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GPC hosts first public open house
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Visitors to the glittering new Newton County campus of Georgia Perimeter College Thursday night tapped their heels to the music of Greg McLean's Dixie Land jazz band, strolled the building on self-guided tours and ate free barbecue and watermelon.

As well as visiting the different science and computer labs, watching theater sketches and filling out suggestions cards, prospective students could take advantage of the mobile admissions unit.

Two students immediately received their full acceptance letters after filling out the appropriate paperwork at the school and were personally congratulated by GPC President Anthony Tricoli.

"We have this document here that welcomes you to the college and says you're officially a student," Tricoli said to the students.

 Cynteria Ivey, 18, of Social Circle graduated this spring and plans to study business administration. She said she chose GPC because it was extremely close to home and was impressed by the first of the twelve buildings planned at the Newton Campus.

"It's nice - it's big," Ivey said, "way bigger than Social Circle High anyway."

Trent Ackerman, 19, will drive from Snellville to study computer science at the new campus. He said friends said the Rockdale Campus was the best, and when he heard about the state-of-the-art Newton Campus' construction, he decided to come and apply.

"Everything now runs on computers," Ackerman said, "so I figure it's a good thing to study."

And GPC is certainly a good place to study technology. One of the main objectives of GPC administrators is to have 100 percent of the instructional spaces equipped with ultra-modern technology such as interactive white boards and student hand-held answering devices produced by SMART Technologies Inc.

A recent $75,000 donation from the Wachovia Foundation puts the college at $475,000 of its $1.5 million goal.

Members of the Newton County Board of Commissioners had an opportunity to meet with Tricoli about the future of GPC in the area.

"We had a great discussion - a good dialogue," Tricoli said. "We talked about the economic impact of GPC on the county."

Tricoli explained programs such as joint enrollment could lower high school drop-out rates in the county, while the division of continuing education and corporate training will enhance the quality of industry and business.

Strandridge Color Corporation in Social Circle is the first in the area to apply for corporate educators to assist their employees in learning to train new employees.

Transfer Acceptance Guarantees also greatly excite Tricoli. TAGs are arrangements between a four-year institution and GPC that guarantees each GPC student who completes a set of pre-selected courses and earns a required grade point average, a seat at the four-year institution.

Agreements have already been reached between Georgia State, University of West Georgia, Kennesaw State, North Georgia College and State University, Clark Atlanta, Clayton State, Oglethorpe and Strayer University.

Tricoli said GPC administrators are finalizing agreements with the University of Georgia and Georgia Tech.

"I have a great feeling that those will come through too," Tricoli said.

GPC administrators have opened a dialogue with Emory University officials about TAGs as well.

"Our goal is not to replace anything Oxford College is doing, but to create a new relationship with Emory," Tricoli said.

County Commissioner Monty Laster (District 5) sat in on the meeting with Tricoli. "It's very exciting for the community and a great opportunity for youth in the community," Laster said, "and it's only going to grow."

The Newton Campus opened its doors to almost 1,300 students on June 4. Tricoli said in the following days, enrollment grew by a few hundred more students. This fall, he expects the campus to serve 2,500 to 3,000 students.

"Our number of applications is up about 3,000 students over last fall," Tricoli said. "GPC is on the move."