Seussical The Musical cast strives to entertain all ages

By Jennifer Forester

Seussical, the upcoming musical production of Hood College Student Musical Theatre, referred to HCSMT,will debut on campus at the end of March.

Seussical, a musical based on the stories of Dr. Seuss, has universal themes that are relevant to Hood students. and, according to the director of the play and president of HCSMT, Travis Gilbert, Themes of bullying and differentiating between “us” and “them,” for example, are explored in the musical.

Gilbert, a junior history and pre-law student, chose Seussical as the spring production because he found himself interested in the literature of Dr. Seuss, seeing the author as “a dad figure” and was tired of seeing the “silly, ridiculous side of Seuss.” He said that he is “fortunate to go to a school that tolerates differences,” and called Seussical a “biographical sketch,” saying that Dr. Seuss “speaks for those” who cannot speak for themselves.

The play is an intricate combination of many of Seuss’s best known children’s books.

Seussical will differ from past productions because children of the Frederick community will be participating in the musical. HCSMT works with the kids by not only performing numbers, but by reading the Seuss books that the play is based on, and having discussions about them.

Gilbert said that by doing this, the group wanted to integrate literary development skills into the kids, serve as good role models, and expand its role within the community.

Additionally, Seussical will be the first production in which the lighting will be run by a professional theatrical lighting company, called Parlights, which is based in Frederick. There will also be new special effects such as confetti cannons and foggers.

Gilbert said that the art of Seuss is difficult to replicate, and that in many productions of Seussical, its essence is lost in translation.

He said that the artistic teams tried to make a modern example of Dr. Seuss’s art, saying that the costumes would personify the characters through color schemes, exaggerated features, colors and stripes. For this production, the team tried to move away from cartoonish features, and Gilbert stated that, “Seuss is about imagination.”

The imaginative aspects of Seuss will involve the audience, Gilbert said, explaining that “the entire theater is a stage.”

Freshman political science major Gabriel Cassuto, who plays the Cat in the Hat and is also a member of stage crew, wanted to emphasize that all the musical theatre productions are entirely student-run.

HCSMT is only a three-year-old organization, yet seems more “experienced, because it encompasses everyone’s expertise.”

He went on to say that everyone involved with Seussical “has a passion and mutual respect” for the production, and even though there is less time to rehearse for the musical, because of the teamwork and passion of the cast, they are “picked it up fast.”

Cassuto said he looked forward to “seeing Travis’ vision realized.” When asked what his favorite part about acting is, he replied, “The people make it fun; acting is a bonus.” He also emphasized how well the cast worked with each other, making the production enjoyable to work on.

Seussical will  run from Thursday, March 27 to Saturday, March 29. There are shows at 7 p.m. each night, and a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturday the 29.

Doors open 30 minutes before each show time, and both Gilbert and Cassuto encouraged audience members to “arrive early,” for Brodbeck auditorium only seats 325 people and seats are first come, first serve.

Tickets are free, but Gilbert said, “donations are greatly appreciated.”

Hood College Gospel Choir Ensemble spring concert

By Natalie Peake

Hood College Choir and Gospel Choir will perform spring semester concerts throughout the month of April.

The Hood College Gospel Choir Ensemble will perform a spring concert on April 27th at 3:00 p.m. in Hood’s Coffman Chapel with a variety of traditional and contemporary music.

The Hood College Choir will perform the Brahms German Requiem, and five Liebeslieder Waltzes on April 13th at 3 p.m. in The Brodbeck Music Hall. The five Liebeslieder Waltzes are based on country dances. The performance will be sung in German. There is free admittance for all concerts.

“Brahms wrote the piano part himself, and it is rarely performed,” said the director of choral activities, Lynn Staininger. Staininger believes the performance is going to be different and out of the ordinary for the concert choir.

The Hood College adjunct voice instructor, Lisa Dodson, will perform as a soprano soloist for the concert choir. She has been performing for concerts for the past 15 years. Piano accompaniment will be provided by Nick IntVeldt and Bill Powell.

The Hood College Choir meets twice a week on Tuesday and Thursdays during common hour. This time is set aside to rehearse for the upcoming concert.

