Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, left, and NSCC Strait area campus Principal Vivek Saxena raise a ceremonial flag at the Civic Cente on Nov. 4, celebating NSCC’s 25th anniversary.

PORT HAWKESBURY: The principal of the Strait Area Campus says it’s a time to look back and think forward as the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) celebrates its 25th anniversary.

“The college began as a vocational institute, and we have grown in the past 25 years,” Vivkek Saxena said during a small flag raising ceremony on Nov. 4 at the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre. “We need to take a moment to think where the next 25 years and beyond will lead us.”

Providing a little history on the campus along Reeves Street, it opened their doors in 1987, however at that time, it wasn’t NSCC.

“We were just the Nautical Institute,” Saxena explained. “In 1996, the province’s vocational schools were brought under one umbrella, which lead to the NSCC; fast forward to today, we have grown to around 700 students who come to the campus every day for our core programs.”

In addition to those 700 students who participate in NSCC’s core programs, the principal indicated they get close to 1,000 students from across the marine industry who attend the Nautical Institute, and on average, their yearly graduation class is approximately 400 students.

“We work directly with employers in our region to ensure we are offering an education that prepares our students to be ready,” Saxena said. “NSCC is a place where you’re supported and encouraged to be your best.”

He said while they celebrate the 25 anniversary of being in Port Hawkesbury, it really is a time to think about where NSCC were, where the school is now, and how far they can go.

Joining Saxena, was Port Hawkesbury Mayor Brenda Chisholm-Beaton, who had prepared a written statement but instead, spoke from the heart.

“I’m a self-proclaimed, top cheerleader for NSCC,” Chisholm-Beaton said. “It’s more than just NSCC and our Nautical Institute being an asset to our town, it’s more than just being a major employer.”

She indicated it’s the fact thousands of students are welcomed into their town every single September, giving their population a bump.

“It’s about the relationships and the connections that we build together,” Chisholm-Beaton said. “Essentially what we’re doing, between NSCC and the town, is we are growing the town together.”

And that was never more apparent, she said, than the participation, collaboration and partnerships that were fostered during Destination Reeves Street.

“For decades really, there was no safe connect between the uptown core and NSCC and the NSCC students, it was really a dangerous situation, because students couldn’t walk to school,” Chisholm-Beaton said. “Being able to remedy that was such a huge milestone as well.”

On behalf of town council, she said it was such an honour to be celebrating a milestone like their 25th anniversary, and hopes to continue to build on their relationship together.

“So we continue to celebrate transformative projects that are happening on the campus itself, with the new residence,” Chisholm-Beaton said. “With the implementation of cutting edge, world class programs that create a level playing field for women and Indigenous students in marine trades.”

She indicated NSCC plays such an important part in their community and is super enthusiastic for the future.

“I can’t wait to see how our town can support NSCC for another 25 plus years,” Chisholm-Beaton said.