Alma College holds annual Festival of Carols



On Dec. 3 and 4 Alma College celebrated the beginning of the holiday season with the Festival of Carols. 

For many years, the Festival of Carols has been a tradition on campus. 

It is a time where the Alma Choirs and Chamber Orchestra come together and open the doors of the Remick Heritage Center for the entire community. 

The Alma Choir has worked on Festival of Carols months in advance and this w as their fourth program this semester. 

The performance began with the song “O Come, All Ye Faithful ” followed by a few other well-known songs such as “Away in a Manger,” “Hark the Herald Angel Sing” and “The First Noel.” 

The program was recorded professionally Dec. 1 in a private rehearsal as well as on the days of the actual performances themselves. The Alma College YouTube page has recordings from these performances as well as ones from previous years. 

The Chorale and the Alma Choir rehearsed from three to five days weekly for multiple songs including the latter for their hour performance to end the semester. 

“I like to perform, but I really love to rehearse, and I love spending time with the singers, so I never get tired of rehearsal,” said Secrest Professor of Music Will Nichols. 

Additionally, the Choir needed to focus singing on unison despite their numbers. 

“They know all the notes and rhythms, we are just trying to polish the performance which can be a challenge with forty or fifty people singing all at once. The Marching Band does that in their marching and we are trying to do the exact thing with our words and the music we are singing,” said Nichols. 

Out of these holiday songs, “this music is to give a bit of peace because we’re not singing super energetic songs, we want them to have enjoyment because that’s the kind of holiday season, it’s about enjoying this time and celebration of faith and togetherness, however, you want to interpret them,” said David Troyer (’24)

Celebrating the holiday season is not only about experiencing joy, but also sharing that joy. 

“These songs showcase that because of our combined efforts, our combined musicality: instrumental and vocal. We also are singing songs from different cultures where we have a French carol, an English carol and songs that people know really well and some songs that they probably never heard before. We want to also show the inclusivity of the season as well,” said Troyer.

The Chamber Orchestra has also been rehearsing alongside the Alma Choirs with equal efforts. With the help of Co-Conductor Takeshi Abo, those like Abigail Skerik, a violinist and following concertmaster, have gotten the chance to work in collaboration with the Choirs to celebrate the holiday.

“I have really enjoyed rehearsing both with just the other strings and also the experience of getting to play with the choir and some wind instruments for the first time in a while,” said Abigail Skerik (’23)

The Alma Choirs and the Chamber Orchestra’s collaboration has brought new experiences and the aspiration to bring joy to start the holiday season.

“I just hope the audience enjoys the performance and that all the carols get everybody in high spirits for the holidays coming up. I think it will be very exciting to show everybody what we have been working on and I hope the audience enjoys the entire show,” said Skerik.

Guest speaker brings awareness to “The Real Thanksgiving”



Thanksgiving Break is coming soon to campus from Nov. 23 to Nov. 25. Before this time, a few events will take place on campus.

One of those events is “The Real Thanksgiving” held on Nov. 16 from 6:00p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Tyler-Van Dusen Heather Room. The guest speaker, Hannah Bartol, of the Hannahville Indian Community discussed the true history behind Thanksgiving.

In her presentation, she explored the government edition of Thanksgiving, the “real” Thanksgiving, events such as Dakota 38 and answered questions regarding the Native American culture.

Bartol recalled events from the true history of Thanksgiving and what came after.

In 1621, the pilgrims of the Mayflower shared an “autumn feast” followed by a second feast held two years later. During this time, Squanto, a Native American of the Wampanoag Tribe, who held previous unfortunate experiences and grievances with the New Englanders had escaped England from enslavement, Bartol remembered. Once he came back to his land, he decided to befriend the pilgrims and help them cultivate their new plantation in hopes to prevent his people from suffering the same fate as his village.

However, later historical events showed that such things have repeated themselves such as Dakota 38 where a mass execution of Dakota tribe members have taken place. If you want to learn more information on historical events such as Dakota 38, Bartol referred to two books: Saints and Strangers and Dakota 38.

