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Centennial General Information

1984 Spotlight – A ‘Model’ Landlord

LaRue C. Shempp
LaRue C. Shempp

You never know who your neighbor is, or in this case, your landlord. Williamsport native LaRue C. Shempp rented to male Williamsport Area Community College students, but also dedicated his life to building one of the country’s most famous model-train collections. After his retirement in 1974, he sold his 323 complete train outfits to the Williamsport Foundation and moved it to what is now the Thomas T. Taber Museum of the Lycoming County Historical Society (just a few blocks from the college’s main campus). Representing an investment of more than $100,000, the expansive collection was coveted throughout the nation and attracted widespread offers for its purchase. Plenty of national publicity followed – newspapers, television shows and radio broadcasts – but Shempp wanted the trains to be enjoyed locally. He remained very active, conducting tours two to three times a week and offering private and group showings to interested WACC students. As an appreciative way of giving back to Shempp, who contributed his life’s passion to his community, students nominated and named him Landlord of the Year in 1980. Check out the full story in the Sept. 4, 1984, edition of Spotlight (available through Madigan Library’s online archives). The collection gave rise to a holiday tradition: The Toy Train Expo, which now bears the name of its late founder Will Huffman. This year’s expo, the 23rd annual, will take place Nov. 23-24 at Park Place, 800 W. Fourth St.

Centennial

1985 Spotlight – Musings on Music

John Lennon
John Lennon

The debate on the role music has in society has been argued over the decades. Spotlight staff writer Anne Moratelli expressed her thoughts on the topic in a Sept. 24, 1984, issue of the Williamsport Area Community College student newspaper: “Considering the wide variety of music in existence, many of us probably couldn’t choose one particular type as a favorite. The reason for this is that there is so much versatility in many of today’s performers. Many bands are resurrecting the old favorites and giving them a new type of recognition. Music plays an important role in the lives of people today and indeed reflects a mood and gets a message across. Today’s music involves a superb combination of creativity and emotion, sounds that appeal to the audiences, and collaborations created from the mixing of old and new music. Music is important to people in today’s society because expression of feelings and ideas are essential.” Twenty-eight years later, Moratelli’s opinion describes today’s music to a T. Every genre of music evolves with time, yet stays rooted as an outlet for creative expression by anyone. The accompanying drawing of the late John Lennon was done by advertising art major Tom Tedesco for a March 1985 Supersound publication, a supplement to Spotlight that focused on a number of that year’s favorite performers: The Clash, AC/DC, Bob Seger, Heart and Pat Benetar, among them. Online copies of Spotlight and Montage, the WACC yearbook, are available through Madigan Library’s Archives and Special Collections; watch the PCToday calendar for musical events and other scheduled entertainment on campus and at the Community Arts Center (such as the Downtown Billtown Music Festival below).

Centennial

1977 Montage – As Years Pass (in Years Past)

College helped America celebrate two centuries of independence.
College helped America celebrate two centuries of independence.

The time is drawing nearer to when Penn College will celebrate 100 years of education through exceptional hands-on experiences. What better way to get excited about the occasion  than to look back at how the nation’s bicentennial was observed by Williamsport Area Community College. Paging through the preceding institution’s 1977 Montage yearbook, one finds full-color photos from the city’s observance of America’s birthday. Festivities included a road rally, outdoor sporting activities and a WACC-built float in the downtown parade. Watch PCToday for an impressive schedule of activities for Penn College’s yearlong celebration in 2014.

Centennial

1968 Montage – Weighing In on a First-Year Fear

The 'Freshman 15": before and after
The ‘Freshman 15″: before and after

You’re warned about it before college and regret not taking heed after it strikes. It’s the dreadful “Freshman 15!” A  student depicted in the 1968 Montage yearbook was bold enough to  share before-and-after photos of his college weight gain. Luckily, services are offered to today’s students to help avoid the unwanted: Fitness Center memberships, healthy meal selections, participation in intercollegiate and intramural sports … even zumba classes. Don’t fall victim to the “Freshman 15”;  use the services Penn College offers. Be proactive and get fit!

Centennial

1974 Spotlight – A Fiscal Helping Hand

Attendees at a campuswide Open House get their questions answered in the Financial Aid Office.
Attendees at a campuswide Open House get their questions answered in the Financial Aid Office.

College can be stressful – not just mentally, but financially. Penn College’s Financial Aid Office offers resourceful and beneficial services to students and parents to help alleviate that stress, and the thought of being without such accommodations would make modern-day enrollees cringe. Not 40 years ago, however, financial aid on campus was in its relative infancy. The Oct. 1, 1974, issue of Spotlight, the student newspaper of Williamsport Area Community College, carried a front-page story that a financial aid director and counselor were available in Klump Academic Center to help students meet their college obligations. Many of the services available then remain familiar today: federal and Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency grants, scholarships and work-study opportunities, among them. The latter program employed 85 students at the start of the Fall 1974 semester, working a weekly maximum of 20 hours each and earning $2.10 an hour. In addition, 25 applicants who met the 3.3 GPA eligibility requirement were each awarded a $100 WACC scholarship under a program begun the previous year. Though the services offered have evolved with time – the Penn College Foundation today administers more than 200 scholarship funds, and approximately $88.2 million in financial aid was awarded to more than three-quarters of all Penn College students in 2011-12 – it is safe to say the student body as a whole is grateful for campus Financial Aid professionals.