The gospel choir meets on Sunday nights at 6 p.m. for two hours of rehearsal. The group of students enjoy singing and moving to the music. Leroy Smith, the gospel choir director, inspires students during rehearsal to “just have fun” as they sing and move rhythmically to the upbeat gospel music.

“It is like a big family,” Smith said about the gospel choir ensemble.

The ensemble is enthusiastic about their music and gathers around the piano as Smith conducts.

Smith said he is excited about the concert and the music being performed. One of the songs Smith chose is a song composed by Thomas Dorsey, a famous black gospel music artist.

In addition to directing the Hood College Choir Ensemble Smith is a 5th grade elementary teacher in Baltimore County and incorporates his skills from his teaching job into the instruction of the gospel choir.

Smith likes to have his choir rehearse with a high level of energy. The students stretch, clap, dance and move around to help motivate themselves and keep their energy levels up during the rehearsal.

The gospel ensemble rehearses while listening to the other parts of their choir group. The choir members are trained to listen to each other and bring together their vocals in order to produce the best overall sound.

Choir is an activity students have joined in order to make friends and be part of the community.

Connor Asman, a sophomore at Hood College, sings tenor in the gospel choir. He has made friendships while singing in the gospel choir. He enjoys singing on Sunday nights with the rest of the gospel choir family.

Sarah Tapscott joined the gospel choir after a recommendation from a friend. She is also involved with other choral activities at Hood college, including the Hood College Choir.

“I’d definitely say that choirs provide an environment filled with people who love to sing and we can be ourselves.” Tapscott said. “We are like a big family that comes together while doing what we love! I’ve made everlasting friends through choirs here.”

Undergraduate admissions changes currently underway

By Tatyanna Hunter

Positive changes and improvements to Admissions, Financial Aid, and Enrollment Management, are taking place due to the advice of Vice President for Enrollment Management Terry Whittum.

Whittum, the new Vice President for Enrollment Management as of October 2013, is enjoying his new position.

Whittum said that“there are challenges, but the students, faculty, and staff have been great and very supportive.”

A major change in the admission process is the schedule of the admission process. Traditional acceptance dates have been changed to rolling admission.

Changing to rolling admission “allows us more time to build relationships with admitted students,” Whittum said.

With the heavy snowfall, one admission event had to be postponed, but Whittum feels that the postponement is not an issue because it seems that having one or two large events works out better than many smaller events.

In fall of 2012, 406 new students, freshmen and transfers, entered Hood. In 2013 400 new students were admitted and enrolled at Hood.

Cindy Emory, Director of Institutional Research and Assessment, said that the current number of incoming students is very close to the average number of students enrolled at this time.

Whittum wants to have more incoming and prospective students see and talk to people who will have a positive influence on them, such as teachers and counselors.

Ted Luck, Director for Student Success and Outreach and a member of the interview team that hired Whittum, is excited about Whittum’s new plans for Hood.

With the new admissions plans on the way, Whittum hopes to “expand the region from which Hood attracts students.”

Some students eventually transfer out of Hood, but Admissions is working hard to attract students to the school. Emory says that the reasons some students leave are very different such as health related issues and just general transfers.

Luck believes that the weight of the enrollment and retention process should not only fall on Whittum, but the entire campus.

Mascot Blaze sparks praise and controversy

By Nick Bicho

Blaze, Hood’s mascot, has received both praise and criticism from basketball fans and players regarding his court-side presence last season.

Players and fans have mixed reactions to Blaze’s ability to pump up the crowd during the school’s basketball games. Blaze is played by five students and appears at all the home games for both the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

The athletic department chose the five students to be Blaze based on a few different factors. The assistant director of athletes at Hood,

Geoffrey Goyne, said that applicants for the mascot job were chosen based on their height and how they responded in the suit. Goyne said that they also needed to have multiple students wear the costume because class times sometimes conflict with games. The students who play Blaze are also required to keep their identities a secret from the rest of the student body.

“I interviewed each of the kids who responded and we kept the kids who showed the most interest,” Goyne said.

Regarding to how Blaze gets the fans excited, freshman Taylor McGaughey, a guard for the women’s team, says that there are certain points during a game where Blaze can really get the crowd going.

“When he does the shooting at half time everyone seems to really enjoy that and laughs,” McGaughey said.

