The Importance of a School Alumni
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Written by Old Sedberghian Club Chairman, Jan van der Velde
School alumni associations exist for a variety of reasons. While, in the main, their core founding principles are generally to provide a mechanism by which alumni can stay in touch, the purposes of such associations in recent times have evolved and diversified. Some have been amalgamated with the more commercial aspects of the educational institution, such as fundraising and marketing, while others have sought to expand upon their broader sense of community. As such, not all alumni associations are the same.
At Sedbergh there is a recognition that both the commercial aspects of the School and the broad community it has created, of which the alumni association is a major stakeholder, are equally important. While many schools have absorbed their alumni association into their school operations, Sedbergh has kept these activities separate. Thus The Old Sedberghian Club (the OS Club), being the alumni association of Sedbergh School, is an independent legal entity with its own constitution, committee, and management team. It is strongly believed that the interests of the alumni are best served by such autonomy, and that its independence is a key factor in making the OS Club one of the best alumni associations in the country.
While we are independent however, we value our relationship with the School, and we work closely together for the benefit of all. Each adds to the other’s success. After all, we think of Sedbergh as a school for life. For each of us the OS Club continues a relationship with the School which started in our formative years.
Inaugurated in 1897, the Club looks to celebrate our friendships and heritage; to keep in touch with the School, and the wider Sedbergh community; and to help younger members with their career aspirations as they make their own way in the world.
In normal times we have a busy diary of events such as sporting fixtures where ‘old’ boys and girls compete against alumni of other schools or against each other at our annual sports weekend in Sedbergh We have social functions ranging from informal meet-ups to gala dinners in London. We have overseas trips as part of a wider interest in those who gave their lives for their country. We organise the Global Run which seeks to celebrate the importance of the Ten Mile Race by asking those in our global community to connect with us through running. The product of this last initiative invites participants to submit a short clip of themselves which then forms part of the Global Run video. This has previously been viewed over seventy thousand times on YouTube which shows the reach and popularity of this event.
Apart from these events, and being a conduit to enable alumni to keep in touch with each other, another important aspect of our work is assisting school leavers and younger Club members with their career choice and progression. We do this in various ways. We have a large number of volunteers from older generations happy and willing to give advice and guidance to those who seek it. We hold career fairs at Sedbergh. Most importantly, we sponsor the Graduway Platform (known to us as OS Connect) which allows pupils and alumni to upload their details such that firms can search for possible candidates as part of their recruitment programmes.
Of course, the Club is not just about the alumni, although that is its principal focus. We extend our friendship to others in the Sedbergh Community, such as Staff, Parents (both current and former), and Honorary members who have in one way or another served the School. Our aim is to be inclusive, not exclusive.
The OS Club is a vibrant community, and a global one. There are some six thousand members, not at Sedbergh but across the world, a collection of people with a shared experience and a common heritage. It is a Club with a membership that no money can buy. It is a lifelong legacy, and one of which we are extremely proud.
Jan van der Velde
Chairman, OS Club