First graduating class finds success through SCCJC

Dale Reed

In 1969, Dale Reed came to Liberal to attend Seward County Community Junior College and to be a part of the first graduating grad 71 dale reedclass in 1971. Reed was recruited to play basketball, and he said the biggest thing that brought him to attend Seward were the words of Coach Virgil Aiken.

“He told me that everything I did would be a first,” Reed said. “One thing that really hit home with me, though, was when he told me that my high school coach said that I had a pioneering spirit, and Coach Aiken was looking for pioneers.”

When Reed arrived, the school didn’t have a mascot, and a contest was held to name one. Reed and his roommate gave it a lot of thought and decided to enter Saints in the contest, and it ended up winning. “What most people don’t know is that the name that got second place was the Flying Tumbleweeds,” Reed said, with a laugh.

Reed attended East Texas State to continue his basketball career after Seward. After playing his last two years, Reed began coaching at various high schools around Texas before becoming an assistant at Barton County Community College. In 1983, the head coach position for Seward became available, and after seeing the program suffering with no conference wins in two years, Reed wanted the job.“A lot of it was pride. I wanted to make Seward a better team,” Reed said. He was named the head coach and began to rebuild the team he began his college career with.

In his second year, Reed coached the Saints to the first Conference Championship and Region VI Championship in the school’s history. In 1995, another first happened when Reed’s had the first Seward team to be ranked No. 1 nationally.“Bringing the first region championship and being the first Seward basketball team to be ranked No. 1 are some things I am really proud of,” Reed said. After that season, Reed stepped down as head coach.

Although Reed was no longer coaching at Seward, he accepted a position as director of the business and industry department and later became the associate dean of educational services, which is the position he holds today. Reed sees both challenge and success in the future.“The college will continue to be great as long as we can keep up with the always changing technology and utilize it to the best that we can, and to keep pushing through tough economic times.” Reed was a pioneer for SCCJC and continues to be a pioneer. He plans to continue working at SCCC as long as he feels that it is necessary for him to keep contributing.


Betty Glenn

Betty Glenn graduated as a mathematics major with the first class of Seward in 1971. She remembers beinbetty2g a part of the grad 71 betty glenncollege’s work-study program. At that time the school had a room specifically for work-study students.

If a student didn’t have work in his or her department, they could then find work in another department to keep busy.

Glenn attended classes at the current Allied Health building, former Reno building, and former high school. She participated in the math and science club and recalls many other clubs, like SGA, that students could become involved in.

“It was a smaller community then and everyone knew everyone else,”

Glenn said. Glenn went on to school at Panhandle State University in Goodwell, Okla. She started working at Seward 30 years ago and is still found working as the cashier in the administrative offices today.


Odessa Lewis

Odessa Lewis remembers all of the knowledge she acquired while attending classes at Seward for bookkeeping. grad 71 odessa lewisThe classes prepared her for work and getting a job. Her classes ranged in subjects that covered typing, learning to get a job, and health. Lewis still owns the required textbook for her typing class.

Her favorite class was health where she learned about proper diet and exercise. “I came from Arkansas and used a lot of sugar in my coffee. After that course, I never used any sugar in my coffee again,” Lewis said.

After graduation, Lewis started her first job at the social welfare extension office in Liberal. Lewis continued her education at Panhandle State University where she received her bachelor’s degree in education. She obtained master’s degrees from Fort Hays State University and the University of Kansas.

Lewis retired from teaching in 2000. Through the years she has taught more than 29,000 young adults. Lewis is partly responsible for the racial integration of the Liberal community in the 1960s. She served on the Human Relations Commission and helped the black community to find jobs within the city. Lewis was responsible for the first and only black 4H group in Liberal.


Mike and Lynne (Stromquist) Riney

Mike Riney and wife Lynne remember attending business classes at Seward before there was riney thena campus. grad 71 lynne rineyClasses were in the current Allied Health Center, formerly Epworth Hospital, and what is now Faith Tabernacle church, formerly the Reno building, as well as the old Liberal High School. Basketball games were in Rindom Hall in the old Liberal High building.

Students had a small bookstore for gathering between classes.

Class sizes were much smaller and allowed more one-on-one support from faculty and administration.

Mike played on the first tennis and golf teams, but remembers the primary sport being men’s basketball.

In 1971, Lynne, pictured at left, was selected as the spring formal queen for Seward County Community Junior College. Mike, of C. Dean Riney, has served as Development Foundation drive chairman and was a former board of trustees member.


Melody Ratzlaff

Melody Ratzlaff was part of the first graduating class of 1971, and is currently an employee of the collegegrad 71 melody ratzlaff, Melodyworking in the registrar’s office.

She was involved in the contest that resulted in the naming and design of the college’s mascot. The Saints was the winning entry, and was submitted by current dean Dale Reed, who was a classmate of Ratzlaff’s. She retold of one of her lighter experiences at SCCJC, of how she and a group of friends would often play pitch tournaments in the Student Union. “The best part of it was going in between classes and playing pitch,” Ratzlaff said, chuckling.


Will Rector
Dacee Kentner
Zach Carpenter