organizer of the association, continued to serve as secretary until 1917.

The camaraderie, the renewing of schoolday friendships, and the reliving of shared experiences at the academy all helped to establish the association as a continuing fraternal group in the early years. However, various projects to help the school and its students also were carried out in some years until permanent annual programs were put in place beginning in 1926. In that year, the first Alumni Association medals were awarded to the top two students in the graduating class. Since 1926, three medals have been given each year (four in 1960). For the past 17 years, the school's administration has chosen the recipients on the basis of academic accomplishment, extracurricular and non-school activities, and all-around good school citizenship. Names of the winners are engraved on a plaque kept at the high school.

In the early years, the association raised money for academy repairs and for the monument and bronze tablet on Academy Green (which has now reverted to its original "Meeting House Green" designation) that recognized the centennial of Hampton Academy in 1910. (It was on June 16, 1810, that the New Hampshire Legislature and the governor granted the charter for the private "Proprietary School in Hampton," the town's first secondary school.)

Except for dues (which were only 50 cents per year through 1974), fund-raising was not on the minds of the alumni until the 1940s, when it became a burden to provide free dinners at the annual reunion banquet to the greater numbers in the graduating classes of the new and larger HA&HS. The alumni were among those who clamored for a new building, and both the private trustees and the Hampton School District agreed that the small, dilapidated 1852 academy building had served its purpose long enough. Dedicated on June 8, 1940, the two-story red-brick building ushered in the era of a fully public high school in Hampton. The new facility, which had an auditorium/basketball court, drew more tuition students from neighboring towns. Also, increased growth in Hampton meant larger classes to feed at each June alumni banquet. But it also meant more alumni to pay dues. Fund-raising in the 1940s included "canteen" dances during the winter and the beginning of benefit basketball games in the new gym. Returning players -- recent grads and old-timers alike -- relished the thought of upsetting the girls' and boys' teams of their alma mater. Annual dues were raised to $1 in 1975; life memberships, at $10, were instituted at the annual banquet meeting in 1959. The latter are now $20, with 525 issued through 1988. Honorary life memberships have been presented to five former principals -- two from HA&HS and three from WHS -- as of June 1988.

Other projects sponsored or cosponsored by the association: the replica of the 1852 academy, which won the floats' School Division of Hampton's 1938 Tercentenary Parade; repairs to, and refurbishment of all academy trophies in the 1960s; the emplacement in front of the 1939-40 academy building of the steeple bell from the 1852 academy; the display case for high school memorabilia at Tuck Museum in 1971. A major undertaking for the association's 65th anniversary in 1972 was the publication of a 168-page historical text-and-photo booklet on the association and the high school, which was dedicated to the memory of the 14-member first graduating class of HA&HS in 1887.

A major decision was made by the membership at the June 1958 annual meeting. The Hampton School District had given up secondary education with the formation of the Winnacunnet Cooperative School District. WHS drew students from the four elementary school districts of Hampton, Hampton Falls, North Hampton, and Seabrook. The School Board consisted of members from each of those towns. The Alumni Association voted to include WHS (with the approval of the first student body), change its name, and continue its programs at WHS (except that only the graduating class's officers and alumni medalists would receive free meals at the banquet).

The HA&HS Buccaneers became the WHS Warriors, but they both were "The Blue and White." The association became more active in the 1970s. Added to the presentation of achievement medals each Senior Awards and Scholarship Night in early June was the Alumni Association Scholarship. When the treasury permitted, a donation had been given to the Winnacunnet High Scholarship Foundation (WHSF), but now the association was committed to its own scholarship each year. A memorandum of understanding was accepted by the VMSP early in 1972. The post-secondary-school scholarship grant would go to a son or daughter of an alumna or alumnus of either school and would be awarded under @SF criteria by WHSF. The association would fund the first year; for most of the recipients from 1972 through 1986, the WHSF has given second -- and third -- year grants. The WHS Guidance Department handles the information and applications. In the event that there are no applicants, the scholarship goes to a senior who intends to pursue a career in secondary education. Other organizations have since made similar agreements with WHSF concerning their own scholarship. The names of the winners of the association's scholarship -- together with those of their alumna/alumnus parents -- are engraved on the Carl John Moulton '15 Memorial Plaque, which was funded by Carl's sister Nellie (Moulton) Allen ('25) of Maine. The plaque is kept at the high school.

In the mid-1970s, the association erected a granite pillar in the High Street Cemetery Memorial Lot, where the officers place flowers each year during Memorial Day services. Subscribers to the project memorialized alumni, teachers, and staff of both high schools.

Other projects/programs have included: giving bicycle racks to WHS and HAJHS in the 1970s; donating a blue-and-white carved wood sign -- "Winnacunnet High School - Home of the Warriors" -- for the gym on the occasion of the association's 75th anniversary in 1982; helping to organize the 25th anniversary celebration for WHS in 1983; buying ads in the WHS yearbook, Sachem, and in the football and ice-hockey programs; donating to special trips of the basketball teams to Ireland and England, and of the cheerleaders to a national competition in Florida.

WHS, with its additions in the 1960s and 1970s (including an Industrial Arts Building) to accommodate more than 1,200 students, had had enrollments as high as 1,350 and graduating classes as high as 236. But the current trend is toward a total enrollment of about 1,000. The association's numbers, however, by their very nature, keep increasing. During the 1987-88 activity year, the association awarded its 17th annual scholarship, sponsored its 48th Alumni Basketball Holiday Doubleheader, presented its 63rd annual Achievement medals, and had nearly 200 at its Eighty-Second Annual General Reunion and Banquet at Yoken's in Portsmouth.

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