Students mount drama despite budget, program cuts

By: Lindsey Medwin
Managing Editor

A shuttered major, slashed budget and challenging material did nothing to slow the drama students at County College of Morris as they mounted “The Elephant Man” to close out the semester in May.

The play, the true story of Joseph Merrick, an elephantiasis patient in the 19th Century, and his relentless devotion towards love and acceptance. Merrick’s story pushed the plotline of the drama through scenes that displayed significant moments in his life up until his death.

“The subject matter was hard to get through some nights,” said Liam Young, a former drama major who played the elephant man himself, describing the extensive preparation he went through to take on the role. Young went on to describe how he spent hours in the mirror, mastering the contortions and voice the part asked of him.

“That’s why I love the character so much because it’s a full body experience,” Young said, noting how much this differed from other CCM shows he’s acted in.

Also performing in prior dramas at CCM, Kira Gumbinger, who played Joseph’s friend Mrs. Kendal, expressed a sense of embodiment towards her role in this particular production.

“I think I grew as an actress to really be able to become that role,” Gumbinger said.

Gumbinger and Young not only showcased their talents on stage, but also took on additional responsibilities behind the scenes. Traditionally, actors’ jobs consist of delivering a performance while backstage positions are delegated to others.

Gumbinger not only played two parts on stage, but she also served as stage manager for the production. Young was extremely hands-on with technical work for “The Elephant Man” as well. Their willingness to fulfill these outside obligations allowed the show to thrive.

With a small cast and even smaller budget, the play enhanced the skills of the actors by performing the show ‘in the round,’ where the audience members are seated around the stage area, rather than in front. This use of setting allowed for a far more emotional and intimate experience and an even higher quality production.

“It was such an intense experience because you really felt part of the story,” said Dr. Robert Cioffi, professor of English and director of the show.

Throughout the performance, the simplistic execution of “The Elephant Man,” in terms of set and props, efficiently used the limited resources the drama receives to put up the show each semester.

Cioffi said that he’s had to teach numerous drama and English courses in a variety of settings, thus finding space in the Davidson Rooms at times.

“Many students have commented in the past several years that our facilities are inadequate,” Cioffi said.

In May of 2016, the Board of Trustees made the decision to remove the associates in fine arts as a major and only a concentration in drama under a liberal arts degree would be offered. This change became effective Friday, July 1 of that year.

“In the economic crunch, the college decided it was no longer economically feasible to stay with the program,” Cioffi said. “There are several other programs being looked at, but our’s was the first to go.”

Students already enrolled in the program who only needed a few short classes to earn their degree were given the opportunity to finish out their remaining courses.

“We worked to help them complete the degree before we stopped offering a number of the classes,” said Dr. Bruce Dutra, dean of the division of liberal arts on campus. Dutra said that the board and liberal arts department decided to continue the dramas themselves each semester.

“Obviously, we thought it was extremely important that we continued to offer at least some classes in drama and have the performances, the very high quality of performances,” Dutra said. “And fortunately, we’ve done that because Dr. Cioffi is an incredible leader and teacher.”

Young said that the program being cut has curbed his ability to learn.

“I want to study; I want to learn more,” Young said. “The whole program feels crippled.”

Costar Gumbinger echoed those sentiments.

“I think it’s really shameful of a community college,” Gumbinger said.

For his part, Cioffi said the program cuts are tragic.

“I think it’s a tragic thing what’s happened to the drama program,” Cioffi said.

Despite the challenges, members of the production have, in part, credited the show’s quality and success to the passion derived from these circumstances.

“One of the reasons our show was so good was because we were so furious that this was happening to our major,” Gumbinger said.

Figures regarding the program cut and budget itself were not stated in the meeting notes. When contacted about this, the department of business and finance on campus did not respond for comment.

Going forward, Cioffi aims to keep the dramas alive by encouraging new students to participate, as the shows are open to not only students across campus but anyone in the community. The “Elephant Man” alone illustrates the standard of theater students and faculty are willing to work for, in spite of any circumstance.

“We showed them the past two semesters that we don’t need their money,” Young said. “But it could just be so much better if we could have more backing.”

Members, however, did acknowledge their appreciation for allies of the program on campus.

“I know there’s some really great supporters of arts who saw the show,” said Gumbinger.

Cioffi said he wanted to thank Dutra and Dr. Janet Eber, professor of English and chairperson of the English and philosophy department specifically, saying without their support, “The drama department wouldn’t have lasted as long as it had.”

Students and faculty can look forward to another great performance in the fall, for they will be putting on “East Of Eden.

“It has family, it has a little bit of sex, it has some darker undertones…There’s some minority characters in it, which is awesome and it’s going to be great.” Gumbinger said.

Auditions will be held at the start of the fall semester.

