DOBSON — The core of Surry Community College’s slate of upcoming 50th anniversary celebrations is rooted in the fact if you “dial” back time prior to Jan. 9, 1964, few people locally had an opportunity to seek education which would change their lives.
“I really feel this school changed the academic landscape of the region far beyond our service area,” said SCC Educational Foundation Executive Director Marion Venable. “People came to us from Virginia, Allegheny and Stokes counties. We’ve had more than 15,000 graduates with certificates, diplomas or degrees in addition to those involved in medical, law enforcement and nursing as well as Graduate Equivalency Diplomas.”
Venable said it was a time when television was black and white and there were no remote controls. In a sense, life had a smaller focus then from the way the world is lived today. The first of what looks to be a year of activities is set for Jan. 9 in the Shelton-Badgett Center on the College’s Dobson campus.
“For the opening event we have invited just faculty and staff as well as former staff to come celebrate our accomplishments over the years,” said Venable. The luncheon is being sponsored by the Faculty and Staff Senate with the Anniversary Committee providing desserts.
Venable indicated previously much of the plans for the anniversary had been shared during the school’s annual retirees banquet last year. Banners announcing the anniversary could go up as early as Jan. 9 as well.
“Many people came in the first year and have stayed with us,” Venable said. “They gave their working careers to Surry Community College. We thought it would be good to invite them to see early photos and reminisce and will continue to use the knowledge we gained through this.”
One visible sign of this will be photo collage boards which will be posted across campus for students and visitors. Another ongoing project is an alumni information card encouraging them to share their college stories. Much of this oral history is being organized by SCC librarian and professional archivist Sabrina Mabe, who is also setting up interviews and will be sharing the stories on the college web site throughout the coming months.
Venable said the college plans on mailing an estimated 12,000 cards to seek information on the school’s past as its recent accomplishments are being celebrated as well. She noted record keeping had not been standardized until 1984 when a firm was hired to address updating the “gap” from 1966-until 1984, which yielded 12,900 new alumni addresses for a data base.
“We feel we need to upgrade that once again and look at the anniversary as an opportunity to really launch another alumni re-connection effort,” Venable said. “We hope this will be a year of remembering alumni and telling them about where we are now.” One part of this will be a “Look At Us Now” campaign which will be launched in mid-spring to list accomplishments including the school’s exceptional college rating, its distance learning centers, the Shelton-Badgett Center, The Surry Early College High School of Design, athletics and its annual scholarship golf tournament which will be held in memory of the late Bobby Harold this year.
An Area Business After Hours event is planned for February with participants from Pilot Mountain, Dobson, Elkin and Mount Airy being invited and will included bus tours of the campus. This is expected to showcase the newly renovated Academic Support Building and renovations to the A Building’s first floor to better accommodate students as well as the new 88-acre property across the road from the campus purchased by the college.
“This will focus on our community and partners who have made all of this possible,” said Venable. “We are plugging a lot of our anniversary events into what we already offer, such as the Old Time Fiddler’s Convention. There will be anniversary components integrated in the May 29 golf tourney and we are also looking at an alumni night as well as dedicating a bronze plaque recognizing the anniversary.”
Venable said the school is also hoping for a greater presence in upcoming Christmas parades and hopes to energize the community on the potential in the new property such as new buildings and further collaboration with the public schools.
“It’s going to be a wonderful year but a busy year,” Venable said. “We want to provide an opportunity for the public and recognize our long term supporters of education. Without individuals, community and businesses we couldn’t have been able to make a college education a reality for so many through the years.”
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.