PTK Spotlight

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Sandy Froonjian was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society in 2013 and became active in the organization beginning in January 2014. She regularly attends member meetings and often jumps at opportunities to aid the chapter by volunteering at events and constantly proposing new, creative ideas.  (more…)

CCM honor society hosts blood drive to help increase number of N.J. blood donors

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Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood, and a single donation can help save the lives of up to three people, according to the American Red Cross.

Due to the universal blood supply’s dependency on donations, blood drives are critical in the collection of blood to help save the lives of cancer patients, sickle cell patients, premature infants, victims of accidents and many others.  (more…)

CCM’s Joseph Vitale pursues productions of play

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Dressed in a plain dark suit, donned with a matching tie, the actor approached center stage, gazing out at the 65 audience members crowded into The Frederick Loewe Room, a tiny theater located inside Manhattan, N.Y.’s The Dramatists Guild of America building. The spectators patiently waited on the man’s opening line, some sitting, many standing, but all directing their eyes toward the brightly lit stage where the actor’s only company were small, inanimate objects: two chairs, a music stand, a small table and a prop representative of a house. The actor tightly gripped the script in his hand, cleared his throat and read from the first page with the lack of inflection, projection and authoritative tone of an experienced television broadcaster: 

“There are some men who can point to a railroad, to a skyscraper, to a billion-dollar corporation and say, ‘That’s mine. I made that. That’s my life’s work.’ I never made anything. I never built anything. Sometimes I wonder if I ever really changed anything. I simply saw things, and heard things, and felt things. Then I put down words about what I saw and heard and felt and sent those words into the darkness. I don’t know if they changed the world. I can’t really say if they changed the heart of one man.”

The opening line of “Murrow,” a two-act one-man show that focuses on the life of famed broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow, is only one of several lines that Joseph Vitale, president of the County College of Morris Foundation and executive director for College Advancement and Planning, has written throughout his career as a playwright. 

Over the course of more than 20 years, Vitale has authored 10 plays, many of which have been finalists or semi-finalists in festivals held throughout New York and New Jersey from 2011 to 2013.

Although Vitale completed “Murrow” in 1985, the play only recently premiered in a live theater Jan. 24, 2014 at The Dramatists Guild of America in New York, N.Y. Moreover, plans have already been arranged for another dramatic reading of “Murrow” to be held at CCM for students majoring in journalism or broadcasting May 1.

“The play basically sat in my drawer for many years,” Vitale said. “I decided to revive it now because I believe it is timely, not only because of the explosion of new media but because in so many cases, the media has become the story. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to separate the coverage from the story and that’s one of the things Murrow [agonized over]. He [Murrow] believed in the integrity of news. He was a purist. I just feel that there is a whole generation that doesn’t know about him.”

Vitale was born in New York City and raised in Newark, N.J. where he attended Essex Catholic High School. He describes his younger self as “more of a daydreamer than a diligent student.” He was an avid drawer, and he loved to write. In high school, under the guidance of an influential English instructor, Vitale began to gravitate more toward the theater as both a creative outlet and source of fun.

“The thing that’s so exciting about theater is that you’re working as part of a team,” Vitale said. “It’s collaborative. You and the director sketch out how you want it to flow, then you’re auditioning actors, you’re bringing them in and getting their creative take on it. I love the energy of many people coming together to do a play.” 

Upon graduating secondary school, Vitale attended Rutgers University-Newark and while in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in English literature, he continued to explore his interest in theater by enrolling in several theater courses and frequently attended university-sponsored theater workshops. In 1974 he won the Alpha Psi Omega Award for best play in the Rutgers Theatre Workshop, and following his graduation from the university he studied playwriting from 1974 to 1975 at New York’s HB Studio, an organization that boasts several notable alumni including: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, Matthew Broderick, Sarah Jessica Parker, Jessica Lange, Jon Stewart and Whoopi Goldberg. 

Vitale later attended Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism during the latter half of the 1970s, and it was there that he was first inspired to write a play that revolved around the life of famed television broadcaster Edward R. Murrow.

At Columbia University, Vitale enrolled in a course titled, Media Law and Society, taught by a Fred W. Friendly, a friend of Murrow and co-creator of the CBS documentary broadcast series, “See It Now.” Throughout the course, Friendly would share stories with the class that involved Murrow and Friendly’s time at CBS.

“I found them [the stories] fascinating,” Vitale said. “I thought this should be a play. This should be a one-man show.”

Upon graduating from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism in 1982, Vitale began writing “Murrow” with the hope of completing the play by 1985, the year that marked the 20th anniversary of Murrow’s death.

Vitale researched and wrote nonstop for three consecutive years, spending many hours day after day in The Paley Center for Media in New York, N.Y., formerly known as The Museum of Television & Radio and The Museum of Broadcasting.

