shs header picture

Volumne X Issue II Fall - 2006
Straight From the Gavel
By Terry Dermody, President
Rising to the Challenge
(Finding Opportunity from Adversity)

There has been a lot going on since we last met here in the spring issue and I thought you would like to hear about it. The major story, of course, was the June flood. Our hometown was devastated and many of our fellow Alumni were severely affected. This was an event of catastrophic proportions. No one in the area totally escaped the ravage. For a period of time Sidney was literally isolated from the rest of the area.

For those of you who were experiencing a Rip Van Winkle syndrome during this time and might have missed the news, our editor has presented an excellent synopsis of the flood which will give you a sense of this disaster.

Everyone in the area was affected in some fashion or another and the Alumni Association was no exception. The last several months have been a difficult and challenging time for the Association. The challenges that faced us were unprecedented with no pre-programmed solutions so we had to allow our instincts to guide us.

The first and most agonizing decision was what to do about Alumni Weekend. We really struggled 'with this predicament. When the flood hit the area, Alumni Weekend was less than three weeks away. Preparations had been completed, travel plans had been made and hundreds of Alumni were looking forward to our annual celebration. However, the flood changed all of that and created quite a quandary for us. Most of the venues were damaged and many of the roads were impassable. We could see no way that we could move forward with Alumni Weekend. But, even in the face of this calamity, there were many from within the local community who were convinced that holding Alumni Weekend would be a big morale booster and provide a brief escape from the reality of the situation; a symbolic gesture of sorts in support of the Community. This complicated the situation even further because there was no clear cut consensus. We wanted to do the right thing for all concerned. We explored the possibility of alternate venues and even designed plans to stage the festivities. But, time was against, us and a decision had to be made. People needed to know so they could adjust their plans accordingly. So after careful consideration, it became apparent that Alumni Weekend would place too much a strain on the local resources and emergency efforts. A decision was made to cancel. This was one of the most difficult decisions we ever had to face and I regret all the anguish it caused but it had to be made and there is no doubt that it was appropriate under the circumstances. I know that the decision created tremendous disappointment and considerable confusion among the Alumni Community, but it is fair to say that the majority of you were very understanding and supportive and I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for that. However, all our plans and preparations were not in vain and as mentioned in the front page article, we will be restaging Alumni Weekend 2006 just as originally planned, in 2007.

There is a positive side to all of the trials and tribulations. Out of this adversity a new opportunity was generated: an opportunity to rise to the occasion. This is rest of the story that I want to tell here.

As you know, July is normally the time of the year the Association is in a celebration mode and our attention is heavily focused on the social aspect of the organization (Alumni) but this year was different. The cancellation of Alumni Weekend and the circumstances surrounding the decision afforded opportunities for the Association to focus primarily on the Community aspect of our founding purpose and I must say, the response was overwhelming and heartwarming. The needs of the Community became and still remain at this moment our principal concern. Flood relief became our primary goal. With the Association leading the appeal, the Alumni Community rose to the challenge by donating thousands of dollars to Sidney United Way Flood Relief Fund. This was an astounding display of generosity but it did not stop there. Many Alumni were not discouraged by the flood and choose to return to town during what would have been Alumni Weekend. They didn't come to attend Class Reunions, play golf or celebrate, but instead to offer their services to the clean up efforts and to help with the beginning of the recovery. This has been a story of our organization and the membership at its best. I salute of all of you who gave of your time, money and sweat. I commend you for your devotion and support. We couldn't have asked for more. You are a source of pride to all of us.

The opportunities did not stop there. The dedication of Sidney Alumni Field presented the Association another opportunity, not only to continue the flood relief efforts but also to fill a void in the Community left by the cancellation of Alumni Weekend and contribute to the recuperation process in our hometown. Out of this opportunity Alumni Homecoming weekend was conceived. While a dedication ceremony had been in the planning stages for months prior to the cancellation of Alumni Weekend, it was envisioned to be a large social event. Instead we capitalized on the opportunity to use the occasion for a greater purpose. A purpose with the emphasis on Community and School.

In no way, did this diminish the significance of the event. As a matter of fact it elevated the significance. For those of you who were unable to attend I can tell you that the dedication ceremony of Sidney Alumni Field was one of the most inspiring and emotional events ever staged by the Association. It represented a major milestone in our history and will be part of our legacy. As I stated in my remarks on that evening, "the dedication of Sidney Alumni Field is a fitting tribute to the -generations, of Alumni who over the years helped create a tradition of excellence and achievements and have had a positive impact on the Sidney Schools and Community. This honor is also a recognition and validation of the founding purpose of the Alumni Association which is to harness the energy and resources and spirit of the Alumni for the benefit of School and Community. We pledge to live up to this honor by continuing to focus our efforts towards the fuplment of our purposes. " The fulfillment of this pledge is exactly what we had in mind when we organized Alumni Homecoming Weekend around the occasion of the dedication of Alumni Field. A golf tournament was scheduled and a post-game social was organized. We saw the creation of Alumni Homecoming Weekend as another opportunity; first, to enhance alunmi attendance at the dedication ceremony and demonstrate our support for our football team in their pursuit of another State Championship; but more importantly, to serve as a means to benefit the Community with its recovery. The Golf Tournament and post-game social allowed the Golf Club and American Legion an opportunity to recoup a small portion of their financial losses suffered when Alumni Weekend was cancelled-which was significant. But the greater purpose realized was that it allowed the Association to raise $1,200 in donations for Sidney Flood relief. This turned out to be the perfect prescription for School and Community. And to think this was planned in a period of less than two months. Amazing!! All of those involved deserve our gratitude.

Yes, a lot has been going on around the Association these last several months. These difficult times have also created opportunity and given us a chance to see the founding purposes of our Association in a whole new light. It has provided an opportunity to add a new chapter in the pursuit of our vision; a vision in which the Alumni Community can make a difference and play an integral role in maintaining the vitality of Hometown Community by harnessing our collective spirit in a positive way. While the last several months may have been the worst of times they were also the best of times. This was a period that demonstrated our founding purposes in action. The response was inspiring and I consider it one of our finest hours as an Association.

I could not be prouder of the way the Association and its membership rose to the challenge. You have my absolute respect and admiration. It can be said that you did make a difference.