N.C. Community College System president to speak at VGCC Commencement

Dr. James C. “Jimmie” Williamson, the president of the North Carolina Community College System, will be the principal commencement speaker for Vance-Granville Community College’s graduation exercises on Friday, May 12.

Colton Hayes of Epsom, president of the VGCC Student Government Association, will be the student speaker.

Approximately 490 students are scheduled to be honored during ceremonies beginning at 6 p.m. at the gazebo by the lake on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County. For those unable to attend the event in person, VGCC will broadcast a live video feed from the ceremony online at

Williamson became the eighth president of the 58-institution North Carolina Community College System (NCCCS) on July 1, 2016. Before assuming his role at NCCCS, he served two years as President and CEO of the South Carolina Technical College System. His insight into workforce development is informed by both his 20 years in the South Carolina system – rising through roles from registrar to dean to two college presidencies and then to System President – and by his six years in a leadership position with Agapé Senior, a healthcare-related industry in South Carolina.

Dr. Williamson holds a Bachelor of Visual Arts and a Master of Education in Guidance and Counseling from Winthrop University, as well as a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration from the University of South Carolina.

Hayes is graduating with an Associate in Arts degree. Later in May, he will graduate from Franklin County Early College High School. Hayes will continue his education in the fall at North Carolina State University, where he plans to study computer science. He was elected president of the VGCC Student Government Association for the 2016-2017 year, and, in that capacity, also served as the student member of the VGCC Board of Trustees. He is the first early college high school student to serve in those leadership roles in VGCC history. Hayes has been named twice to the VGCC President’s List.

Students serving as graduation marshals will be Brenda Ellis of Durham; Mya Wilson of Franklinton; Taylor Anderson, Victoria Inscoe and Evan O’Geary, all of Henderson; Pamela Campbell of Littleton; Mark Meinhart of Louisburg; Betsy Mason of Macon; Briana Barnes of Manson; and Austin Smith of Oxford.


Author of “Blood Done Sign My Name” To Speak at VGCC Adult Basic Skills Commencement


Vance-Granville Community College will hold commencement exercises dedicated exclusively to new graduates of Adult Basic Skills programs on Thursday, May 4. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center on the college’s Main Campus in Vance County.

Those being honored at the ceremony will include students who have completed either the Adult High School Diploma program or the High School Equivalency program in the past year.

Dr. Timothy B. Tyson, an author and professor who spent part of his childhood in Oxford, will serve as the guest speaker. Tyson is currently Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and Visiting Professor of American Christianity and Southern Culture at Duke Divinity School. He also holds a faculty position in American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His most recent book is The Blood of Emmett Till, published early this year.

Tyson is the author of Blood Done Sign My Name, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and winner of the Southern Book Award for Nonfiction and the Grawemeyer Award in Religion. His Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power was the winner of the James Rawley Prize for the best book on race and the Frederick Jackson Turner Prize for the best first book in U.S. history from the Organization of American Historians. His Democracy Betrayed: The Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 and Its Legacy, published with David S. Cecelski with a foreword by Dr. John Hope Franklin, won the 1999 Outstanding Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Human Rights. He serves on the executive board of the North Carolina NAACP and the board of advisors for the UNC Center for Civil Rights.

Speaking on behalf of the graduating students during the ceremony will be Spencer Bojan Boyd of Oxford. Boyd completed the Adult High School Diploma program online and is already enrolled in the College Transfer program at VGCC. Boyd is a native of Serbia and was adopted at the age of six by a family in Johnston County, who later moved to Granville County. He was born without a right leg and with a distorted left leg, which was later amputated. Boyd’s future plan is to continue his education at the four-year level and become a certified prosthetist in order to help other amputees.


VGCC Summer Bridge program accepting applicants

Vance-Granville Community College is now accepting applications from incoming first-year students for the “Summer Bridge” program.

Summer Bridge is a three-week program designed to enhance a student’s transition from high school to college and prepare them to be successful during their freshman year at VGCC. The program is scheduled for Monday through Friday, July 10-July 28, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day.

The program is completely free of charge, including lunch each day, and is conducted at VGCC’s Main Campus in Vance County. All incoming first-year students who will be attending the college in the fall 2017 semester (which starts in August) and who are North Carolina residents are eligible to participate.

During the program, students will be enrolled in the Success & Study Skills (ACA 115) course, participate in an academic enrichment class and learn about campus support resources in a fun and engaging environment.

