Thursday, June 11, 2009

Germanna to offer classes at new Stafford Center at Aquia Park this fall

Germanna opens a center in North Stafford on Aug. 20. Above, a student in an art class at GCC's Fredericksburg Campus in Spotsylvania works on a piece ...


The Free Lance-Star

Germanna Community College will begin offering classes in North Stafford in the upcoming fall semester.

The school is finalizing its lease for 5,000 square feet of space within a mixed-use development known as Aquia Park, Vice President Rick Brehm told the college's board Thursday.

Classes are to begin at Aquia Park on Aug. 20.

"We are excited to be opening our first Germanna Center in Stafford County, and see it as a first step to better meeting the needs of students and businesses in the Stafford community," President David Sam said.

"It is difficult to begin a new venture in a time of budget cuts and economic downturn. However, it is in a time such as this that Germanna is needed even more," he added.

Sam thanked the Stafford Economic Development Authority for deciding to invest $300,000 in the project over three years. He said that decision helped make it possible to begin offering classes in the fall semester.

Sam and Brehm met recently with Donn and Donna Hart, partners in the Aquia Park development, to finalize details for the college's space.

Aquia Park is located on the west side of U.S. 1, about a quarter-mile south of the Garrisonville/Aquia exit of Interstate 95.

The school will have four classrooms plus offices and computer space in a two-story office building.

Donna Hart said the plan is to have the space ready for Germanna in July.

The North Stafford location brings to four the number of Germanna campuses or centers. In addition to its main campus in Locust Grove, the college operates the Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper and a Fredericksburg campus in the Massaponax area of Spotsylvania County.

Stafford Economic Development Director Tim Baroody said the North Stafford facility is the result of roughly four years of effort on the part of college, community and government officials.

"A lot of pieces have come together and we are delighted," Baroody said. "It obviously helps us provide additional work force develop-ment opportunities to our residents. Obviously, that helps Stafford economic development."

College officials realized that many Stafford residents driving north to work did not want to extend their commute to Germanna's Fredericksburg campus. The college also recognized the growth in population and businesses in North Stafford.

The North Stafford center is envisioned as the first step toward establishing a free-standing campus. Sam said this week that he is still looking for a donor to provide land for a campus.

Germanna officials expect North Stafford students to have a variety of goals, including an associate degree, preparing to transition to a four-year college and enhancing workplace skills to continue in a current job or make a career switch.

The college will assess the needs of North Stafford students over the first two or three semesters to pinpoint the community's interests, Germanna spokesman Mike Zitz said.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972


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