Salem1The GSAA was begun in 1987 in reaction to budget cuts in education that were threatening the School’s existence. During some tough economic times, the legislature thought to trim the budget by reducing or eliminating Governor’s School. Fortunately, this happened to coincide with the 25th year of GS. JoAnne North and her soon-to-be husband Milt Goetz went through 25 years’ worth of old data and collected addresses for the entirety of the GS alumni at that time. (This was a huge task, and literally a labor of love…on Milt’s part.) They then invited all the alumni they could find to a 25th Anniversary of GS Celebration. During this event, JoAnne, Jim Bray, and several of the faculty encouraged the alumni to form an organization and work to save GS. Under our first President, Don Lassiter, the GSAA was able to keep GS off the chopping block, but not without some loss. While GS was not cancelled, its budget was seriously cut.

As Student Activities Director of GS West, JoAnne continued to work with (or in many cases, for) the GSAA, holding annual Winter Reunions to raise money for the Schools’ social activities, since this item was not part of the new, reduced budget. For a decade or more, the GSAA’s primary source of income was the proceeds from the Winter Reunions and alumni membership funds.

During this time, the GSAA created the Governor’s School Foundation, a non-profit organization whose goal is to raise funds to support the academic programs at GS. The GSAA also lobbied the legislature in hopes to return GS to its pre-1988 funding levels. And it began to look at new ways of keeping in contact with the alumni. JoAnne and Milt maintained the database for another ten years.

In 1996, Milt Goetz handed over control of the database to the GSAA officers. It was maintained by Jim Hart for three years, and now resides on the GSAA Web Site in the form of the Alumni Database.

In 1998, with the nation’s love of lawsuits a growing trend, the GSAA decided that it could no longer afford the risk of the Winter Reunions, and that program was cancelled in favor of the new Summer Alumni Day format.

Also in 1998, the GSAA secured the internet domain name and, through the efforts of Sam Sanders (1971W) and Mike Pilato (1992E) produced the current web site and on-line database.

In 2008, we began testing of Yahoo! Discussion Groups to fulfill the purpose of a guestbook and bulletin board

In 2008, we also modified our by-laws to make electronic meetings a more viable format for managing the business of the GSAA. We also followed the word-wide trend and opened a Facebook group.

In 2009, the General Assembly cut Governor’s School to 600 students and required a $500 tuition at attend. The GSAA fought this measure unsuccessfully.

In 2011, the General Assembly cut the program completely, but through the efforts of the GSAA and GS Foundation, we funded the 2012 session with private donations and successfully lobbied the Legislature to restore funding for roughly 600 students.

Today, we continue to work toward our goal of supporting GS and the alumni with funding and means of staying in contact. We work with the GS Foundation to provide financial support, scholarships, and special programs for the students who attend Governor’s School.gsw 3