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For Immediate Release


Student/Faculty Produced Piedmont Airlines Documentary Highlights Soldiers Reunion

On Reunion Day, the climax of the 123rd Soldiers Reunion patriotic festival, a free-to-the-public film show will highlight the early afternoon activities in downtown Newton.
A screening of “Speedbird,” a documentary of the history of Winston-Salem-based Piedmont Airlines, will be held on Thursday, August 16, beginning at 1:30 p.m. at the Old Post Office Playhouse located on Courthouse Square. The film recently premiered on UNC-TV public television.
The Catawba Valley Community College Foundation, Inc. is partnering with the City of Newton, The Green Room Community Theatre, The Catawba County Museum of History and The Trott House Inn to honor CVCC Hands-on-History students and faculty. In addition, “Zeke” Saunders, a Catawba County native, World War II pilot, and retired Piedmont Airlines executive, will be honored as the Grand Marshal of Soldiers Reunion Day Parade at 5 p.m.
The Reunion parade is a historic event held annually since 1889. The History Department of CVCC is using this event on Reunion Day as a fundraiser, according to Teresa Warlick Biggs, executive director of the CVCC Foundation.

Continuing its support of Catawba County veterans, the Rotary Club of Newton-Conover is a sponsor of this event.
The CVCC Hands-on-History classes allow students to participate in an academic project that may be placed on public television to bring local history to individuals in their homes, Biggs explained.
Recently, UNC-TV aired “Speedbird,” the first documentary film produced by the history class. It was supported by the CVCC Foundation through the generosity of the Tom Davis Fund, named for the founder of the airline, the Piedmont Silver Eagles Charitable Fund, and the Piedmont Aviation Historical Society. CVCC provided funds in the amount of $17,000 to purchase the field equipment package and editing system that is compatible with UNC programming standards.
CVCC history professor Richard Eller personally published a book, “Piedmont Airlines—A Complete History,” used in the “Speedbird” project, which features Sherrill’s Ford area native Harold K. “Zeke” Saunders. Eller is the instructor of the documentary-filming history classes, as well as having been author of the book.
Eller and his history video class—Jessica Childers, Christina Daniel, Johnathan Holder, Christopher Reidel, Alexander Schilz, and Hannah Tolbert —collaborated on the project, making it the first CVCC student and staff video production.

Other Hands-on-History students who participated include Tiffany Ellis, Kelly Hobbs, Mandy Jolly, Billy Justus, Teddy Lee, David Leszczewski, and Shawn Sigmon.
The sale of DVDs of the video will be used as a fundraiser for the class CVCC History Department and will be available for purchase at the screening as well as in the CVCC History Department by contacting Rebecca Jernigan at 828-327-7000, extension 4624 or e-mail
As part of the Reunion Day celebration, a luncheon using a Piedmont Airlines menu from the iconic air carrier’s in-flight food service will be held beginning at 11:45 a.m. in the lobby of the Old Post Office Playhouse.
The screening will be held at no cost and is a ticketed event. The cost of the luncheon is $25. Tickets for both events may be obtained by contacting the CVCC Foundation office at 828-327-7000, extension 4282 or 4288.
The CVCC Foundation, Inc. was chartered in 1984 with the mission to foster and promote the growth, progress, and general welfare of the community college, Biggs explained. For more information, contact the CVCC Foundation office by phone or e-mail at or

Picture Caption
Left to Right Richard Eller, CVCC History Professor; David Hood, Chairman of The Green Room Community Theatre; David Sain, Chairman of the Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) Foundation, Inc.; Anne Stedman, Mayor of the City of Newton; and Melinda Herzog, Executive Director of the Catawba County Historical Association.


2550 US HIGHWAY 70 SE • HICKORY, NC • 28602-8302 • 828.327.7000
Updated 10.30.2008: Administrator