September 10, 2016
The first Board of Trustees and administration at Navarro Junior College in 1947 were committed to providing solid academic programs but also a wide range of extracurricular activities to give students the “college experience.” An enthusiastic group of cheerleaders supported the football and basketball teams, and C.E. Beene directed the band and the choral programs. Shortly after joining the staff, Beene composed the alma mater “Hail Navarro,” which is still performed at various College events.
A women’s drill team called the Senoritas entertained at halftime at the football games. M.S. Cook directed theatrical productions, and a school newspaper, The Growl, provided students and staff with campus news and information. In a faculty meeting, when President Ray Waller asked if anyone had any experience with a yearbook, chemistry professor James Edgar responded that he had served on the annual staff as a student at East Texas State Teachers College. Based on his “experience,” Edgar was named sponsor of “El Navarro,” a position he held until his retirement in 1974. Students formed a variety of clubs, but the most prestigious campus organization was Phi Theta Kappa, the national honor society for two-year colleges, sponsored by Margaret Pannill. Over the years, PTK has received numerous state and national awards for its accomplishments.
Over the past 70 years, extracurricular activities have changed. The 900 students currently residing on campus still enjoy the “college experience” and participate in a variety of campus activities. Gibson Hall is a popular student hang-out with a game room, basketball court, and fitness center. In the early days of the College, students played cards and dominoes in the Student Union Building, but today those have been replaced by electronic video games. The athletic program has been expanded to include womens teams, and non-varsity athletes engage in highly competitive intramurals. A Fine Arts building was constructed in 1984 to house the art, speech, and music programs. Led by David Timmerman, the choral music department entertained the campus and the community with concerts and spring musicals. The choral music department currently under the direction of Christopher Price continues to offer outstanding musical presentation. Dr. Shellie O’Neal’s theater students have consistently garnered numerous awards for their productions, many of which were written by Dr. O’Neal. The Bulldog band, which began with only nine students in 1947, will march over 100 this fall, led by director Josh Buckrucker and assistant director Tim Nutting. Navarro’s Student Government Association, under the direction of OL Kelly, provides students with opportunities to develop leadership skills and consistently receives honors and awards at the state level.
As they reflect on their time at Navarro, alumni not only acknowledge the strong academic foundation they received but also the fond memories of their participation in extracurricular activities. It was there that they forged some of their strongest friendships and developed important life skills. Campus life has become a vital component of Navarro’s culture.
As part of Navarro College’s 70th Anniversary Celebration, the Pearce Museum is hosting a special exhibit, “70 Years of Bulldog Pride!”
Anyone with Navarro College memorabilia and/or photos that they would like to loan for the exhibit are asked to contact Jessica Kindon at 903-875-7642 or firstname.lastname@example.org
SOURCE: Corsicana Daily Sun