It’s 6:15 a.m. Sunday morning and life is stirring at the Knight Campus of the Community College of Rhode Island. Security are unlocking classroom rooms and turning on lights hardly 12 hours after many of the rooms were last occupied and a janitorial crew swept through and moved the clocks ahead by an hour.
This past Sunday the campus was the venue for the Rhode Island Academic Decathlon, a daylong competition involving 15 schools, 260 students and about 120 adult volunteers who serve as proctors, aides and speech and interview judges. The event was booked a year in advance, as has been the practice since the statewide competition was first held 34 years ago.
That’s not because the Decathlon is on a fixed schedule of March Sunday competitions. Rather, it’s because the facility is booked tight. The Knight campus, as well as the college’s other campuses, is truly a place where the community comes together.
This coming weekend the Knight Campus will host the Rhode Island Science and Engineering Fair, which comes two days after the Skills USA 2017 competition and before the Boy Scouts Career Speakers Program on March 25. The college is the place where scores of organizations from Rhode Island Model Legislature, Rhode Island Mineral Hunters to the Rhode Island Advisory Board meet regularly, and that’s not even considering athletic facilities that are the sites for Rhode Island Interscholastic League competitions.
There’s more to this than convenience and the bricks and mortar of a facility suited for community activities. There’s a commitment to community on the part of the college and there are people who put that first.
It’s been that way for decades. Successive administrations starting with the college’s first president, William Flanagan, have made that connection between the broader community, not just students, a priority. It reaches beyond playing host to non-college events to initiating programs aimed at meeting the workforce needs of the state’s economy. It’s not out of line to suggest that as host to so many high school oriented activities – the decathlon, science fair and Skills USA being just three this month – the college is not only “listening” to our future teachers, workers, leaders and entrepreneurs but inviting them to a path to higher education.
The college is a venue where so many community organizations intersect. Experience it yourself.
You don’t need to know a student to visit the Science and Engineering Fair this Saturday. Guaranteed the college will have dug out from all that snow forecast for Tuesday. The fair will happen. And guaranteed, too, you’ll make a connection whether it is to a school represented at the fair, an elected official you know or have read about or a student who you never imagined had such dreams. This is a community college.