Annual CHS ‘Grads Return’ to Bring Wisdom & Advice to Students Dec 19

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Jonah Wolff, Olivia Baker, Maggie Kritzberg, Daniel Zona, Celia Joyce at Grads Return 2015

The 10th annual Grads Return program, scheduled for Thursday, December 19, at Columbia High School, is looking for speakers who are recent grads — in college, grad school, working (if graduated in the last 3-4 years), taking a gap year, enlisted in the military, etc. — in short, anyone who has graduated from CHS in the last ten years with a story to tell and advice to give to current CHS students.

The event was conceived by and continues to be organized by Allan Tumolillo, a CHS science teacher who retired last year. Tumolillo reports that he while he has more than 50 recent graduates signed up to speak on various panels (see a list below), he is still in search of more recent grads; the event usually has up to 100 grads participating.

Grads can contact Tumolillo at

The event is being supported by the CHS HSA and CHS Cougar Boosters.

Tumolillo reports “some interesting panel topics are popping up based in part on big current issues — safety on campuses with recent frat suspensions; potential racial intimidation issues at some colleges; the current presidential campaigns; LGBTQ issues and quite a few more.”

The panels will all take place during the school day. Tumolillo says that an attempt to host some panels in the evening last year was a “flop.” Some parents have asked about holding the event after the holidays, but, says Tumolillo, “the 19th is the last full day of school before break and academics are generally not on kids’ minds. Also, after break more grads have plans, trips and some go back to school, etc. Verona HS tried after break last year and it was a no go.”

However, Tumolillo said the program may look at hosting  some “assembly-like” sessions in a few locations in the building during 9th period “given the relatively few classes during Period 9 at CHS,. Usually teachers bring a class to a panel; period 9 might allow a different approach.”

The following list of panels is tentatives. “Some panels are repeated, say once in the morning and once in the afternoon,” reports Tumolillo. “Thirty are listed and we may have a few less and have the speakers attend more of an open-ended session during Period 9. This is under discussion.”

TENTATIVE Grads Return 2019 Panels:

  • Safety 1/LGBTQ+​
  • Alternative Pathways​
  • Safety 2/Women on College Campuses​
  • What to Major in, Changing Majors, Changing Schools​
  • Playing Sports in College – DI, DIII​
  • Studying Abroad​
  • Majoring in PE/Sports Management​
  • Community College/VoTech Schools​
  • Social Studies/Poli Sci/Psych​
  • Gap Year​
  • Journalism/Communications​
  • Bio-Medical/Genetics​
  • Business/Econ/Accounting/Finance​
  • Bio-Medical Majors-Med School, Pharmacy, Nursing​
  • Presidential Elections on College Campuses​
  • Environmental Majors/Climate Change​
  • Race and Free Speech 2 panels​
  • STEM Majors-Engineering/Science​
  • MAC Scholars​
  • Computer Science/AI/Machine Learning​
  • HBCs​
  • STEM Majors/Architecture/Industrial Design​
  • Internships/Work Study​
  • Fine/Performing Arts 2 panels​
  • Adjusting to College​
  • Careers in Theater. Dance Stage Crew​
  • Applying to College/Finances​
  • Graphic Arts/Video Game Design​

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