CCM Functions

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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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.

‘Diverse’ dancing focus of showcase

By: Lindsey Medwin 
Staff Writer 

Incorporating both variety and collaboration into this year’s annual main stage production, the Department of Music, Dance and Performing Arts hosted a performance unlike any other at CCM.

The Dance Theatre Showcase, held Friday, March 3 and Saturday, March 4, was one of three dance concerts the program puts on throughout the academic year. It is the only one, though, which takes place on the Dragonetti Auditorium stage. That means it requires a lot of time and effort for preparing the 15 different dances featured this year.

“Some of the pieces we actually started rehearsing over winter break,” said Noelle Cappuzzo, a double major in dance and musical theatre major and one of the leading performers in the showcase, noting that some pieces took up to 46 hours to finalize.

The extensive preparation for this event, though, is not just to perfect the pieces, but also to create them. Professor Terence Duncan, director of the event, noted that all of the dances were formulated from, “all original and self produced work”.

One dance in particular that left an outstanding mark on the production was entitled, “Departed Dearly”, choreographed by Christina Paolucci. This 16 minute duet conveyed a dark, yet humbling story of two sisters journey together up until their deaths through the beauty of dance. This complex number and the story behind it was all inspired by Paolucci’s vision of door, which was used throughout the piece. Cappuzzo and Sabrina Olivieri, dance major’s at CCM, played the sisters in the duet.

“Christina did a really nice job of crafting a work that was both challenging and intricate,” Duncan said.

Paolucci said that choreographing dances is not always easy, and that’s the point.

“The whole point of what we do as choreographers and choreographers of students is that we want them to succeed and have a positive experience, even if that means we have to struggle to get there,” Paolucci said.

The initial development of some dances featured in the showcase stemmed from a collaboration the department had with the Garden State Dance Project, a New York dance school. The co-founder and artistic director of the project, and CCM alumnus, Eli  Kababa, personally trained with the students for several performances in New York, choreographing numbers featured at the concert.

Duncan said that working with the project was, “an opportunity to have a performance series in New York in January and present the work to New York city public school children.”

This experience enabled the students involved to expand their abilities and talents, to then present those skills to a local audience at CCM.

“It really helped me keep my technique balanced in all genres of dance,” Cappuzzo said.

The Dance Theatre Showcased extended this trend of collaboration by featuring some CCM musical theatre majors in a student choreographed piece entitled, “The Cellblock Tango.”

This was the first dance concert where different majors in the department were featured. This not only gave some variety to the concert, but also allowed everyone involved to work together and create a fantastic opening number to the second act of the concert.

Gabe Weiss, one of the actors featured, noted that it was great working with, “people that really care about the program,” and by bringing different walks of life together, it made the Department of Music, Dance and Performing arts a far more, “well rounded program’

“I have to say, this has to be one of the best showcases we had because there was so much diversity in dance and do so many different things,” Cappuzzo said.

Midterms monopolize lives of CCM students

BY JAILENE VELOZ
Contributor

Midterms are upon us, and students at County College of Morris are dealing with them through studying,  recognizing past mistakes and trying to learn from them.

“I’m studying right now,” said Casey Delgrosso, a digital media major at CCM. “I’m doing math, and I’ve been studying for my art history midterm.”

Delgrosso is with many other students who are in full midterm-mode, remembering his close call with disaster last semester.

“My car broke down,” Delgrosso said. “And my final was in 10 minutes, and I was, like, 10 minutes away from the school.”

Delgrosso called some friends to ask for a ride, asking himself what to do. In a last act of faith, he turned his car off and turned it back on. It started.

“I got here a little bit late, but it didn’t matter because the professor wasn’t in the class,” Delgrosso said.

Car problems are not the only obstacle students may face in midterm season. Raeanna Cope, a nursing major, said the fault lay with her.

“For my first nursing test, I didn’t put my priorities in order, so I didn’t do as well as I wanted to,” Cope said. “I would say put all your effort into what you do, because what you put in is what you’re gonna get out.”

Along with Cope, other CCM students had a lot of advice to give to first-year students who have never taken a midterm before. Ariel Juarez, a musical theatre major, was full of tips.

“Don’t take too many classes,” Juarez said. “Focus and take it slow. Stay healthy. Try not to get sick.”

Cumulative exams like midterms depend on a variety of skills, including levels of effort and overall wellbeing, but study methods are what make or break a grade on a midterm.

