The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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April 27, 2014

UC-Beckley students, staff gather to celebrate future at block party

They say the black cloud of the former owners still hangs over them, but people from the University of Charleston’s Beckley campus gathered in the sun Saturday to show that they weren’t giving up.

Volunteers, students and community members gathered at a block party that featured games and prizes for everyone.

“We just want to show the community that UC-Beckley is here,” Student Life Coordinator Kim Bess said. “A lot of people still think it’s Mountain State. We’re trying to get rid of the negativity and bring in some positive aspects.”

The campus’ president said he thinks the school is still in a transition phase right now.

“I think people know the University of Charleston name and what UC-Beckley is doing during the transition,” Dr. Jerry Forster said. “It just takes a little time. The local folks want to see us offer the programs and teaching the students for a couple of years. We’ll be fine in due time. Patience is still the key word, though.

“The era of Mountain State has come and gone and people are still waiting to see what comes out of those legal matters. That chapter won’t close until the legal matters are closed. In the meantime, we’ll just have to keep our nose to the grind and do what we can to rebuild this campus. I think we’ll get there.”

Not only was the party an effort to get the community involved with the school, but it was a fundraiser too.

“We’re having a hot dog sale to benefit the Gamma Beta Phi Society, which is an honors society for the students,” Technical Services Librarian Valerie Sellards said. “This is their first year so we’re trying to raise some funds for that.

“We also have different games. You buy tickets for the games. We’re also giving away free candy, snow cones, and popcorn. There’s a free bouncy house, too.”

Sellards said Gamma Beta Phi is an honor society that focuses on community service.

“They have to have a 3.0 to be eligible,” she said. “We had 80 students who were eligible. They have to do service projects every year. There’s a national project, then they pick local projects.

“Our first one was a food drive for the animal shelter. We’re doing that through the whole month of April. The semester is almost over so we might do one more thing over the summer. People can drop the food off in the library at UC Beckley. It’s in the Robert C. Byrd Learning Resource Center on the second floor.”

Sellards said she hopes they can have the block party again next year.

“We’re here and we want to grow,” she said. “I think the growth of this school will contribute to the growth of the town. We want this school to be as big as it was when Mountain State University was here.”

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