Celebrating the OPSU Centennial
A Recap of the Oklahoma Panhandle State University Centennial AccomplishmentsBy Sara Jane Richter
The OPSU Centennial Committee has put away the party hats and banners to officially close the two-year long celebration as of the end of 2009. Since its inception in the summer of 2007, the Centennial Committee faithfully met to discuss and prepare many events for the OPSU campus and friends.
In July 2008, Centennial banners were placed on telephone poles on campus, courtesy of Tri-County Electric. The Centennial logo was designed and perfected by Brent Shoulders and Tito Aznar. For the 2008 football homecoming, the Centennial Committee hosted the first annual Centennial Car Show as part of the parade. In addition, the Science and Agriculture Building was dedicated and became the subject of the first building biography in the Centennial Building Biography Series. Each campus building has its own biography framed and posted on campus—either in its namesake building or in the Student Union. During the 2008 sports seasons, football and basketball athletes wore Centennial patches on their uniforms. In the fall semester, a concrete outline of the State of Oklahoma helped celebrate Oklahoma’s Centennial as well as OPSU’s Centennial. Since then, the shape which rests on the southwest lawn of Hughes-Strong Hall has been filled with decorative red concrete punctuated with brass numbers—“100”—inside to indicate its commemoration of the Centennial with the two “zeroes” being the Centennial logo and the OPSU seal. The Panhandle of Oklahoma of this map is filled with bricks specially ordered and engraved to honor classes, campus organizations, faculty, students, and alumni. Commencements for 2008 and 2009 featured the legacy of OPSU in their addresses delivered by Sara Jane Richter. During the 2009 graduation exercises, Dr. Bryant’s generosity provided brass medallions bearing the Centennial seal on a blue and red ribbon to all graduates, faculty, and dignitaries.
The year of the Centennial—2009—saw many activities to celebrate OPSU’s past. In February, members of the Committee traveled to Oklahoma City to the State House of Representatives to witness the Centennial flag flying over the Capitol and hear “Panhandle Day” announced in the House chambers. Thanks must go to Representative Gus Blackwell for his spearheading these events. The auditorium in Hughes-Strong Hall became Centennial Theatre in April 2009 prior to the final performance of Urinetown. Committee members and friends planted 16 Centennial trees on campus on April 9 in an amazing gale force and freezing wind, so typical of spring in the Panhandle.
During the fall semester, in August, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation posted two signs announcing the “Oklahoma Panhandle State University Centennial Corridor” west of Guymon and west of Goodwell with Representative Blackwell providing leadership on this project. Led by twenty longhorn steers herded by three undaunted cowboys in the ice and rain, the homecoming parade featured OPSU history and the second annual car show. Then, in October, the Centennial Concert performed in Centennial Theatre featured the OPSU band and choir with musical selections in honor of 1909 and OPSU. Elaina Stewart who penned the lyrics and Dr. Matthew Saunders who composed the music debuted their Centennial composition at the concert. Richter in an Edwardian period ensemble complete with feathered chapeau sang two songs popular in 1909; Aznar designed and sewed her royal purple gown.
As a capper to the Centennial celebration events, the November 1 OPSU birthday party saw many activities and additions to campus and featured birthday cake, party hats, noise makers, balloons, numerous guests, and an outdoor concert by Bipolar Echo. Post Master Christi Kelso of Goodwell offered stamps hand-cancelled with the Centennial logo that day; the special cancellation ended a month later. A concrete picnic table outside of the Student Union was covered with specially-made and set tiles in the design of the Centennial logo and revealed for the party. Shoulders and art students designed and created this art project. At the party, the “time capsule birthday cake” was unveiled. Shoulders conceived this piece of artwork, and he and select art students created it: a wood and glass box shaped like a multi-layered cake which contains cast metal icons representing all six academic divisions of OPSU and memorabilia from OPSU’s past. Those people interested in viewing this remarkable piece of art may view it in the Marvin E. McKee library.
At the birthday party, OPSU President Dr. David Bryant dedicated Centennial Park on the southwest lawn of Hughes-Strong Hall. The park showcases a raised stage, a picnic table, and several Centennial benches installed on concrete pads. OPSU administration should be given kudos for its help in its generous funding of and designing of the park.
Future Committee plans include a listing of Aggie Legends at the spring alumni banquet and fund raising efforts to repair the University Clock Tower’s carillon system.
Centennial Committee Chair Richter has only the deepest regard and appreciation for the support of the OPSU administration—Dr. Bryant, Dr. Wayne Manning, and Mr. Larry Peters—and the work done by the mainstay members of the Committee: Shoulders, Aznar, Dr. Doris Looper, Troy Morris, Evlyn Schmidt, Jerry Mihelic, Blackwell, Eric Begley, David Miller, Jessica Lofland, Katie Wiggins, and Carlee Scofield. Their dedication to OPSU is boundless as is their creativity, good humor, work ethic, and determination.