Pierce College to celebrate 50th anniversary with year full of events

Grace Amsden, Editor-in-Chief

Festivities for Pierce College’s 50th anniversary will begin this fall. A 6-foot cake, viewable stories from former Pierce faculty and students and a homecoming are a few aspects of the 50th that can be expected, according to members of the 50th Anniversary Committee that met April 20 to discuss plans.

Planning for the college’s 50th anniversary began about a year and a half ago, Director of Marketing and Communication Brian Benedetti said. But talk for this began about five years ago, when Pierce staff members started scanning photos from the history of the college and gathering ideas from other colleges who’ve had celebrations.

“We started with so many ideas,” Benedetti said. “There are some real good examples from larger colleges (of) what they’ve done. But they had a budget that we couldn’t even dream of and a staff and resources to do it. So we started big and then we broke it down and said, ‘OK, what are those best ideas from what we’ve seen?’” Benedetti said.

For example, Benedetti said that they looked at ideas from Portland Community College who had its 50th anniversary fundraiser gala, “An Evening for Opportunity,” with a 1961 theme, which is the year it was founded. About 500 guests attended and about $300,000 was raised toward the PCC Foundation, according to pcc.edu.

The Pierce College 50th anniversary logo, created by MARCOM, will appear on all 50th anniversary theme items such as t-shirts, mugs, water bottles and flag pendants.

“We came up with the intertwining (in the design) because of unity and diversity (at the college),” Benedetti said. “And also, we have more than one campus, so we’re a team.”

There’s also the Pierce College 50th anniversary cake which is made of wood, features Pierce’s school colors and lights up once plugged in, Benedetti said. The cake has four layers with images of Pierce College history and the 50th logo as the cake topper. Around each layer are platforms where cupcakes can be placed.

The cake is currently displayed inside the Information Technology office, room 257, in the Cascade Building at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom.

This cake previously belonged to Tacoma Community College who used it for their 50th anniversary in 2015. Benedetti had asked individuals at TCC what they were going to do with the cake after the celebration and offered to purchase it, but TCC donated it to Pierce. This ended up being an inexpensive project, Benedetti said.

“They gave it to us and then we took it into the PRINT NW and had it resurfaced with our own brand and had their stuff taken off,” Benedetti said.

Between the Puyallup and Fort Steilacoom campuses, the cake will be transferred to be used for display at events and serve as a symbol for the 50th. The cake may also be used for events that aren’t specifically for the 50th.

“We’ll take the cake to the event so it becomes a 50th celebration just by default,” Benedetti said. “It’s just a reminder that our 50th is going on.”

The first 50th event will be the Foundation Scholarship Scramble Golf Tournament on Aug. 11 at the High Cedars Golf Club in Orting. Tickets are currently available through the Pierce College ticketing system with different pricing packages.

“It’s for people who golf,” Manager for Donor and Alumni Relations Nicole Ferris said. “It’s for donors. Our staff is going to be involved in planning it. It’s a huge fundraiser.”

On Oct. 7, the 50th Anniversary Homecoming will be at Pierce College Fort Steilacoom’s gym for the volleyball game of Pierce vs. TCC.

“The homecoming is going to be a way for us to start some traditions,” Ferris said. “There’s not a lot of opportunity that you get to do that, especially at a collegiate institution.”

Examples of traditions made at this game could include having a faculty vs. student volleyball match during the break or the audience voting for the most spirited individual, Ferris said.

Homecoming festivities will be held Oct. 8 at the Fort Steilacoom campus. Departments will be showcased and reunions, such as nursing, dental hygiene and early childhood education, will be held. Visitors will also have an opportunity to learn about the campus, Ferris said.

Ten-minute plays and bringing back former students who submitted work to SLAM to share their work are other ideas for festivities, Ferris said.

“Not only is it a way for people to come back, reunite and go see new parts of the campus that weren’t there when they were in attendance, or see former professors and instructors,” Ferris said. “It’s going to be a really great time to have people who have never been campus to come and educate them about everything that’s offered at Pierce.”

Raiders Athletics will also participate in the 50th. On March 25, the Pierce College Athletics Hall of Fame Dinner will be at the Fort Steilacoom campus. The college has had three previous hall of fame inductions in 2009, 2012 and 2014 with about 175-200 people attending each time, Stevenson said.

