Chorale gets Alma in tune


Alma College has more to offer beyond the traditional academics and athletics. It offers a way for students to get in tune with their musical side.

The Alma College Chorale is the younger choir in the Alma college choral program. This program consists of the Alma Choir and the Chorale, along with two small acapella groups, Pretty in Plaid and Scots on the Rocks.

“The purpose of the choral program is to educate students in the choral arts,” said Will Nichols, the Seacrest Professor of Music and conductor of the Alma College Choirs.

The chorale program exists as a way to inform students of different avenues to pursue what they love through music and to offer students the opportunity to try something new. “My role is to foster a love for singing and music on our campus,” said Nichols. Chorale allows students to do this while being a part of the arts on campus.

To be a part of this ensemble, it is more than attending a weekly meeting. It involves attending three one hour rehearsals throughout the week, along with performing at a few concerts throughout the school year ranging from seasonal and holiday performances to end of the year ones in February and April.

“We do a lot of our work in class, but there is also a deep sense of personal responsibility for learning and memorizing on our own. Many choir students find themselves looking over their music and singing it to memorize on their own time,” said tenor singer, Raul Rivera (’22).

Chorale members are constantly working in and out of class and throughout the school year to perform at their best in rehearsal and on stage. Concerts and performances are a big part of not only the program, but allowing students to express themselves and show off their talents and hard work.

“A typical concert has us preparing for a couple hours before, and then attempting to run it from start to finish as smooth as possible for our performance,” said bass singer, Bradley Skellenger (’22).

Just like any other group on campus, the Chorale members strive to perfect their work in order to put on a successful performance, which the acapella groups and Chorale did last Friday, Feb. 15.

It was their mid-winter concert that allowed members to perform what they have been working on since their previous concert, Festival of Carols. Preparation for this concert started at the beginning of the semester with the weekly rehearsals.

“Sometimes individual singers will meet with Dr. Nichols to work on the music, and as we get closer to concerts, we may add extra rehearsals aside from the normal scheduled times,” said Skellenger.

Dr. Nichols and members are willing to do whatever it takes to make sure they put on the best performance for them and the audience. It is all about putting on a performance that the audience will love and that the members will enjoy performing.

“For me, my favorite part of chorale is the moment we finish the last song of the program. At that moment, I feel like I can take a deep breath and fully appreciate the hard work that the choir has put in to get to that moment. It creates a great feeling of satisfaction knowing we’ve put on a successful performance and that we’ll be able to take all we’ve learned and apply it as we try to make each performance better than the last,” said Skellenger.

This is why programs like Chorale are a big part of the campus culture. They bring people together in ways that academics and athletics cannot.

“My favorite part about chorale is being able to come together with people who enjoy similar things as me and singing together, no matter what the song is about,” said tenor singer, Blake Jonassen (’22).

People choose Chorale as a way to take a break from the busy campus life to do what they enjoy. It does not matter whether they joined Chorale on a vocal scholarship or simply out of curiosity; all that matters is that they joined to be a part of something they find fun and intriguing.

“To become a choir member, all a student needs to do is knock on my office door (Music Building, rm 111) and come say hello! If a student wants to try it on for size first, ask a friend from the choir if you can tag along to a rehearsal — you will always be welcome!,” said Nichols.

Technology advances campus life


Society is moving at a faster pace than before because of the advancing of technology, expectations and a shift in priorities. People are constantly in motion and performing activities and not taking the chance to slow down for a moment, especially students. Multi-tasking has become a common practice.

When getting to college, students have the chance to join various groups on campus from Greek organizations, to sports, to the arts, to other clubs. This is in addition to their class load which can range in credits and intensity based on majors and interests. There might also be a job, on campus or off, for extra spending money or to pay fees.

Living at a slow pace gives people the chance to step away from the everyday activities, specifically with electronics to take a break. These activities can include going for a hike, reading for pleasure or even taking a nap.

Even in times of constant activity there are moments to slow down. It is necessary to take “me-time.” Jennifer Kowalczyk (’20) fills out her planner and checks off what she has done to keep life from being too busy.

