A new 23,150 square foot West Hills Community College District office opened this December in Coalinga. Wright did something special to mark the occasion: he presented a 48 star, vintage US Flag—the same amount of stars a flag would have had in 1932 when West Hills College Coalinga was founded—to District Chancellor Dr. Stuart Van Horn.
When West Hills Community College District Applications Analyst John Wright thought about the new home of the West Hills Community College District, he knew he wanted to do something special to commemorate it.
The flag, however, is not just a flag. Before it was presented to the chancellor, it went on a whirlwind tour of the California state capitol building, the federal capitol building, the state community college chancellor’s office, and each college and center within the West Hills Community College District. It was flown above each of these locations and will be flown in front of the new WHCCD building. “Over the last couple of years I have been baffled by what form of appreciation I could show the District as gratitude for the new District Office,” said John Wright, an employee of the WHCCD for 15 years. “This ‘Forever Home’ for the District is the first purpose designed facility that the District has ever occupied. My own personal difficulty that I wanted to resolve was to find something to tie the diverse past to the future for West Hills Community College District. I wanted the flag to have provenance so the idea came to me to find a vintage flag that would have been around when West Hills was founded. I have a background in history, my son is a Marine and I’m greatly involved with Memorial Day celebrations in Kingsburg so the flag is a symbol that means a lot to me.”
The flag presented is an actual 48-star Storm Flag from the World War II era. Storm Flags were typically flown during inclement weather and many have since been repurposed as internment flags, intended to be presented to family members of fallen soldiers.
Wright purchased the flag from an antiques dealer in Connecticut in June of this year.
Dr. Stuart Van Horn, WHCCD Chancellor, feels that the flag is an excellent representation of the dedication many employees have for the WHCCD.
“The nearly 800 employees of West Hills have an incredible sense of community, of purpose, and civic pride,” said Van Horn. “John, who works in our IT department, is a genuine, authentic testimony of the pride all of us should have in our country. His commitment to uphold American values makes me very proud to call him one of our own at West Hills.
I am deeply touched by his incredible gift to the district. The story behind this flag reminds us all that we live in the greatest country in the world.”
As for Wright, he’s proud to be a part of an important moment in the history of West Hills. “The history of the District and the current WHCCD leadership provide a perspective for education that ignites dreams,” said Wright. “When the flag is hoisted up on any one of the WHCCD flag poles, you can feel the pride and one acquires the strong feeling that the best years for the West Hills Community College District are boldly before us." Flag Raising Ceremony in Front of the District Office