During half time, Blaze can be seen participating in the 30- second shot contest with fans. The mascot can also be seen giving out high fives to fans in the student section while the basketball team plays.

While some fans enjoy Blaze’s court side presence, one fan, junior Theo Jenkins said he believes that Blaze does not really keep the crowd going during the games.

Another fan, Andrew Jacobs, a freshmen, who regularly attends the men’s basketball games, said that Blaze needs to be more involved with both the student section and the fans.

“Honestly I don’t even recognize him until halftime,” Jacobs said.

Goyne says that this problem comes from the lack of experience many of the students who play Blaze have.

“There was not a lot of experience for the performers to pull from.” Goyne said. “Only 25 percent of our potential performers had ever been a mascot prior to the fall. So, especially during the fall semester, when you saw Blaze, it could’ve been the first ever performance by a particular person.”

Todd Welch, Blaze’s handler, who helps guide Blaze during the games and who talks to fans for Blaze, sees how the fans react to the mascot during the home games. Welch says that some people are indifferent to the mascot while other people react pretty well to Blaze.

“A lot of people are excited and happy and want to take pictures,” Welch said.

Author and journalist Wil Haygood speaks to students during Civil Rights programming

By Stacey Axler

Acclaimed author and journalist Wil Haygood visited Hood’s campus on March 19 for a day filled with lectures and discussions as a part of the College’s celebration of the 50 year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

Haygood, author of “The Butler: A Witness to History,” a book that stemmed from his research and subsequent article about the longtime service of White House butler Eugene Allen, visited journalism classes, local community members, and different campus organization leaders before concluding his day in Hodson Auditorium with a speech and book signing.

During the 2008 presidential election, Haygood said he felt a “journalist’s intuition” that Barack Obama would win.  He wanted to write about the election from a different angle; with the perspective of someone that Obama’s election would mean more than the average person.

“When I started my research, I said I wanted to find someone that had worked in the White House for a long time,” Haygood said.  “I talked to my editor about several jobs, a driver, a maid, and finally I said ‘or a butler.’”

Haygood spoke to a feature writing class and other journalism students about his interviewing and story writing techniques when he was writing “The Butler.”

“Journalism is like shoe leather,” Haygood said.  “You need to put a lot of time and effort in to your interviews. I picked up the phone over 50 times before I found Eugene Allen.”

“The Butler” chronicles Allen’s time in the White House.  Allen worked during eight presidential terms, and witnessed major historical events first-hand, such as the Civil Rights movement and the effect of the Kennedy Assassination.

The original article Haygood wrote, published in The Washington Post in 2008 after the presidential election was later expanded into the 112 page book.

Last year, a film version of the book titled “The Butler” directed by Lee Daniels was released starring Forrest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey.

“I thought Lee Daniels did a fine job turning my book into a feature film,” Haygood said.

Haygood always enjoyed writing and dreamed of writing books.

Before writing non-fiction books like “The Butler,” Haygood worked as a copy editor at The Charleston Gazette before becoming a national and foreign correspondent at The Boston Globe.  In 2002, Haygood began a career as a national and foreign affairs writer at The Washington Post.

“The Butler” became Haygood’s fifth book; his other nonfiction works include: “King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr” published in 1993, “The Haygoods of Columbus” published in 1997, “In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis, Jr” published in 2003, and “Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson” published in 2009.

Haygood’s visit was one segment of Hood’s 50th Anniversary Events.

While those who attended Haygood’s programming appreciated his visit, Haygood equally enjoyed his time at Hood.

“I have been meaning to visit Hood for a while,” Haygood said.  “I have enjoyed my time here.”

Alternative spring break trips 2014

By Justin Callas

For the first time, the Frederick Alternative Spring Break sponsored by Hood assisted with the 4 H Therapeutic Riding Program.

The program provides recreational and therapeutic horseback riding to Frederick citizens with certified mental, physical and emotional disabilities.

Alternative Spring Breaks started six years ago and has now grown into a program with three different locations.   The three locations that Hood students visited were Habitat for Humanity in Fla., Whitakers NC and Frederick, Md.  During spring break the different student groups went to Florida and North Carolina Sunday through Friday and Frederick Monday through Friday.

Catherine Brown, a graduate assistant who participated in past alternative spring breaks, helps organize trips and will continue to participate in future trips said, “I wish I would’ve done it earlier.”