The ACA 115 course provides an orientation to campus resources and the academic skills necessary to achieve educational objectives. Emphasis is placed on an exploration of facilities and services, study skills, library skills, self-assessment, wellness, goal-setting and critical thinking.

“Summer Bridge is an excellent opportunity for students to get a head start by gaining the tools and the preparation that will help them succeed during that critical first year of college,” said Jeffrey Allen, VGCC’s dean of enrollment and outreach.

Participants must first apply to VGCC and take the North Carolina Diagnostic and Placement (NC DAP) test prior to enrolling in the Summer Bridge program.

Students are encouraged to register for the program online at

For more information, contact Allen at [email protected] or 252-738-3405.


Guest designer helps VGCC bring “The Glass Menagerie” to life

When audiences enjoy the upcoming Vance-Granville Community College Dinner Theater production of “The Glass Menagerie,” they will see the work of a set designer who has worked on professional productions all along the Eastern seaboard. Shannon Clark is the first official “guest designer” for a VGCC theatrical production.

VGCC’s fifth annual Dinner Theater event, featuring the classic American drama that first launched playwright Tennessee Williams to fame, is scheduled for the evenings of Thursday, April 27, and Friday, April 28, starting at 6 p.m., in the Civic Center on VGCC’s Main Campus in Vance County. Tickets are $30 per seat and may be purchased online at

Clark has known Betsy Henderson, VGCC’s Department Chair/Instructor of Humanities and Fine Arts and the director of the play, ever since they were both undergraduate students studying theatre at the University of Southern Mississippi. Clark and Henderson are, like playwright Tennessee Williams, also Mississippi natives. “Tennessee Williams has been a favorite of mine for a long time,” Clark said, so he relished the opportunity to work with Henderson on this production.

“’The Glass Menagerie’ is an impactful piece of literature,” Clark explained. “It’s about family, relationships and hope. The matriarch character, Amanda, has hopes and dreams for her children. I think the play has a really powerful message.” He said that his approach to the VGCC production played with the concept of a “memory play” and the themes of dreams and wish fulfillment. “We’re using muslin and lace on the walls, which gives them the ability to ‘glow’ with a dream-like quality,” Clark said. He also gave the scenery a period feel, since the setting is an apartment built in the 1920s. “It’s a bit disjointed and disconnected, because the family is disconnected,” Clark noted. “The pieces of the set belong together, but we don’t know exactly how they fit together, which is a metaphor for the family unit.” All the design elements are tied to the story, with lace representing delicacy and fragility (like the “glass” of the title), while warm colors are used to contrast with the characters’ cold family relationships.

After an initial visit to talk with the VGCC students, Clark returned to campus for what he called “a glorious three days” to work with students on building the sets and putting together the costumes. “I’m thrilled to be working with such a talented, dedicated cast and crew,” he said of the students. For her part, Henderson said, “It has been a wonderful opportunity for our students to work with such an accomplished professional in the field of theatrical design.”

With a career in the theatre spanning 25 years, Clark has called North Carolina home since completing his master’s in fine arts at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2000. He has managed the Fine and Performing Arts Center at Cary Academy for the last 17 years, and his work is often seen on stages across the region, with credits including: Meredith College, William Peace University, Raleigh Little Theater, StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance, Manbites Dog Theater, Bright Star Touring Theatre, Raleigh Ensemble Players, Honest Pint Theatre, the Justice Theater Project and NC Theatre. Clark has been an artist for opera and ballet productions, as well as traditional plays.

First staged in 1944, “The Glass Menagerie” is based in part on Tennessee Williams’s own memories of his family. The story focuses on Amanda Wingfield, a “faded Southern belle” who lives in poverty in a dingy St. Louis apartment with her son, Tom, and her daughter, Laura. The crux of the action comes when Tom invites a young man of his acquaintance to eat dinner with the family. Jim, the caller, is at once pounced upon by Amanda as a possible husband for Laura.

The VGCC cast features Brittney Patterson of Henderson as Amanda Wingfield; Ben Taylor of Franklinton as Tom Wingfield; Samantha Hines of Henderson as Laura Wingfield; and Jordan Bunting of Rocky Mount as Jim O’Conner. Members of the crew include Chadstity Copeland of Henderson (Assistant to the Director/Stage Manager), Allison Hines of Henderson (Assistant Stage Manager/Props), Jamie McGinn of Wake Forest (Costumes/Assistant for Props), Camden Jones of Henderson (Lighting/Sound operator), Lauren Elliott of Oxford (Head of Props) and Mya Hargrove and Evan O’Geary, both of Henderson (Hair and Make-up). All are current students at the college, except for Elliott, an alumna and VGCC staff member.


