2022-2023 It’s Been Quite the Year
Vic High Alumni Annual Report, by Helen Daniels, Board Chair
First, thank you to the donors who ensure the Vic High Alumni can support the school and its activities. I would also like to thank our extraordinary team of volunteers. You all definitely embody the Vic High spirit.
We adopted a new Vic High Alumni bylaws and constitution in April. This ensures that we operate within the Societies Act and in the digital world. Thanks to Rick Crosby, 1976, Brian Day, 1968, and Roger Skillings, 1968 for their leadership on this important issue. We can’t thank them enough. As we move our operations to a more digital format, members beyond Victoria are able to attend meetings and we can draw volunteers to perform tasks that can be done online. Board meetings are open to all members, and all voices are welcome to be heard. However only elected directors can vote. We have been experimenting with hybrid meetings – in-person and via Zoom, and once the new board establishes a meeting schedule, we will post it on the website. You can also email General Inquiries and ask to be included on the email list for pre-meeting agenda and information.
Archives & Museum
We finished adding 7,416 individual records to a database to make it easier to search for things in the Archives, and look forward to creating a more orderly way to store digital archival records. We went on several tours of the seismic jobsite to take photos and document progress for the Archives, and share information and photos via the website and newsletter. An alumni-owned business – Vintage Woodworks – will build new custom shelving for the Archives. Owner Ken Coley-Donahue, VHS 1987, won the contract to provide all the replica windows for Vic High and was keen to help with Archives shelving. We’re very pleased that the Department of Veterans Affairs has created individual online pages of each war memorial element at Vic High: our Great War Banner, the two war memorials, cornerstones and plaques, memorial trees, the stained-glass windows, and more. The pages are being translated and we’ll announce in the newsletter when they’re live.
We continue to receive donations for the Archives’ collections. Two major ones:
- 1915 Diary of Ernest Fairey (brother of Frank T. Fairey after whom Fairey Tech is named), was found by a DurWest labourer in the ceiling of the auditorium
- 1959 Totems Championship jacket in pristine condition, the last one in existence, was donated by a member of the team – David Nelson
Stories and contacts are being collected on the website to help with research for the next Vic High history book, to be published for Vic High’s 150th anniversary in 2026. Please share your memories of your Vic High days with us.
Eleven newsletters were emailed last year, and our engagement with our 4,000 recipients is high. Our MailChimp email program allows us to target sub-groups, so we’ve sent emails to various grad classes at the request of reunion organizers or fundraising leads. Website traffic is up 60% over this time last year. Our new merchandise program was launched online, and Vic High yearbooks – easily the most-visited area of the website – are now easier to download. Our donor lists are posted annually (names, grad years, and In Memory Of – no amounts are posted), and we are tracking traffic to the website and suggested improvements. By monitoring key performance metrics, we can improve our service to you.
In addition to publishing the monthly e-newsletter and annual print newsletters sent to donors without email addresses, the Communications team updates the website with stories and posts. We prepared promotional materials to raise the profile of the Association and expand awareness of what we do. For the Vic High Awards Night, we provided descriptions and photos for each Alumni award for a slide show for attendees, and info cards to give to each Alumni award winner. We also designed items for the Black & Gold Dinner, the Merchandise Program, items to send with donor thank-you notes, and more.
The 2020 Black & Gold Dinner was finally held May 2023, with eight alumni celebrated and inducted into the Black & Gold Honour Roll. Numerous students attended the dinner, each a leader in the school in some way, and one of them was surprised to see so much enthusiasm by alumni for Vic High, remarking, “We really are all one Vic High family.” Videos about all 24 Honour Roll inductees are linked from the Honour Roll. 2025 is the Alumni’s 50th anniversary, and the school year 2025-26 is Vic High’s 150th anniversary. We will be developing celebratory events and activities to recognize these milestones.
The role of the Task Force is to develop new fundraising initiatives to support numerous projects: refurbish war memorials, create the first-ever donor recognition wall, ensure various heritage elements can be incorporated into Vic High, and refurbish grad class photos. We are also looking to help equip the new broadcast media lab, robotics engineering lab, a Vic High marching band, new art gallery area, the theatre with a new stage curtain, the new astronomy viewing deck with light-filtering screens, and more. Some of these are budgeted for by the school over time, but the sooner we can raise funds to help, the sooner our students can benefit from these items.
We met with some very successful fundraisers who graciously shared best practices information, and we are developing some options best suited to the target projects and those most likely to donate. A benefactor has offered to fund professional fundraising assistance in order to help us achieve these ambitious goals.
We sold 24 auditorium seat plaques in 2022 fiscal year. An anonymous donor has secured individual seat plaques for all members of the 1959 Vic High BC Championship Totems. Approximately 250 seats out of 960 total are still available on the main floor. There will likely be seats available in the balcony at some point. Seat Plaques can be ordered here. A new Vic High merchandise program was launched this year and everything is available here. The merchandise team attends all reunions with a pop-up store and generated significant sales at the recent Black & Gold Dinner.
Reunions are resuming, some are 1-2 days of events and others a single event. We continue to support reunion organizers and update the extensive information on the website to provide ideas and guidance.
Scholarships & Bursaries
In June 2022, the total value of all scholarships and bursaries awarded to Vic High students by the Alumni was approximately $22,000. This spring, the Board was able to increase the value of the awards to over $30,000. This represents an increase of approximately 300% in the total value of awards since the Alumni began providing them in 2006. We are discussing with staff where additional scholarships or bursaries might be helpful to support the students.
The seismic upgrade of Vic High and the expansion of Alumni activities over the past few years have created numerous opportunities to get involved, help alumni stay connected, and give back to Vic High. Most of these tasks are or can be done online from anywhere.
- Bookkeeping/financial management
- Event organizing & fundraising
- Donor relations
- Supporting reunion organizers
- Website updating (we use a very common and user-friendly platform: WordPress)
- Maintaining our email list and website-based directory of 14,000 alumni
- Interviewing alumni and writing up their stories for the website, newsletter & archives.
- Working in the Vic High Archives, creating in-school displays, maintaining digital collections.
It’s been a busy year and we know, with Vic High re-opening in January, there are lots of opportunities for us all to continue supporting this great school. Needless to say, we – along with all the staff and students – cannot WAIT to see our school again.