The Parkland College Blog

Staerkel Planetarium to Present Kaler Lecture on Microreactors

Staerkel Planetarium to Present Kaler Lecture on Microreactors

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The William M. Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College is hosting a talk on nuclear microreactors for the James B. Kaler Science Lecture Series.

On Friday, November 5 at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Caleb Brooks, associate professor in the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois, will present "Rethinking Nuclear Power: Small Systems, Big Potential." Tickets for Kaler Lectures cost $2 or are free for Friends of the Staerkel Planetarium.

Nuclear microreactors are a new class of nuclear fission technology that various U.S. departments plan to deploy over this decade. As the name implies, they are much smaller than conventional reactors, but their design allows them to be factory-built and delivered to sites by truck, rail, or ship. Since they require minimal onsite construction, they can offer a plug-and-play source of energy, which is useful in locations limited by isolation or natural disasters.

Brooks earned B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University and began working at the University of Illinois in 2014. He established the Multiphase Thermo-fluid Dynamics Laboratory to study nuclear systems and reactor flows, and he investigates hybrid energy approaches for existing and future power systems.

The seating capacity in the planetarium is currently limited to 60 people. The Kaler Science Lectures are filmed by PCTV. After the talk, the seats will be cleaned before the 8 p.m. showing of Phantom of the Universe, a program about the search for dark matter. Admission to fulldome shows start at $5. For a show schedule or booking information, please call 217/351-2446 or visit

2021 State of the Art Ceramics Biennial: The Living World in Clay

Giertz Gallery Hosts 2021 Ceramics Biennial, curated by Chris Berti

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"The Living World in Clay" curated by Chris Berti
Exhibit: October 25, 2021February 5, 2022
Reception: October 28, 5:30–7:30 p.m.; weather permitting, conversation is encouraged outdoors
Artist Lecture: Janis Wunderlich, November 11, 10:30 a.m., available on Zoom and in L111
Gallery closed: November 24 (5 p.m.)November 28 for Thanksgiving; December 18January 9 for Holiday Break; and January 17 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Ceramic works by nationally recognized artists will feature in the Giertz Gallery exhibition "The Living World in Clay" this month and into the new year.

Artist and professor of Art and Design Chris Berti curates the 2021 State of the Art Ceramics Invitational. The exhibit, which brings together a "cross section of contemporary artists who invoke the rich tradition of incorporating human and animal figures into ceramic form," opened October 25 and will run through February 5, 2022.

An opening reception will take place tonight, October 28, from 5:30–7:30 p.m. in the gallery. Weather permitting, the courtyard doors will be open to encourage conversation after viewing the exhibit.

Janis Wunderlich will present an artist talk on November 11 at 10:30 a.m. This event is open to students, faculty, and staff at Parkland College in L111, and available virtually on Zoom. Register at

Exhibit participants comprise artists and faculty from across the United States, including Ricky Barnett of Bakersville, North Carolina; Joe Bova of Santa Fe, New Mexico; William Brouillard of Lakewood, Ohio; Lynn Hobaica of Bakersville, North Carolina; Peter Jadoonath of Shafer, Minnesota; Kirk Lyttle of St. Paul, Minnesota; Jenny Mendes of Chesterland, Ohio; Tilla Rodemann of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts; Rimas VisGirda of Champaign, Illinois, and Janis Wunderlich of Monmouth, Illinois.

Cups Fundraiser. In tandem with the Ceramics Biennial exhibition, Giertz Gallery will host its biennial fundraiser, "Coffee and Tea: Cups and Dessert" on December 9 from 4–7 p.m. With each ticket, guests will select from handmade ceramic cups donated by the Parkland College ceramics program faculty and students, and enjoy desserts, tea, coffee, live music, and a silent auction. Bid on or purchase artworks donated by Art and Design faculty and students, including vases, bowls, teapots, pitchers, jewelry, and scarves; auction items make perfect holiday gifts. A link will be available soon at to view auction pieces ahead of time and place bids.

Tickets for "Coffee and Tea: Cups and Desert" are $25 in advance or $30 at the door, with advance purchase recommended; attendees will have the option of attending from 4–5:30 p.m. or 5:30–7 p.m. A new selection of cups will be available for each time period, and will be chosen on a first come, first served basis. Tickets can be purchased online at or by phone at 217/351-2485. All proceeds support the Giertz Gallery.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, 10 a.m.–7 p.m. Thursday, and noon–2 p.m. Saturday. The gallery will be closed from 5 p.m. Nov. 24 through 28 for Thanksgiving break; Dec. 18 through Jan. 9 for winter break; and Jan. 17 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

In compliance with state pandemic mandates, Parkland College has restricted access entryways and door checkers stationed at entrances. For Giertz Gallery, we suggest using the M1 parking lot on the north corner of campus. Enter through the M1 door and follow the gallery signage. The gallery is located in the north side of the X-wing and overlooks the outdoor fountain area.

Giertz Gallery acknowledges support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency. Parkland College is a section 504/ADA-compliant institution; for accommodation, call 217/351-2505.

