By Alexandre Iglesias, Staff Writer
Matt Smith once said during his finale as the ‘doctor’ on “Doctor Who” that “you have to keep moving as long as you remember all the people that you used to be.” This platitude could also be applied to the motive of the Always Strong program, which is a reunion event program, spanning across several days, that was held in the interest of keeping the Armstrong Pirate spirit alive.
The reunion was held to honor all the former professors and university staff that made Armstrong the important center of education that it was to the city of Savannah. Saturday night’s presentation focused on the years 1966 to 1996, the decades in which the institution was called Armstrong Junior College.
The event began with a few words from the associate vice president for university advancement and member of the university class of 1988, Bill Kelso. Kelso is remembered as the evening’s chief entertainer. His witty humor effectively preluded the formalities of the evening. Kelso later introduced GSU president Jaimie Hebert, who started by asking for a huge round of applause for the honorees of the night.
After a reception where all the honorees shared memories and experiences, Cheryl Ciucevich, the associate director of alumni relations, approached the podium to speak. She began by speaking on the wealth of experiences shared by former students and by former faculty from the south-side campus and from the historical old campus in downtown Savannah. She also acknowledged the anniversaries of event’s honorees, with some accumulating 30, 35, 40, 45 and even 50 years of experience within Armstrong community!
Dr. Ann Levett, another member of the class of 1976, also thanked these honorees, and earnestly elaborated on how many of them were more than just teachers to her. Thanks to them, Armstrong became a place of great experiences and renown.
However, change was still the central message of the evening, and by revisiting the many great experiences that Armstrong fostered, attendees were reminded that this university has encountered many changes through its lifetime and will encounter many more through the coming years.
It was Beth Waldrop Harris from the class of 1974 and Dicky Mopper from the class of 1970 who were ultimately chosen to recognize the honorees. And as they read out each of their names, everybody in the room gave applause.
Dr. Joe Buck, the vice president emeritus of student affairs, gave a speech on his own experience during the transition from the downtown Savannah campus to the more recent south-side campus. Dr. Buck also acknowledged the numerous changes he saw along his long career, while highlighting the technological advancements, the university had undergone. For instance, transitioning from computers so big that it had to be contained in its own room, to PCs for everyone in the staff.
In his closing remarks, Dr. Buck recited a few verses from the Hymn of Armstrong helping to drive home the theme of the evening. Never forget what Armstrong is and where we came from.
In his closing remarks, Kelso again thanked the honorees, the alumni and the students for helping Armstrong reach such a high standard. Imploring students past and present to always meet and exceed that standard because we are all “part of your legacy”.
And finally, the president of the Armstrong alumni association, Roger Smith from the class of 1990, closed out the event by thanking again the honorees for being “transfers of professional and personal experiences”. He highlighted the fact that this will be the last year of the independency of this university, but it falls upon past and future alumni to maintain the ‘pirate’ spirit that has always permeated the university; they represent what it means to be strong in Armstrong.