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Honorary Alumni Award: Laura Billow Preston

Exterior photo of Firestone Hall at dusk
Honorary Alumni Award: Laura Billow Preston

Laura Preston’s connection to Old Trail predates her remarkable 21 collective years as a parent of three OTS graduates; Haley ’05, Annie ’08 and Tether ’14. 

Thinking back on her childhood, Laura recalls using the pool at Old Trail as a member of her AAU swim team (“I thought it was such a cool place!”) and had a number of family members attend the school, including her husband, Chip ’75, her father-in-law, Ernie ’49, as well as many aunts and cousins.

Haley, who was named to Old Trail’s Board of Directors prior to the 2021-22 school year, is a fourth-generation board member in the Preston family. Laura has given back to the school in countless ways over many decades. From holding several positions on the Executive Committee of the OTS Parents Association to helping to coordinate Old Trail’s After Care program to co-chairing Old Trail’s Centennial Steering Committee and everything in between, her passion and love for Old Trail runs deep. 

You have chosen to serve Old Trail in so many ways. What does the school mean to you?
Old Trail means so many things to me. Old Trail has been such a huge part of my daily life as a wife, mother, volunteer and employee; I have enjoyed every moment of it. It is such a special place. I would say that Old Trail for me is all about personal history, connections and obviously the great education our kids received.

I am so grateful for the connections that I still have with the friends I worked with on the auctions, and, back in my day, the auction was a big event with a hundred or more volunteers. As an employee, I loved my colleagues and have a lot of respect for the teaching profession and the wonderful people who helped raise our children. I also met so many great families during my time in the After Care program that I otherwise would never have known. I love running into students and stay in touch with quite a few of them.  

Having three daughters who graduated from Old Trail, what impact did OTS have on their lives?
The earliest impact I saw on our girls’ lives resulting from their time at Old Trail is their ability to respect the value of a community and the value of friendships. To be a good citizen of a community and respect that everyone is different. They all still have a handful of close friends that they have known since preschool. Old Trail also taught them to be accountable for their behavior, both inside and outside of the classroom. That accountability has made all three of them very hard workers. They also have a strong connection to nature which was developed through their experiential opportunities the school provided. 

The Alumni Association Honorary Alumni award is presented to a person who has made an important contribution or given extraordinary service to Old Trail School. Nominees must have contributed significantly to the welfare of Old Trail (parent, trustee, volunteer or benefactor), deserved the respect of both Old Trail alumni and future Old Trail students and shown a continued loyalty to Old Trail School.

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