Lakeland College’s annual Employee Recognition and Retirement Awards Evening was an emotional event that congratulated staff and celebrated newly retired members of the college community.
Gary Moses, vice chair of the Lakeland board of governors, took the podium first; however, he spoke not as vice chair but as a past student. After all, it was while studying at Lakeland that he really recognized and appreciated the efforts of not only his instructors, but the people behind the scenes, too.
“As students, we remember the names of the janitors, ready to clean after the classroom closes. Then there were the lab technicians ... and the instructors, who every student remembers and who remain contacts for the rest of their lives,” he said.
“But tonight I’d like to say thanks to the people we didn’t know,” he continued. “The people that cut the grass, planted the trees and flowers to make Lakeland so beautiful. The caring of the livestock; milking the cows. Who keeps the vehicles running? The maintenance staff, the administration, the secretaries, to name just a few.”
It’s people like that who make a lot of what goes on at the college a success but are often not recognized properly in the day-to-day. Moses took note of recent accomplishments and dedicated the evening to those individuals who contribution to those accomplishments.
“This past week, everyone has helped with the students to host an open house, soccer championships, Rustlers volleyball, Fall Classic Rodeo and then there was the Band in the Sand, with 1,800 students,” said Moses. “Can you imagine?”
Following was the award ceremony, which saw employees of Lakeland celebrating their 10- to 35-year milestones.
Cliff McAuley, an instructor in arts, science and business, came to celebrate his 25-year mark and took to the podium to share the story of how he came to be working at the college. Emotionally, he described hard times with public education budget cuts when he was a teacher in Kitscoty back in 1987.
“Unbeknownst to me, that was probably the best thing that has ever happened to me,” he said, despite having his income cut by a third. Becoming employed with Lakeland, he said was “an answer to prayer” and he’s been there ever since.
Peter Walsh, who was celebrating his 30-year mark as an agricultural sciences instructor, also shared a few words.
“I would especially like to thank my past students and the current ones, although I don’t want them to get big heads just yet,” he said. “And especially past and current colleagues, for making my 30 years of employment here what they’ve been – pretty much a blast.”
New retirees present at the ceremony were Wayne Miller and Jim Zadorozny, and they were thanked for their time with the college, and sent off with best wishes.
“In today’s job market, loyalty is rare,” Moses said.
“So every one of tonight’s recipients proves just how valuable loyalty is.”
While Glenn Charlesworth, who retired as president and CEO of Lakeland last January, was not in attendance, Moses decided to quote him.
“‘Lakeland is not a good college,” he said. “‘It’s a great college.’”
While not all who were to receive awards were in attendance that evening, Moses was quick to note:
“The individuals that we are recognizing tonight represent only a small portion of the service that all of our employees give to the college,” and thanked everyone, even those who couldn’t make it for the ceremony.