Twenty years after a Hall of Fame was established to honor stellar athletes from Vandalia Community High School, a school foundation is starting to honor VCHS graduates who have otherwise become renowned.
Warren “Hub” Sperry, Dr. Robert Shively and Dr. Jeff Alender are the first three VCHS graduates selected to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award.
The Vandalia Alumni and Friends Foundation Board decided to establish this award program after a couple of its members saw other school districts recognizing successful graduates in such a fashion.
“We were looking for a way to honor our alumni, bring them into the fold,” said Sharon LaDage, a VCHS graduate and retired VCHS teacher who serves as the foundation board president.
“It’s a way of celebrating our people, a way to let them be role models for our current and future students,” LaDage said.
She said that as the foundation board began talking about honoring successful alumni, two of its members – Vandalia Superintendent Rich Well and Regional Superintendent of Schools Julie Wollerman – noticed Hall of Fame plaques at Pana High School.
“The whole board decided that we should do something like that,” LaDage said, adding that the board did extensive research before establishing the criteria for the alumni award program.
The three inaugural recipients will be honored during the foundation’s All-School Reunion on Saturday evening, Sept. 27, which is homecoming weekend for VCHS.
In addition to establishing the alumni award program, the foundation has also initiated the “Where Are They Now?” feature that appears regularly in The Leader-Union.
“This is another way to recognize our alumni,” LaDage said. “We see this another way to give our kids somebody to look up to, to show them that they can be successful and make contributions to society if they work hard and apply themselves.”
In addition to LaDage, Well and Wollerman, those serving on the foundation board include Steve Stombaugh (vice president), Lori Meseke (treasurer), Mark Ritter (secretary), Ken Roberts, Donna Johnson, Marc Kelly, Connie Goldsmith, Joe Barth, Liz Heinzmann and Rick Gottman (as mayor).