For more information about the invitational, the fundraiser, or the gallery, please visit or call the gallery office at 217/351-2485.

"She Kills Monsters" at Parkland Theatre Second Stage Starts Nov. 4

"She Kills Monsters" to run Nov. 4–14 at Parkland Theatre

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Parkland Theatre will be presenting "She Kills Monsters", written by Qui Nguyen and directed by Michael O'Brien, from November 4 to 14 at the Second Stage.

"She Kills Monsters" tells the story of Agnes Evans as she leaves her childhood home in Ohio following the death of her teenage sister, Tilly. When Agnes finds Tilly’s Dungeons and Dragons notebook, however, she finds herself catapulted into a journey of discovery and action-packed adventure in the imaginary world that was her sister’s refuge. In this high-octane dramatic comedy laden with homicidal fairies, nasty ogres, and ‘90s pop culture, acclaimed playwright Qui Nguyen offers a heart-pounding homage to the geek and warrior within us all.

Michael O’Brien directs a cast that includes Emma Petitt, Jess Schlipf, Douglas Malcolm, Michael Ruby, Zoë Dunn, Kelsey Powell, Ranae Wilson, Mariah Smith, Kiah Johnson, Spencer Hazen, and Solomon Robinson.

Performances will take place in the Parkland Theatre Second Stage November 4, 5, 6, 12, 13 at 7:30 p.m., and November 7 and 14 at 3 p.m. Tickets are available at Due to COVID restrictions, seating is limited, and masks are required. This show is rated teen for adult language and content.

Ticket prices:

  •  Adult: $20 
  • Student/Youth/Senior/Veteran: $18
  • Group (10 or more): $16 
  • Opening night is half-price!

Parkland Theatre wants all guests to have an enjoyable experience. Both theatres are wheelchair accessible and have accommodations for patrons with limited mobility and visual or hearing impairments. If you anticipate needing any type of accommodation, please indicate when purchasing tickets.

"She Kills Monsters" is presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.

Staerkel Planetarium to Offer Fulldome Spanish Shows

Parkland Planetarium to Offer Spanish-Language Shows

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The Staerkel Planetarium at Parkland College will be offering public Spanish-language shows in the dome for the first time this fall.

On Saturday, October 16 at 1 p.m., the planetarium will present "Un cielo, un mundo: La aventura de Big Bird", a Sesame Street show that offers an introduction to the night sky and takes a trip to the Moon with Big Bird, Elmo, and Hu Hu Zhu. Funded by a PNC Foundation grant, the show was produced by the Adler Planetarium, Sesame Workshop, the Beijing Planetarium, and Liberty Science Center.

Following a 30-minute break to sanitize and clean the area between shows, "De la tierra al universo" will begin at 2:30 p.m. Produced by the European Southern Observatory, this fulldome video offers a journey of celestial discovery from the theories of ancient astronomers to today's grandest telescopes. Presenter Ricardo Covarrubias Carreno, Ph.D., previously worked at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois, and currently teaches astronomy at Parkland College.

Parkland College Ensembles Offer Free Fall Concerts

Parkland Music Ensembles to Offer Free Fall Concerts

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Parkland College's fall concert season opens with October performances by several ensembles. Performances will be livestreamed on Parkland's YouTube channel.

Sunday, October 10 at 3 p.m.
"Home Again!" A Joint Concert by the Parkland Orchestra and Wind Ensembles
. The Parkland Orchestra, directed by Dr. Rodney Mueller, will perform "Finlandia, Op. 26" by Jean Sibelius, "Valdres March" by Johannes Hanssen, "Peer Gynt Suite" by Edvard Grieg, "A Trumpeter's Lullaby" by Leroy Anderson, and "Nabucco Overture" by Giuseppe Verdi.

Parkland's Wind Ensemble, directed by Dr. Jonathan Beckett, will present a variety of sounds and musical landscapes appropriate for the Halloween season. Selections will include "The Witch and the Saint" by Steven Reineke, "The Golden Years" by Leroy Anderson, and selections from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" by John Williams, among others.

Sunday, October 17 at 3 p.m.
"A Musical Homecoming" A Joint Concert by the Concert Band, Chamber Singers, and Guitar Ensemble.
The Parkland Concert Band, directed by Dr. Matthew Dixon, will perform "Revival March" by John Philip Sousa, "March for the Sultan Abdul Medjid" by Gioacchino Rossini, "First Suite in E Flat" by Gustav Holst, and "Irish Tune from County Derry and Shepherd's Hey" by Percy Aldridge Grainger.

The Parkland Chamber Singers, directed by Dr. Franklin Gallo, will perform "The Meditations of My Heart" by Eline Hagenberg, "Fly Away Home" by Pinkzebra, "It Takes a Village" by Joan Szymko, "Hold Me, Rock Me" by Brian Tate, and "African American Folk Song" arranged by Andre Thomas.

Director Dr. Young Kim will lead the Guitar ensemble in performing "Mondinha" and "Marchinha de Carnaval" by Celso Machado, and "The Girl from Impanema" and "Quiet Nights and Quiet Stars" by Antonio Carlos Jobim, among others.