Despite the real history of Thanksgiving, presently Native Americans have commemorated Thanksgiving by doing Ghost Suppers. A time to remember and honor deceased loved ones and relatives through the offering of food and tobacco at a community meal.

Another way of commemorating the day is by fasting four days prior to Thanksgiving. The number four is sacred to the Native American culture as it represents a pattern of many phenomena of life. This includes the four directions, the four times of day as well as their four sacred plants.

Otherwise, the fasting is a “way of being closer to our ancestors, where you have visions or where you seek your answers, seek prayer…sort of what to do next in your life,” said Bartol.

This commemoration is to show that the Native American community will “thrive” despite their history. Other events that have yet to come include the “Turkey Talk with Day Club and ASAP” on Nov. 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Tyler-Van Dusen, Heather Room. Here you can join members of Dream Works Day Club from Ithaca and the ASAP program from Alma High School for a potluck lunch followed by arts and crafts.

For those who attend the Chapel, there will be a Thanksgiving service the Sunday that follows Thanksgiving at 7:00 p.m. “I hope that they not only get to experience gratitude, but they realize how many of us are grateful for them. That we are all spoiled because we get to work with you amazing students and our jobs are all because of you. I hope that they feel that on Thanksgiving…they realize how many of us are thankful for you all,” said Senior Chaplain Andrew Pomerville.

All in all, Thanksgiving for both tribal and non-tribal members is a holiday to commemorate and being thankful to the community you surround yourself with. As said in Ojibwe, “Chii Miigwech,” with great thanks.

Update on learning commons renovations




The newly renovated library will soon come to campus in the 2023 Winter Semester. The library-to-learning commons renovation project has been happening since 2021.

The new learning commons will still have the same services but will include some new additions. The first change includes offices and spaces for the Center for College and Community Engagement (3CE) with Student Success and Career and Personal Development.

All three of these offices are being moved from the Center of Student Opportunity (CSO), and it has yet to be discussed what will replace those offices.

Another addition will be a café on the first floor. This will be shared with the College Archives, Library Special Collections and student organization offices. Other spaces within the library will be lounge areas for students.

There will also be a back door that opens towards Superior Street. The Learning Commons will have new entrances from Mac Mall and the northern courtyard. An entrance will be added on the south side of the building, facing the Reid-Knox Administration Building, as well.

Stacks, the oldest part of the library, was demolished due to an increasing number of problems that have been accumulating since it was built in the early 1920s.

The library has turned into a central learning common for students to have better access to resources on campus from all types of offices and services.

“We finally are fortunate to have a centralized physical location on campus, and [to] have more of a student union type of place. [We will also be] getting a better utilization of that space,” said Director of Student Success, Philip Andre.

With offices being moved and changes being done, connections can be lost, and new ones can be made.

“We’re sad to be moving away from all our colleagues in the CSO, but it will be nice to be more centrally available to students. We’re very excited to be only a floor away when the Qdoba comes into the learning commons,” said Assistant Director of Student Success, Betsy Strobel.

This renovation project has brought better accessibility to where “if someone is going to grab Qdoba for lunch and says, oh, I want to talk to someone about this, they can walk upstairs or down the hall or whatever, and go have that conversation,” said Andre.

Other than better accessibility for students there could be room for more resources for the offices. For instance, the CSO may get more testing rooms to provide their services to students on a wider scale.

“We are hopeful that we will have more access to testing rooms, since we only have three currently available in the CSO, and we’ve heard that it might be possible for us to have access to at least six over in the new learning commons. Other than that, we will have all the same services that we’ve had during our time in the CSO,” said Strobel.

Aside from the additions, the services that will be kept from the previous library are the Information and Technology help desk and the Writing Center with a media lab.

“We are all really excited about it, this was a project that was discussed for quite some time… to help and support the students,” said Andre.

Despite the long wait, the library-to-learning commons renovation project will bring a more centralized student commons with the necessary accommodations for student learning and success.

Choir and Orchestra tune up




Alma College’s Choir and Orchestra programs have begun practicing for their fall performances and for the rest of the school year to come. Both esteemed programs on campus, the choir and orchestra, are some of the ways Alma College features musically talented students. 