There can be negatives to this life style such as the constantly full schedule or getting limited time for oneself, but the idea of progress motivates some people to continue their actions rather than pausing. When there is always something else that needs to be done, it is easy to keep busy.

“I often times fill the hour where I’m supposed to do nothing with something,” said Eli George (’20). He might sit down to work on something rather than going somewhere, so it is a bit slower. There are still some moments when he does nothing.

Social media is said to be a contributor to living at a higher speed because of the quick connections to others. Asiel Clark (‘20) finds social media to be distracting when she is trying to focus on something but uses it to connect to people when she needs to because of her position in Student Congress.

George says he does not post what he is involved with to Facebook because he “doesn’t feel the need to advertise everything I’m involved in.” Kowalczyk remains active on social media but does not let it play a big role in her life.

Being constantly on the go can have an effect on maintaining relationships in life. “I’m really fortunate to have people in my life who understand how busy I am and don’t mind when I need to take extra time for myself,” said Clark. Having a support system and people who understand can make life less stressful.

“It can destroy but it can also create [relationships] if you can find somebody who is willing to work with that,” said George. He also says that those you understand are usually also living a fast-paced life. For Kowalczyk, she prioritizes her family and friends.

There are pros to living at a faster pace. By constantly doing something, more is getting done. “I am way more productive when my life is more busy,” said Kowalczyk. By not taking a break, more progress can happen.

Students in this case have chosen to live this way. “I can’t control a lot of things about life, but I can control myself,” said Clark. She wants to meet and go beyond expectations, but says that she can define what her own success is.

“Outside pressure comes from what do I need to put on my resume…but it is also my will to want to do it,” said George. He would not be as involved in as many activities if he did not want to be. There would always be something more for him to do even if he slowed down, he said.

Valentine’s Day sparks differing views


Valentine’s Day is an internationally-recognized holiday that has been celebrated since its creation in the fifth century. Advancements to cultures over time have changed the origins of the holiday from a celebration of a Catholic Saint to the celebration of one’s love for another. As these changes occurred, the marketing toward gifts for couples to express their love increased.

Valentine’s Day has become a holiday that is seen in today’s societies as a day only for people to outwardly celebrate love. According to Christopher Nolan (’19), the commercialization of love through products such as roses have taken away the true meaning of the day.

“I don’t really like Valentine’s day. The romantic acts performed feel forced since our culture pushes the notion that going all out on the holiday is the right thing to do in order to prove that you care about your significant other.

“None of it feels genuine. It’s ridiculous to go to the store a day after New Year’s and see Valentine’s Day decor already out. The holiday’s commercialization takes away from the idea that love is unconditional—making love feel more like a currency. [Also,] roses are a b-tier flower,” Nolan said.

Jacob Bendele (‘20) concurred with Nolan over concerns about the extreme commercialization of the holiday and agreed that the ideal of the holiday has been cheapened by large-scale companies.

“I’m fine with it [Valentine’s Day]. I don’t especially like when anything is being commercialized because it just kind of takes the point out of it. I like the kind of stance of what it was originally supposed to be: a day where you can be with a loved one and just be thankful for what you have,” Bendele said.

Feelings toward the marketing of the holiday were different with Zoie Tranquilla (‘20). Tranquilla explained that she enjoys the holiday regardless of the marketing towards couples.

“Though I have been single for the past 4 years on Valentine’s Day, I still very much enjoy it. I am always down for a reason to celebrate. As for the commercialization, I feel it’s just part of the American holidays that people know companies are just looking for your money. It’s just a given from living in a capitalism world,” Tranquilla said.

Thornton concurred with Tranquilla about the marketing of the holiday and explained that she loves everything about it, from giving gifts to eating chocolate. Thornton also criticized the ways that companies acknowledge it through cheap quantity rather than quality.

“I like it [Valentine’s Day]. I’m kind of like a hopeless romantic: I like all that gooey stuff. I like the candy and the romance and the flowers. I like it [the commercialization], but I wish companies wouldn’t make gross chocolate. I feel like if they’re going to sell stuff [then] at least make it good quality stuff,” Thornton said.

