Across the nation there are numerous college and university alumni associations that go back to their institutions. But how many high school associations do the same? Maybe a few. And probably even fewer in the same fashion as the Calvin Coolidge Alumni Association, Inc., (CCAA) in
Established in 1986, the Calvin Coolidge Alumni Association, Inc. was founded on the principle of "enhancing student life at a notable institution of higher learning," says the organizations co-founder and current President, Frank Jones, III. The other co-founders are James A. Scott, Jr. and Barrington D. Scott.
"A major goal is to establish functional program and activities that will reinforce student education academic support, career orientation and college preparation," Jones adds.
The purpose of the association is to “give back” to the students, school and community. The association plans to implement activities that represent an investment in the students that attend the school and the community of families and friends that support the school. To accomplish the goals of the association, a major ongoing effort of locating and enrolling alumni has been key to the success of growing the organization’s membership. The association continues to support students by providing mentoring programs, assisting students with identifying career goals and providing college scholarships and financial assistance.
To this degree, upon the association's founding it established a partnership with Mentors, Inc. Since 1987 more than 100 students have been mentored by members of CCAA Inc.
The mentors are alumni of Coolidge who spend time with the students in an effort to enhance the students' transition to either post-secondary education or entry level employment says Neil Faulkner, past president of CCAA Inc. and twice mentor of the year in 1992 and 1995. "Spending time with the students provide opportunities to foster their self-esteem and decisions, making skills," Faulkner says. To honor Coolidge distinguished graduates, the CCAA Inc., annually host an alumni breakfast ceremony.
In addition to CCAA Inc.’s, participation in the mentor program the association annually partners with the entire school as hosting career day at Coolidge. The yearly program occurs the second week in December and is "ever increasing" says James Proctor of CCAA Inc. "We take over the entire school and all of the student body participates," Proctor says. He adds there are approximately 60 - 80 facilitators who address the Coolidge student body of approximately 900 students in groups of 25 to 30 students.
During the past 12 years of partnering with the school, almost 700 different mentors have participated in the career day experience. Some of Coolidge graduates include: business man and former publisher of the Regardie magazine, Bill Regardie; sportscaster Warner Wolf, former professional basketball player Kermit Washington; former professional football player Mike Butler; the late television producer Linda M. Marmelstein, whose shows and series earned Emmy awards; and the late architect at the Capitol Donald Gunnell, and Neil Shulman, Author of “Doc Hollywood” which later became a movie starring Michael J. Fox; Dennis (’61) and Phillip (’56) Ratner of the Ratner Museum in Bethesda, Maryland, Dennis found and CEO of the hair salon chain, Hair Cuttery and Phillip the sculptor with works at the U.S. Supreme Court, Liberty, Ellis Island.
The poster advertised a St. John's College High School alumni event at the old Walter Reed Army Medical Center featuring Joe Gallagher, the school's famed basketball coach. Jones didn't go to St. John's, but he worked at Walter Reed - he ran the hospital's extracurricular programs for patients and their families - and decided to go. Gallagher was a fine speaker, but what really impressed Jones had nothing to do with basketball.
"I listened to the alumni association from St. John's talk about strategy, what they were going to do with their school and their kids," he said. "I couldn't believe all the stuff. It made me realize how schools like St. John's were always more successful than we were."
Jones was a 1975 graduate of Calvin Coolidge High School in the District's Takoma neighborhood. It was a fine school but St. John's seemed to exist on an another plane altogether.
"They talked about getting their kids ahead in terms of academics and athletics," Jones said. "It just gave me an idea of trying to do something similar." And so - with the help of James A. Scott Jr. and Barrington D. Scott Sr. - Jones founded the Calvin Coolidge Alumni Association.
"We're not talking about reunions," Jones said. "We're talking about an alumni association that comes back and does after-school programs. Or maybe there's students who don't have clothes for their proms. Or when the school wants to do an incentive program." Jones said that since 1986, CCAA members have raised $2.2 million in money and in-kind donations for Coolidge. "That's not a lot of money for 30 years," Jones said. "But that's a lot for an organization that does nothing but volunteer work."
Among its activities, the group has given out 140 college scholarships, funded a student exchange program with a school in the Dominican Republic, helped bankroll a greenhouse garden at Coolidge and hosted career days. On Oct. 8, the Coolidge alumni group will hold a 30th anniversary fundraising event. (Info at www.cchs-aa.com .)
Jones - a commissioner in Advisory Neighborhood Commission 4B - is a fierce advocate for Coolidge. He's impatient that it hasn't undergone the modernization that every other District high school has enjoyed. And he bristles whenever there's been talk of shutting down Coolidge, which was founded in 1940 as a whites-only school. "You can't have an alumni association without a school," he said.
While the alumni group strives to keep the focus on today's students, it also celebrates past students, a group that includes such success stories as Ted Wells, the high-powered attorney who investigated "Deflategate," local magazine publisher Bill Regardie and Washington Informer publisher Denise Rolark-Barnes. Former National Basketball Association player Kermit Washington went to Coolidge. So did sportscaster Warner Wolf and former Montgomery County executive Sid Kramer.
Five U.S. ambassadors attended Coolidge. One of them was Patrick N. Theros. When he finished his stint as U.S. ambassador to Qatar in 1998, he was replaced by Elizabeth Davenport McKune. She went to Coolidge, too.
The Calvin Coolidge Alumni Association, Incorporated, (CCAA, Inc.) is an organization incorporated in 1987. CCAA, Inc. prides itself on its adherence to the philosophy of ‘giving back to the community’. The Association provides mentoring programs for students and supports students in identifying career aspirations.
CCAA, Inc. is unique because it is a high school, community-based organization, steeped in diversity in Washington, DC. CCAA, Inc. strives to establish and maintain contact with high school students before graduation and continue to be a source of support to graduates when they return to their communities. Every student is encouraged to join the CCAA, Inc. and bring their talents and gifts to strengthen the long-term mission and goals of the organization.
To become a member of the Calvin Coolidge Alumni Association, Inc. (CCAA), you must have attended and/or graduated from Calvin Coolidge Senior High School (CCSHS).
The membership categories are Lifetime Member, General Member, Associate Member, and Introductory Student Member. All new members receive CCAA Bylaws, Membership Card, and Embossed Membership Certificate.
For the past 37 years, the Calvin Coolidge Alumni Association, Inc. (CCAA), has awarded scholarships to deserving seniors to aid in their post secondary education goals. The largest fundraising event of CCAA, Inc. is the Annual Alumni & Scholarship Awards Benefit Breakfast held every October.
Distinguished alumni are honored for achievements in their careers and communities. Although we honor our alumni, the main purpose of this event is to raise funds for scholarships.
In 2007, we have the honor of presenting two additional scholarship awards, the Phyllis S. Wells Scholarship and the Joe Shamwell Memorial Award.