Arlington High School alumni gathered to reminisce and celebrate an organization that raises funds for scholarships and other needs for the district.
The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF) hosted its annual alumni banquet Saturday at the Arlington Auditorium. More than 200 alumni, family and friends attended.
This year's event marked the 30th anniversary of the foundation's beginning. The foundation, which began in 1987, honored its charter members Dennis Wilkins, Sen. Roy Baker, Kathy Rhea, Steve Sebberson, Mary Jane Thulin and Tim Brown.
Wilkins, who served on the Arlington Public Schools Board of Education from 1986 until 2001, was instrumental in organizing the foundation, Rhea said.
“(The foundation) is a great thing for this school and it's continued to grow,” she said.
Wilkins said his inspiration for the foundation was the late Dr. Lauren Spangler, an Arlington resident, who provided funds anonymously to children less fortunate than others. He presented the idea to the school board, who tasked him to spearhead the initiative.
“We started out with zero,” he said. “We didn't have anything. Steve Sebberson gave the first $60 contribution to the foundation to pay our legal fees to get our organization started.”
After a number of fundraisers, the charter members decided to organize an alumni banquet.
“I'm just glad the foundation is there for people if they want to give some money,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins, a 1965 AHS graduate, was inducted into the AEF Hall of Fame. His daughter, Brittany, a 2001 AHS graduate, presented the award.
“I'm sure there are more people deserving than I,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins, who farms the original land owned by his grandfather, G.C. Wilkins with his sons, Brett and Ben, has shown his dedication to the children who attend APS through the creation of the foundation, Brittany said.
Dennis served on the foundation's board of directors until 2014. He currently serves on the board of the Educational Service Unit No. 3, an elected position he has held since 2002.
Two Arlington residents were also honored with the Marian Wilkins Community Service Award.
Cindy (Rosenkilde) Grefe, a 1967 AHS graduate, was honored for her work with the Arlington Jaycees, the Arlington Community Church and the Arlington VFW Auxiliary.
Cheryl Abbott, who moved to Arlington in 2004, is the director of the Arlington Multipurpose Senior Center and secretary for the Arlington Lions Club. She has volunteered for several committees as a member of St. Paul's Lutheran Church.
The foundation also honored its 2017 scholarship recipients: Brook Hoesing, Grant Miller, Jared Ruwe, Riley Smith and Hannah Thompson.