Like other birthday parties, Chippewa Valley Technical College’s Centennial Celebration Saturday included a cake, games, a group photo and lots of fun. But a serious side to the celebration focused on what the College has meant to the area in the past, and its ongoing mission.
That wasn’t lost on the people who attended the affair at the College’s Clairemont Avenue campus in Eau Claire. That included people like Memorial High School seniors Hunter Strozewski and Bailey Weingart, who came to check out the programs as they make their own higher education and career choices.
Strozewski is thinking about the College’s Fire/Medic or Civil Engineering programs. What he likes about the CVTC option is that, ‘It lets me stay around here and it’s a two-year rather than a four-year college. I want to get out and start working.”
Weingart is considering being a teacher, but is eyeing CVTC’s Liberal Arts program as a practical way to take care of some of the general courses before transferring to a university.
Their considerations exemplify both the current role and the history of the college, which traces its history for “continuation schools” founded in 1912 in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls.
Current CVTC student Veronica Perry stopped by the event to network, for future career possibilities and on behalf of the Boy Scouts. She completed the Business Management program already, and is now studying administration.
“Eventually, I want to start my own sewing business,” she said.
Current Nursing program student Tanya Daniels came with her family, so the children could see where Mom goes to school.
“They were having a lot of fun,” Daniels said. “My daughter went to the science show and really enjoyed it. She said, ‘Mom, I want to go here when I graduate.’”
But the event drew more alumni than current students, like Krista McElroy, a graduate in the Dental Hygienist program, now working in a Rice Lake dentist’s office. Her husband is a CVTC Law Enforcement graduate.
Their small son sat in a training police squad car, where a current student went over the features inside, giving the boy a sample of the siren.
“The kids get to experience the different areas available,” McElroy said. “There are lots of opportunities.”
Some alumni came to see what the campus and the programs are like today, and to reminisce about their experiences at the College.
Fritz Geske of Fall Creek attended back in the 1940s to study electricity. He ended up working to bring electricity to farms like the one he grew up on, and eventually became a small business owner as an electrician. His son, a CVTC graduate, has now taken over the program.
Jeffrey Gunderson was hired by the College to do buildings and grounds work in the 1970s, and his supervisor encouraged him to improve himself by taking some classes. That led to a long, successful career at the paper mill in Eau Claire.
CVTC has been making a difference in the lives of students for 100 years, current CVTC President Bruce Barker said in remarks at a ceremony opening a time capsule sealed at the College’s 75th anniversary in 1987.
“But today isn’t just about looking back. Looking back gives us perspective, but it’s even more important for CVTC to always be looking ahead to the future,” Barker continued. “Today we have 63 different programs. All of them are preparing our students for the future. And I guarantee you that our future graduates, the next generation of workers will be the best, the most highly educated the most competent, and the most highly skilled workforce that has ever existed anywhere on earth.”
Photos from the Centennial event can be viewed on CVTC's Facebook page.