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Yankton College finds new home for memories and alumni

Since its closing in 1984, Yankton College has been without a permanent home for the memories and memorabilia of its alumni.

The old campus sits where the Yankton Federal Prison Camp now resides.

A project to preserve memories of the college has been in the works since 2015, with a new permanent exhibit inside the Mead Cultural Education Center. The exhibit held a grand opening this week.

The space is called The Joseph and Sarah Wood Ward Alumni and Education Center of Yankton College. An organization of alumni raised over $750,000 for the new space.

"We just wanted to find a more permanent home than the one we had in Yankton High School," said Peter O'Toole, an alumnus of the college.

Alumni from across the U.S. gathered to share memories and view the new exhibit.

O'Toole said that as the alumni age, it's difficult to find new ways to reconnect. "We're just going to enjoy every day that this place is open," he said.

Leah Berry, the executive director who works with the alumni advisory board, said the close-knit community and quality of education alums received is what keeps them enthusiastic about the college's history.

"I really can't explain it. They are all still connected to each other," she said.

O'Toole noted that the small size of the college allowed students to stay connected over the years. "I have friends that went to big universities that only came out with two to three good friends," he said. "Here, you knew everyone."

The college still has a legacy through its scholarship fund, giving awards to the children and family members of alumni.

The exhibit is open every day on the third floor of the Mead Cultural Education Center.

Marissa Brunkhorst is a junior at the University of South Dakota. She is from Hutchinson, Minnesota and is based out of the Vermillion studio.