When East Wake High School opened its doors in 1977, one of the first people to walk through them was Greg Dragos, a young social studies teacher fresh out of college. For the next 28 years, the popular teacher estimates he taught over 4,000 students.
Retired since 2004, Dragos figures its time to give back to the eastern Wake County community that nurtured his professional career. He has joined with a handful of former East Wake students and teachers to establish the East Wake Alumni Association. He’s hoping to use the relationships he built with those 4,000 students to help get the organization off the ground.
Alan Taylor, a 2000 alumnus of East Wake who works in fund development, says the alumni association is a work in progress, but he says the need is there.
“Money doesn’t flow east. When you look at Broughton, when you look at Sanderson or even Millbrook, the alumni and parents of these schools have historically supported these programs. I think this is a great opportunity for alumni to stand up and say ‘I know there is a need and I can help,’” Taylor said.
Mortgage lender Paul Fitts graduated from East Wake High School in 1987 and he hopes enough people will show interest in an alumni association to help get the group going and keep it active. “There’s a continual need for people not just to show an interest in their past, but to help those who are coming along now to provide them with opportunities in the future,” Fitts said.
And, Fitts noted, the alumni association’s umbrella is wide and all-inclusive. “Greg Dragos and I are completely ideologic and political opposites. But as far as helping young adults further their education, I think we both agree completely that there is a role we can play. This school is in its fifth decade. I would hope we could have people from each of those decades who want to give back and be part of this,” Fitts said.
Getting off the ground
Dragos has organized several meetings and more than a dozen alumni have attended those meetings. A like number have expressed an interest in supporting the fledgling association.
Exactly what function the alumni association will serve is a question that is still being worked out. But organizers of the group know they want to establish an endowed scholarship that would provide funds for an East Wake graduate to attend college. The group has already settled on some parameters for the scholarship. Dragos said applicants will be judged based on academics, community service and extracurricular involvement. But financial need will be the biggest part of the equation he said.
Taylor said other scholarships are a basic service alumni associations provide. “Most of these high schools have scholarships and they’ve had them in place for 20 years in some cases. When you look at the need in eastern Wake County, there has always been a need for a scholarship like this,” Taylor said. Dragos said a scholarship program is in keeping with his goal of giving back. “Our view is to help quality students with their financial needs. We want to help good citizens and students with good grades.”
Dragos and Fitts say there is plenty of motivation for alumni to join the group as it builds momentum. “East Wake has given us all so much and this is a way we can pay that forward,” Dragos said. “We all should want to give back to an institution that helped make us what we are.” Fitts agreed. “Hopefully, this is a beginning. An alumni association can help keep these people together to foster lifelong friendships. I hope this doesn’t stop with the scholarship itself, but that we can bring people back to East Wake.”
• The East Wake Alumi Association will meet twice a month during its organizational phase. The first of those meetings is July 11.
• Contact Greg Dragos at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how you can participate