The Choir’s performance this past weekend was focused on works by the German-British composer, Handel, including a treble-focused song. 

Alina Malinowski (’23) has been a choir member during all four years of her college experience. She started in the chorale her freshman and half of her sophomore year. She then moved up to choir the winter of her sophomore year.

“I am most looking forward to being able to travel to Scotland with the choir for Spring Term and singing all across the country in different churches, [along with] exploring different landmarks such as castles and rivers. I cannot wait,” said Malinowski.          

“We have not been able to do this trip for the past 3 or so years because of COVID-19 and it impacting travel so highly,” said Malinowski.

Malinowski is feeling the emotions of this being her last year as a member of the Alma College choir. “I feel it may affect me a bit more during the end of the year and [during] the Christmas concert with those being the biggest and most memorable concerts through the whole year,” said Malinowski.   

However, Malinowski has some advice for the freshman members of the choir. “A piece of advice I would give to the freshmen is to have fun with it, make friends and enjoy all your time in the class. It goes by way too fast, and it will be over in the blink of an eye,” said Malinowski.

The orchestra concert that took place this past weekend featured pieces by Mozart and Arensky. Abby Skerik (’23), the concert master of the orchestra, said some changes had to be made regarding the formation of the orchestra.

“Since COVID-19, we had to adjust to a string-only chamber orchestra, which has given us new opportunities for different types of music to play,” said Skerik.

“I am most looking forward to performing in the upcoming concert, and to keep playing with the orchestra and learning more about the violin and the opportunities that come with playing and working with others,” said Skerik.

Skerik has some advice for new members of the orchestra. “The most important thing is to keep pushing yourself every day and always try new things with music and never get too comfortable with how you play, you can always improve,” said Skerik.                      

The students work hard with each other, a few hired professionals and our community members to produce music for everyone to enjoy at our public concert.

The October concert is a culmination of over a month of work in regular rehearsals and dress rehearsals.         

“I would describe orchestra as one big family that comes together to play amazing music while also encourageing each other to be the best musicians we can be,” said Moranda Johnson (‘22) a former member of the orchestra.

The Alma College Choir’s next performance will be a Halloween concert at 11 p.m. on October 31 and the Festival of Carols on December 3 and 4 at 7 p.m. and 2 p.m. respectively. The Alma College Orchestra’s next performance will be with the Choir at the Festival of Carols concert. Both performances will take place at the Oscar E. Remick Heritage Center.

Alma College Theatre presents “The Imaginary Invalid”



The Imaginary Invalid is coming to campus! The show opens on Oct. 27 and runs through Oct. 30. The show will occur at 7:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. at the Remick Heritage Center.

This production is based on Miles Mallesons’s adaptation of the play by Moliere, who was writing for the theater in the 17 century.

“He poked fun at society a lot, and the idea of the play is about a guy named Argan, who is a hypochondriac, and he comes up with this great idea that if he marries his daughter off to a doctor, he’ll get free medical care,” said Director Scott Mackenzie.

Fortunately, at the time, Argan’s daughter fell in love with a young man that she wants to marry. The fun ensues when Argan finds a doctor, who was a dim-witted charlatan, for Angelica to marry off to.

“However, Argan’s clever housemaid, Toinette… manages to work things out so that the young lovers get to be together and Argon… gets his free medical care,” said Mackenzie.

It has taken 8 weeks for the production to happen under Director Scott Mackenzie. Terry Jachimiak II worked on the scene for sound and light design. Heather Brown worked on costume design for all the characters in the production.

It would not have been possible to make “The Imaginary Invalid” come alive without the efforts of the student actors and backstage crew.

Besides all the fun experiences the students had in this production, they also had a few challenges to overcome.

“As this is my first show in college, the college theater experience is something new to me…One reason it is so new and different from my previous acting experience is because I am understudying two roles. This requires me to be familiar with two characters’ lines and blocking, which is a bit more challenging,” said Caedmon Applegate (‘26).

“I can’t tell you how many times I accidentally said one character’s line when I was supposed to say the other’s during rehearsal,” said Applegate.

