Alayna Johnston had a simple pitch Monday for students interested in the Student Government Association at Elizabethtown Com­munity and Technical Col­lege.

“We have a good time,” she said.

Johnston sold the organization to students as they traveled to and from classes Monday, the first day of the fall semester at the college. Student clubs, college programs and local businesses set up tables in the courtyard of the James S. Owen building as part of the Week of Welcome, or WOW.

Welcome activities continue from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. today. Organizer Susan Cooper said the event was promoting the importance of getting involved.

“If you are going to be here, be here,” she said.

In addition to the week’s events, many changes to campus facilities and programs greeted students.

Major renovations to the James S. Owen building nearly are complete; hospitality management, agriculture technology and paramedic programs are beginning this fall; and armed security officers are working at ECTC’s three campuses as part of a new partnership with county sheriff’s departments.

“I hope in 10 years, we can say that we’ve wasted $2 million,” he said.

About 4,764 students have enrolled at ECTC for the fall semester. That’s about 220 students more compared to this time last year, said Dale Buckles, chief student affairs officer.

Additionally, Buckles said the number of full-time students is up and the college retained more students than last year.

Enrollment is expected to increase as students still can register for 12-week and eight-week terms and a one-month term in December.

Johnston is starting her second year at ECTC. She’s studying political science and psychology and plans to transfer to the University of Kentucky and then attend law school.

Johnston, who is from Grayson County, was set to attend UK right after high school, but then she went on a field trip to ECTC.

“I realized it would be $15,000 cheaper,” she said. “I’d be stupid if I went anywhere else.”

She said her goal this school year is to secure a scholarship to UK. Looking back, Johnston said attending ECTC was “a really good decision.”

The student life experience at ECTC is good for the price, she said.

“(Student life) will be a lot better in the coming years when I’m gone,” she said.

Johnston also wishes she could take advantage of the planned Uni­versity Center, which would allow students to earn bachelor’s degrees on campus.

Levi Rigot was John­ston’s first friend at ECTC, she said. He helped her promote student government Monday.

Rigot, who lives in Brandenburg, said he wants to be an audio engineer and ECTC is helping him take care of his general education classes.

This school year, he wants to get more involved in clubs, especially the acoustic guitar club.

“You pay so much for your education ... and there are many resources that come along with it for free,” he said. “If you pay that money, you should get the full experience. If you don’t, you cheat yourself.”

Monday also was the first day of classes for Megan Stith and Brent Holsclaw, who joined ECTC’s leadership team over the summer. Stith is dean of institutional advancement, and Holsclaw is chief financial and facilities officer.

In the last two weeks, Holsclaw has overseen the final stretch of work on the Owen building.

Over the summer, crews worked to renovate the building, changing floors, lighting and classrooms. The final product makes the interior of the 53-year-old building look almost new, he said.

Holsclaw said very little is left to do in the building, which was not the case two weeks ago. In the next few weeks, new baseboards will be installed, new furniture moved in and touch up to the building.

The college is planning an open house in September to showcase the changes.

Katherine Knott can be reached at 270-505-1747 or kknott@thenewsenterprise.com.

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