When he finally completed the play in 1985, Vitale was eager to have it performed and so he sent it to many colleagues, directors and producers.

Eventually, he received a call from David Susskind, famed television producer and talk show host, who had an immediate “wow” upon reading the script.

“He [Susskind] called and said, ‘I love it, I want to produce it,’” Vitale said.

The play continued to be passed around to various professionals in the field and was soon shared with Murrow’s widow, Janet Huntington Brewster who noted seeing a lot of Ed Murrow, in the play. Meanwhile, Susskind was attempting to obtain funding for a performance or reading of the play to be broadcast on PBS. Despite his efforts, Susskind never succeeded, and the play was put to bed until 2013.

In December 2013, Vitale partnered with his cousin Bob Angelini, the artistic director of the ReVision Theater in Asbury Park, N.J. and both an actor and director with more than 30 years of experience acting and directing in the theater. The decision was made to have the play premiere at the Guild as a part of the organization’s NYC Friday Night Footlights, a weekly event that sponsors readings of work written by members of The Dramatists Guild of America annually, from September to May, and auditions were held for the part of Edward R. Murrow.

“Bob Angelini and I have collaborated on a number of projects over the past few years so it was natural for us to work together on this,” Vitale said. “Bob is a very experienced and accomplished director so he brought a lot to the table.”

Ten actors auditioned, but the part of Edward R. Murrow was ultimately given to Stephen Gleason, an actor who has performed in several other stage productions including “Curse of the Starving Class,” “Picking Palin” and “No Diamonds in the Crabgrass.” Gleason has also appeared in USA Network’s “White Collar,” CBS’s “The Good Wife” and the 2014 Oscar-nominated film, “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

“He [Gleason] was great,” Vitale said. “As a playwright you write on paper, but until you have an actor really speaking those words you really don’t get a feel for your work.”

Bev Sheehan, a friend of Vitale and an actress who has appeared in a number of his plays, including “Clear Air Turbulence,” attended the reading of “Murrow” and enjoyed it thoroughly.

“I haven’t read all of Joe’s plays, but I recently saw ‘Murrow’ and thought it was great,” Sheehan said. “Fabulous subject, and even though it was written years ago, it is so perfect in today’s media climate. It was prescient, what Murrow said in the play, and Joe used it to great effect in his story. It’s a great play for discussion.”

Dramatic readings differ from an average play performance, which involves interaction between characters and a more conscious effort to move about stage. In the case of “Murrow,” Gleason was on stage reading from the script and making only slight movements about the platform.

Angelini, director, noted that directing a reading is always a different experience and not easily comparable to directing an average play.

“As a director, you get to drive the ship and lead everyone on the journey,” Angelini said. “Directing one actor has its own challenges, but directing a reading is difficult in itself as there are generally no props, costumes or sets. It’s quite a challenge.”

However, he added that it was the collaborative efforts of the writer, Vitale, the actor, Gleason and others that made the play a success.

“I love Joe’s work,” Angelini said. “His writing is very thought-provoking and he pays great attention to historical information. He researches his subject matter thoroughly and brings out many facets of a character’s personality and relationships

He is definitely the smart one in the family. I am so proud to be able to work with him and to help bring his art to the stage. You will definitely see Joe’s work produced for large audiences in the future.”

In addition to being a member of The Dramatists Guild of America, Vitale is also affiliated with The Theater Project Playwrights Group. When he is not honing his craft, he enjoys being active and engaging in outdoor activities including skiing and golf. He also intends to take up sailing some time in 2014. 

Vitale enjoys writing in all various disciplines and has even written a novel titled, “Image,”and is currently working on a second publication. However, the theater is where his true passion lies.

“I love the energy,” Vitale said. “I’m just hooked on theater.”

PTK Spotlight: Phi Theta Kappa’s Member of the Month

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PHOTO COURTESY OF WALTER YURCIK Walter Yurcik is an active member of Phi Theta Kappa.

Walter Yurcik is an active member of Phi Theta Kappa.

Walter Yurcik is a calm, collected hard worker with an infectious sense of humor. These qualities have allowed him to stand out among his fellow members in the Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Kappa Kappa chapter and earn the title of “Member of the Month” for January.

Yurcik enrolled in County College of Morris as a computer science major with the intent of learning more about his field of study and achieving a higher level of education.

In October 2013, Yurcik became involved with the Phi Theta Kappa organization, regularly attending member meetings. He was officially inducted in November 2013, and he has since volunteered at many of the chapter’s on-campus events.

“I enjoy being part of the Alpha Kappa Kappa chapter due to the amazing, talented, diverse and academic-excellent students,” Yurcik said. “During my free time, which is limited, I usually think about how I can spread the word about Phi Theta Kappa around campus, as well as to potential students who might be interested in attending CCM.”

