The big 5-0h

Seward celebrates its 50th year as an institution


Annette Meza

Marian Long, SCCC alumnus, brought a few memorable pieces along with her to the college’s 50th anniversary celebration, Aug. 31. The 83-year-old was a member of the first class, therefore, she was involved in the very first Phi Theta Kappa club.

Seward County Community College held the first-ever Hall of Saints Alumni Induction and Gala ceremony at the Fairfield Inn Convention Center on Aug. 31. 

The event celebrated 50 years as a standing institution. Community members, students and educators not only got the chance to enjoy a meal at the reception but also to hear a live band, the RBC Band.

The RBC Band performed at the first-ever Hall of Saints Alumni Induction and Gala ceremony at the Fairfield Inn Convention Center on Aug. 31. which included former SCCC social sciences/government instructor Chris Perkins and other Liberal area old-timers.

Fifty people were inducted into the hall of fame but only 10 were introduced to the crowd, being honored for their successes after graduating from SCCC. They included: Valerie Baldwin, Odessa Lewis, Reae Bell Hickert, Donna Shank, Steve Merz, Gabe Ramirez, Kathy Williams Wyer, Shannon Francis, Martin Lewis and Kelby Tomlinson. 

In 1969, Seward County Community College was barely even a college campus. It wasn’t always three large buildings holding classrooms made for 30 or more students plus a technical school, agriculture building, allied health and a cosmetology building.

“We had classes in a building on main street, the allied health center and at the old high school so they had us running around all over town!” Marian Long, 83 year old alumni from the class of 69, said. 

Now 50 years later, SCCC stands proud with a little over 60 programs of study for community members and students to take the chance to pursue their goals and aspirations. 

“I think this was a wonderful event that we had here to celebrate 10 very special people. It’s great to be able to finish off our 50th year and continue to celebrate its successes and history as a community,” Celeste Donovan, vice president of student services, said. 

The ten people honored were once students of SCCC and have done some memorable things such as: starting their own businesses, running for state representative or even going off to play in the National Basketball Association. 

“It’s a testament to the college that local people can attend and graduate and then move on to whatever level they want to after that,” Todd Carter, former vice president of student affairs, said. 

Memorabilia was also included in the foyer of the convention center, which represented the history of SCCC over the decades. 

SCCC Alumnus Marian Long is 83 years old and was apart of the very first class at Seward County Community College. She recalls it being very tough as a young mother at 33 years old, with three boys trying to go to school and do her home duties at the same time. Long was an education major and went on to be a substitute teacher after she graduated from Oklahoma Panhandle State University.

“It was really fun looking at some of the history of SCCC. One of the ladies who came tonight is from the very first class and she brought her diploma, graduation gown and PTK medal. Evidently Seward meant a lot to her,” Donovan said. 

Marian Long was one of these women.  

“When I began studying at Seward, I was a 33 year old mom with three boys. It was a rough time, I lived in Plains and juggling housework and school work and trying to be where I needed to be was stressful,” Long said. 

Long was an education major and recalled her experience at Seward as a memorable one. She had to run all over town for many of her classes and even had the same professor for multiple classes.

Long believed that without Seward, she wouldn’t have had the courage to go on to a four year university. She attended Oklahoma Panhandle State University after she graduated from Seward.  

“I’m very proud to have began my career at Seward. I decided to go to school at 33 years old because they started the college and I told my husband ‘Hey, I think I want to go to college’ and here I am,” Long said. 

The fight to bring this college into fruition was not an easy one. Seward was the last college to be sanctioned in Kansas and the foundation had to try extremely hard to bring it to life, Carter stated. 

In the last 50 years, Carter recalled that one of the most important changes Seward has seen was the merging of the technical school and the regular college campus. 

“Before, it was just a high school tech school but now, since merging, it has become easy for students to attend high school and college and graduate with both degrees at the same time, which is an important staple for the college,” Carter said.