RALEIGH — “We are celebrating a very special anniversary this year. On Nov. 23, 1974, 150 students from 15 schools arrived at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC, for the first ever Science Olympiad.”
So said Kim Gervase, executive director of the North Carolina Science Olympiad, used these words to introduce the recognition of the 40th anniversary of the event’s founding at the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 State Tournament Friday at the Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh.
Gervase outlined the growth of the Olympiad from that initial offering to the National Olympiad now extended into all 50 states to the thousands in attendance, including more than 2,000 student competitors.
In acknowledgement of the role St. Andrews played in this successful program, the campus was recognized with a commemorative plate, presented to Campus President Paul Baldasare.
“It is an honor and a privilege to accept this plate as recognition on behalf of St. Andrews University,” said Baldasare. “This recognition for us today serves as an important reminder that some of the most important innovative ideas and creative programs for science education can be found not only at places like NC State, but also at small independent colleges and universities like St. Andrews.”
In addition to honoring the University, Rooney L. Coffman, director of logistics at St. Andrews, was presented with the 2014 Dr. Jason Painter Distinguished Service Award to a standing ovation.
“We honor a visionary who has done so much to promote Science Olympiad over the years,” said Painter. “He has served students for 40 years at St. Andrews and he has had an impact on so many people. He is so important to that campus and so important to the North Carolina Science Olympiad.”
Coffman was one of the original coordinators of the event alongside Drs. Donald Barnes and David Wetmore and has continued to coordinate the Olympiad on the St. Andrews campus since.