“I usually write them down on a flash card and then look at the problem,” Delgrosso said. “If I don’t know it, I look back at the flash card, and I just try to solve it, memorize it.”

No one technique works for every student, but these students seem to think alike. Cope said she uses the same method, with some exceptions.

“For (Anatomy and Physiology), I always use note cards,” Cope said. “And I haven’t really found my strategy for nursing yet because it’s, like, such a difficult topic.”

There is ample room for error when preparing for a midterm, so students should be easy on themselves if they have not hit their stride yet. New tasks are often difficult the first time.

“Don’t wait until the last minute,” Delgrosso said. “Just stay calm. Space your time out. Like, don’t do everything at once, you’re not gonna remember anything if you do that.”

The time students spend in college is the time to take the actions that will, come failure or success, define who they are and will be, according to an article by Christine M. Riordan, Ph.D, in the Huffington Post. Despite the pressure students seem to put on themselves to excel in their exams, it is unlikely that one failed midterm will doom one’s future.

Delgrosso put it simply. “Don’t stress out about it, I guess,” he said. After all, it may be that midterms are only as daunting as one makes them.

World peace subject of student projects

BY KELLY DZIALO
Contributor

County College of Morris commemorates 9/11 each year by presenting the County College of Morris Peace Prize, and current students are able to participate in the competition for the chance to win $1,000 by creating a project focused on world peace.

Peter Maguire, associate English professor at CCM, said he established the CCM Peace Prize in 2001 after hearing about the Nobel Peace Prize on the radio.

“I thought what an interesting concept it might to be for County College of Morris to fashion its own Peace Prize of one type of another,” Maguire said. “I thought it would be unique. I didn’t know of any other college which obviously had something like that. The combination of [9/11] and the awarding of that year’s [Nobel] Peace Prize, the conflation of the two made me think how beneficial it would be to the college as well as it might be something students would get their teeth into.”

Established in the fall of 2001, the program encourages students to focus on world peace by submitting expository or creative writing, video production, musical composition or other visual and performance art. Submissions may be from an individual or the collaborative effort of students.

“There are a number of bright, brilliant, creative, passionate, thoughtful students, who will feel a spark, a desire to make a statement and create something that they think will have an impact on others,” Maguire said. “Granted, something like this is not going to stop war or famine or suffering or change the world, but the idea that rather than curse the darkness, to add a light, a candle, or lamp and offer light.”

Students wishing to participate must complete and submit an application to Maguire by April 3. Project submissions are due by May 1 for judging. The judges each year include a current CCM faculty member, and whomever holds the positions of chair of CCM Board of Trustees, president of the CCM Foundation, president of CCM and president of College of Saint Elizabeth.

“I have a background in the arts,” said Joseph Vitale, CCM Foundation president. “I love the arts, I love creativity and expression, and it’s exciting to see the students’ works. It’s also exciting to see how different students use different media to get their point across.”

The winner will be honored at commencement May 26 with the $1,000 prize money and a plaque provided by the CCM Foundation. A plaque in the Student Community Center also showcases the name of each recipient.

“It would be great to see more students come out,” Vitale said. “I would say, if you are a musician, a dancer, a painter, a writer, a sculptor or whatever is your mode of expression, it’s a great exercise to have a topic to express.”

Bone marrow drive looks to diversify

By Miranda Spetaccino
Contributor

County College of Morris Health Services, along with the Icla da Silva Foundation, are hosting a “Be The Match” Bone Marrow Drive from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23 in the Student Center Lobby and Tuesday Feb. 28 in the B Café Alcove area, located across from Cohen Café.

The drive will consist of a registration and a cheek swab, and is open to CCM students, faculty and staff ages 18 to 40.

The Icla da Silva Foundation is the largest recruitment center for the Be The Match Registry in the United States, with offices throughout the east coast and Puerto Rico, according to their website. Their focus is on deversifying the registry.

“Right now in the registry there are 13 million people and 70 percent is Caucasian,” said Lauren Wollny, a community engagement representative at the foundation. “So that leaves patients that are of any diverse tissue type a very hard time of finding a match. You’re more likely of matching within your same ancestry.”

Joining the Be The Match Registry only takes about five minutes out of the day, and the results could possibly save someone’s life, said Wollny.

“We’re asking people to sign up, fill out a form, and do a cheek swab to potentially donate in the future. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to absolutely donate,” Wollny said. “You only donate when you match someone, which is very rare.”

Once a person joins the national registry, they remain eligible to match with a patient in need right up until the day they turn 61 years old. If matched, they would have a basic health screening over the phone and from there go through a series of tests and exams to determine if they are a patient’s best match.

