Article by Heidi Butler; Photos by Colin Schwager
October 03, 2013
Forty-six years ago this week the first classes were held at Northampton Community College. 850 students, including quite a few Vietnam veterans, began their college education in temporary barrack-like structures in the middle of a field in Bethlehem, PA.
Fast forward to October 3, 2013. The student body at NCC tops 10,000, including 2600 students from Monroe County, where the college has offered classes in public schools, rented office space, and a renovated blouse factory since 1988.
In honor of Founders Week, several of those students joined Northampton's president, Dr. Mark Erickson, in completing the planting of the first tree and colorful mums on a brand new campus which will be able to accommodate up to 5000 students and many community activities when it opens next fall.
Located on 80 acres of land at the center of Monroe County, the full-service campus will feature technology-enhanced classrooms, science and computer labs, meeting rooms, art studios and galleries, a state-of-the-art library, child care center, food court, student activity areas, faculty and staff offices, service areas, and athletic fields designed to complement the natural beauty of the site and to have minimal impact on the environment.
The Redmond American Basswood and mums that took root are the first of 40,452 plants that will be planted around the buildings - 523 trees; 657 shrubs; 19,792 perennials, 19,480 bulbs, plus ornamental grasses, and ground cover.
Students participating in the October 3 ceremony include Student Governance officers Lindsey Ruggiero, an accounting major from Saylorsburg and Jose Valderama-Santana, a business major from Stroudsburg; communications majors Alexandra Padron of Kunkletown and Kimberly White of Stroudsburg; and funeral service major Gabriel Ortiz.
After planting the mums, the students asked Dr. Matt Connell, dean of the Monroe Campus, if they could take a peek inside the buildings, and were thrilled to discover that he had brought enough hard hats to allow them on the construction site.
The oohs and ahhs were audible as the students toured the new "digs." What did they love the most? The spectacular views, the spacious library with light fixtures right out of Star Trek, the gym, the food court, and the bathrooms. Lots of bathrooms! No more lines!
For Student Governance President Jose Valderama-Santana the tour was bittersweet. He will graduate this spring, so he will not get to experience the new campus as a student. "Don't worry," President Erickson told him. "You'll be an alum. You'll always be welcome here."
"Look for me in the library!" Valerma-Santana told him with a smile.
View more photos from this event on Flickr.
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