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College of the Redwoods 50th Anniversary Celebration to be held Saturday

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EUREKA- The only community college in Humboldt County, College of the Redwoods, is celebrating its 50th anniversary on Saturday.

In the 1960s, community leaders across Humboldt County decided the area needed a community college, which was then referred to as a junior college.

"There was an effort to put it on the ballot.  And there were three components of the ballot.  There was the formation of the College of the Redwoods District, seven trustees were voted on and a 3.6 million dollar bond,” said Paul DeMark, the Director of Communications and Marketing at College of the Redwoods.

Voters passed those measures in 1964, and College of the Redwoods was established.  Initially, classes were held at high schools in the area.  In 1967, the Eureka Campus opened up and the first graduation was held a year later.

Sydney Fisher Larson has worked at CR for 27 years and talked about the challenges the school faced in the beginning.

"There was not housing for CR students and so a lot of CR students were living in Arcata in the same student housing where HSU students lived. Another was that historically, students were required to attend the community college in the district where they went to high school," said Larson, who is a Professor of Early Childhood Education at CR.

But new legislation made it so anyone can attend, and since 1964,  CR has had about 7,000 enrolled students every year on average.  But the school continues to face challenges.

"There is somewhat of a decreasing population in Humboldt County so enrollments aren't as robust as we would like because there just aren't as many children," Larson said. 

But students say they love being Corsaires.

"I love the forest and the ocean is right here.  It's like perfectly in between and the community is really nice, too,"

Kaylee Holland, who is a second year student at CR.

The CR 50th anniversary party lasts from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, and will be held on the lawn in front of the new Humanities Building.

"We're having one of the original 25 professors, Lou Nash was a philosophy professor here.  Rex Bohn from the Board of Supervisors will be speaking.  Murial Dinsmore who was on the foundation for years and was at the College of the Redwoods is going to come up and talk about the initiatives to make this a district,” DeMark said.

The celebration will also feature vintage photographs, tours of some of the new buildings on campus and refreshments.