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A Big Birthday Bash
PHCC throws a party for its 50th anniversary
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Patrick Henry Community College held a Big Birthday Bash Saturday with a big, 6-foot long cake to mark its 50th anniversary. Above, PHCC President Angeline Godwin cuts and serves the cake during the activities. (Bulletin photos by Mike Wray)
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Sunday, September 16, 2012

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Patrick Henry Community College knows how to throw a birthday bash.

Not only were there scads of activities Saturday as the college celebrated its “big PHive-Oh,” there were reflective times for old friends to catch up and spend a day together.

Take Linda Watkins of Martinsville and Alisa Oakes of Collinsville. Oakes’ 6-year-old granddaughter, Arora Oakes of Danville, and Watkins danced at the same time with a clown, portrayed by PHCC math professor Kelly Proffitt.

Proffitt said she got “voluntold” for the job of clown after officials found out she could ride a unicycle, walk on stilts and juggle (her mother told her she missed her calling). But Proffitt said she was enjoying playing a clown Saturday, despite being hot under her makeup on the warm, sunny day.

She was wearing a rainbow wig and rainbow eyelashes, a red foam nose about the size of a tangerine, a multicolored jumpsuit and her son’s sneakers.

Proffitt danced the electric slide, the cupid shuffle and the wobble with various partners at different times. When the song “Little Bitty Pretty One,” sung by Thurston Harris, came on, Watkins and Arora began to dance with the clown.

After sitting down, Watkins said she enjoyed dancing but, “I enjoyed that (dancing with a clown) even more. It was my first time dancing with a clown.”

Watkins, 59, and Alisa Oakes, 50, have been friends since the 1980s. Oakes graduated from PHCC in 1996 with an associate degree in nursing, and Watkins graduated in 2011 with an associate degree in medical technology.

“I loved this college,” Watkins said. “My hope is she’ll (Arora) go here.” Watkins said she worked for a time for the college in student systems support tech.

Watkins and Oakes said they try to keep in touch, but this was their first day together in years.

One of the key events of the “Big Birthday Bash” took place about noon: the loading and burying of a time capsule on the West lawn.

Items placed in the time capsule, made by PHCC’s welding department, included photos of faculty and staff; yearbooks from the past; talking points from PHCC President Angeline Godwin’s first in-service speech; an iPad; other computer-related items; a microscope; PHCC athletics items; historical documents; local metamorphic rock; campus Emergency Response Team items; identification cards given to employees and students; PHCC jump drive, which includes a variety of information; the book “Patrick Henry, the Henry County Years”; a recent copy of the Martinsville Bulletin; PHCC’s Progress Initiative overview; history and society textbooks; and Ralph Lester’s book “Magnet,” which documents nearly 200 residents of Martinsville, Henry and Patrick counties who helped shape the state of the region.

Other items included a cap and gown used by graduates at the college’s commencement exercises on May 12, 2012; the “Early Bird” chicken suit, the mascot used to promote early-bird admissions (Godwin tried on the chicken head before placing it into the time capsule); PHCC flag, soup mug, pennant, T-shirt and commemorative items; the 2010-11 annual report for the PHCC Foundation; a cooperative learning handbook for use by faculty; a how-to brochure for the current attendance tracker used by professors; a program-wide overview of the applied science and engineering technology division; an instructional book for faculty; the college’s 2012-13 class catalog; various items commemorating the college’s 50th anniversary; and a full admission packet for prospective students.

After the items were placed in the time capsule, the lid was sealed with caulking, and the 3-foot, by 3-foot, by 3-foot time capsule was lowered by a front-end loader into a hole. Godwin and several bystanders took turns shoveling dirt into the hole.

Courtney Carter Plaster’s two daughters, Eve, 8, and Zoe, 5, were among those who shoveled dirt. “They’re taking part in history,” said their mom, a Martinsville native who now lives in Franklin County. Her husband, Kevin, is a media specialist at PHCC.

Kris Landrum, a spokesman for the college, said the biggest hits of the day included the time capsule; “Meet the President,” the chance for people to have one-on-one conversations with Godwin; and “flashback photos.” Landrum said the latter was a chance to be photographed wearing 1960-ish and other costumes, such as dressing up like a hippy.

Brenda Sigmon, a public relations assistant for the college who worked with flashback photos, estimated that in the first several hours Saturday, at least 100 people dressed up and had their pictures taken.

Costumes included various wigs, hippy clothes, man’s jacket with suede and fringe, a man’s leisure suit, an Army outfit and a flapper dress.

The backdrops for the pictures were a rusty, orange Volkswagen bus and tie-dyed cloths.

“People really enjoyed it,” Sigmon said. “There were just as many old as young.”

The most memorable thing that happened, she said, was when a Vietnam veteran put on the Army outfit. It made him happy and brought back memories, Sigmon said.

Also noteworthy, she joked, was, “Everybody wanted to know where the joint (marijuana) is.”

Other Big Birthday Bash activities included cutting a 6-foot by 2-foot cake; “music of the decades”; campus tours; dunking booth; puppet show; cheerleading tryouts; break dancing; flubber and a variety of kids’ games; line dancing; cheer camp; soccer clinic; puppet show; music by Montana Young and Dean Smith; music by the Martinsville High School Jazz Band; and all-day exhibits and booths, including “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” (baseball throw measured by radar gun) and “Be a TV Star” (a chance to be on camera in a broadcast studio).

National Preparedness Day was held at Frith Exhibit Hall and grounds from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Landrum said the theme was “Plan to Prepare.” Represented were the SWAT team, fire departments and rescue squads, the canine team, and the college’s administration of justice department, which provided free DNA/ID kits for kids.

Food and refreshments were provided at the birthday bash, including hamburgers, hot dogs, cookies, potato chips and cake, Sigmon said.

At 3 p.m. the PHCC Patriots baseball team was scheduled to play at Hooker Field.

Landrum estimated that between 1,000 and 1,200 people attended the birthday bash, which culminated a year’s worth of activities celebrating the college’s 50th anniversary, she said.


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