05/09/07 — College will honor graduates at events

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College will honor graduates at events

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 9, 2007 1:53 PM

Wayne Community College will revamp the traditional graduation fanfare this weekend, incorporating homecoming and a celebration of the college's 50th anniversary.

Ceremonies are being planned for Friday evening and Saturday morning on the main campus, with contingency plans in case of inclement weather.

On Friday evening at 6:30, 120 adult high school graduates and 250 general education development, or GED, recipients will be recognized, an increase over the 2006 class, which boasted 95 and 228 respectively. If it rains, ceremonies will be moved indoors to Moffatt Auditorium, with no time delay.

The morning graduation time is a new twist, with 345 associate degrees, 50 diplomas and 94 certificates to be awarded during the curriculum ceremony on Saturday at 9:30. Contingency plans call for the event to be held at 10 a.m. at First Assembly of God Church, off U.S. 70 East, if it rains.

Speaking at Friday evening's event will be Elizabeth Rizzo, graduating from the adult high school program, who will share some of her discoveries as an older student attending classes with her high-school-age counterparts.

In addition to the many festivities for students and families, the college will convey a celebratory atmosphere surrounding Wayne Community's golden anniversary, said Sonja Redmon, basic skills program director. Alumni representing each decade of the college's history are expected to speak during the curriculum graduation.

Representing the 1960s will be Grace Lutz, who earned a business administration degree at the college in 1967 and was employed there for 30 years until her retirement in 2006.

Jimmie Ford graduated from WCC with associate degrees in business administration in 1971 and mental health in 1974. He served the college for 37 years, retiring as associate vice president in 2000.

Vicki Dowell Simmons and Earnest Richard will represent the 1980s. Ms. Simmons graduated from the college twice, first with a dental assisting certificate in 1979 and then with a dental hygiene degree in 1982. She currently works as a dental hygienist.

Richard earned a degree in machining in 1988, has taught machining at the college, and his son is now enrolled in the program at WCC. He operates PETRA Precision Machining and Design.

Representing the 1990s is Gary Allen Smith, a 1997 graduate with a pre-engineering degree. He has taught at N.C. State University and WCC, and currently works as an engineer at 3 Phoenix, Inc.

Jason T. Parker, Class of 2005, earned his associate of applied science in forest management technology. He is a wildlife technician at Johnston Community College-Howell Woods Environmental Learning Center in Smithfield.

Also during the curriculum commencement, the George E. Wilson Excellence in Teaching Award will be presented for the 22nd time to the instructor who demonstrates quality in the classroom.

After Saturday's ceremonies, the college will host homecoming for alumni and former employees. The public is also invited.

The entire campus will be open for tours as well as opportunities to learn more about the programs and history of the college.

"We're planning a party, complete with balloons, cake and entertainment," said Kay Bradley, chairman of the homecoming event.

"The 'icing' on the whole event will be how the individual departments showcase themselves, what they evolved from and what they offer now."

Scheduled to take place between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Ms. Bradley called it a community celebration.

"It will be interesting and fun. So much has changed in 50 years -- faces and fashion, teaching methods and technology," she said.