SALISBURY — At the start of its 50th anniversary celebration, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College is looking up.
Close to 1,000 students, faculty, staff, retirees and other community members took part in a commemorative photo shoot Monday afternoon. Using a giant chalk outline as a guide, they formed the number “50” in the Rowan-Cabarrus parking lot Monday afternoon.
College spokeswoman Paula Dibley and photographer Holly Czuba then climbed onto the ladder of a fire truck to get ready for the aerial shot at 2:13 p.m., which represented the year 2013. After shifting some pieces in the human puzzle, they took pictures of the crowd smiling and waving.
The college had 500 royal blue T-shirts made for the participants to wear, and Dibley said she was pleasantly surprised when a few hundred more people showed up.
“This event was mostly designed for the students,” Dibley said. “We wanted our students to feel like they are just as much a part of the 50th anniversary as we are.”
The photo shoot was the first in a series of activities and celebrations scheduled this year for the college’s golden anniversary.
“This gives us a chance to look at what we’ve done, which is serve over 600,000 people in the community,” said Carol Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “It also helps us launch the new brand... so that people understand we’re not ‘Rowan Tech’ anymore and that we’ve got a great future.”
The 50th anniversary shirts are emblazoned with the college’s new logo, which includes a compass with a needle fixed at an angle between the north and south campuses of Rowan-Cabarrus. The compass is an original image developed by an in-house design team.
The logo is accompanied by the new tagline, “Navigate Forward.” The college changed its mascot to the Rowan-Cabarrus Navigators and added gold to its traditional blue and white colors.
“Wherever you want to go, Rowan-Cabarrus can help get you there,” Spalding said in a press release. “Our dedicated and passionate faculty and staff are here to lead the way, and all those who embark on such a journey lead the way for themselves, their families and many others.”
Robin Turner, an accounting instructor who has taught with the college for 13 years, said she thinks its 50th anniversary is an exciting event for the community.
“I’m glad it has stayed here this long, and it’s growing and improving every day,” Turner said.
Carolyn Holbert, dean of liberal arts and general education, has been working at Rowan-Cabarrus for less than a year, and she said she’s already impressed with the improvements she has seen there.
She said the college’s anniversary deserves to be celebrated because “a lot of schools don’t survive like this one has.”
Automotive students Derek Hall, Julian Cooper and Bobby Self said they took part in the photo mostly for the free T-shirts and Arby’s sandwiches that came with it.
But they said they also appreciate the significance of the 50-year milestone.
“It’s cool to be a part of history,” Self said.
Hall said he likes that Rowan-Cabarrus is still expanding and giving students more opportunities.
“They’re going to have a new aircraft program in a couple years,” he said. “There are a lot of new programs out there, especially for us in manufacturing, automotive and machining.”
Self added, “I’m waiting for that auto body shop to come in.”
Jameica Dunston and Kai McGowan, early college students at Rowan-Cabarrus, said they came to the event to celebrate the college’s anniversary and talk with other students there.
“It’s a great school,” McGowan said. “It helps you make up for lost time.”
Dunston added that the college also gives everyone a chance.
“I’m glad that they continue building it and stretching out the campus and giving you more options that you can go into,” Dunston said.
After the anniversary photo, Rowan-Cabarrus broke ground on its new fire and emergency services training facility at the college’s board of trustees meeting. The project is the first in a series of county-bond-funded construction projects that will take place over the next few years.
The new training facility will include a 3,500-square-foot burn building and mock fire station. Training pads for various props and a driving course for fire and emergency vehicles will be included in the project.
Norfolk Southern has agreed to donate a box car from a train to install as a prop. This is the first donation of this kind by Norfolk Southern for training purposes, the college said in a press release.
The rail company also referred the college to the General American Transportation Corporation (GATX), which decided to donate an oil tanker for the same purpose. These donations will help public safety personnel train to respond to rail and train emergencies.
Celebratory and commemorative events slated for the remainder of 2013 include:
50th anniversary signature events
• April 26 – Vintage Prom, Salisbury Depot
• May 16 – Legislative Family Day, Raleigh
• Sept. 3 – Founders’ Day Celebration (Hail and Farewell), Country Club of Salisbury
• Sept. 30 – Fire & Emergency Services Training grand opening, North Campus (Salisbury)
• Oct. 16 – Employee Appreciation Day, North Campus (Salisbury)