VGCC holds Banquet to honor Student-Athletes

Vance-Granville Community College celebrated Vanguard student-athletes at its annual Athletics Banquet, held on March 31 in the Civic Center on the college’s Main Campus.

VGCC Coordinator of Student Activities & Athletics Jermiel Hargrove started the event by praising the students for their hard work, both on the court and in the classroom. He noted that the VGCC athletics program is growing, with the 2016 addition of the “Vanguard Spirit” cheerleading squad, while the men’s basketball and women’s volleyball teams have celebrated historic successes.

Serving as guest speaker for the event was Carlos Fields, a football standout at Northern Vance High School and Winston-Salem State University who is currently a linebacker for the Los Angeles Chargers. Fields spoke about his “idol,” his mother, Sheila Kearney, who was also an outstanding student-athlete and became an educator. “She motivated me to be a great athlete, but most of all, to give back to my community,” he said. Fields plans to go into coaching and teaching once his professional playing days come to an end. To the VGCC athletes, he emphasized the importance of character, “being coachable,” and working hard “while you wait to get your opportunity to excel.”

Hargrove started the presentations of awards by recognizing VGCC women’s volleyball players. He presented the award for Most Valuable Player to Kiyanna Kearney of Henderson, the Team Captain award to Jesse Edwards of Henderson and co-Freshman of the Year awards to Stormi Abernathy of Yanceyville and Hannah Arneth of Oxford.

Other volleyball team members recognized included Nicole Bowman of Oxford, Allyson Cash of Grassy Creek, Ashley Parker of Henderson, Katelynn Ray of Henderson, Madison Waddle of Kittrell and Hanna Williams of Oxford, along with assistant coach Rachel Thomas, a former VGCC student-athlete.

VGCC staff member Tina Ragland, who coaches the cheerleading squad, presented the Most Valuable Cheerleader Award to Latessa Wilkerson of Henderson, the Most Spirited Cheerleader award to Seniqua Turner of Henderson and the Most Versatile Cheerleader award to Stackia Burwell of Henderson.

Other cheerleaders recognized included Anaya Brown of Henderson, Sequoyah Jones of Oxford, Latia Thomas of Henderson, Chiatyra Turner of Ebony, Va., and Kaela Williams of Henderson.

Vanguards men’s basketball head coach DeMarcus Oliver presented awards to members of his team. He named TyQuon Reid of Goldsboro as MVP, Christopher Pernell of Raleigh as Teammate of the Year, and NiQuan Cousins of Raleigh as Freshman of the Year. In a first for the program, the coach also presented commemorative basketballs to Reid, for scoring the 1,000th point of his VGCC career on Feb. 22 and to Pernell for scoring his 100th career three-pointer on Feb. 9. Both set new records for the Vanguards program, the coach noted.

Other basketball players recognized included Antonio Adams of Raleigh, William Beck of Raleigh, Darius Buford of Cary, Kenneth Finley, Jr., of Raleigh, Lynn Henderson of Henderson, Jaylen Jones of Warrenton, Calvin Manley of Louisburg and Thomas McCaffity of Warrenton, along with assistant coach William Clements and team manager Mycal Elam, another former VGCC student-athlete.

Hargrove also recognized four students for their service as support staff for the VGCC athletics program this year: Micah Roberts of Stem, Daniel Reece of Henderson, Alana Towles of Oxford and Angelique Taylor of Macon.

In closing remarks, Stacey Carter-Coley, VGCC’s vice president of employee and public relations, congratulated the student-athletes on the past year and thanked their family members for their support.

Current or prospective students interested in participating in VGCC athletics during the 2017-18 year should contact Jermiel Hargrove at [email protected] or (252) 738-3246.


Students graduate from VGCC Tea class

Vance-Granville Community College recently celebrated the graduation of students from a class called “Tea and Etiquette.”

The class held its final meeting and graduation ceremony on April 4 with an afternoon tea party planned and carried out by the students at the First Presbyterian Church of Henderson. Several different types of tea, as well as savories, scones and sweets were on the menu. Graduates included Barbara Paro of Butner; Sue Eckard of Creedmoor; Kishia Jones and Pat Miller, both of Henderson; Susan Cox, Dawn Lemons and Lynn Patiky, all of Oxford; and Kaydee Karns of Stem. The instructor was Dr. B.K. McCloud of Oxford. This was the seventeenth time that VGCC has offered the class, since it was founded by the late Constance Lue in 2006.

