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When it opened its doors in 1991, Coconino Community College had only 400 students. Its first graduating class had three students. Twenty years later, the college graduated 300 students in the 2010-11 academic year.

"We have such growth and success and great movement in very challenging times," said Leah Bornstein, president of CCC, speaking at the kickoff celebration Friday, Sept. 9, which honored the 20th anniversary of the college.

At the ceremony, Bornstein and other officials unveiled a huge timeline banner that depicted the most significant milestones of the history of the college.

The timeline details events from the 1997 offering of CCC's first web-based class -- Art History 1 -- to the 2011 distance learning grant of about $300,000 given to CCC from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

BELONGS TO COMMUNITY

The college has much to be proud of, not the least of which are the 65,000 learners who have studied at the college since it opened.

"This is really a strong community college, and what is distinctive about our community college is that it really does belong to our community," said Flagstaff Mayor Sara Presler, addressing the audience gathered in the commons at the Lone Tree campus. "As your mayor, I could not be more proud of the work you are doing at our community college."

Lena Fowler, chair of the Coconino County Board of Supervisors, read a proclamation from the county honoring CCC for its achievements.

In a press release for the event, Patrick Hurley, chairman of the CCC District Governing Board, said county residents are responsible for the college's success.

"Their generous support has changed the lives of thousands of learners and provided affordable access to higher education for the residents of Coconino County," he said.

STEADY GROWTH RATE

Coconino Community College currently serves all of Coconino County, covering an immense 18,000-square-mile area.

The college has grown at a steady rate and today serves nearly 10,000 citizens each year at the three main campuses: Flagstaff Lone Tree Campus; Flagstaff Fourth Street Campus; and Page/Lake Powell Campus.

Classes are also offered in Fredonia, Grand Canyon/Tusayan, Tuba City and Williams.

More than 60 certificates and degrees can be earned, including nursing, fire science, detention officer academy and early childhood education.

The college also offers university transfer, career and technical programs, high school dual enrollment and tech prep programs, continuing education and community-interest courses.

20-FOOT SUB SANDWICH

At the anniversary morning event, to which the public was invited, refreshments included a 20-foot-long submarine sandwich, a blue-and-white anniversary cake, soft drinks and bottled water.

"If anybody in the community could walk in my shoes for just a day, or even a week, they would feel the pride that I feel for all the work of the employees and the community that goes toward the success of this college," Bornstein said during the reception.

As part of the celebrations, the following week CCC also had its Foundation Annual Meeting, awards and an alumni breakfast.

Betsey Bruner can be reached at bbruner@azdailysun.com or 556-2255.

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