By Ryan Cornell
MIDDLETOWN -- The No. 1 wish for many students at Lord Fairfax Community College came true Monday when the college officially opened its student union building.
The two-story building, located on the northern end of the Middletown campus, totals 32,000 square feet and contains a fitness center, lounge, an expanded cafe and bookstore, student life offices and two classrooms. Construction of the building started in November 2012 and wrapped up this winter.
Speakers at Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony included LFCC President Cheryl Thompson-Stacy, Virginia Deputy Secretary of Education Dietra Trent, LFCC Foundation Board Chairman Terry Nyhous, Coordinator of Student Life Brandy Boies and men's rugby team co-captains Brad Oppy and Luis Salazar.
Thompson-Stacy said students at the college fill out satisfaction surveys each year, and the top need expressed each year has been for a fitness center and student center facility.
She pointed to Evan Humbert, a mathematics professor at the college who died in 2011, as a source of boundless energy and a positive influence on students and athletes. The fitness center located on the second floor has been named the Evan C. Humbert Memorial Fitness Center after the late professor and is free to use by all students at the college.
She said the student union building places Lord Fairfax "on the map" and shows how much it has changed over the years, now boasting an enrollment of nearly 10,000 college students.
"[T]his isn't your parents' LFCC," she said.
Deputy Secretary Trent was filling in for Virginia Secretary of Education Anne Holton, who was unable to attend due to a broken shoulder.
Trent offered heartfelt congratulations from Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who visited all 23 community colleges across the commonwealth before being elected, and said she was "so excited for this facility"
"I almost decided to bring my workout clothes," she said.
Oppy, who helped captain his team to the top of the Cardinal Conference last year, said he was ecstatic when he first heard about the new building.
"Opportunity is the key word," he said. "The opportunity to strengthen as a team, strengthen as individuals and strengthen as scholars; its awesome."
Nyhous recognized Garland Snapp for his contributions. Snapp, a farmer and orchardist, sold the parcel of land that the Middletown campus now sits on and bequeathed 19 more acres of land to the LFCC foundation in 1995.
He said Snapp probably didn't have the faintest idea of what his land would've become, and said this was just the beginning for Lord Fairfax.
"We built this building," he said to a crowd of people attending the ceremony. "We built this together, and we have a lot more work to do."
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or firstname.lastname@example.org