Class of 1972 Doubles Donation To Highland’s Family Support System


Eliott Coda

Class of 1972 presents $50K donation to Highland.

Lydia Hawes, Online Editor

 On September 23rd of this year, Highland received one of it’s largest donations from the class of 1972 during the homecoming football game against the Cottonwood Colts. 

Steve Morgan, graduate of 1972, presented the check of $50K on the field at halftime to both Mindy Smith and Principal Jeremy Chatterton, specifically going towards the Family Support Center at Highland.  

The process behind this donation of $50,000 had been in the works for months prior to the game. 

Both Morgan and Brian Thomas, another graduate of 1972, were asked to brainstorm ideas for how their class could give back to Highland at their upcoming 50th class reunion in the summer of 2022. After conversing as a big group, the two decided it best to converse with Mindy Smith, Highland’s family support coordinator, to discuss Highland’s needs and how their class can really make a difference for Highland and the students.  

From when Morgan and Thomas had originally attended, a lot had shifted at the school. 

“Highland’s changed a lot since we were there, it has a lot more diversity and has a lot more low-income students than when I attended back in 1969,” Morgan said. 

The new range of incomes presented a diversity that really benefited the school, but also brought financial challenges for the school, needing to help students with finding a place at Highland.  

Smith felt that where Highland students were struggling the most was getting low-income students involved in extracurriculars, like sports, clubs, afterschool programs, etc. 

“Studies show that if a child is in a school activity, their grades are higher, they’re better off socially and emotionally, [as well as] stability,” Smith said. 

Echoing Smith’s thoughts, the University of Tennesse conducted a study to determine if extracurricular participation really improves their academic success. The university collected several thousand of the students’ GPAs, and whether they were involved in either athletics or extracurriculars, both or neither. The results came back, with an impressive GPA increase in the students who participated with both, and the worst grades were given to those who didn’t have any extracurriculars.  

Highland’s hopes for their students are for them to improve academically, socially, and emotionally, and the class of 1972’s donation just helps eliminate other factors that may prohibit a student from joining in on an athletic program or club.  

“We’re trying to bridge that gap,” Smith said.  

Smith went into elaborating the different ways this donation could be used. Paying for packets so students can free up space in their schedule, buying new cleats to help a student put their best foot forward for soccer tryouts, and so on.  

The variability that comes from this donation is sure to benefit Highland in a plethora of ways because of how general the donation was made. 

When donating, there are many strict rules around how money can be distributed to the school and subgroups based off of what the donator said the aid would be used for. 

Morgan and Thomas thought it would be easiest to just donate the money to Family Support, without any specifications as to where that money would go within the center. From there, Highland could decide themselves what the donation could and couldn’t pay for, giving Family Support lots of freedom and ability with the money.  

“When you give money to the high school or to the foundation, they have to follow a lot of rules,” said Morgan. “And it sounded like the best way to help the students there was to not put a whole lot of restrictions on it. So, we just said, ‘it’s going to go to you and we’re going to put a lot of trust that you deploy it correctly’.” 

After the class decided where the money would go, all that was left was collecting donations from classmates.  

Through FaceBook and emails, the organizers reached out to classmates, originally asking each person to donate at least $19.72 to reach their final goal of $5K. 

As the reunion rolled around, organizers noticed that they had already surpassed their goal by over $10K.  

They collected an impressive amount of $17K. And while many were grateful, the class wasn’t yet satisfied. 

A classmate grabbed Morgan in private, challenging that if the rest of the classmates could reach $25K, that he would double it, bringing the donation up to $50K. 

So, Morgan eagerly went back out to his audience, encouraging and challenging them to donate an additional $8K in order to raise the additional money.   

Within that week, the class was able to gain another $8K, allowing the donation to be doubled for Highland. 

“One of the things I’m really proud of is the generosity of our class,” Morgan said. 

The check was written up and dedicated to the Family Support System, and the class decided to present it at the Homecoming football game, pleasantly surprising the audience and both Smith and Chatterton with the final donation.  

The stadium cheered ecstatically, excited to see the changes that would come with the financial aid.