The Florida trip was filled to capacity, but spots were vacant for the NC trip and the Frederick “stay-cation.”  On these trips students helped give back to the community and visited shelters as well as contributed to  disaster relief funds Brown said.

Students who participated in the Frederick trip are allowed to stay in the dorms for free. Students also held fundraisers to help pay for the trips, which cost around $125 for the Frederick stay-cation, $475 for the North Carolina trip and about $750 for the Habitat trip, which includes airfare.

In NC and Fla. students helped build homes and helped out at local disaster relief foundations.  These students wanted to give back to those in need Rev. Beth O’Malley said.

O’Malley, the head of the Alternative Spring Break trips said, “the trips are a great way to meet new people since the groups change every year.  The group size ranges from 10 to 25 and both students and chaperones get to know each other on a first name basis.”

“The trips can be a lot of work,” Rev. O’Malley continued, “but it is very rewarding.”

These trips are meant to teach the students and chaperones about the communities they visit, she said.

Provost holds forum to address schedule changes

By Meg DePanise

Provost Conway-Turner met with Hood College students in a forum held Monday at 8 p.m. in Hodson Auditorium to address concerns regarding schedule changes that are to go into effect next fall. The Provost delivered a presentation and then opened the floor for questions to be addressed by her and registrar Nanette Markey.

Katie Hays, SGA Academic Affairs Chairperson, said the goal of the night was “to dispel any misinformation that may be circulating around campus.” The changes to the schedule have given rise to a number of groups on campus and many students have turned to social media to express their distaste with the administration’s actions.

Hood Student Power is one of the most prominent of these groups. At the forum four members led by Grant Gallagher approached the Provost on stage to deliver their petition signed by 245 Hood students who are concerned about the changes. “We’re asking Hood to live up to those values of hope, opportunity, obligation, and democracy,” Gallagher said addressing the audience and the Provost.

The real schedule changes and “nothing else unusual”

The Provost began her presentation with the basics. “The schedule is sort of the backbone of which everything else particularly during the day happens around,” she said. The schedule is typical of any college schedule and is designed to meet the needs for both undergraduate and graduate students.

She went on to discuss the motivations for the changes. One was to more effectively make use of the entire week. She said that with few Friday classes and common hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays there was a lot of compression in the week.

The current schedule is also designed for three-credit courses. The recent addition of a number of four-credit classes required accommodations in order to meet the minimal number of minutes standard for a four-credit course.

The new schedule also prevents the possibility of overlapping classes. It also is projected to enhance the retention of students and allow students to more successfully complete their degrees within four years.

The Provost said the new schedule will maintain a more effective common hour. The current schedule has common hour on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:45 p.m. to 2 p.m. The new common hour will be 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays.

She said that Tuesdays and Thursdays are a popular time for classes so they wanted to regain that time so that students can make the most of it. “But we also heard in the forums that we held with faculty, staff and students that the common hour was very important to students and many others,” she said.

The Provost recognized that choir will be directly impacted by the change to the common hour but the change was made on the basis that the majority of people expressed they needed more time to engage in activities they wanted. “I’m the first to say that no schedule is perfect and that people have to change based on the new change and new common hour so I was aware that the choir would be one of those places that would have to make a change in how you practiced,” she said.

The Provost said that the schedule will continue to have the average student taking 15 to 16 credits, 85 to 90 percent of classes will still be held during the day, and three hours will be reserved on Wednesday for other activities. “Nothing else unusual,” the Provost said.

The Provost provided two example schedules and addressed some major points of student concern. “The notion that somehow you are going to have really long days, it’s not happening,” she said. Students will now have more options with the new time slots provided so that they can more easily finish their requirements.

Another key student concern was time for work, volunteering, internships, and research. “You will continue to do those around your schedule in the same way that you do it now as hundreds and thousands of students have done it before you and will continue to after you so yes, there is flexibility there,” she said.

The new schedule, the Provost said, is “nothing really mysterious, it’s an enhancement of the current schedule.” She continued: “It is student centered in that we are looking to remove obstacles that our students had moving throughout their degrees and it provides you choice and ability to really balance your interest with other co curricular interests that you have.”

The smoke hasn’t cleared yet.