McCloud reported at the party that three of the eight graduates enrolled in the class after reading about it in a letter to the editor of the national “TeaTime” magazine.

In the course, students learn about the history of tea; the difference between an afternoon tea party, a royal tea party and “High Tea”; and the proper way to make the best pot of tea. They have tastings of a wide variety of teas (black, white, green, Oolongs and herbal) at each class meeting. Beyond the specifics of teas, students study grace, civility and etiquette.

For information about future tea classes, contact Gail Clark at (252) 738-3385 or [email protected].


Entrepreneurs encouraged to dream at VGCC summit in Warrenton

Established and budding entrepreneurs, representatives of area businesses and non-profit organizations, and a group of Warren County High School students received inspiration as well as practical advice for using technology in marketing during the Small Business Summit, held at the Warren County Armory Civic Center in Warrenton on April 6.

The summit was the fifth such free event organized by the VGCC Small Business Center, in partnership with the Chamber of Commerce of Warren County, the Warren County Economic Development Commission and the Lake Gaston Regional Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center.

This year’s event was entitled “Driving Your Business: Staying Ahead of the Curves.” The keynote speaker was Tammy Crowley-Deloatch, a nationally certified personal trainer and president of New Day Fitness in Roanoke Rapids. Her presentation was called “Put Your Dreams to the Test” and was based in part on a book with a similar title by John Maxwell.

“Most people have dreams, but they have no idea about how to achieve their dreams,” Crowley-Deloatch told the audience. Her “test” involved ten questions that each entrepreneur needs to ask in order to succeed, such as “the passion question,” which asks if the dream is compelling the dreamer to follow it. She encouraged small business owners to be responsible “dream-builders,” not merely “fantasizers.”

Crowley-Deloatch advised her audience that “we’re going to fail more than we succeed, but we only learn through failures.” She said that over her 33 years as a small business owner, “I had some growing pains but they made me stronger. It’s been a long journey but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” She concluded, “I can’t wait to see what each of you do with your dream.”

The opening session of the Small Business Summit was called “Google – Get Your Business on the Map” and was led by Craig Hahn, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce of Warren County. “Google is by far the largest search engine,” Hahn said. “It’s how people find everything.” He said small businesses need to learn how to use their Google search results to bring in customers by inputting information that is up-to-date. Hahn took participants through the steps of “verifying” their listings on Google and using a free tool called “Google My Business,” which is for businesses or organizations that make in-person contact with customers.

The two other sessions at the summit were led by Chisa Pennix-Brown, CEO of Lady Bizness, based in Greensboro. Pennix-Brown teaches small business courses at community colleges across the state.

In the first seminar, “Business Apps Made Easy” (1-3 p.m.), Pennix-Brown taught participants how they can save time and money using mobile apps. She gave her audience examples of apps, almost all of which are free or have free versions, that businesses can use for graphic design, newsletters, press releases, videos, meetings and social media postings. Her second seminar was called “Facebook Made Easy.” Pennix-Brown gave the participants a step-by-step guide to creating a business page on Facebook and how to use the page to engage customers. One of the latest tools that businesses can use, she said, is “Facebook Live” video streaming. She encouraged entrepreneurs to understand their own brands. “Ask yourself, what distinguishes you from other businesses like you?” Pennix-Brown advised. She said entrepreneurs need to “sell” their own personality as part of branding. “If you have succeeded, it’s because of something in particular about you, not just your products,” she said.

CenturyLink was the summit’s presenting sponsor. Other sponsors were Halifax Electric Membership Corporation, The Warren Record, The Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer, WIZS 1450 AM, The Daily Dispatch and WARR 1520 AM.

For more information about the services provided by the VGCC Small Business Center, call Director Tanya Weary at (252) 738-3240 or e-mail her at [email protected].


VGCC Men’s Basketball Tryouts set for April 19

The Vance-Granville Community College Vanguards men’s basketball team will hold spring tryouts for the upcoming 2017-18 season on Wednesday, April 19, from 6-8 p.m., at Western Vance High School (2785 Poplar Creek Road, Henderson, NC 27537).

All participants must bring a current physical to the tryouts. Members of the basketball team must enroll as full-time VGCC students for the fall 2017 and spring 2018 semesters.

VGCC at UNC JV Mens Basketball
Photo by Mark Dolejs

For more information, contact VGCC Coordinator of Student Activities & Athletics Jermiel Hargrove at 252-738-3246 or [email protected].


