Saturday, June 22, 2024

A night to remember

The Community Recreation Leadership Program (CRL) at College of the North Atlantic (CNA) recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, and to mark the occasion the Prince Philip Drive (PPD) campus hosted a reunion 50 years in the making.

Speaking about the program’s legacy and its widespread impact, Paul Lahey, current instructor of the program at PPD, explained it was a great opportunity to celebrate how far the program and its graduates have come.

“It’s great to celebrate 50 years of providing graduates to work in many sectors of the field, to come together,” he said. “As a program that deals with the various sectors of the field and many of those contacts, supervisors of students placements, employers are our own graduates – so we wanted everyone to come together to celebrate.”

The reunion was open to anyone who attended the program both past and present and took place at the PPD campus gymnasium in St. John’s.

“With the assistance from Current CRL Faculty Laura King and Megan Clarke, we wanted to bring everyone together to share the history, share stories, celebrate the success of our program, and highlight the achievements of the graduates,” he added.

“Approximately 140 people were in attendance. We had students present who were in the very first program in 1974 and students who were in the most recent CRL program of 2024.”

Lahey said alumni and students were treated to 7 stations of hot food including a variety of delicious culinary delights from the students of the Marine Cook program under the supervision of Chef Derrick Collier—which highlighted the event. Upon arrival guests were welcomed with a mocktail hosted by the CNA Tourism and Hospitality students. Guest that evening were entertained with live performances by students in the current and final graduating classes of the Community Recreation Leadership program. Lighting and sound was arranged by the Sound Recording and Production program. Food service coordination was led by Mike Reddy. The Advancement and Alumni team at CNA provided a commemorative token to all attendees as a keepsake from the event, and cooperation and assistance was provided by Graphic Communications, Audio Visual, Student Development Officers, Physical Operations, CNA marketing and Brand Strategy Department, and the Applied Arts and Tourism Campus Administration team. So, it really took much support from many stakeholders at the college to make this a reality.    

“I took the liberty of emceeing the event with a history of the program, list of faculty over the years, moment of silence for these faculty and graduates who are no longer with us,  Introduction of the new revised program now to be called Community & Therapeutic Recreation, and ended the formal piece with announcement of two Lifetime achievement winners – Gary Miley – one of the first students in the class of 1974 and just retired from the field with 50 years of service, and the other faculty including Catherine Parsons – instructor for the CRL program who retired in 2019 with 45 years of service,” he said.

He noted they created the opportunity for the final Graduating class to get involved with taking part in the planning process and they fulfilled the role of running the event during the evening of the Reunion at the PPD Campus.

Lahey himself graduated from the program in 1987 and said he is proud to be a part of one of CNA’s longest and most successful programs, which has a full intake of 25 students each year, along with a waiting list.

“I feel it was very important to create this event to celebrate the achievements of the program and bring our graduates together for this monumental reunion,” he said. “It was a great success with fantastic support from all levels of the College of the North Atlantic, it was an event to be remembered.”

For more information about CNA’s schools and programs, visit College of the North Atlantic – Explore our Schools (

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Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne McIsaac
Ryanne is Editor of CNA Currents. Born and raised in Stephenville, NL, Ryanne moved back to Newfoundland after spending 16 years in Calgary, Alberta. Ryanne has a Journalism Diploma from College of the North Atlantic and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Cape Breton University. She worked for many years as a reporter and freelance writer. She is happy to be back in her hometown and working for CNA.


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