As the nation reminisces the emotional day of 9/11, not only are the traumatic events remembered, but also the feeling of unity, love and oneness are strengthened among people. Williamsburg Technical College (WTC) honored the day and organized their solemn Patriotic Day Ceremony which involved the unveiling of a statue and the inauguration of their new college president.
Representative Ronnie Saab who also attended the ceremony said, “One of the things that we’re all clear on, is that, this is the day we all remember where we were, what we were doing and, how we felt. We have to understand that, as Americans, we have to continue to serve the greater good and not any individual agendas that we might have.
It’s good to see the children engaged, because many of them will not really remember what had actually happened, but for them to learn and have a sense of community-- their participation -- I think it is special.”
The WTC faculty and students from the machine and welding programs collaborated in putting their efforts to design a statue of a palmetto tree which currently stands tall. The title of the statue reads, “Steel Standing Tall.”
Vice President for Academic Affairs Clifton Elliott expressed the symbolism of the statue saying, “The college has been struggling for the past couple of years especially because of the reduction of state funding. The enrollment has been well, but not what we wanted it to be. We wanted to grow, but things were just being tough. And, it had been rumored that we were going to close. So, we thought this would be a good opportunity to come up with a title that would symbolize the resolve of the college that we are still standing and we will still be standing.”
Elliott additionally said, “This tree is dedicated to the students as well as the faculty and staff. It is the students’ persistence that will keep them going toward their goal and, it is the faculty and staff’s persistence that will keep this place going.”
The statue, made of steel, took over a year to complete -- a process of finally involving sandblasting and painting. Welding students namely Hunter Musick, Tyler Edwards, and Brian Bass were accompanied by their welding instructor Jason Kinder, and were also applauded for their contribution to WTC.
Dr. Patricia Lee, the newly elected president of WTC is highly motivated to expand the curriculums and push the growth of the programs to a higher academic standard. Having an extensive 37 years of experience working with public school education, Dr. Lee is passionately devoted toward shaping the future of the students and also bringing together the involvement of the community to have a stronger bond with the college. “In years past, we had this 9/11 event and we’ve never had more than 35 or 40 people attend,” Dr. Lee said. “And, the fact that we had nearly 200 people here tells me it’s important for them to be here and be a part of us. Everyone was touched by 9/11, and the statue of the palmetto tree is a constant reminder that we’re still here as a college and, we’re still here as a nation.”
For all of the students who are presently studying at WTC as well as the prospective students, Dr. Lee sincerely mentioned, “Any student who knows me -- and many, many of them do over the years -- I really am here for them. We are here to grow this college to serve the needs of our students, because they are the future. Just come, tell us what you need and, we will do our best to fulfill that.”