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Every community has its gems — the people and organizations that strive to meet the needs of the public and improve the quality of life in an area. Some of them are around for just a season, to meet a particular need, and then their purpose is complete. Others are in it for the long haul and have real staying power — like Fayetteville Technical Community College.

It was in 1961 that local visionaries sought to fill a gap in the community. It was clear to them that there was a need for an institution offering job training and other educational opportunities. That is how (then) Fayetteville Area Industrial Education Center was born. From the beginning, the school served a large area including Cumberland, Bladen, Harnett, Hoke, Robeson, Sampson and Scotland counties as well as Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base, and over the years their scope of infl uence has expanded.

Always on the cutting edge, even from its inception, FTCC predates the founding of the North Carolina Community College System in 1963. Not only is the establishment a long-term educator, it is the third largest community college in the state, with a student base of more than 38,000.

As this fine institution celebrates 50 years of education and meeting the community needs, they’ve got a year-long celebration planned. 09-14-11-ftcc.jpg

On Sept. 16, the public is invited to the Fall Convocation to celebrate FTCC’s 50th anniversary at Horace Sisk Gym at 1 p.m. The guest speaker is Hilda Pinnix-Ragland, Chair of the N.C. State Board of Community Colleges.

In October, don’t miss the kick-off of the FTCC Foundation’s Forever Gold Community Fund Drive and the student Fall Festival. The FTCC Foundation’s mission is to help students by assisting them with funds for books and tuition.

There will be an art competition hosted by the Art’s Council Fayetteville/ Cumberland County with an FTCC theme in November. Stay tuned for more details as they become available. This is also the month that the FTCC Foundation holds its annual dinner theater and play. The theme this year will be Vietnam.

Look for the military appreciation tribute in January followed by the ribbon-cutting for FTCC’s new general classroom building in February.

The spring will be filled with events like the Student and Family Spring Fling Celebration, the Foundations Silent Auction and dinner, the foundation’s annual golf tournament and of course the graduation ceremony in May.

FTCC President, Dr. Larry Keene is passionate about FTCC’s role in the community and is looking forward to not only celebrating this milestone, but also reflecting on the path that led to the current successes of the college and reaching forward to meet whatever opportunities the future holds.

“We’re so pleased that we are coming up our 50th anniversary,” said Keen. “The thing that is so remarkable to me is that when I meet people who were here when it started or before the campuses were started and they come through and see what it is now compared to what it was then, they just shake their heads and always — without exception — express how proud they are of the institution and what we have been able to do for the community through the years.”

That success didn’t just happen, it took a lot of planning and a lot of work on the part of many selfl ess and hard-working individuals.

“It really is pleasing to know that the visionaries who saw the opportunity back in the 50s and 60s, and that the ones who were brave enough to move forward with the concept, each successive generation has built on the success of the previous generations,” said Keene. “We celebrate our 50th knowing that we are literally standing on the foundation built by the people who preceded us. We are grateful to them for their leadership and the courage that they provided for the community.”

Look for more information about where FTCC is headed in the next 50 years in our Oct. 5 edition.

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