Former graduate designs website to help IAHS students keep in touch

By ADAM ARMOUR
Staff Writer

Keeping in touch after graduation can be difficult.
Just ask Richard Burns, an Itawamba Agricultural High School graduate of the Class of 1998.

“I often think about being around the many people I used to know,” Burns said from his home in Colorado. “I knew almost everyone in the entire school; maybe not personally, but I knew who they were. When you move away, it can be very difficult to keep up with these people. I love to come home and just randomly run into someone I haven’t seen in 10 years and find out what they have been up to.”

Although high school is a time when lifelong friends are made, the intervening life that follows the awarding of a diploma can sometimes interfere with even the closest of connections. It’s a problem that
Burns has taken an active role in trying to solve — and one he may have solved by designing MyIAHS.com.

Burns’ website is solely devoted to helping Fulton graduates keep in touch with one another. After signing up on the site, former IAHS students can upload photos, send each other messages, write a short autobiography or open a blog.

“I think it’s great being able to easily keep in touch with friends and acquaintances and know what is going on in their lives,” he said. “People can re-connect, share stories, and perhaps through this process maybe even help share resources.”

He added that personal experience spawned the idea for the site. During his time in the military, Burns found it difficult to stay in connection with his high school friends.

“When I would come home, I noticed there were more and more people I hadn’t really kept in touch with,” Burns explained. “It is hard after high school. This person goes here, that person goes there. There is no one location where everyone knows where to meet up in case, for some reason, you really want to track someone down.”

So, Burns decided to create one himself. He began programming the site in February and finished in early September. In its current form, its layout is simple — the home page, adorned in black and gold, features an aerial photograph of the high school and instructions on how to join, which takes about a minute.

According to Burns, he wanted to create a free site specific to IAHS for ease of staying connected.

“Sure there is MySpace, Facebook and sites that actually cost money like Classmates.com, but I wanted to create something that represents our school; a place where everyone from IAHS can sign up and hopefully find those missing friends,” he said. “I knew lots of people when I was going to school and less than a quarter of them can be found on those other sites.”

Although the site has only a handful of members so far, Burns is hoping it will grow through snowball effect, with word-of-mouth spurring a lot of people to join, who then spur other people to join and so on, creating an online community of IAHS graduates.

“My hope for this site is for it to be a user friendly environment where people can stay in touch with each other no matter where life’s road may take them,” he said. “If they have already lost touch, this site can help them reconnect with old friends.”

Adam Armour can be reached at 862-3141 or by e-mailing adam.armour@itawamba360.com.