By THOMAS P. CALDWELL, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — Lakes Region Community College is using its 50th anniversary as the impetus to reconnect with alumni, former college employees and the broader community, while having a little fun along the way.
The former Laconia Vocational-Technical Institute has gone through a number of changes through the years and, during its 50th anniversary celebration, as it marks those achievements, it will be attempting to re-engage with those who had a part in its history. The college plans to hold a series of events between now and the 2018 graduation exercises, and is seeking old photographs, which it will be digitizing, and other historical material.
The college will launch its celebration during this weekend's commencement ceremony, kicking things off by providing each graduate with a 50th anniversary alumni T-shirt. Anniversary T-shirts also will be on sale to the public during commencement, and committee members will be seeking contact info and shared memories of the college.
"We hope to get the community engaged," said Larissa Baia, the college's vice president of Student Services and Enrollment Management, who is on the anniversary committee.
This weekend also will see the first public display of the newly commissioned College Mace, created by New Hampshire artist Katie Shearin. The mace, carved of butternut wood and inlaid with pewter, is infused with icons of knowledge as well as college symbols and images representing the state.
Throughout the year, the college will be seeking the involvement of past students and employees, offering programs that target specific groups, such as a car show that would be of interest to present and former automotive students.
Specific plans are still being formulated, but the committee anticipates putting on a fall event prior to the Laconia Pumpkin Festival, and it will hold smaller events throughout the year, offering networking among specific majors as well as entertainment and academic programs.
The college also is updating its television commercials and has a new logo that highlights the 50th anniversary.
"We want to broaden the boundaries of the college," Baia said, noting that people who have passed through the institution have gone on to careers in the area. "All those branches should be celebrated," she said.
The mace is a symbol of authority dating back to medieval times when knights carried them as weapons during processions. Today, they have become ceremonial objects, embellished with gems and symbols.
The college mace represents the authority vested in the president by the school's governing body, and traditionally is carried by the longest-serving faculty member during commencement.
In creating the new mace, Sherin used butternut from a tree in Dunbarton and pewter she came across at yard sales, and embellished it with symbols that include the college logo, laurel vines and the banner from the college seal, and acorns representing the seeds of knowledge. Also carved into the wood is the Old Man of the Mountain and a loon, representing New Hampshire.
At the top of the mace is the flame of knowledge with oak leaves from the college seal. Inlaid pewter disks carry the symbols of the various disciplines: nursing, culinary, automotive, fire science, and computer science.
50th anniversary events
May 13 – Graduation at Bank of NH Pavilion
July 8 – Retiree Cook-out at LRCC
Sept. 9 – NASCAR event at NH Motor Speedway
Sept. 23-24 – Autumn on the Hill at LRCC
Oct. 14 – Pumpkinfest in Downtown Laconia