Thursday, July 24, 2008

Happy Birthday

I looked back at my records for the website today and realized that the website is six years old this week (7/20/2002).
In the weeks after 9/11/2001 I did a lot of soul searching. I thought a great deal about the family I loved, my friends, and this place called home. As horrible as the attacks were on America, there was some good that came from it. It seemed for a while that we all looked to each other - grew a little closer - loved a little deeper. I found myself contacting people I had not spoken with in years. I called just to tell them they were on my mind and how much they meant to me.
The spirit of America had somehow weathered a disaster, stood up, dusted itself off, and made a conscience decision to move on.- changed.....but moving ahead.
It was during this time of contemplation and self examination that I decided to do my part to bring our little community together.
I had never even considered doing an alumni website. The fact is, I didn't know how. I had worked with computers for many years and was an early adopter of the Internet, I did not know the first thing about how to actually do it. I told Jilda and she thought it was a great idea.
I talked to my friend Steve who had been doing website for a while and helped me learn the basics. I bought software, and found a hosting service where the website has lived. I registered the domain name and started designing.
I had never tried to sell anything in my life, but I made appointments with several local businessmen and asked them to sponsor the site. Some businessmen did not see the value in it, others did and almost every one is still a sponsor today.
I learned by trial and error. I discovered early on that you don't have to have a lot of fancy bells and whistles to make a website successful. You have to keep the content fresh by posting good pictures, good stories, and useful information.
The idea was a little slow at first, but there were people that got on board early and have been cheerleaders for the site through the years.
I used Google Analytics to capture the number of hits and for a small high school that has probably had fewer than 5000 graduates through the years, these days the site gets two to three hundred hits a day. It has had over a quarter million hits since we first came online. I am amazed and humbled.
Last week a graduate of Corner High asked me what it would cost to do the things with their website like we've done with the Dora High site. I told him that it takes a lot of time, a lot of love and a lot of money to build a site like ours.
I won't try to start naming off all the folks who have helped me through the years by writing stories, taking pictures, scanning some of the yearbooks, and donating money - I'm afraid I might leave someone out. I will say this: I am truly grateful to the sponsors who have stuck with me through the year -. I will also say there would not be a alumni website if I had not "had a little help from my friends."

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