Chloe Sheler (’21) believed that the holiday is one for the enjoyable celebration of love. She chooses to celebrate the holiday with her family and all those she loves, which is how Sheler feels the holiday should be celebrated.

“Now that I know the true meaning behind Valentine’s Day, and I can feel it, it feels good knowing that Valentine’s Day isn’t just about your significant other. It’s about love of your whole family. I’m very proud to have the boyfriend that I have who loves me and I love him. I’m very grateful for the people I love and that’s what it’s all about,” Sheler said.

21 Savage silenced


On February 3rd, a few hours before the Superbowl started, news broke out about the arrest of 21 Savage. Savage, whose legal name is She’yaa Bin AbrahamJoseph, had been arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and slated to be deported. The situation was made even more shocking when an ICE spokesperson told the media, “His whole public persona is false. He actually came to the U.S. from the U.K. as a teen and overstayed his visa.”

Immediately, memes began to dominate social media accusing Savage of being a fake or jokingly insinuating that he was really rapping about being British the whole time. While most of us were sharing jokes, another story was left untold.

To truly understand this story, we’re going to have to rewind to January 28th. 21 Savage performed his song “A Lot” on The Tonight Show in front of millions of people. In this live performance, he added lyrics that weren’t in the original song. With a mournful look, Savage rapped, “Lights was off, the gas was off, so we had to boil up the water / Went through some things, but I couldn’t imagine my kids stuck at the border / Flint still need water, niggas was innocent, couldn’t get lawyers.”

21 Savage’s line about “kids stuck at the border” was a clear reference to the 3,000+ immigrant children who have been separated from their parents at the border under President Trump’s “zero tolerance policy.” While many children were reunited after backlash, an untold amount still remain separated. Children who were reunited exhibited psychological issues which have permanent effects and are typically associated with abandonment and confinement. It can also be considered a reference to the two Guatemalan children who died in Border Patrol custody after being arrested at the border. Jakelin Caal Maquin, 7, died on December 8th. And Felie Gomez Alonzo, 8, died on December 24th.

Both the ACLU and immigration advocates have stressed that ICE seeks out and targets activists that speak against them. “They’re trying to intimidate people,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. “These are well-known activists who’ve been here for decades, and they’re saying to them: Don’t raise your head.” ICE was sued for targeting activists in February by the immigration advocacy group New Sanctuary Coalition of New York City.

This type of intimidation is almost routine. “Migrant Justice,” a non-profit in Burlington, Vermont, had six undocumented leaders arrested over a period of 14 months, none with criminal records. Mere hours after humanitarian group “No More Deaths” released a video showing Border Patrol kicking over and destroying jugs of water that had been left for dehydrated migrants, volunteer Scott Daniel Warren found himself being arrested under the felony charge of harboring undocumented immigrants. When immigrant activist Daniela Vargas spoke out for undocumented rights at a rally in Jackson, Mississippi, she was immediately pulled over on her way home and arrested by ICE because her DACA status had expired, despite the fact that she had already applied for it to be renewed. And, of course, when 21 Savage spoke out against migrant children being on national TV, he found himself being arrested by ICE days later. All these cases are just the tip of the iceberg in a war by ICE to suppress dissenting views.

ICE immediately got to work by trying to defame Savage and turn his fan base against him. Yet many of the facts surrounding his arrest are unclear or simply contradictory. ICE claims that Savage came here when he was 14, but his lawyers say they have proof he came here at 7. ICE claims it has grounds to deport Savage because of a misdemeanor sentence in 2014, yet Hudson, 21 Savage’s lawyer at the time, claims that this sentence was expunged after his sentence was served. Savage had already applied for a visa in 2017, but it’s unclear if that will be considered by immigration officials. It’s important to remember that ICE is hardly infallible. In June, former ICE spokesperson James Schwab told CBS that he was instructed by superiors in Washington to “flat-out lie.”