Gallagher commented on the outcome of the forum: “Tonight, Hood students have a lot to be proud of. We went to the forum and delivered a petition with 245 names, that’s one in 10 students after petitioning on three occasions. The Provost gave a promotional presentation and dodged questions. Administration’s supporters in the audience, including one of the SGA execs who decided to work against student opinion before actually meeting with students, heckled us. But we delivered a petition signed by 245 students who are against these changes and want to have a real say in decisions made at our school. I think it’s clear who raised the strongest and most constructive voice, and we’re happy about that.”

Hays said she was appreciative of the Provost coming out and the forum was successful in providing examples and explanations for the upcoming changes. “As the Provost said, no schedule is perfect but I think these changes next semester will go a long way in allowing students more flexibility in their schedule and help them to graduate in four years,” she said.

Drake Halpern, SGA president, wrote this in the SGA February newsletter: “As we look back on the Civil Rights Movement and the changes that followed, we at Hood are experiencing changes of our own. With these changes we venture into uncharted waters at Hood. In these times of change Student Government is doing all that we can to advocate for the students.”

Bianca Padilla who previously served on SGA and now is a member of House Council said that she hopes students got their questions answered. “As a senior graduating from Hood I wish that I could have had these schedule options,” she said. “I hope everything works out in the end and I look forward to see what happens next year.”

While some students said that they feel at ease after hearing the specifics of the changes, others expressed that they are frustrated with other issues. The forum brought concerns regarding Hood’s email system and additional scheduling conflicts, many surrounding the 18.5 credit cap for full-time students, to the forefront.

Junior Sarah Tapscott believes that with the addition of four-credit classes the number of credits a student can take without paying extra tuition should be increased. “The excuse that Hood is actually really giving with the 18.5 is garbage,” she said. “18 isn’t easily divisible by four so people can’t take five classes a semester anymore.”

Other students were more concerned about the process that led to the ratification of the changes. “Regardless of whether or not the changes are positive I would like to know more about the voice that students had in deciding on them in the first place because I don’t personally feel as if our input was effectively given in the actual process of deciding on these changes,” Sandow Sinai who also delivered the petition said addressing the Provost.

She said that three open forums were held. “We repeatedly sent emails out to students inviting them so much that we had some students telling us to stop doing it so we did invite input into the process,” the Provost said. “I’m sorry that you didn’t want to come but you know we did certainly invite students.”

Many students said that they didn’t receive the emails or that they could not attend the forums at their scheduled time.

Some feel that they don’t have enough of a say in their education. “Even the faculty are against these new changes,” Melissa Cutts, a sophomore, said.  “One of the reasons that was given to the staff was they are trying to prevent students from partying on Thursday nights.”

Other students were opposed to Monday’s forum being held on a snow day. “You know, I would have gone, but having the thing on a day where classes are cancelled from ice seems like they don’t really care about the students,” Kelsi Harshman, junior, said. “And even if we had classes and no weather, it was still during night classes. Why not schedule it during common hour, or some other time where everyone could attend?”

Attendance of the forum was lower than anticipated with about 50 students and scheduled to end at 9 and last an hour, the conversation lasted only about 30 minutes.

“I’m getting the idea that some of the students that want to speak up are being told to stay silent and that the few who do speak up are being ignored, so others are not speaking up because they feel like there’s no point,” senior Gwen Turner said.

Senior Lanee Higgins suggested something different. “At Hood we have a communication problem that extends far beyond the flawed email system,” Senior Lanee Higgins said. “Students spread things through social media but all of the students who attended the forum last night were not as vocal when addressed with the issue.”

Junior Mary Hickman said that she is apathetic about the changes. “No Friday classes is unheard of,” she said. “I think that people are getting upset over this because we’ve gotten a bit spoiled over Hood’s old scheduling policies.”

The core requirements also recently adjusted, eliminating the upper level course requirements. This is a change that the majority students and the administration agree on.  The Provost said at the forum: “We have made several I think important steps forward that will benefit students. The core changes are one and the schedule change is another. And what was the center of both of those changes was to expedite student’s ability to be successful in college and move through the program. “

The new schedule as well as the summer schedule will be released two weeks before Advising Day on April 4.

Watch the full video of Monday’s forum here.