Vance-Granville Community Band presents free spring concert on May 1st at McGregor Hall

The Vance-Granville Community Band will hold its annual spring concert on Monday, May 1, at 7:30 p.m. at McGregor Hall Performing Arts Center in historic downtown Henderson. Admission is free of charge.

This will be the second time that the Community Band has held a concert at the 1,000-seat venue, located at 201 Breckenridge Street in Henderson.

The concert is set to feature some classics of band literature, including the original transcription of the famous overture to “The Barber of Seville” by Rossini; two classic Sousa marches, “Hands Across the Sea” and “The Black Horse Troop“; as well as two additional traditional marches, “Free Spirit” and the 1911 “Ringling Brothers Grand Entry March.”

According to Community Band director Brian D. Miller, “bands should always play the classics of literature. No concert is complete without several marches, and Sousa wrote marches better than anybody else! Marches are the all-time greatest music written for band, and we have certainly had a lot of fun learning these.”

Miller noted that it is of local interest that John Philip Sousa himself vacationed in Henderson in 1920. He went hunting with the mayor of Henderson and spent the night at the mayor’s home while here.

The band will also perform a transcription of music from the 1949 Broadway musical, “South Pacific.” Other selections include the “Finale” from Dvorak’s Ninth Symphony and an entr’acte from the seldom-heard Romantic-era opera, “King Manfred,” which is “a beautiful composition,” according to Miller.

The band will feature its star tuba player, Justin Bare, on a tuba solo with band accompaniment entitled “The Grumbly Old Bear,” written by Julius Fucik, better known for his popular circus march, “Entry of the Gladiators.” Finally, for lighter fare, the band will pay tribute to the Beach Boys and the Eagles with medleys of those groups’ greatest hits.

“It’s a concert for everybody,” quipped Miller. “We want everybody to come and appreciate the work of these musicians. The ensemble is truly representative of our four-county service area. Nothing beats an old-fashioned band concert!”

Miller retired as band director at Louisburg High School and now teaches for VGCC and Crosscreek Charter School.

The Community Band, which is sponsored by the VGCC Division of Arts and Sciences, includes people of all ages, from all walks of life, and from throughout the region. No auditions are required. Rehearsals are held on Monday evenings from 7-9 p.m. at the Vance-Granville Community College Civic Center, on the Main Campus in Henderson, at Exit 209 on Interstate 85 (Poplar Creek Road). For more information, contact Brian Miller at (919) 496-5877 or at [email protected] or Betsy Henderson at [email protected].


Retired judge, wife endow scholarship at VGCC

Henry Banks, who recently retired as chief judge of the North Carolina Ninth Judicial District Court bench, and his wife, Mamie B. Banks, recently established a new scholarship at Vance-Granville Community College.

Residents of Henderson, Judge Banks held court in Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren counties as a district judge for almost 21 years, while Mrs. Banks is a longtime educator, currently teaching in the Exceptional Children’s department at Northern Vance High School. She actually started her own higher education at VGCC, taking general education courses at the college before transferring to North Carolina Central University to complete a bachelor’s degree in education and, later, a master’s degree in special education.

Judge Banks also received both his undergraduate and law degrees from NCCU. He practiced law for many years in Henderson and served on the Henderson City Council for 13 years.

In awarding the new J. Henry and Mamie Banks Academic Achievement Scholarship, preference will be given first to students in the VGCC Paralegal Technology degree program, and secondly to students preparing to become teachers, either in the Early Childhood Education program or in the College Transfer program.

Judge Banks said that in addition to his wife’s experience in the teaching profession, he has always had a passion for education, as well. “We’re endowing this scholarship to provide financial support to help people pursue their dreams,” he said. “Because of my career, I know there is a particular need for qualified paralegals in our area.” Mrs. Banks added that she and her husband hope their contributions will encourage others to donate to the community college and help area residents gain education and training.

“We are so grateful to Judge and Mrs. Banks for their support of VGCC students,” said Dr. Stelfanie Williams, president of VGCC. “Their examples of public service, both in the law and in education, will inspire students who receive the scholarship in their name for years to come. Not only the scholarship recipients, but also their families, their employers and their communities will benefit from the Banks family’s generosity.”

Through the Endowment Fund, VGCC has awarded more than 8,800 scholarships to students since 1982. Scholarships have been endowed by numerous individuals, industries, businesses, civic groups, churches and the college’s faculty and staff. Tax-deductible donations to the VGCC Endowment Fund have often been used to honor or remember a person, group, business or industry with a lasting gift to education. For more information about the Endowment Fund, call (252) 738-3409.