Thursday September 29, 2016
Although they promise not to crash the prom, the women and men of South Burlington High School (SBHS) Rebel Reach have pledged their support to the entire SBHS class of 2017. In the school’s spirit of “Building a Proud Tradition,” alumni from the high school’s class of 1967, organized by Maureen Rees and Barbara Benedict, formed Rebel Reach as a mentorship program to support the students, who will graduate in 2017, through their high school years. According to Benedict, “It is a privilege to play any meaningful role in encouraging students to make the most of both their own unique talents and the abundant opportunities offered at SBHS.”
The SBHS Rebel Reach efforts, which began in 2013/2014, the students’ freshman year, started with a note inside a blue bag of treats, which was given to each and every student during study time for their first semester final exams. The note, which reaches across a 50-year difference in time, reads, “Many of us are retired and live far from South Burlington. And yes, we may be older than some of your grandparents. But believe it or not, our high school memories are still strong. The bonds we formed in the early days of South Burlington High – in classrooms, halls, and lunchrooms, in the gym, on sports fields and bus rides, in clubs and performing in the auditorium – those bonds are stronger than we ever expected as we find ourselves progressing through the stages of life together.” The note continues by explaining how they hope to follow the students’ progress, support their school projects, and be available to them as long-distance mentors, as well as participate in community service endeavors.
Since the delivery of those blue bags, Rebel Reach has formed a bond that has extended through the class of 2017’s years at SBHS and will continue on during their senior year. For each one of those years, the mentors have sponsored a team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s and volunteered at the Career Job Expo and the Iverson Relays in May. In addition, Rebel Reach has played the role of “community member” at many student exhibitions, became part of the Homecoming Tailgate group, and placed an ad in each yearbook dedicated to the Class of 2017. And, yes, the blue goodie bags, still arrive yearly in January before exams.
The Rebel Reach 2017 class leader Luke Beatty reports that the class of 1967 would tweet them when it was time for SBHS Talent Night or Homecoming, adding, “Mrs. Benedict even came in and recorded part of our talent night video one year just because we asked.” He says, “We are grateful for the impact that they have had on each of us and their willingness to rally the troops and send the message to our class that a group of people cared about us.” Beatty is hopeful that the same will be true for other classes.
Meanwhile SBHS Rebel Reach 1967 to 2017 continues to broaden their impact. According to Rees, class leaders are currently developing plans to engage SBHS alumni and community members in the significance of sustaining and growing The Iverson Scholarship Fund, in recognition of classmate, friend, and SBHS teacher/coach Gary Iverson. She adds, “Watch for that news in the coming weeks.”
Rees says of her Rebel Reach experience, “We believed then and now in ‘building a proud tradition,’ and hope to inspire our anniversary class to experience the rewards of working, playing and growing as a class. We hope the whole concept of reaching out and mentoring from afar is contagious to some degree. The seed is planted and now it will be fun to watch it germinate and, hopefully, grow.”