What does your Central Experience inspire you to do? For the class of 1967, it inspired them to come together for future generations of Eagles.
“Thirty years ago,” began a letter addressed to ‘67 alumni, “the Central High Class of 1967 joined together to raise over $3,000. […] At the time, it was one of the larger class reunion gifts made for the benefit of CHS. On the eve of our 50th year high school reunion, your Reunion Committee felt it would be meaningful to once again give something significant back to the school which ties us together.”
This letter was the start of a passionate class effort to raise support for a high school which not only continues to tie their class together, but also established a foundation of education from which these graduates built upon to achieve personal, professional, and community success over the past 50 years.
The result was an astounding $40,000 raised for the future of Central High School, making them one of the largest individual class fundraisers in the Foundation’s history.
The Class of 1967 Reunion Committee, which consisted of Richard Slosburg, Greg Stejskal, Denise Silverman, Glenn Pelecky, and Deborah Clark Pelecky, began by personally reaching out to their classmates in the months leading up to the big reunion. With the help of their fellow classmate Howard Borden, they managed to make personal calls to speak to many of their fellow alumni and talk about why Central remained such a valuable institution. Richard Slosburg remarked that the reason their campaign was so successful was because of the letters they wrote, and the personal phone calls they made.
“There’s a unique bond that Central grads have with the school,” said Richard, “I think the Central story was an easy story to tell [our classmates]. At a time when inner-city public schools are failing, Central continues to flourish. And if not for the alumni, there’s no one else. The resources are 14 limited. Therefore, it’s really incumbent for the alumni to contribute. We want future generations to be able to capitalize on the Central Experience.”
“And we don’t want to let the legacy die, and lose out on all that excellent potential,” added Ann Strauss Hosford, who also assisted with the 50th reunion. “When we went there, it was such a fabulous school,” she said. And although the school still continues to lead in academics, community endeavors, and athletics, she recognizes that “things have changed now both at the school and within the district. And we just wanted to bring it back to the pride of Omaha and OPS.”
The reunion was well received, according to Richard, and was attended by alumni who hadn’t previously been involved in a class event. “There were a number of people there whom I haven’t seen at any reunion,” said Greg Stejskal. “It was a really powerful experience.”
Even alumni from other classes, such as Francis Boggus, CHS 1966, were inspired by the energy of the class of 1967. Not only did he attend their 50th reunion, he also contributed a significant gift toward their fundraiser.
The inspiration to support their alma mater and the resulting success of class endeavors such as this one, they remarked, begins with what all CHS alumni have in common: the Central Experience.
“I spent 3 years of my 70-year life at CHS, and those 3 years have been more important to me than any other formative years of my life,” said Greg Stejskal. “When you look back you realize how dedicated the faculty was, how diverse the student body was, and how well it prepared you for the future.”The future Greg went on to chase from Central was one that included getting his J.D. from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln School of Law followed by a 31-year career with the FBI.
It was a future Greg first tapped into at Central: “Central was a college prep school, and for me, the best experience was my senior year American history course. John Bitzes, our teacher, had experience in military and intelligence and I remember he had us do senior papers on different aspects of American history. I wrote mine on the FBI. And that later became my career.”
“At Central, you could try anything,” said Ann Strauss Hosford. “There were so many different clubs and athletics. The school gave us a great opportunity to try and fail.” And then, inevitably, try again. Ann went on to graduate with a Masters in Speech and Language Pathology from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Among many things, she was a Speech Pathologist for ESU #3 and Madonna School for Special Children, and served as the President of the Omaha Hearing School for several years. Her Central Experience was proceeded by the experiences of her two daughters, who graduated in 2000 and 2003.
“I think from the time we went there, there was an aura about Central,” remarked Richard, who said his Central Experience was “challenging, but rewarding. It gave me many opportunities.” He graduated from Central and went on to graduate from the University of Oklahoma with a degree
in Finance. He now serves as the President of The Slosburg Company, where he has worked for 46 years. His grandfather and father attended Central, his siblings attended as well, and his children graduated after him. The legacy of excellence which characterizes the school is part of his family as well.
Although these are only three stories of the thousands of Central Experiences, Greg commented that “you look at the huge body of people who have graduated from Central and what they’ve achieved speaks for itself – we want to pass that on to future generations.”
Passing on the opportunity for future generations of Eagles to have their own Central Experience means coming together as alumni and community advocates. The Class of 1967 wants to see future classes emulate their attempts to help support Central High School.
“We want to ensure that the school continues to develop every child’s individual potential,” said Ann, which is why alumni engagement is so important.
The Class of 1967 would like to make a call to their fellow alumni to support the school annually, not just at their class reunions. They would like to encourage upcoming class reunion committees to think about how they can turn their party into an act of support for the school. And they would like to urge their fellow classmates – spanning all years – to keep in touch with the CHS Foundation by updating their addresses so they can easily be located for upcoming reunions and events.
The Central Experience looks different now as alumni, the Class of 1967 has learned. And every year of life beyond graduation adds richness to the years spent in high school, examined in retrospect. But just because Eagles have left the nest, does not mean that it is no longer home: the Central Experience continues across the world, as alumni building upon the skills learned at CHS, and right at home in Omaha, through the experiences lived every day by new Eagles.