More than 400 people came out to the Selkirk College Silver King Campus 50th Birthday Barbecue on Wednesday in Nelson.
Former students, staff and community supporters joined current students and staff for hamburgers, smokies, refreshments and cake. Held in the Heavy Mechanical Foundation Program shop, the event celebrated five decades of the campus that has provided thousands of students instruction in trades, career programs and community education.
A healthy mix of former staff and students joined current staff and students at the Silver King Campus 50th Birthday Barbecue on Wednesday in Nelson. See more photos from the day on Facebook.
“Without the support of the community, Silver King Campus—and indeed Selkirk College—would not have sustained or developed into the thriving regional resource it is today,” said Nelson Instructional Dean Kate Pelletier, who handled the hosting duties for the afternoon.
A History Worthy of Celebration
The Silver King Campus opened in 1964 as the BC Vocational School. At the time of its opening, the school—which cost an estimated $2,416,525 to build and equip—offered Automotive & Heavy Duty Mechanics, Welding and Millwrighting in its shops. Beauty Culture, Secretarial and Practical Nursing were also included on the campus that saw high enrolment in its early years. An added touch was the inclusion of Kootenay School of Art which was looking for a permanent location to house its programs that were offered separately from the vocational school.
Former millwright/machinist instructor Danny Bradford reconnects with old colleagues.
Selkirk College President Angus Graeme touched on that time in his address to those in attendance on Wednesday, and tied it into what is happening with today’s educational programming.
“I just want to cast your mind back to those early days in 1964,” Graeme said. “Think about what was happening in these communities in that year, the industries that were here and needed people, the opportunities for young people to go to work and get some training. There were dams being built, there were forest products being made, there were businesses being started and there were new opportunities emerging throughout the region. Those opportunities are very similar today for our young people. It’s an amazing time to be a student studying in the trades and in the other programs we offer in 2014.”
A Vital Role in Building Community
The BC Vocational School was incorporated into Selkirk College in 1975 and it was at that time the name was changed to Silver King. Speaking on behalf of Nelson city council, Councillor Donna Macdonald made reference to the importance the campus has played in building the community it calls home.
Cutting the cake in a fittingly trades manner were (L-R) Dan Obradovic (School Chair of Industry & Trades), Kate Pelletier (Nelson Instructional Dean), Bruce Morrison (Chair of the Selkirk College Board), Cathy Mercer (Selkirk Registrar), Angus Graeme (Selkirk College President) and Neil Coburn (Vice President of Education and Students).
“This campus has played a role much like its namesake the Silver King Mine up on Toad Mountain behind us,” said Macdonald. “That mine produced wealth and attracted the people that built our beautiful city. So you could say that the Silver King Mine generated a city. The same goes for the Silver King Campus which continues to provide a range of programs here that are continuing to change to meet the needs of our community and our economy.”
Macdonald also talked about what Selkirk College has meant to her personally, having been a graduate of the Forest Technology Program based in Castlegar and other opportunities at the Nelson-based campuses.
“My first encounter with Selkirk College was on this campus,” she said. “It was a long time ago back in the ‘70s when I owned a cranky Volkswagen Bug and I figured I better learn how to make it work. I signed up for—if you can believe it, this is what it was called—Powder Puff Mechanics. I don’t think I passed, but it was a great program.”
So Much to Offer at Silver King
The speeches were capped off by current Hairdressing Program student Frankie Defeo. Having been raised in Nelson, Defeo said she first visited the program in middle school and came for three visits as part of an activities class. Having an important educational option close to home has enabled Defeo to live in a community she loves.
Current Hairdressing Program student Frankie Defeo spoke on behalf of her peers.
“There are many reasons why people choose Selkirk College, but I can tell you the location doesn’t hurt,” said Defeo. “I have been lucky enough to do a lot of traveling so I know that most schools don’t get to be in a place like the Kootenays. The Kootenays are brilliant, inspiring and beautiful and they attract people who are brilliant, inspiring and beautiful. Our community is reflected so well in the courses that are offered here and at all the Selkirk campuses.”
The next big milestone for Selkirk College will arrive in 2016 when the community will celebrate 50 years of Selkirk College opening in Castlegar.