The Parkland College Blog

Staerkel Planetarium to Host Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing

Total Lunar Eclipse Viewing at Staerkel Planetarium, May 15

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The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College is hosting a free telescope viewing of the total lunar eclipse, weather permitting.

On Sunday, May 15, the eclipse will be visible in most of North America, depending on cloud coverage. In Champaign, the Moon will start to get dimmer after sunset and begin moving into Earth's umbra, or full shadow, around 9:30 p.m. The total eclipse begins around 10:30 p.m. and will last for about 80 minutes.

Planetarium staff and members of the Champaign-Urbana Astronomical Society will set up several telescopes outside the planetarium so visitors can view the moon. The circle drive outside the planetarium and theatre will be blocked off to allow for pedestrian traffic. Visitors should park in the M1 or C4 parking lots.

A lunar eclipse occurs when Earth is positioned between the Sun and Moon. Normally, the Moon would appear full, but Earth's shadow can cover the Moon entirely, making it much dimmer. A total lunar eclipse looks red due to sunlight refracted through Earth's atmosphere.

For more information about the event, the planetarium, or booking the dome, please call 217/351-2567 or visit

New Early Childhood Educator Degree, Tuition Support

New Early Childhood Educator Degree at Parkland College

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Parkland College is launching a new early childhood education program, and area childcare workers can apply for free funding to cover tuition costs.

Students who earn Parkland's Early Childhood Education (ECE) AAS degree will now be able to transfer their credits to obtain a four-year degree, something they could not do with the college's previous Early Childhood Development degree, according to ECE Program Director Amy Chamley.

"It's a new bridge/transfer path, but the same top-notch Parkland curriculum we are well-known for,” Chamley said. "Our two-year program can prepare you for eventual work as a head teacher, assistant teacher, or director in a DCFS-licensed childcare center or home-based program."

Designed for people interested in making a positive and immediate impact on young children's growth and development, Parkland's ECE degree features supervised, hands-on instruction and professors with real-life experience in the field. Students spend time observing and working with children at Parkland’s Child Development Center and other area programs and facilities. The program's flexibility accommodates both full- and part-time students, with classes available on-campus and online; future teachers can work while they earn their degree.

Once students complete the required minimum 60 semester credits to earn their associate's degree, they can either enter the workforce as daycare or preschool workers or opt to transfer as a junior to a four-year program in early childhood education to finish a bachelor's degree and obtain their Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL). Obtaining the PEL would allow them to teach young children in Illinois public schools (birth to second grade), private elementary schools, and Head Start.

"It's training you can make fit into your life," Chamley said. "Earn the degree and start your own home daycare or become director-qualified by taking one extra course with the AAS curriculum."

Because Illinois, like the nation, is experiencing an early childhood teacher shortage, the state invites residents with childcare education experience to apply for the Illinois’ Early Childhood Access Consortium for Equity (ECACE) Scholarship Program to help pay for Parkland's training. The scholarship covers an academic year's worth of college credits.

Employment of childcare workers is projected to grow eight percent from 2020 to 2030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with an average 150,300 openings projected across the country annually.

For additional information on the Early Childhood Education Associate in Applied Science degree at Parkland, visit

Parkland College 2022 Commencement Ceremony, May 12

Parkland College Commencement Exercises, Thursday, May 12

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Dr. Stuart King, pain management specialist and anesthesiologist at Christie Clinic and University of Illinois trustee, will deliver the keynote address during Parkland College's 2022 Commencement Exercises, Thursday, May 12, at 8 p.m. in the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

Dr. King is a University of Illinois Trustee appointed in 2017. He is a lifetime member of the University of Illinois Alumni Association and has been or currently is a board member with the Parkland College Foundation, the Presence Hospital Foundation, the Carle Foundation, and UIUC’s MBA advisory board. He has served on Christie Clinic PC’s board of directors and is a diplomat for the American Board of Anesthesiology. In the past, he has been president of the Christie Foundation and the Champaign County Medical Society Board.
He began his career in 1987 with an associate’s degree at Parkland College in Liberal Arts and Sciences, and received a bachelor's degree in biology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He would continue his career with a doctorate from the University of Illinois’ College of Medicine at Peoria. He completed his residency in anesthesiology at the University of Missouri at Kansas City. He earned his MBA at UIUC in 2010.
Dr. King is a pain management specialist at Christie Clinic and head of the Department of Spine and Pain Management. In his military career, he was a major in the U.S. Army Medical Corps, and Captain of the 1/106th Aviation Battalion in the Illinois Army National Guard; he was also head of the medical section. He served at the McLeod Regional Medical Center and was on the Illinois State Medical Society’s Council of Economics.
He has worked as a clinical associate professor for multiple areas in the University of Illinois’ College of Medicine since 2013. He was also an interim associate dean for academic affairs for the College of Medicine for four years. In 2012, he was honored with Parkland College’s Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Parkland College's 55th Commencement will include a welcome from college administration and the Board of Trustees. The Parkland College Foundation will present the Distinguished Alumnus Award. Late trustee Jonathan Westfield will be commemorated with an honorary degree and Parkland student Ross Booker's family will be presented with a posthumous degree. 

