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FORT DODGE: FDSH Alumni Association

‘Once a Dodger, always a Dodger’

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Members of the Fort Dodge Senior High Alumni Association pose in front of their Alma Mater. They are, left to right, Ruth Yoder, 59, Marlene Osborne, 51, Kathy Kudron, 75, Sondra Holmstrom, 59, Tim Holmstrom, 57, Dennie Friederichs, 56, Jack Mallaro, 57. Not pictured, John Zuerrer class of 1966.

Students at Fort Dodge elementary schools had a special visit with Lisa Owens, an author of children’s books, in April.

That visit was courtesy of a group of Fort Dodge Senior High School alumni that has been a steady, but relatively little-known, supporter of the local public schools since 1998.

The Fort Dodge Senior High School Alumni Association paid the expenses for the Owens visit. Every year, the association pays for an author to visit the schools.

It also funds five $1,000 scholarships for students graduating from Fort Dodge Senior High who are enrolling at Iowa Central Community College and have at least one parent who graduated from the FDSH.

The late Herb Bennett, a member of the class of 1939, started the group.

Its articles of incorporation state that members must be graduates of the “Fort Dodge Public High School.”

Fostering a connection between Fort Dodge, its schools and the alumni spread across the country is one of the primary goals of the group.

“The object and purpose of the organization is to give its members the opportunity to stay in touch with Fort Dodge and the Fort Dodge Community School District,” said Sondra Daniel Holmstrom, a member of the group’s board.

Providing money to pay for things like visits by authors is the other primary goal of the association.

During the 2018-2019 academic year, the association committed $15,767.96 to the schools.

Since its founding, the association has given just under $300,000 to the schools, according to Holmstrom.

Teachers can apply for money from the association to pay for educational needs not paid for by the school district’s budget.

But there’s more to the organization than the serious business of considering grant requests.

“It’s just a fun group,” said Jack Mallaro, a member of its board.

Board President Tim Holmstrom said its members can see both the need for their help and the results of their efforts.

“It’s been very rewarding,” he said.

As an added bonus, he’s found that helping the schools through the association “doesn’t take that much effort.”

The association has 450 active members.

But FDSH graduates don’t automatically become members. They must sign up and pay $15 annual dues.

“Our biggest problem is letting people know we exist,” Holmstrom said.

Members get a newsletter three times a year that’s full of information about current events in Fort Dodge.

“The new idea is once a Dodger, always a Dodger, and this goes right along with that,” said Marlene Knupp Osborne, the group’s secretary.

The association is separate from the Fort Dodge Community School District Foundation.

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