The mood was sunny Saturday at Barton Community College, even if the sky overhead was not. A full day of activities brought guests to every part of the campus for Barton’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
“It’s nice to see some folks I haven’t seen for a while,” Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said.
In his welcoming remarks, the president said, “Barton’s beginning was based on vision and need.”
The first year saw a class of 853 students. That has grown to this year’s projected enrollment of nearly 15,000 students, he said. The college has also grown from one primary fixed site — the Barton County campus — to seven primary fixed locations, a virtual campus and 23 additional service locations.
Approximately 9,896 faculty and staff have served as employees of Barton, including the 503 people so employed this fall.
Many of the outdoor activities planned for the day moved inside. The bounce houses for kids did go up eventually during a break in the intermittent rain but the zip line had to be canceled. However, as Director of Institutional Advancement Coleen Cape noted, “We’ve got people all over the campus in every building.”
People stopped by the Learning Resource Center (or one of the other “welcome stations”) to pick up a bag that included a ticket for an item of BCC swag. They took those tickets to the Kirkman Activity Center to learn what gift they had won.
The Learning Resource Center was also one of the places to dig into Barton history, including yearbooks and posters used to inform the public of the plan 50 years ago to create “Barton County Community Junior College.”
Throughout the day, as people walked from one end of the campus to the other, there were staff in carts offering rides.
In the afternoon, history instructor Linda McCaffery led a storytelling activity for children. The kiddos sat around a pretend campfire as McCaffery told a story about “The Red Devil,” which was actually a fun story about a mischievous fox. Then the children were invited to make up their own stories and draw a picture to help tell the story.
For many, the highlight of the day came in the afternoon with fine and performing arts featured in the Fine Arts Auditorium. There were performances by the Barton Jazz Ensemble, Barton Dance Theatre, Barton Theatre, Barton Fine Arts and the BCC Hilltop Singers. Alumni of the Hilltop Singers sang together.
The Hilltop Singers were founded by J.B. Webster, who started Barton’s Music Department in 1969. Former directors Ken Shaheen, Lori (Johnson) Persigehl and Vern Fryberger joined current director Sara Oberle in directing the singers.