Another student actor also had a challenge to face that required extra determination in the making of the play.

“Before we had our first blocking rehearsal, I [fell ill with] covid and was taken out for 7 days… Luckily, I have been able to start my own character work, and I find myself learning something new about my character every time we rehearse. Even for someone without a lot of stage time, Dr. Diaforus is a big presence and I hope to do him justice as we approach the show dates,” said Wiley Delisa (’24).

During some moments in the rehearsals, student actors came up with better humor for their characters than what was originally planned. “I always like it when a student does something that I smile at or laugh at that I had never expected,” said Mackenzie.

Besides acting, there are many other aspects of the show that are needed in order to make it happen. This includes costume design production.

“My process is based on the type of performance, the director/choreographer, the budget, the labor pool–so much goes into it all… In this case, the director gave me two ideas to work with… From there, I went forward with research[ing], drawing, painting, pulling [and] procuring,” said the Costume Designer, Heather Brown.

“A single costume, for me that means one complete look, socks to nose ring, can take anywhere from four hours to one hundred hours to make.”

“The Imaginary Invalid,” a quick-paced classic comedy, is a production that took time and effort to create.

The admission fee is free to students, staff and those under eighteen years of age. For those who are adults, it is fifteen dollars. It is seven dollars for senior citizens.

Everyone is invited to enjoy the show. If anyone is interested in future productions, they can contact Scott Mackenzie for further information.

Alma College brings new perspectives through Art Prize




The annual Art Prize has come to bring art to campus. This year’s theme is “May you Live in Interesting Times.”

The annual Art Prize reflects what students believe are the ideas or concerns of the theme. The students bring these ideas and concerns to life through art.

“This theme was ‘borrowed’ from the 2019 Venice Biennale,” said Jilian Dickson, visiting assistant professor in drawing and painting. “We encountered such powerful work, I wanted to piggyback off that momentum. In previous years, the theme was a single word, [like] ‘electric tape’, ‘recycle’, ‘reuse’.”

With this reflection surrounding the Art Prize theme, students have the freedom to explore through different mediums. This can range from acrylics to woodwork. Even though Art Prize has a theme to be followed, you can find ways to showcase everyday experiences and controversial issues.

“Students used this opportunity to examine the ‘interesting’ circumstances we find ourselves in. There is a piece in reaction to Roe V. Wade. There is another piece…that examines accessibility on campus,” said Dickson.

One of the small groups participating in this year’s competition has created an artwork called “Out of Reach.” The team members are Willis Heiney (‘23)Starr Koon (‘23)Emily Diener (‘23) and Lauryn Bishop (‘23). They have created a twelve-foot-high staircase sculpture to explore ideas about disability, inaccessibility and the struggles students face due to inequalities on campus.

“We chose stairs because they are commonly overlooked as a functioning passageway and rarely thought of as a blockage,” said Koon.

It is not only the ideas explored in a creative way. The artworks are also intentionally positioned on campus where they invoke their message best.

“…We intentionally placed it at the center of campus to resonate with the message. We wanted our staircase to obstruct the pathway and allow viewers to feel the same disruption and blockage that students with disability face,” said Koon. “We also made the base of the platform to start at five feet tall to further highlight the daunting and overwhelming feelings of struggling students and students with disabilities.”

A key aspect of Art Prize that is often overlooked is the learning experience and the collaborations being done with other artists on campus, especially when some of the participants are not art majors.

Art prize is open to all students from various disciplines. This year, however, only students that are art majors, minors or are participating in an art class have taking an interest. The Art Prize can also be done as a group or individually.

In the “Out of Reach” group, “everyone came together, communicated and took on separate roles to complete our piece,” said Koon. “Whether it was staining the wood, [cutting] and sanding, or solving problems during assembly, I’m extremely impressed with our teamwork.”

Students who are not related to the art discipline are welcomed to participate and expend the knowledge from their own disciplines.

“We’ve had students from a variety of disciplines participate,” said Dickson.

While this new system greatly enhances Alma’s liberal arts education, this system offers less flexibility because of the structured requirements. It has been expressed that this is something that will continually be worked on.

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