In 1961, words like website and Facebook did not even exist in the context in which we know them today.

If a WHS alumnus wanted to track down a student they went to school with, one would simply get the trusted yellow pages and begin making phone calls to friends and relatives throughout the town. Snail mail was only “mail” back then and hand-written letters would often suffice if the person could not be reached by phone.

In 2011, things are very different.

Reunion classes have their own websites to promote their events, sell tickets to their programs and post messages to class members.

If you are not on Facebook, you are almost in the minority as the WHS Ex-Students’ Association, along with other WHS groups and organizations have many fans and followers.

Facebook allows you to chat, private message and send group emails to catch up with long lost classmates. There is even an option to poke someone, which is a harmless gesture akin to flirting or winking at someone.

Although some fellow students still communicate the old-fashioned way, many reunion class organizers find it more convenient to reach the masses that enjoy and depend on the use of technology.

As the WHS Ex-Students’ Association prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary during Homecoming Weekend 2011, the challenge has been set forth to bridge the gap between time-tested tradition and forward thinking.

Association President Bill Baty is making big plans to ensure that gap narrows on Oct. 7 and 8.

“We really want to pay honor and tribute to those ex-students who established this organization 50 years ago,” comments Baty. “The mission of the WHS Ex-Students’ Association is twofold in that we celebrate the past by providing opportunities for former students to reconnect with classmates, teachers and friends; and we encourage the future by providing scholarships to deserving WHS graduates. We owe an enormous gratitude to that first board of directors who had the vision to create such an outstanding program that would stand the test of time.”

The 1961 board of directors of the WHS Ex-Students’ Association included Cecil Burton, Mrs. James Curry (Dorothy Jean), L.T. Felty, Ms. Mabel Grizzard, Buddy Hosford, Lester Jordon, Mrs. Wiley Motley, Mrs. Philip Rudolph (Annette), Mrs. B.C. Wallace, Mrs. Charley Wilson (Iris) and Barney Wray. Bill and Charlene Pitts, Lillian Neal and George Brown were also very influential in getting the organization off the ground.

The current board of the Ex-Students’ Association plans to honor these founding members at their annual Homecoming Luncheon at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Ninth Grade Academy.

The first board members have been invited to attend the luncheon as special guests to receive special recognition. Those members who have passed away will have direct descendants in attendance to represent them. Other highlights of the luncheon will include special acknowledgement of the first troupe of WHS Cherokee Charmers, also established in 1961.

As always, the luncheon will also feature 2011 inductees to the WHS Who’s Who and Hall of Fame award categories.    

“We have had a lot of fun tracking down the board members and Cherokee Charmers from 1961 to invite them to be a part of presentation. The current board of directors has done an outstanding job in working on leads to track down our honored guests, sending invitations to these groups and collecting Waxahachie High School memorabilia from 1961 to display at the luncheon,” said Bary.

Current board members include Bob Aday, Paul Box, Alton and Phyllis (Hall) Chambers, Susan (Lewis) Clymore, Kim (Hallabough) Garlitz, Carolyn (Roberts) Jenkins, Nancy (Anderson) Ross, Mike Smith, Barbara (Giles) Tachias, Richard Todd and Jackie (Brown) Wray.

“We have a huge announcement that we plan to make during Homecoming weekend regarding our next signature event we plan to add to Homecoming 2012. Big things are on the horizon and I’m looking forward to working with more ex-students to instill that sense of Indian Pride in WHS and giving back to this great community,” added Kim Garlitz, vice president.

The WHS Ex-Students’ Association recently made a special presentation at the Stuart B. Lumpkins Stadium dedication on Sept. 9.

Baty presented WHS athletic director David Ream with three framed pictures of Waxahachie High School’s most recent star athletes, Montae Reagor, Aldrick Robinson and Brian Waters to be hung in the hallway of the new stadium.

The Ex-Students will also have an information table set up in Race Alley to support the Waxahachie Education Foundation’s inaugural Legacy 5K Run which will start and end at the new stadium.

To make reservations for the WHS Ex-Students’ Homecoming Luncheon, visit their website at www.waxahachieexstudents.org or call Phyllis Chambers at 972-351-1478.

Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door.

Former students are also encouraged to join the WHS Ex-Students’ Association page on Facebook.