by Jerri Whitner, Student Contributor
On October 14th the ALC community gathered for Alice Lloyd College’s Appalachia Day Homecoming. In addition to the celebration of ALC’s mountain heritage, Appalachia Day also honored the 100th anniversary of the Caney Creek Community Center. Along with the traditional music, crafts, food, and alumni games that characterize Appalachia Day, a special program for the Centennial was held at 1 o’clock in the Campbell Arts Center. Those who attended enjoyed listening to several speakers as well as watching a Kentucky Humanities Council Chautauqua performance.
The program opened with a prayer by the Executive Vice President Jim Stepp along with a thank you to ALC’s numerous donors that generously support Alice Lloyd College. He was followed by President Joe Stepp, who made several remarks regarding the historical journey of ALC and the Center, including the future of both. When talking about Alice Lloyd’s achievements, the President recalled that her goal was to prepare her students for a lifetime of service, that goal has been a part of ALC’s missions for nearly one hundred years. As he talked about the mission, the President stated to the audience, “My plea to you is let’s keep God’s miracle alive.” After the President’s welcome, the Voices of Appalachia (VOA), joined by a number of VOA alumni, performed the song “Brightest and Best.”
Focusing on the early days of The Center, Dr. Stephen Wilson, Professor of History, followed the choir’s performance and spoke about his upcoming book. Student Lindsay Blanken assisted Dr. Wilson in telling the audience the main reasons Alice Lloyd journeyed to Kentucky, such as her ailing health and her dream of making the area into an ideal community. Interestingly, Mrs. Lloyd’s plan for a college did not arise until the flu pandemic of the 1920s, which greatly affected the lives of many on Caney Creek. During this time, she realized the need for doctors in the region and began to form a college, which was first known as the Caney Junior College.
The audience was honored by the presence of Lawrence Baldridge, Mike Sloane, and Pauline Triplett, graduates of Caney Junior College in the 1950s. Each alumni shared their memories of Alice Lloyd and her impact on the ALC community. During Lawrence Baldridge’s remarks, he reflected on several comical stories about his time attending the Caney Junior College, but he also stated that, “One of the greatest things in my life was that I came to Caney Junior College.” Mike Sloane spoke of how important The Center was to him and his family, specifically referencing his father’s role as one of Mrs. Lloyd and Dr. June Buchannan’s first Crusaders. Pauline Triplett mentioned that at the time she did not appreciate what she was learning on Caney, but she has discovered that the lessons she was taught, such as the Purpose Road Philosophy, have become not only teachings but her life.
After the alumni remarks, Jacqueline Hamilton gave a moving portrayal of the life of Alice Lloyd in a Kentucky Chautauqua performance entitled “Stay on, Stranger.” The one-act performance gave a depiction of Mrs. Lloyd’s struggle to keep the community and college financially stable but also her passion to prove that, “The leaders are here.” When asked after her performance on how she felt about her role as Mrs. Lloyd, Jaqueline Hamilton stated, “I find it a great honor to play her. I believe her story is one of the greatest stories in the state of Kentucky.” A reception was held in Cushing Hall following the program.
In 1917, Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd traveled to an unknown community in the hills of eastern Kentucky where she soon started what would grow into present day Alice Lloyd College. The centennial of the Caney Creek Community Center serves as a celebration of the countless opportunities that have been created for the leaders of Appalachia as a result of Mrs. Lloyd’s tireless dedication. With the continuous support of the ALC community, Mrs. Lloyd’s mission to educate mountain people will remain for many years to come.