Centennial

1974 Spotlight – Collective Renown

Interesting attractions nothing new for Penn College library
Interesting attractions nothing new for Penn College library
A fiber work, "Triangulate #5," by artist Jackie Thomas is part of the "Art Alive!" exhibit
A fiber work, “Triangulate #5,” by artist Jackie Thomas is part of the “Art Alive!” exhibit

The Madigan Library offers an array of visual displays throughout the year, both in the library itself and in The Gallery at Penn College on the third floor. This is no new ritual, as the college has been doing so since the Williamsport Area Community College days dating back to the ’60s. A notable presentation, afforded coverage in the Nov. 15, 1974, issue of the Spotlight student newspaper, was titled “The Collectables”: assorted collectible items from local donors. It covered a wide range of interests, showcasing antique purses, buttons and (long before Wildcat Comic Con) comic books. The Gallery’s current display is “Art Alive!” – pieces in a variety of media, created by regional artists.  A Viewer’s Choice prize will be awarded at the conclusion of the exhibit. Voting is open until June 28, so be sure to check it out!

Centennial

1969 Spotlight – Student Lets Hair Down in Letter to Advice Column

March 21, 1969, Spotlight, page 3
March 21, 1969, Spotlight, page 3

Mullets to mohawks, box cuts to braids. Whatever your hairstyle (or style in general), society has a way of passing judgment … and even parents can find ways to disapprove of your self-expression. In the “Dear Agnes” column of the March 21, 1969, Spotlight newspaper, a frustrated Williamsport Area Community College student named Harry Brown humorously shared the woes of having long hair at a time when it was viewed as improper for men. Every time Harry would make the 220- mile trip home to Pittsburgh, he was greeted by parents who questioned him about a haircut. His mother was embarrassed by his long coif after an encounter with a grocery clerk, who told her, echoing a song of the mid-’60s, “Mrs. Brown, you’ve got a lovely daughter.” Harry’s father would spell his son’s name as “Hairy” to poke fun at his appearance. Finding the bright side, even in irritation, Harry joked about the disadvantages and advantages of having long hair: describing how it got twirled around his fork while eating spaghetti, how it became a convenient pillow for uncomfortable chairs, and how he had to tuck it in his pocket or belt while dancing. Check out the full story at the Madigan Library’s online newspaper archive and see the columnist’s witty response to Harry’s dilemma.

Alumni Architecture & Sustainable Design Centennial Construction & Design Technologies

1969 Spotlight – Past as Prologue

John Strawbridge, left, with James Bressler, dean of applied arts at WACC
John Strawbridge, left, with James Bressler, dean of applied arts at WACC

With spring commencement just past, new alumni are putting their degrees to work, and, someday, will have successes to share with Penn College students working toward careers of their own. The March 21, 1969, Spotlight student newspaper published one such story about a graduate contributing to education through art in the Williamsport area and the state capital. When John Strawbridge earned an associate degree in architectural technology from Williamsport Area Community College, Penn College’s immediate predecessor, there was a boom in museum construction and the concept of regional museums to present historical art to local communities. Strawbridge, hired by the Lycoming County Historical Society as an exhibit designer, was assigned to create Native American exhibits that focused on prehistory. He also served as a part-time assistant at the William Penn Memorial Museum, as well as the State Museum of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg. “WACC’s reputation throughout the country is good,” he said, proud of his alma mater’s down-to-earth vocational instruction. “And I’d recommend the college to anyone who wants a practical education.” Strawbridge went on to an illustrious career in museum curation and wildlife art, one of many alumni who embody the college’s motto of “degrees that work.”

Alumni Centennial

1969 Spotlight – A Tradition of Giving

1969: WACC students and faculty/staff line up for blood drive
1969: WACC students and faculty/staff line up for blood drive

The latest Red Cross Bloodmobile at Penn College collected 229 units over two days, a gratifying amount that still did not top the 320 pints donated by Williamsport Area Community College students and employees on March 5, 1969. As reported in the Spotlight campus newspaper, an open challenge to students was initiated by the Service and Operation of Heavy Construction Equipment organization, along with posters advertising the Bloodmobile. Nearly 400 students and faculty responded to the challenge, and, while 53 were rejected as donors,  the principle behind the effort remained. WACC united for a cause in the Student Government-sponsored blood drive, surpassing expectations and topping the Lycoming County record by 13 pints. “This should demonstrate to us that much can be accomplished in our society if we care enough to direct our efforts to the good things we believe in,” college President Kenneth E. Carl wrote in a published letter to students. “I’m confident that society will benefit from the contributions that you will make in the future.”