ORLANDO, Fla. -

Hundreds of students and alumni gathered near the Reflecting Pond at the University of Central Florida on Monday as the school celebrated its 50th birthday.

Attendees enjoyed Italian ice in front of the university's library, the first building built on campus, and came out in droves to show school spirit and ring in UCF's golden anniversary.

Melissa Westbrook, UCF student body president, was in attendance to show her support.

"This is our school. You know, you want to have pride in your alma mater. You want to have pride in the school you go to, so student morale is one of the most important things here."

Construction on the university began in 1963, and its first classes began in 1968 while founding university President Charles Millican was in office.

Student population was less than 2,000 in UCF's inaugural year, but has since grown to nearly 60,000.

"So much of where we are today goes to our founding President Charlie Millican," said UCF spokesman Chad Binette. "I don't know that he envisioned 60,000 students, but he really laid a foundation for a fantastic community, and we're happy [current] President [John C.] Hitt has built on that in the last 21 years."