 

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Student’s spring towards summer with sun-soaking, extra studying

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Communication major Alison Dolan and digital design major Loni Fiscus wait for their summer calculus class. Photo by: Jannat Sheikh

By: Erin Post
Contributor

When the spring semester officially ended at County College of Morris, students began their ritual of preparation for the warm summer months.

Many students rejoiced at the ability to relax in the warm weather, but for others, the beginning of summer break marked the dawning of extra classes to quicken the graduation process and the start of internships to jump-start their careers.

For some students, their chosen majors does not  give them a chance to relax during the break.

“Since I am a chemistry major, unfortunately, there is no such thing as a vacation for me in the summer,”  said CCM student Michelle Gostling. “I have an internship, two jobs, and I am also taking two online classes to make sure I can graduate on time.”

On the other hand, there are students who are ready to spend their summer days at the beach.

Michael Piccone, a liberal arts major, cannot wait to spend his summer in the sun.

“My family has a beach house on Long Beach Island,” Piccone said.  “So, I will most likely spend my summer there with them. I might get a part-time job while I’m there, but my main goal is to just chill and hang out with no stress. This semester sucked for me, so I just want to hang for a bit.”

Some students get to have the best of both worlds, which are work and a vacation. Rachael Stinsburg, a hospitality management major, said she gets to work and vacate this summer.
“I like where I work so much that I don’t mind being there every day in the summer,” Stinsburg said. “I work at a hotel chain, so I also get paid vacation too, and that’s a bonus. I’ll be taking a trip to Hawaii with my family as soon as the semester is over.”

The summer course schedule can be found at http://www.ccm.edu/admissions/.

Dancers show dedication in May performance

By: Katie Coyne
Entertainment Editor

​Faculty and students at County College of Morris participated in the Spring Dance Theater Showcase Wednesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 11 in the Edward J. Yaw Music Technology Center.

dance pic- Katie

CCM’s Spring Dance Theater Showcase on Wednesday, May 10 and Thursday, May 11 featured various styles of dance performed by students. Photo by: Katie Coyne

Performances included ballet, tap,  and modern style dances.  After practicing for two semesters, the dancers used the performance as another experience in the art which most of them have worked since childhood.

Some of the dancers are majors in dance theater, and others like Jon Reisch who is studying vocals at CCM are not but still enjoy dabbling in dance.
​    “Well, as an actor you need to be a triple threat, so that means you have to be able to sing, dance,” Reisch said. “And so I really didn’t dance before, so that’s why I took a few ballet classes.”
​    CCM Dance Theater director Terence Duncan has danced professionally for  years before teaching as a professor of dance.
​    “It was really important for me to be able to come back and teach college-aged students the tools that they need to be able to have success in dance,” Duncan said.
Duncan started dancing in high school and was previously a musician. He played the saxophone and bassoon and sang.  Being physically active as a track runner, he was interested in discovering how to put the aspect of movement into the art form of dance.
​    “I did all sorts of physical things,” Duncan said. “I was interested in something that was both musical and physical, and dance really made sense to me.”

Many dancers including professor Christina Paolucci, a member of CCM’s dance faculty, start dancing young. She started at age six.

“Every kind of dance I’m passionate about whether I can do it or not,” Paolucci said. “Dance is my life.”
​    Margo Donovan, a dance major at CCM, also got into dance at a young age, and she said that she hopes to one day instruct young kids.

“I started off when I was little, and I really enjoyed it.” Donovan said. “I want to teach younger children and get them involved.”

Donovan enjoys ballet and modern dance.

“Modern is a creative way to express yourself,” Donovan said.

Noelle Capuzzo, a double-major in dance and musical theater, began taking dance classes at age two and has been dancing for 19 years.
​“I just get really excited to be on stage, it’s like my little second home.” Cappuzzo said.  “Sometimes, I get a little nervous, but it’s more of like an anxious nervous.  I just can’t wait to get on stage and perform.”
​The stage came alive for each performance and the dancers’ dedication showed in each twirl and pirouette that was performed.  The audience smiled and snapped pictures of the dancers’ movements.
​The dedication and talent was prevalent as well as the time and effort that each dancer took in practicing for the showcase.

Ventilation system upgrade means hot summer for employees, students

 

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The CCM bookstore has turned off primary lights and set up fans and a dehumidifier provided by the college while their air conditioning is off. Photo by: Brett Friedensohn

 

By Jannat Sheikh

News Editor

Brett Friedensohn

Editor-in-Chief

The County College of Morris replacing its heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system in the Student Community Center has made for a long, hot summer for those housed in the building.

The goal is  finishing by the third week of August, and the SCC has not run HVAC since the renovations began, making the building susceptible to heat and humidity until the new system is expected to turn on at the end of the summer.