Regardless of your personal feelings on 21 Savage or immigration, we as Americans should not tolerate a government who selectively enforces laws in order to silence those who speak out against them.

Trump delivers State of The Union


On Tuesday Feb. 5, President Donald Trump delivered the State of the Union address to Congress in Washington D.C. The chambers were filled with both parties as well as invited guests for a discussion about current political issues.

“The agenda I will lay out this evening is not a Republican agenda or Democrat agenda; it is the agenda of the American people,” said President Trump at the beginning of his speech. He then went into events that have occurred during his time in office, as well as what he plans to get done in the upcoming months.

The shutdown was mentioned, as well as allocating funds to border security— specifically the wall. “Simply put, walls work, and walls save lives,” says President Trump when referencing a section of wall built in El Paso, Texas.

In Stacey Abrams democratic rebuttal, she said, “America is made stronger by the presence of immigrants, not walls.” Stacey Abrams was the 2018 Democratic candidate for Georgia’s gubernatorial election. She is the first African American women to deliver the rebuttal.

Another topic mentioned was the advancement of women, especially when it comes to employment. President Trump stated that 58% of the jobs filled were by females. There is also a record number of women serving in congress currently.

In the chambers, many of the women, specifically of the democratic party, made the decision to wear all white. This represents the fight for women’s suffrage and symbolizes how far the United States has come. 2019 marks the centennial anniversary of women receiving the right to vote through the 19th amendment.

The economy was brought up throughout the speech. President Trump called the current state an “unprecedented economic boom” with the creation of 5.3 million jobs, 600,000 of which were manufacturing. He also drew attention to the lowest unemployment in 50 years.

Regarding energy, the United States has become a net exporter of energy for the first time in 65 years. America is the number one producer of both oil and natural gas in the world according to President Trump.

There have been changes when it comes to health care. The Obamacare mandate penalty was eliminated and the Right to Try Act was passed. This allows people who are critically ill to obtain assistance when they are sick. Abrams advocated for advances that would lower the cost of medications.

Due to the public outcry surrounding the passing of a new abortion law in New York, it was briefly mentioned in the State of the Union Address. President Trump asked congress for legislation against late-term abortions. In her rebuttal, Abrams says, “We must never forget it is immoral to allow politicians to harm women and families to advance a political agenda.”

Foreign relations were discussed in terms of the military and treaties. There was $700 billion invested last year in the armed forces and $716 billion this year. The United States has also started building a missile defense system. In terms of treaties, President Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear deal and the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia. In addition, NAFTA is being replaced by the USMCA, or United StatesMexico-Canada agreement in an attempt to bring jobs back to the country. Abrams advocated for gun control legislation and bills to aid in student loans in order to help further the education for the younger generations. Unity was a theme in the speech. “If there is going to be peace in legislation, there cannot be war and investigation… We must be united at home to defeat our adversaries abroad,” says President Trump. This specifically led to his discussion of attempting to get his nominations selected. President Trump and Abrams both mentioned that Congress could come together to pass more legislation.

Criminal justice reform is one example. Matthew Charles is an example of this. Charles was sentenced in 1996 to 35 years in prison for drug related offenses. He was able to lead Bible studies and become a law clerk in the 20 years he served. Charles was the first person to be released under the First Step Act and attended the State of the Union address.

This address was originally scheduled for Jan. 29 but was postponed due to the 35-day government shutdown that ended Jan. 25. It was mentioned that the government could shut down again Feb. 15 if a new budget is not agreed upon before then.

ACUB brings comedian to campus


The Alma College Union Board (ACUB) this past week brought comedian Samuel Comroe to campus. Comroe was a finalist this past season on America’s Got Talent, and is now touring the country with his show.

Students were excited to see Comroe perform at Alma after watching him compete all last season on the show. “I did not recognize his name right away, but once I realized that it was him, I was ecstatic. I watched him throughout the whole last season of America’s Got Talent and he was one of my favorite performers,” said Chapin Kartsounes (’21).

