LAURINBURG — To raise funds to bring its programs into the 21st century, the Laurinburg Institute will honor outstanding past students in a Hall of Fame banquet and Legacy Alumni Unveiling on Saturday.
The banquet will be held at Bright Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church from 6-9 p.m. on Saturday. The school will induct 14 alumni, noted in fields from athletics to gang resistance, into its Hall of Fame. The speaker for the event is the Rev. Dr. Soloman Jackson, Jr. of Columbia, South Carolina.
The day will begin with a community issues forum from 9:30-11:30 a.m. at Bright Hopewell. DeRay Cole, project manager of Robeson Community College’s N.C. Advanced Manufacturing Alliance, will be the master of ceremonies for the events.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will be directed to the Laurinburg Institute’s renovation fund, to equip its McGirt’s Bridge Road academic building to house distance learning, information technology, and telecommunication training.
“This area has been designated as the LNII Center for Technological Training and Certification Programs,” said Frank “Bishop” McDuffie, the school’s president, who hopes to have the 10-week program established and open to students this fall.
“It will utilize structure internships, apprenticeships, and work-study opportunities to produce a well-prepared individual ready to enter the IT workforce.”
Organizers originally planned the weekend to include a round of golf, a free fish fry, and a jazz performance by a Benedict College ensemble honoring Laurinburg Institute alumnus Dizzy Gillespie. But those events have been postponed indefinitely due to the weather forecast.
Bringing students back onto the school’s campus is among the institute’s goals, along with broadening its reach to serve students with specific needs who may not be able to move to Scotland County.
“We’re trying to take the use of distance learning to train not only students who walk in the door, but students who can’t, and we’re trying to reach the kids who have finished high school and for whatever reason they’re not prepared to go to college,” McDuffie said.
“We’re adding something completely unusual to our technology platform; we’re adding a cultural training program also. Culture is how people learn to act and interact with one another.”
The school’s re-dedication to technology education has in part been inspired by the needs of Scotland County’s economy, where traditional industry has been replaced by advanced manufacturing, according to McDuffie.
“Scotland County has had a loss of production work, so we’re trying to prepare a platform that will educate people to support and draw different opportunities for employment.”
Tickets to Saturday’s banquet are $50 per person, $80 for a couple, or $400 for a table. Contact McDuffie at 910 276-0684 for information.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.