The college is performing the approximated $2 million overhaul, outsourced to De Sesa Engineering who has performed similar renovations to the academic buildings and to the Health and Physical Education building, due to the old system being obsolete as it was last replaced between 1999 and 2000, according to vice president of business and finance Karen VanDerhoof who said that the new system will include new sanitizing systems, boiler air handlers, improved air distribution, and the ability for each department to control its own climate.

She also said the reason CCM chose to do the installation during the summer rather than the winter months is because the employees who occupy the building would have a harder time coping with the cold, and thus, the college would run the risk of freezing pipes; they are not doing it in fall or spring because it would affect the largest number of students during the academic year.

“There’s no ideal time,” VanDerhoof said. “So we try to do it when it affects the least amount of people, the less students on campus, and when we’re not at risk for building damage.”

Employees in the building are provided with fans, dehumidifiers, and cool water throughout the day, and are also encouraged to take more breaks whenever they need to have cooler air, according to vice president of student development and enrollment management Dr. Bette Simmons, who works on the building’s first floor.

“Obviously, when the temperature and humidity levels rise, it is uncomfortable to work in the building,” Simmons said. “However, the college has taken all the necessary precautions to make sure that the air quality in the building is monitored frequently.”

Don Phelps, the associate director of the campus life office, said that he and the other employees go to different locations to relax and cool down from the heat.

“I usually go to the Cohen Hall cafe, or the LRC,” Phelps said. “There was one day last week where-again [I] just wanted to go to the LRC for 5-10 minutes, just answering emails over there.”

In addition, Phelps said that the renovations had not been too much of an inconvenience for him.

“I’m fortunate that my job requires me to be outside the building for meetings throughout the day,” Phelps said. “So I have some breaks built in.”

Kelly Wallace, an assistant in the bookstore on the second floor of SCC, said she found discomfort in the lack of air conditioning.

“The heat has been very hard to deal with,” Wallace said. “The school has given each department in the building numerous fans to try and alleviate the problem, but there is only so much that can be done.”

Despite these efforts, Bilal Awan, a business administration major at CCM, who took early 5-week summer classes and often studied at the SCC also felt uncomfortable.

“It was so hot there,” Awan, said. “It was hard to breathe. There was so much humidity.”

There were other students who tried studying in building according to Awan, but it was uneasy to remain in the excessive heat.

The dehumidifiers generate more heat and take the humidity out of the air, making the environment more uncomfortable, according to Debbie Hatcher, the Bursar who works on the second floor of the SCC. Hatcher said that she is not falling behind on any of her work, but due to the heat, she said she is not as productive as she would like to be.

Kristy Baker, an accounting assistant at the bursar office said that the heat is not too annoying until the humidity gets high.

“[The office] just gets really stuffy,” Baker said. “As far as the heat goes, I don’t really mind the heat. We’re just hoping that they’re on schedule, and they’ll get it done.”

Sandy Hyder and Nancy McDonough from the records and registration office, also on the second floor of the SCC, expressed their concern about the first day of the renovations. They said the first few days were the worst because fans and water were not distributed.

“It’s very muggy in here, unbearable at times,” said Hyder. “If you come in on a Monday, it smells from just being closed up all weekend.”

Furthermore, Hyder and McDonough said that some people had bright red skin on the first day, and they feared the possibility of heat strokes.

The near-record heat wave in the first weeks of June was expected to cool down and drop approximately 20 degrees in temperature towards the end of June, according to NJ.com. However, damp days, cloudy skies and cooler than normal temperatures may take over the summer. In New Jersey, the average high temperatures from July to August are in the 80’s while the average low temperatures from July to August are in the 60’s, according to Weather.com.

As far as the academic complex is concerned, CCM is not replacing the HVAC system there, according to Simmons.

The fall 2017 semester will begin Aug. 30 which includes Full Semester, Early Start 2-week, 5-week and early Finish 8-week classes.

Students find meaning in out of country experience

BY NICK SISTI
Entertainment Editor

County College of Morris students embarked on a European excursion with associate history professor Craig Pilant for the seventh year in a row.

This year’s trip visited Paris, Barcelona and Madrid, from March 7-18, in conjunction with EF College Study Tours.. Students, alumni and families attended the trip.

Some trip-goers felt inspired to take the trek by others’ experiences before them.

“My mom would always tell me how she went to Europe in her 20s,” said Dorothy Scheines, a computer science major at CCM. “She’d go on and on about how it was the most amazing time of her life, so that definitely motivated me.”

The trajectory of the trip spanned 5000 miles on plane and train, beginning with a jet-lag inducing overnight flight into Paris. The first place travelers visited was the church of Notre Dame.

“Notre Dame was awesome,” said Zack Blackstone, a CCM alumnus who is a repeat traveler on Pilant’s trips. “The gothic stuff was very large and impressive. It’s amazing it’s been maintained so well, considering how old it is.”

