For nearly 30 years Arizona Western College has offered limited services out of Antelope High School -- mainly evening classes when the high school closed for the day. It was a fruitful partnership, but now AWC students and staff have their own space.
Nearly 100 people gathered February 28 to help cut ribbon on the newest Learning Center for AWC in Wellton. College staff and faculty, community members, local leaders and students gathered for the 30-minute ceremony followed by refreshments and an open house. Student Ambassadors and the staff of the Wellton Learning Center assisted with a self-guided tour while Andale, the college mascot, greeted guests.
The new Center features almost 6,700 sq. ft., including four classrooms. Three of the four classrooms are currently outfitted with Interactive Television Network technology, making it possible for classes to be taught, in real time, across the AWC campuses, with students joining in from a variety of locations.
One of the classrooms also doubles as a lab for placement tests; another classroom doubles as a computer lab. A third classroom is a multipurpose room so faculty can teach subjects that require a creative use of space, like fitness classes and painting. An outdoor patio area offers power and connectivity so faculty can take the teaching and learning outdoors during the gorgeous Wellton winter and spring seasons.
Speaker Elston Grubaugh, of the Wellton Mohawk Irrigation District traced the land-ownership history and explained how his agency intervened at the Federal level to make the land-lease agreement work. He added that they are very much looking forward to having Wellton Elementary School and the Town of Wellton park and sports complex join AWC on the land, which is located across the street from Coyote Wash Golf Resort, just off Avenue 29E.
Alex Bejarano, an AWC student and an elected member of the Wellton Town Council, shared his vision of a center of higher education that would "open the doors of opportunity for future students" without their having to leave town.
Center Assistant Josie Uriarte said moving into the new building was like a dream.
"We are excited to fill these rooms with faculty and students, and community meetings," said Uriarte. "We are still adding classes as we go along. We are looking for suggestions from the community -- everything from Art to Zumba!"
Several speakers talked about how students can now stay in town for their jobs and families without having to spend time or use gas to go "over the mountain" to school in Yuma.
The Wellton Learning Center boasts state-of-the art technology for distance learning and connectivity. Both Grubaugh and speaker Bob Sloncen of Hyder School District shared their hopes for other uses of the building, like staff development and teleconferencing.
The event celebrated the opening of the final project of the $74 million bond measure approved by voters in Yuma and La Paz counties in 2004. That bond measure also funded new facilities in San Luis, Parker, and Quartzsite as well as new facilities on the Main Campus.
Photo by AWC Photo Services