HISTORY OF THE ALUMNI DEPARTMENT
There was an effort in the early 60s to develop an active alumni program, but it was not until Charlene Vitrano volunteered her time in the late 60s that the alumni department was formalized. In 1973, Principal Richard T. Orrison joined efforts with Vitrano and the alumni program expanded. During the 1986-87 school year the development program was initiated by Dr. Orrison during the Alumni Weekend. The program was responsible for undertaking fundraising endeavors for the advancement of Andrews Academy. Among the first ventures were the letter writing campaign, the citrus fruit program, the magazine campaign, and the annual appeal program to alumni and friends. These efforts funded projects such as the establishment of the athletic fields, the tennis courts, a sound system for the chapel, and bleachers for the gymnasium.
Charlene Vitrano was hired as the first part-time employee in the alumni and development area in 1988, after she retired from teaching. Her leadership of the program continued until the spring of 1996, when the position was turned over to Rebecca (Snyder) Becker (att.). Becker was employed full-time until the spring of 2005.
Richard T. Orrison then returned to the academy in the position of Alumni & Development Director and under his guidence new programs were created such as Leaders on Leadership, and the 3-year EnVision Challenge Campaign. Beginning in 2005, a new endowment was established each year, including the Class of 2005 Religious Activities Endowment, the Douglas R. Newberry Memorial Endowment, the Thomas & Eleanor Umek Memorial Endowment, and the C. Roy Smith & Charlene Vitrano Endowment. Alumni homecoming events have also been enhanced, culminating in October 2009 with the 2008-2009 alumni celebration concerts (Bach to Bluegrass) featuring the Silhouettes reunion. Until June 30, 2009, Dr. Orrison graciously served as alumni director. He coordinated alumni events and challenged alumni to become involved with their alma mater. Krista (Randolph) Metzger ('88) served in the Alumni office as administrative assistant for 3 years before moving to the Academy office as the Principal's Secretary.
Thomas Baker retired from teaching at Andrews Academy after 35 years. Though we were sorry to no longer have him in our English department we were pleased that he agreed to become the Alumni/Development Director. Mr. Baker invested a lot of time and talent in the school and we were glad to have him in this role. Lynette Quinty, former maintenance supervisor at AA, joined Jan (Greenidge) Pickett (’79) in performing the secretarial duties in the department.
Following came Hannah Smoot. From the heat in Asia, to the beauty of Africa, Hannah Smoot came to Andrews Academy with an outsider’s perspective. “While I never attended Andrews Academy or Andrews University, I have spent many years roaming the halls and grounds of both institutions,” she said. Hannah’s father is a member of the class of 1980 and her grandfather, James Nash, was vice-principal of the academy for 20 years. After spending many years of her young life as a missionary kid, Hannah attended Union College for her undergraduate degree. Hannah moved on, and we were thankful for her time.
We were blessed with Eileen Dry ('77) to help us with our Alumni 2016 events.
In April 2018, Gina Meekma became our new Alumni Coordinator. She added Development to her duties in July 2018. After graduating from Sunnydale Academy and Union College, she worked at ADRA, Andrews University (Institute of World Mission), Niles Westside Adventist Church, and Niles Adventist School. She transitioned to the main Academy office as the administrative assistant in January 2022.
Currently, Tonya (Hippler) Snyder ('96) is working with the faculty and staff to prepare for Alumni 2023.