Yurcik aspires to become president of the Ambassadors Club and obtain an associate degree.

PTK Spotlight: Kelley Crestiello

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Kelley Cresitello is a fun loving, hardworking team player, and that is exactly why she’s Phi Theta Kappa’s Alpha Kappa Kappa chapter’s “Member of the Month” for December.

Cresitello was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa in the Spring of 2013. She has had a strong presence at a number of the chapter’s sponsored events and she regularly attends member meetings.

She enrolled in CCM as a fine arts major in hopes of lessening the amount of student loans she would have to borrow for her education; but, she is also using her the time at community college to sharpen her art skills and build a portfolio for acceptance into a four-year university.

As an aspiring artist, Cresitello has managed to incorporate her passion for fine arts into her involvement in Phi Theta Kappa. She has created posters and props for many of the honor society’s events, notably S.T.E.M. Week.

“Phi Theta Kappa has really been wonderful for me. I have met so many fantastic people and learned so many brilliant things.” Cresitello said. “I have also learned how wonderful it is to give, to volunteer, and help those less fortunate than me. It really makes me feel fantastic to know that because of our volunteer work someone has food, or medicine, or the love and care that they truly need.”

Cresitello plans on pursuing a career in animation after graduating from a four-year university. She would like work for the Walt Disney Co. and make movies that inspire children to pursue careers in the arts.

In her spare time, Cresitello enjoys reading dystopian fiction, playing video games, crafting, sewing and playing with her three shih tzus.

Fine arts student pursues dream career at Pixar

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Jessica Van Zee dreams of using her visual art skills to create animations at Pixar.

On dull and breezy November mornings, it is common for the student center cafeteria at County College of Morris to be packed with dozens of students quietly studying while gobbling up a quick breakfast. Many of them are eager to finish the day’s assignments before taking off to their 11 a.m. class. All of them hold their head bowed to the tiny print of their textbooks in intense concentration.

Nineteen-year-old Jessica Van Zee’s strawberry blonde hair seems to be the only feature that stands out in the sea of sunken heads — the bright, vivacious color serving as a testament to her bubbly and magnetic personality. (more…)

CCM student leaders work to restore Philippines

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PHOTO COURTESY OF PHI THETA KAPPA  CCM student leaders sell bracelets to help benefit the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

CCM student leaders sell bracelets to help benefit the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

The efforts and charitable spirit of several student organizations at County College of Morris are hard at work raising money to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan, the storm that killed more than 6,000 people and displaced approximately 4 million in early November 2013, according to The Associated Press and The Weather Channel.

Renata Mauriz, 21, vice president of service for CCM’s Phi Theta Kappa chapter and an international studies major at CCM, initiated the relief effort two days after the typhoon made landfall. (more…)

Blockbuster’s final days cause mixed reactions

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On Wednesday, Nov. 6, DISH Network announced its plan to close the remaining 300 Blockbuster retail stores and cancel the company’s DVD-by-mail service.

DISH Network purchased the bankrupt Blockbuster LLC in 2011 for $234 million, but after two years of low profits and sharp declines in their customer base, DISH has decided to shut the chain down by early January 2

Within the past decade, places across the United States have seen the once frequented video stores shut down and replaced with other retail outlets, like the CVS pharmacy on Claremont Avenue in Montclair, N.J. or Title Boxing Club on state Route 46 in Parsippany, N.J. (more…)

PTK Spotlight: Phi Theta Kappa’s Member of the Month

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Throughout the month of September, Angelique Onorati has served as a key figure on the County College of Morris Phi Theta Kappa, Alpha Kappa Kappa team. She has promoted the organization’s four hallmarks—scholarship, leadership, service, and fellowship—while also advancing the chapter’s agenda through her proactive attitude and self-determination.

As an officer, Onorati has worked diligently with other members of the officer team and acted as a guiding influence for many of the chapter’s active members. (more…)

CCM’s Health and Physical Education facility undergoes renovation

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County College of Morris is one New Jersey college that boasts several facilities that help make it an advanced learning community that enhances student life. From the Madeline D. and Joseph J. Longo Planetarium to Dragonetti Auditorium, CCM provides its students with many facilities in the hope that they are constantly “connecting learning and life,” according to

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CCM’s Health and Physical Education facility

However, when students began attending classes this fall semester many were dismayed to find that the Health and Physical Education building, one of the most frequented campus facilities by CCM athletes, fitness enthusiasts and exercise science majors, is closed due to renovations.

All recreational facilities in the building, including the aquatic facility, fitness center, weight room, dance studio, main gymnasium and locker rooms, have been unavailable to students and faculty since June, according to Karen VanDerhoof, vice president for business and finance at the college. (more…)