Speeches, ribbon cutting and refreshments celebrate new College of The Albemarle academic building

Published 2:28 pm Wednesday, April 20, 2022

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On a beautiful, sunny Outer Banks April day, the new College of The Albemarle academic building and grounds in Manteo were formally open with speeches, a ribbon cutting and refreshments.

After the formalities, people wandered the academic corridors seeing a remarkable science lab, a computer ready teaching room, innovative student gathering spaces, health science classrooms, a resource library and offices for administration, finance and other college functions.

The building is “flexible.” Most classrooms can be easily and affordably changed to alter curriculum.

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COA President Jack Bagwell led the program, introducing members of various boards and acknowledging representatives from elected officials.

Dare County Board of Commissioners Chairman Robert L. Woodard was the featured speaker.

“Wow. Absolutely unbelievable,” said Woodard as he approached the podium. “This is truly a momentous occasion as we gather to cut the ribbon and to officially celebrate the completion of College of The Albemarle’s brand-new academic building on the Dare County Campus.”

The visioning for the new campus started in 2017 when former chairman of the college’s Board of Trustees and then-President Kandi Dietermyer broached the subject of new facilities.

Woodard said to make the required capital investment, he asked that the college deliver in-person classes needed for graduation for those attending the college in Dare County. The college gave some reassurance and plans moved ahead.

A task force was formed to understand the pressing needs in Dare County.

On Dec. 20, 2020, a groundbreaking ceremony was held.

Boomerang Design served as architects for the project and created a “unique and inspiring space,” said Woodard. Barnhill Contracting went to work immediately. The opening ceremony was held 16 months after groundbreaking. “Thank you to everyone who has worked so diligently on the construction of this new facility,” said Woodard.

Enrollment is increasing at the Dare college campus. One of the reasons is the Dare County Guarantee Scholarship, created by the Dare Board of Commissioners. The program makes it possible for a Dare County high school graduate to attend College of The Albemarle without paying tuition or fees. Since the spring of 2020, 241 scholarships have been awarded totaling $236,000.

“This cutting-edge facility and the wide range of curriculum that will be offered on this campus will undoubtedly have a positive and lifelong impact on the lives of thousands of Dare County students who will come here not only to study and earn a higher education but to ultimately transform their lives and ‘transform their tomorrow,’” said Woodard.

Four students representing thousands of students delivered brief speeches about transforming their tomorrows. Speaking were Ben Brown, a 2021 graduate, who is studying welding. Shank Austin, a 2021 graduate of Cape Hatteras Secondary is taking courses in health and fitness science. He’ll study to be a physical therapy assistant. Sam Adams is a dual enrollment student at First Flight High. He’s studying welding, too. Zoey Morris, a 2021 graduate from First Flight High, is studying for an associate in science degree.

Morris, Austin and Brown are recipients of a Dare County Guarantee Scholarship.

Bagwell finished the program. “Transformation is possible.”

At the opening of the event, Jack Bagwell introduced members of various organizations, such as the Board of Trustees of the college, the college’s foundation board members, college faculty and students. He also acknowledged Leslie Ginski representing Congressman Greg Murphy, Trey Lewis representing U.S. Senator Thom Tillis, Betty Jo Shepheard representing U.S. Senator Richard Burr, N.C. Senator Bob Steinburg, N.C. Representative Bobby Hanig, P.J. Connelly representing Gov. Roy Cooper, Shirley Carraway from the North Carolina Community College System Board, Dare County Board of Education members and Dare Schools Superintendent John Farrelly, the Work Force Development Board, Outer Banks Hospital directors, Travis Twiford, the college’s interim president and Mid-Atlantic Christian University President John W. Maurice Jr.

For the new College of The Albemarle academic building and site work, Dare County paid $16,120,560. College of The Albemarle forwarded a portion of statewide bond money totaling $1,500,000 for construction, making a total of $17,620,560 for the new campus. College of The Albemarle was in charge furniture, fixtures and equipment such as audio/visual and computers. The college’s foundation raised $1.3 million, said Bagwell at the opening ceremony April 8.

Contributions to the college’s foundation to meet the commitment came from TowneBank for the commons and veranda; Jeffrey and Sharon Aldridge for the N. Elton Aydlett Conference Room; Southern Bank Tutoring Room; family of Warren Judge for a computer lab in his memory; Clark Twiddy for the Twiddy & Company Student Success Center; The Outer Banks Hospital Health Science Wing; Carol Cowell for the learning commons, three small group rooms and the librarian’s office; Jane and Sterling Webster III Hospitality Classroom; Kitty Hawk Kites for the “You Can Fly” classroom and gratitude from James and Deborah Millus. Anonymous donations were made for the Tree Circle, the Veterans Memorial Hall and Keeper Richard Etheridge Lobby.

Another event will be held to honor these donors.