Other students were just excited to get out of their rooms and laugh during this terrible winter weather. “Although I cannot make it to every event held on campus, I do enjoy having the opportunity to get out and do something. Every event I have made it too has not left me disappointed. I also really like that ACUB brings in so many outside performers so that I can expand my horizons,” said Susan Doumont (’20).

America’s Got Talent has been running on national television since 2006. Since then, the show has expanded and created several other branches in countries around the world. The show in America has ran for 13 seasons now, with rotating judges and hosts. The show takes place in 3 stages. First you have the auditions round, in which the judges decide whether or not to put someone through to the next round. The second round is judge’s cuts, where they slim down the pool once more, and finally the show moves to the live shows where viewers themselves finally get to vote on contestants.

Comroe competed on America’s Got Talent and was able to get to the final four. Unfortunately he was unable to pull out the victory. But since the show, he has been able to tour around the country doing what he loves. Even though he has to leave his wife and new daughter at home, Comroe stated, “I love touring. It’s always fun to perform for different crowds and see everyone come out.”

About half way through his show, Comroe opened up to the audience for a bit of a Q and A session as a way to avoid the awkward questions after the show. Students had quite a lot to say. Particularly, students wanted to know what it was like to start in comedy. Students were interested in how hard it is to gain an actual audience for shows as a start-up comedian.

“My favorite part of the show was when Comroe opened up a section of his show for Q and A. I asked him why he had worn a particular piece of clothing, and while he was shocked, he poked fun at it for the rest of the show, and it was just a lot of fun,” said David Parnell III (’21).

When asked why he originally got into comedy, comedian Sam Comroe said, “I really just did not want to be that guy with Tourette’s. I wanted to be funny and make people laugh. I actually started this whole thing at 17. I was an introvert who wanted to break out of his shell, and my dad had always really been into comedy. So it was an easy choice.”

“Your beginning shows are always your worst. I’ve been doing comedy for about a decade now, and I can say that about 800 shows out of 1000 have been for ten people or less,” said Comroe. Comroe also said, “Most of my jokes come from my own experiences. I take all the negativity that occurs in my life and try to turn it around to something I can make fun of in order to make others laugh.”…

“Most of my jokes come from my own experiences. I take all the negativity that occurs in my life and try to turn it around to something I can make fun of in order to make others laugh.”

Comroe also commented on some of the inspirations he had both in life and in comedy. “My biggest inspiration in comedy is really anyone who is willing to get on that stage and put themselves out there. I know what it’s like to start out and how hard it can be, so I really empathize with them. I also get a lot of my inspiration from my family.

Handshake bring career opportunities


Alma College takes a new approach to helping students achieve their dream career at the touch of a button.

Before the past two years, Alma College’s students had to find career opportunities through limited community and college connections. Students were exposed to many career opportunities, but could not help but miss out on some.

Thanks to Handshake, all of that changed and students no longer have to miss out on any opportunities.

“Handshake is a platform made by students at Michigan Technological University that allows students to interact with Career Service staff and potential employers,” said Maddie Moeggenborg, Alma College’s new Career Coach.

This recently installed online platform allows students to build profiles consisting of their accomplishments and work experience for possible employers to access. Students can also include cover letters and resumes when applying for jobs or internships.

“Since all employers have to be approved by Alma College before they can post jobs, students don’t have to worry about the legitimacy of postings like they do when surfing sites such as Indeed,” said Moeggenborg.

Handshake provides a legitimate and simple way for students to be involved in the work environment outside of Alma, but this does not mean students cannot benefit on campus as well.

Students can also apply for on campus jobs and internships through Handshake. It allows them to find jobs within minutes of logging on.

“I used Handshake to apply to be a Resident Assistant here on campus. Personally, my experience with Handshake was a great one. I logged into the website, found the position, and within minutes I had applied,” said freshman Ellen Laurenz (’22). Handshake is a way to keep students involved in the college’s community while providing them with work experience. It can also be used for more than job and internship searching.

