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CFCC celebrates 50 years

WILMINGTON -- Cape Fear Community College is celebrating a milestone -- its 50th anniversary. When the school opened in 1958 there were 750 students enrolled. Today there are 7,500 students enrolled, which is the most the school has ever seen. Patsy Lackey has worked at CFCC for nearly two decades. Although, the school is much more than her employer. It's also her alma mater. She graduated in 1981. She said, "I was Admissions Secretary then, so we were allowed to take one class during school hours then I took one on my lunch hour and one at night." As the school celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Lackey says its growth is by far the biggest change she has seen. "It has just grown tremendously. I think the school was just two or three buildings when I started and now we're just huge. It was founded as Wilmington Industrial Education Center in 1958. Its building on Market Street still stands today. At the time it was one of seven vocational schools of its kind in the state. Today, it's one of the states 58 community colleges. CFCC's spokesperson David Hardin said, "When the Industrial Training Center, or Cape Fear Community College, originally opened in 1958, they started classes in auto repair, welding, drafting, and a lot of the programs that we still offer today." In 1964 the school became Cape Fear Technical Institute and moved to its downtown location. The current name came about in 1989. Despite all of these changes, the mission has always been to serve the community. Hardin said, "That same mission is in effect today. All of the programs that we offer are meant to train for jobs that are available here locally." Lackey has so many memories from her time at Cape Fear, but her fondest are of the people. She said, "I enjoyed my instructors. Ms. Barefoot, who was my accounting, I remember her really well. Ms. West who was my shorthand teacher, she was just phenomenal." For information about a new alumni association and about 50th anniversary plans, visit

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