“The way we’ve held it in the past, it’s been a dinner banquet,” Stevenson said. “We usually try to have a keynote speaker. It lasts a couple of hours. A lot of it is just a time to get those former teams and individuals with their coaches together. You hear lots of great old stories.”

The list of individuals being inducted will likely be announced in the summer, and the goal is to bring in at least one team and five to six coaches, Stevenson said.

In addition to being added to the wall of fame plaque at the Fort Steilacoom campus Health Education Center, the athletes will be awarded with an acrylic plaque engraved with the 50th logo, their name, year and sport they participated in, Stevenson said. He’s also looking into holding alumni recognition events, as this would allow past Raider athletes to come together, meet the current team and share stories.

There’s also a possibility that the Raider mascot design will be rebranded, Stevenson said.

“Right now, it’s a two-dimensional outline,” Stevenson said. “It’s a nice graphic and we love it and it took a long time for us to get that, but we’re interested in developing some personality to it. It’s not unusual for athletic programs to go through a rebranding process every 10-15 years and try to do something a little different.”

This idea of rebranding the mascot isn’t directly coordinated with the 50th, but Stevenson said this might be a good time to do it.

“The 50th is an opportune time,” Stevenson said. “Maybe this is the time to do it when we’re getting more attention drawn to the college as a whole.”

April 22 will be the 50th Anniversary Gala at the Fort Steilacoom campus. This event will be an elevated version of the distinguished alumni dinner and distinguished alumni celebration, Ferris said.

“It’s going to be a time where we open the doors to the donors who have made these things possible over the year,” Ferris said, “and the alumni who have been with Pierce and have gotten to represent Pierce in the community and gone on to accomplish amazing things – and to cultivate new relationships with prospective donors, as well.”

Music, dancing, dinner and an opportunity to dress up might be a part of this, she said.

The final 50th event will be the 50th Anniversary Capstone Event at the Puyallup campus June 10, 2017 in the Arts and Allied Health Building theater. This may include a video of activities throughout the year for the 50th, a speaker and a performance of musical numbers. This is still being finalized, Benedetti said.

Another part of the 50th is that MARCOM employees have been interviewing and creating video footage of past employees and students to gather their experiences and share them.

“One person is 90 years old, so we’re getting the history of the college,” Benedetti said. “Some of them were the first teachers for the first graduating class, or some were the first students. We’re trying to get their stories and we’re promoting that, and will be promoting that, throughout the whole year.”

Originally, MARCOM wanted to collect 50 stories of experiences but now the goal is to get even more than 50, Benedetti said.

With these stories, a Web page created by MARCOM will appear on the Pierce College 50th anniversary page through the Pierce website and be launched in the summer, Benedetti said.

Currently, individuals can go to pierce.ctc.edu/campaign/alumni/ and provide their contact information as well as years of attendance at Pierce, areas of study, favorite memory at the college and what they’re doing now. They can also sign up for details about the 50th. The process is being created so past and present Pierce students and staff can videotape themselves to share their experiences of Pierce and send it to MARCOM, who may edit the video and then put it onto the Web page.

For those who have something to say, they should submit it, Benedetti said. He added that the goal is to have this ready by fall quarter.

“A lot of these people – especially the past employees – they’re only going to be around so long and then the story is gone,” Benedetti said. “We want to hear what is it that you have to say.”

Many of the projects for the 50th are currently in the final planning stages, Benedetti said. The goal is to have all of the 50th plans finalized by June, though some of the details will be made throughout the year. For those who want to get involved with the 50th to share their ideas, send them to Ferris at NFerris@pierce.ctc.edu.

“There’ll be opportunities throughout the whole year for them to get involved in things if they’d like to,” Benedetti said. “If they have other ideas on how to celebrate 50 years with us, we’re all ears. We want to hear it and we encourage it. We’d love to have their involvement and their input.”

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost

Grace Amsden
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Grace Amsden

Former Editor-in-Chief at The Puyallup Post
Grace Amsden
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Pierce College to celebrate 50th anniversary with year full of events

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