“Students can use Handshake to find and register for events on campus, schedule appointments with Career Services, and access resources such as resume tips and study abroad how-tos,” said Moeggenborg.

Handshake provides students with the resources necessary to be successful from their first resume to their first job interview.

It allows students to make connections with professionals on and off campus. Students of any grade or level of job experience can put themselves into the work environment whether it be an on-campus job or an internship in Washington D.C.

“Handshake is only two years old at Alma but over 77% of students are logging into Handshake and almost 50% have completed a profile,” said Moeggenborg. More and more students are using Handshake as a way to obtain opportunities that they may have missed – and not just at Alma College.

Michigan Tech students were the major push and creators behind Handshake due to their location prohibiting them from having as many job opportunities as other schools. “Now over 600 schools nationwide use Handshake and it’s the largest job platform for college students,” said Moeggenborg.

This growing popularity allows students to get the most out of their college experience. There is a little bit of everything for everyone on Handshake, even faculty members.

“Students request appointments with me via Handshake to go over their resumes and cover letters and chat about options for majors and future careers,” said Moeggenborg.

It is a great way for students and faculty members to stay connected. It keeps students on the right path for their future careers.

“I’m sure as I grow older, I’ll be able to use Handshake for more than just on campus jobs. I see Handshake being a very helpful resource in my future,” said Laurenz.

Outbreak season: fighting the flu


With flu season among us, many people dress warmer, wash their hands more frequently and may even make an appointment to receive a flu shot. Faculty members and students alike are not immune to these illnesses, and thus must be prepared to fight them. “

Vaccines have been incredibly important for reducing or eliminating various infectious diseases,” said Professor of Genetics and Immunology, Eric Calhoun.

Outbreaks of illnesses such as the flu are very common, happening almost every year. This month, schools in multiple states were forced to shut down due to lack of student and teacher presence. More than 20 states have reported high activity in flu-like illnesses.

Along with school cancellations, some hospitals are also asking individuals to limit their visitations with loved ones.

It seems as if there’s an influenza outbreak each year, and a different strain each time. Doctors and immunologists attempt to offer vaccinations for the particular strain going around, and it is up to everyone as to whether or not they feel as though they need the immunization.

“I think vaccinations are a wonderful invention because the mortality rates of many deadly diseases have plummeted,” said Courtney Smith (‘21). “I get my yearly flu shot, and any time there is a disease outbreak, such as hepatitis A, I get vaccinated for that as well.”

Alma College has its own immunization requirements, and proof must be shown before students may begin attending classes. There are some vaccinations, such as the one for meningitis, that are required among all students, whether they be in grade school or at the collegiate level. While the college follows these requirements, there are some vaccinations that students have a choice of whether or not they will receive it, such as the vaccine for influenza.

“That’s the one that I don’t get regularly,” said Katie Bailey (‘22) in regards to the flu vaccination. “[How often I get sick] depends. It depends on how stressed I am and how well I’m taking care of myself. I’ve never gotten seriously sick.”

Some may not want to be vaccinated due to the worry that they will get sick, but some students feel otherwise. “I know that [vaccines] work, it’s that simple,” said Alex Baird (‘19). “It’s just annoying that people actively ignore evidence that we have.”

“I feel like everyone needs [vaccines],” said Bailey. Making sure to remain healthy is extremely important, especially to the busy college student. Some students encourage getting your vaccinations as a way of doing this.

“Vaccinations ‘trick’ your immune system into thinking that you’ve got whatever sickness you’re trying to be immunized for, thus allowing your immune cells to create a memory of that illness so that they can better fight it off next time,” said Calhoun.

The Wilcox Medical Center here at Alma College offers immunizations such as typhoid, hepatitis A and B, as well as the influenza shot.

Many students and faculty members feel as though it is important that students are making smart decisions when it comes to cleanliness. As the flu season rages on, it’s important to remember to practice healthy actions when doing daily tasks.

“Wash your hands before you eat, after you go to the bathroom, before touching your face. Also, cough into your elbow as opposed to on your hands to avoid getting others sick,” said Smith.

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