The next night consisted of the obligatory Eiffel Tower trip, something that many of the students had been eagerly anticipating. However, reviews were mixed as some felt their hopes shot down.

“The Eiffel Tower was really disappointing for me,” said Blackstone. “It’s a really bland monument. We had to wait in a super long line… it was a rough night. It was a nice view from the top, however.”

In spite of the long line, some felt the destination was more important than the journey.

“It was totally worth it,” said Scheines. “It was like being in a cage at the top of the world.”

Multiple sites in the Barcelona portion of the trip itinerary highlighted the works of renowned Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The first such site was Park Guell, which was originally constructed to be a private community hub. Though it was never populated, the park still stands today and is subjected to hundreds of visitors daily.

“Park Guell was so artistically fulfilling and beautiful,” said Blackstone. “I was really surprised that none of the property ever sold, but at least it gets the recognition it deserves now.”

Next on the list was Sagrada Familia, an ambitiously massive cathedral considered to be Gaudi’s final masterpiece. The building, which is still being constructed to this day, is projected to finally be completed in 2026. Construction began in 1882 and has slowly but steadily progressed, with admission fees providing the budget.

“Sagrada Familia was the most impressive church I’ve ever seen,” said Blackstone. “It was interesting to see that even though we live in such a scientific age, that there’s still a huge emphasis on these religious structures. It was very moving and emotionally substantial for me.”

The Spanish art of flamenco comprises of multiple performance elements including classical guitar, dancing, and a capella. On day four of the Barcelona excursion, travelers were treated to an authentic flamenco presentation. The show began with solely vocals, and proceeded to introduce tap-dancing and fingerstyle classical guitars, culminating in a crescendo of all three components. Feedback was highly positive, with most trip-goers placing the performance at the top of their list.

“The flamenco was awesome. The whole vibe was really weird and powerful. It was very expressive and something I could connect to emotionally,” said Blackstone.

Scheines echoed his enjoyment.

“It was fantastic. I’ve never seen anything like that,” said Scheines. “When you hear everything together, it’s hard to believe that it’s only two guitars, feet, and voices. It sounds like a full band.”

When one experiences a foreign country for the first time, it drastically changes his or her perception of ethnocentrism. Americans sometimes have a tendency to view themselves as the center of the world, and it can be somewhat jarring when one is dropped into a far-off land with a substantially different cultural context.

“It’s helped me put in perspective what people coming here feel like,” said Scheines. “Even if you’ve learned the language of a foreign country, there’s so many other cultural cues and double meanings for words that you can’t really become acquainted with unless you live there and immerse yourself in the culture.”

For Blackstone, experiencing France’s much older history has influenced his overall awareness of his own.

“Paris especially had such a cultural history. It was readily apparent that centuries of stuff had gone on there, which was interesting coming from the US which is a relatively new place in comparison,” said Blackstone.

For info on next year’s trip to Germany and Italy, contact cpilant@ccm.edu.

Behind the scenes at CCM’s upcoming fashion show

BY DEANNA ROMA
Contributor

        Students at County College of Morris are getting ready to show off their latest fashion creations at CCM’s annual student-run fashion show. The theme of this year’s show is wonderland, referencing Alice in Wonderland.

The show sold out in 2016, and students are hoping to achieve the same feat this year.

The show is 7 p.m. Thursday, May 4, in the Student Community Center Davidson Rooms. The event is open to the public and sponsored by CCM’s Fashion Club, led by president Kayley McCarthy and Professor Kelly Whalen. All items are hand-made by students.

McCarthy, a merchandising student at CCM, takes care of most of the work behind the scenes to make sure everything is ready when the show begins.

“I don’t sit down and make stuff,” McCarthy said. “I am in charge of marketing plans, floor plans, business plans and the merchandise display.”

The projects modeled on the runway are hand-made by students during class hours. The students learned how to put together clothing items and work at their own pace.

Lauren Gangone, a fashion design major at CCM, is currently working on one of her many pieces to be modeled in the fashion show.

“We have to come up with our own patterns, and we have to go buy our own material with our own money,” Gangone said. “Depending on how much product we make is usually how much material we have to buy for our clothes.”

Every student featured in the fashion show has their own models for their clothes. They are responsible to find people to walk the runway, usually family or friends.

Nicole Saranita, a fashion design major at CCM, said she has a lot of work to accomplish before the show is premiered but she said she feels good about it.

“I have all my fabric, and I finished draping everything so I’m excited for the show.” Saranita said.

Tickets for the show are $15 in advance and can be purchased at the Office of Campus Life in the Student Community Center. Multiple promotion of dates are also held when tickets can be purchased for $10. Tickets at the door are $20.