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Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

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Central Carolina Community College wrapped up its 50th Anniversary celebration with a Golden Gala ... (more)

Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

click to enlarge ⊗

Central Carolina Community College wrapped up its 50th Anniversary celebration with a Golden Gala ... (more)

Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

click to enlarge ⊗

The puzzlement of Central Carolina Community College students at the dawn of the computer age and ... (more)

Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

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Rachel Burton, of Chatham County, 2001 graduate of Central Carolina Community College, and co-foun ... (more)

Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

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Sheriff Tracy Carter, of Lee County, 1987 graduate of Central Carolina Community College, was one ... (more)

Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

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Dr. Anthony Harrington, of Harnett County, 1977 and 1983 graduate of Central Carolina Community Co ... (more)

Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

click to enlarge ⊗

Central Carolina Community College wrapped up its 50th Anniversary celebration with a Golden Gala ... (more)

Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

click to enlarge ⊗

Central Carolina Community College wrapped up its 50th Anniversary celebration with a Golden Gala ... (more)

Golden Gala wraps up CCCC's 50th

click to enlarge ⊗

Central Carolina Community College President Bud Marchant (left) holds a time capsule created for ... (more)

07.02.2012College & CommunitySpecial Events

SANFORD - Central Carolina Community College's Golden Gala shone with the talents and enthusiasm of those at the center of its existence for a half-century: students.

About 300 community and government leaders, area residents, and alumni of CCCC gathered June 28 at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center as the college paid its final tribute to its 50th Anniversary.

CCCC offered its first class in 1961 in Lee County, then expanded into Chatham County in 1964 and Harnett County in 1965. Now, it enrolls many thousands of students each year in university transfer, vocational and technical, enrichment, and college and career readiness programs via seated classes or distance education.

The college is recognized as an educational leader. The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Scientific and Technical Information honored it for its "good work across academic and technical areas." Washington Monthly magazine named it among the top 50 community colleges in the nation. Recently, CNNMoney, the world's largest business web site, ranked the college second in the state and 65th in the nation in helping its students succeed.

"Student success and making our communities better places to live have been the focus of CCCC since it offered its first class 50 years ago," said President Bud Marchant. "Working with our talented students to put on this wonderful event showcases not only the history of the college and some of the outstanding programs and instructors we have, but also our students' abilities, energies, and commitment to excellence. We are proud of them and their achievements."

Three CCCC graduates were honored at the Gala for their contributions that impact the lives of many for good: Rachel Burton, of Chatham County, Class of 2001, co-founder and director of research for Piedmont Biofuels; Sheriff Tracy Carter, of Lee County, Class of 1987, Lee County sheriff; and Dr. Anthony Harrington, of Harnett County, Classes of 1977 and 1983, CCCC lead history instructor. They received the college's first Distinguished Alumni Awards.

Current students and graduates planned, designed and decorated the event; helped create and perform a historical "Send Up"; prepared and served the refreshments, and greeted and guided those attending.

Students in the college's Harnett Correctional Institution carpentry class, under instructor Ed Taylor, created a time capsule for the occasion. The faceplate engraving was done in the Laser and Photonics Technology class. College artifacts from the past 50 years have been placed in the capsule, which will be kept in the college library archives for opening in 2062.

Avron Upchurch, retired CCCC executive vice president/chief academic officer, worked at the college from 1962 to 1994. Representing the college's past, he presented the time capsule to two children, Grace and Mollie Walker, representing the next generation to carry on the college's mission of empowering people through education and training.

Students in the college's Culinary and Hospitality Arts program, under director Chef Greg Hamm, applied their creativity and skills to making the event a success. The Natural Chef Culinary Arts class prepared and served the refreshments, which included fare such as Thai chicken. The Wedding and Gala Event Planning class acted as caterer for the event, planning and setting it up.

One of those students was Alvara Caldwell, of Sanford, who earned her Nurse Aide certificate at CCCC. She has also taken a variety of other classes, including the Event Planning class.

"Establishing the college 50 years ago was a great choice," she said. "You can do a lot of things here. For me, it's been a great experience, I got everything I needed. I bless it that we have it."

College Student Ambassadors welcomed and directed visitors.

"It's good that the college put this event into the hands of the students," said Ambassador Kimberley Laster, of Harnett County. "This shows the true spirit of CCCC, our belief as a school, where our heart lies: It is founded on students."

Guests enjoyed "Send Up," a series of hilarious musical skits taking the audience on a rapid tour of the five decades of CCCC's history. The entertainment was created by Ellen Bland, drama and communications instructor, and a former student - playwright and actor Drew Lasater. The ensemble cast of seven included current and former students and a community member. They were pleased to be part of celebrating CCCC's 50th Anniversary.

"The college adds opportunity," said cast member Joshua Davis, of Chatham County. "I know a lot of people that wouldn't have gone to college without it. Letting students put on this Gala shows the college's investment in the students, that they are actually using what they've learned."

The 50th Anniversary celebration culminated with the unveiling of CCCC's new logo: four stylized "Cs" symbolizing the college's forward momentum in excellence. Then President Marchant blew out the candles on a birthday cake, bringing Central Carolina Community College's 50th Anniversary celebration to a close.

Most of the attendees at the Golden Gala live in the college's service area of Chatham, Harnett and Lee counties. Many have been personally involved with the college.

Among them was former Lt. Gov. Dennis A. Wicker, of Lee County. He served on the college's board of trustees in the 1980s. As a state legislator from 1981-93, he obtained state funding to help build the Civic Center named for him, which is part of the college.

"Growing up in Lee County, I saw this college was a dominant factor in transforming the county from an agricultural economy to a high tech services economy," Wicker said. "There's not a thing in this county that has changed people's lives for the better more than this institution."

Jeff Wester, of Harnett County, graduated from CCCC in 1986 in instrumentation. He now works for Pfizer Inc.'s Sanford plant as manager of maintenance and utilities.

"CCCC opened the door for me in the technical field," he said. "Without that, the opportunities afforded to me would not have existed. The college has brought to the community well-trained people: nurses, high tech, business administration - the whole gamut. CCCC is an integral part of this area."

Brian Bock, chair of the Chatham County Board of Commissioners, said, "The college is very important to Chatham County and has been very responsive to our needs. It has gotten national recognition for some of its programs and making lists of best community colleges. That makes people want to come here and stay."

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