Macey Children’s Center opens

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The sun beamed bright, the walk was thronging with about 50 admirers, and pre-schoolers were decked in their finest, including one little girl resplendent in a pink ballerina tutu. In short, all was set for a hallmark event and the return of some hometown heros. New Mexico Tech officially cut the ribbon at the new Macey Family Children’s Center on Friday, May 4, with its largest benefactors, Bill and Cheryl Macey, in attendance.

Lisa Alvarado/El Defensor Chieftain: Cheryl Macey, far left, and husband, Bill Macey, former New Mexico Tech graduate and philanthropist, and Tech President Dr. Daniel Lopez, look on as the ribbon cutting brigade officially opens the Macey Children’s Center, last Friday. Bill Macey expressed his gratitude to Tech and his wish that coming generations attend his lama mater.

The new $1.5 million center will serve local children ages 2-5, priding itself on experiential learning and providing children with skills well above the curve – ABCs, colors and numbers all to be mastered here before entering kindergarten.

According to a press release, the new facility offers 6,000 square-feet of indoor space and 9,142 square-feet of outside area. The Center will also increase its capacity from 32 to 48 children.

“This is the result of generous individuals who donated to the building fund, but most particular, and the unflagging support of our major donors, Bill and Cheryl Macey,” University President Dr. Daniel H. Lopez said. “Many community members have donated to the fund, including former students, former parents, faculty members and local residents.”

Macey and his family are known for far reaching philanthropy to New Mexico Tech and Socorro. Such philanthropy includes $1 million for the construction of the Macey Center in the 1980s, and the highly competitive $5,000 scholarship, bearing his family name. In addition to their own direct donations to underwrite the center, Macey also matched funds for additional donations received for the project

Center Director Ann Sullivan was also on hand for the event, with a contingent of youngsters who headed up the ribbon-cutting.

“Children leave our center and are fully prepared for kindergarten – not because we give them classroom-style learning – but because we let them play,” Sullivan said. “Our graduates know their numbers, letters and colors. They also know how to play well with others. All our activities are interactive. We have no DVD players, no TVs and no computers. Our playground doesn’t have traditional equipment. We have what we call loose parts. Our children play with blocks, containers, pots, pans, crates and other movable parts. They build things. They work cooperatively. New Mexico Tech prides itself on its hands-on practical education. At the Children’s Center, we pride ourselves on the same thing.”

Cheryl Macey spoke after Lopez and expressed appreciation to the center’s staff and all the principals involved.

But the highlight was the touching speech given by Bill Macey. Moving here in 1938, he considers himself a “…real New Mexican, and it’s wonderful.” Slowed a bit by time, Macy came to the podium with the assistance of a walker. With a voice burnished with age, he opened with a joke.

“You wouldn’t think that I used to be a runner,” then laughed.

His gratitude to the school and to this town was obvious. “Everything I am, every success I ever had, all began at New Mexico Tech and in Socorro. Being here taught me how to be a real student.”

Turning to his wife, who stood beside him, “Cheryl planted this idea, the seed that became this building.” He also paid special tribute to Sullivan, whom he referred to as “…tireless. Ann is a real Energizer bunny. When we would be at meetings, I’d just zipper my lip and listen to what she had to say.”

After the ribbon cutting, handled deftly by a squad of the center’s young people, Macey paused to share a wish he has for the future.

“There are so many things I hope for, but at the core I wish that every child come to this school, that every one of them have the exposure to Tech, become part of the Tech community. The place is a tremendous asset.”

 


-- Email the author at lalvarado@dchieftain.com.

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