According to Be The Match’s website, 1 in 40 registry members will be called for additional testing, 1 in 300 will be selected as the best possible donor for a patient, and only about 1 in 430 will actually donate.

Wollny went on to say that a substantial challenge when it comes to drumming up donors is spreading the word about what the bone marrow registry actually is.

To her point, Jeremy Tsonton , a communication major at CCM, said that he is not sure whether he will attend the drive.

“ I don’t know enough about the drive,” Tsonton said.

Tsonton said that maybe if he knew more about the registry, he would attend the drive. He said he would donate if matched with anyone.

“I mean I’m an organ donor so I’m kind of all for that stuff,” Tsonton said.

Maggie Pierce, a humanities and social sciences major at CCM, said that although she was not aware of the drive, she, like Tsonton, would consider joining the registry and subsequently donating bone marrow.

“I always to try help people and make their lives more positive,” Pierce said. “I’ve never really been freaked out about doctors or needles or blood or anything like that, so actually donating wouldn’t be an issue.”

For more information about the drive or about volunteering for the drive, contact Health Services at 973-328-5160, or Lauren Wollny at 973-647-5845 or by email at Lauren@icla.org.

Unity Day celebrates differences, highlights similarities

BY LINDSEY MEDWIN
Contributor

After a divisive fall semester that was punctuated by a contentious election cycle, the County College of Morris chapter of Phi Theta Kappa responded by hosting  a celebration of culture and difference.

Unity Day, held on Dec. 1, 2016, was planned as an event to bring together all walks of life on campus in order to educate attendees not only on different cultures, but what exactly unites them. This event ran from 12:30 to 2:00 and took place in the Davidson Rooms at the Student Community Center. The idea for Unity Day stemmed from PTK’s Honors in Action project and was developed with two leading themes: beauty and vulgarity.

“We wanted to do something that highlighted how different cultures go together,” said Michael Gosden, president of Phi Theta Kappa.

Though not particularly inspired from an on campus issue, but rather a bigger unification problem in society overall recently with the uproar over the election in particular, PTK aspired to organize an event to address these concerns and allow their intentions to spread beyond the grounds of CCM.

“We can start it at county [college] and spread it further throughout the county,” Gosden said.

Over the summer and throughout the fall 2016 semester, members of the chapter worked together and created Unity Day.

“It was a huge team effort, especially with our adviser, Dr. Bette Simmons.” said Gosden.

Unity Day kicked off with a cultural experience all college students can enjoy – free food. The event was catered by Forte Pizza, representing Italian culture, as well as a Dover restaurant which served empanadas from Spanish culture.

Attendees then had time to walk around the room lined with tables, each representing a specific culture.

“Those helming the tables displayed travel photos and various mementos from his or her respective culture,” said Nicholas Sisti, an attendee and contributor to Unity Day.

PTK included an informational kiosk designed to educate students on cultures the event was not representing directly. This was achieved by having a laptop open with heads of the table handy if anyone had questions.

“We would then briefly research on the internet whatever culture the student asked about and provide them with insight,” Sisti, a table head, said.

“We didn’t want to exclude anyone because that would defeat the purpose of the project,” Gosden said.

After some free time to explore the tables, everyone came together to participate in various group activities such as games and dancing. A game teaching colors in Italian was featured, as well as three different cultural dances from Greek, Korean and Spanish culture.

The dancing was like “one big multi-cultural dance party,” said Sisti.

In total, the event attracted about 50 people, a slightly higher number than expected by the chapter. Both the United Latino Organization and the Asian Students Association joined the event and contributed to its successes.

“Our Unity Day Event led to a greater appreciation of different cultures by a wide variety of students from across campus,” said Mohammad Rahmatullah, secretary of PTK.

In addition to hosting an upcoming blood drive and other various fundraisers, Phi Theta Kappa plans on duplicating Unity Day in the 2017 spring semester. Students can look forward to seeing this event brought back to campus and hopefully an expanded window of time to allow anyone interested in attending a greater opportunity to do so.

“If any students have any questions about PTK or how to join, they can stop by the office in room 130 in the Student Community Center,” said Gosden.

As multiple board members of PTK will be graduating at the end of this semester, Gosden and other executives expressed hope that the event will ultimately get passed down to the language department so Unity Day can make a customary appearance on campus in the future.

Any students with questions about PTK or about how to join can contact President Michael Gosden in SCC130.