Student presenters will include honor student Angela Lustria Maligaya, tassel turner Sean M. Ealy, and student trustee Kha K. Nguyen. Nguyen is a High School of St. Thomas More graduate. Along with his role as student trustee, he is co-president of the Cobra Investment Society.

Ealy is a Cincinnati native and chose Parkland for the strong athletics program. He has been part of the Cobras basketball team for two years, and is pursuing a degree in communications.

Maligaya is a Parkland Pathway student and 2020 Centennial High School graduate. She has participated in many academic and student groups while in high school and on campus, including Phi Theta Kappa. After graduation, she plants to pursue global environmental sciences at the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.

The ceremony will also feature music selections by the Parkland College Wind Ensemble and an invocation and benediction by Pastor Willie G. Comer Jr. of Berean Covenant Church in Urbana.

This event will be in-person and livestreamed via YouTube and Facebook Live. Visit for more information.

Free Spring Concerts by Parkland College Music Ensembles

Parkland Music Ensembles to Offer Free Spring Concerts

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Parkland College's spring concert season concludes with May performances by several music ensembles in the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre.

Saturday, May 7 at 3 p.m.
"The Emerging Spring" A Joint Concert by the Parkland Orchestra, Chamber Singers, and Guitar Ensemble

The Parkland Orchestra, directed by Dr. Rodney Mueller, will perform "Carnival Overture, Op. 92" by Antonin Dvorak, edited by Carl Simpson; "Mock Morris" by Percy Aldridge Grainger, edited by Dana Paul Perna; "Nimrod" from 'Enigma Variations, Op. 36' by Edward Elgar, edited by Steven L. Rosenhaus; and "Meditation, from 'Thais'" by Jules Massenet, edited by Jack Ranney, among others.

The Parkland Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Franklin Gallo, will perform "Nyon Nyon" by Jake Runestad; "Kyrie" from Missa Papae Marcelli by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina; "The Ground" by Ola Gjelio; and "West Side Story" by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, arranged by Len Thomas.

Director Dr. Young Kim will lead the Guitar Ensemble in performing "Sinfonia No. 3 BWV 789" by Johann Sebastian Bach; "'Prelude' from English Suite, Op. 31" by John W. Duarte, arranged by Rich Geiger; "Gin Fizz" by Pieter van der Staak, edited by Greg Styles; and "Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars)" by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Stan Getz solo transcribed by Scott Card, chords arranged by Carlos Arana; and "Da Blues" by Alan Hirsch. 

Sunday, May 8 at 3 p.m.
"A Spring Celebration" A Joint Concert by the Concert Band and Wind Ensemble

The Parkland Concert Band, directed by Dr. Matthew Dixon, will perform "Overture to Candide" by Leonard Bernstein, transcribed by Clare Grundman; "Americans We March" by Henry Fillmore; "Legend" by Paul Creston; and "Chorale and Shaker Dance" by John Zdechlik.

Parkland's Wind Ensemble, directed by Dr. Jonathan Beckett, will present "Slavic Dance no. 10" by Antonin Dvorak, arranged by Tom Clark; "Procession of the Nobles" (Cortege from the Opera "Mlada") by Nicholas Rimsky-Korsakov, arranged by Erik Leidzen, edited by Van Ragsdale; "A Chorus Line Spectacular!" by Marvin Hamlisch, arranged by Warren Barker; and "River of Life" by Steven Reineke.

Parkland Medical Assist. Program Awarded Full Initial Accreditation

Parkland College Health Professions program earns accreditation

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The Parkland College Health Professions Medical Assisting Program has been awarded full initial accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (CAAHEP).

Accreditation follows a detailed two-year, 10-step process outlined by the CAAHEP to ensure that health professions education programs meet all standards and guidelines for the industry. 

During the October 2021 site accreditation visit, Parkland's Medical Assisting program was required to show that 270 competencies from three learning domains were presented and assessed for every student. This included a one- to two-day close review of program documentation, facilities, and curriculum, as well as interviews with program-affiliated individuals.

"We are very proud of all the faculty and staff that organized, prepared for, and excelled in this key process for our program, our department, and our college," said Carolyn Ragsdale, Dean of Health Professions.

"Accreditation represents the highest level of excellence for a program or institution. It enhances the educational quality of a program by ensuring consistency with the standards of the profession, promotes self-evaluation and improvement, and provides the public with institutional accountability for educational programs."

Initial accreditation is awarded for a five-year period, with the next review slated for 2027. Students that complete medical assisting curriculum from nationally-accredited programs and pass certification exams can be employed in every state in the US.

For more information about Parkland College Health Professions programs, please visit