Here at Last
by Rebecca Johston
September 05, 2009 01:00 AM | 981 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This week marks the 21st anniversary of A Day for Reinhardt, a time when volunteers go out into the community to raise funds for scholarships for Cherokee County students.

The first A Day all those years ago a table was set up on Main Street with balloons so it was easily visible as volunteers returned with their collections. All day those involved with calling on businesses and individuals trickled back in with donations that quickly added up to an impressive amount.

Over the years hundreds of thousands of dollars have poured from the community to make sure that those students who live right here in our county can attend the college.

I did not attend Reinhardt College, but over the years I have built up such a strong relationship that sometimes I think I did.

The United Methodist-supported school has made such an impact on our community, from educating such leaders as Steve Stancil and Roger Garrison, to attracting people to our area like Marguerite Cline and JoEllen Wilson, who both came here to attend Reinhardt and married and stayed.

Those are just a few names on the rolls of the college that has educated so many outstanding individuals and regular folks, improving the quality of life for all of us who call Cherokee County home.

How lucky we are that we have this fine institution so close at hand.

Drive through the campus and you see many names who have made substantial contributions to the college - Cobb, Gordy, Hasty, Smith Johnston, just to name a few.

A Day gives the rest of us a chance to contribute, whether it is a small donation or a large, it all adds up.

Current Reinhardt President Dr. Tom Isherwood has a lot to be proud of as the college continues to grow and thrive and improve in many ways, providing a better education all the time.

Look back in time and Reinhardt's history tells an amazing story.

The book the college published a few years ago is entitled 'More Valuable Than Gold," and indeed that is what the opportunity of an education was to the early settlers of this community.

Col. John J. A. Sharpe and his brother-in-law, Capt. Augustus M. Reinhardt, laid the foundation of the college in the 1880s. The school was begun in 1883 with funding from Reinhardt, a resident of Waleska who made his fortune in real estate and law. Reinhardt started as an academy serving students of all ages.

In 1891 it was chartered as Reinhardt Normal College with an enrollment of 215. Reinhardt later billed itself as a school for the masses. Money and adequate funding was always tight at the college, even as it grew in size and reputation.

Over the years, Reinhardt has continued to grow and evolve. For the upcoming year, the college has 1,130 students at its main campus in Waleska and three satellite campuses, the largest in its 126-year history.

The college's graduate student enrollment is at 68 students and its Master of Arts in Teaching program has 46 enrollees.

The college touts itself as having focused since 1883 on being "the way college should be." Cherokee County residents agree and are proud of the heritage and impact today of "their college."

That is why it is easy to open our pocketbooks each year at A Day and help send our own Cherokee County students to our local college. That is a legacy to which we can all contribute.

Rebecca Johnston is former editor of The Cherokee Tribune.
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