The Parkland College Blog

Open Auditions for Parkland Theatre Fall Shows

Auditions 9–noon for "Servant of Two Masters", "Musical Comedy Murders of 1940"

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Parkland Theatre will hold auditions for the first two shows of its fall season Saturday, Aug. 25 at the theatre.
 
Auditions for "The Servant of Two Masters" and "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940" will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. Callbacks, if needed, will be Sunday, Aug. 26 from 5 to 7 p.m.
 
Auditionees should register for an audition timeslot at parkland.edu/auditions.
 
"The Servant of Two Masters" director Michael O'Brien is casting approximately 12 actors of all genders, ages 16 and over. Auditions will consist of improv and movement exercises. Please wear comfortable clothes that allow ease of movement to the audition.
 
"The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940" director Mathew Green is casting 10 actors, five male and five female, ages 16 and over. Actors will read from sides which can be found at parkland.edu/auditions
 
Performances for "The Servant of Two Masters" will run in Parkland Theatre's Second Stage Sept. 27–Oct 7. Performances for "The Musical Comedy Murders of 1940" will be held in the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre Nov. 8–18.
 
All members of the community as well as Parkland and University of Illinois students are invited to audition; Parkland Theatre encourages diversity. Those with additional questions should email hlayman@parkland.edu.

Trustees Refinance Bond Debt, Review Enrollment

Refinancing could save taxpayers $5.4 million over decade

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Parkland College District 505 taxpayers could save approximately $5.4 million over the next 10 years on debt payments following a measure taken by the college to refinance existing bonds issued to build the Student Union and make campus improvements.   
 
At its regular meeting Wednesday, Parkland's Board of Trustees approved a proposal from PMA Securities to move forward with a negotiated sale of up to $53.25 million in bonds at lower interest rates, potentially reducing the college's total tax burden by approximately 1.8 percent.
 
For the typical homeowner, this will translate to a savings of $3.33 per year per $100,000 of market value. Chief Financial Officer Chris Randles stressed the importance of taking advantage of current market conditions to benefit the community.
 
"While the college is not required to refinance, we are pleased to be able to reduce the tax burden on property owners in our district where we can," Randles said. "As stewards of public dollars, it will be well worth the work our team will put in to make it happen."
 
The board also received a spring enrollment update from the college's new dean of enrollment management, Kristin Smigielski. Smigielski shared that Parkland's spring 2018 enrollment was flat compared to spring enrollment the previous year, a welcome leveling off amidst national community college enrollment declines of 2 percent for the same term. Notably, dual credit enrollment from local high school students increased by approximately 23 percent from 2017 to 2018.
 
The Trustees also heard report on the Broadlands Wind Farm project, with no action taken.
 
In other business, trustees approved the following:

  • Hendrick Dorms, Inc. of Urbana as the new food service provider for Parkland College beginning Aug. 1, under a five-year contract. The contract allows Hendrick Dorms to operate on campus with no revenue sharing for the first school year and negotiated revenue sharing in subsequent years. Parkland College will provide the food serving and preparation areas to Hendrick Dorms at no cost. Hendrick Dorms is replacing Chartwell's Dining Services, which decided not to renew its food service contract with the college.

  • the Amendment to Lease Agreement that will extend the Champaign County Regional Planning Commission's lease in the Illinois Worknet Center at Parkland on Mattis through June 30, 2023. The Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity provides funding through the CCRPC to help adults, dislocated workers, and youth within the region obtain career training in high-growth, in-demand industries.

  • $48,000 in engine repair services from Poplar Grove Airmotive, Inc., Poplar Grove, Ill.

  • the employment contract of Tracy Wahlfeldt as executive director of the Parkland College Foundation, effective June 26, 2018, through June 30, 2021.

  • personnel appointments:

    • Brook Van Gundy, Certified Flight Instructor, Institute of Aviation

    • Judith Somers, Nursing Tenure-Track Faculty, Health Professions

    • Joseph Jessee, Groundskeeper, Physical Plant

    • Marvin Palmer, Custodian, Physical Plant

    • John Strack, Carpenter, Physical Plant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diverse Students Win Faculty-Created Writer's Competition

Students win Diana McDonald Writer's Challenge awards of $500 each

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Four Parkland College students recently earned prizes in an annual writing competition created by a retired faculty member.
 
Winning Diana McDonald Writer's Challenge awards of $500 each for their essays were Kennedy Coffie of Chicago for "Mastering Language"; Sami Issa of Syria for "Moving Up the Ladder"; Kaitlyn Marsh of Weldon, Illinois, for "A Necessary Evil"; and Elie Ngandu of the Republic of Congo for "America's Immigrant Dream."
 
Parkland English Professor Seth Mendelowitz, who serves as coordinator for the contest, said the competition usually awards one or two winners each year but that this year was special due to the strength and diversity of the submissions.
 
"Our winners ranged from a student temporarily living here during conflicts in his home country to a student from a small town in rural Illinois," he said. "Given evidence of excessive time spent by young people with more clipped forms of communication (via social media), and given the resultant widespread concern that most young people are not developing their reading and writing skills, it is exciting that we have had such a strong pool of submissions this year."
 
In fall 2011, to foster students' interests in writing, McDonald, a former composition instructor at Parkland, began awarding essays that display a strong sense of voice and unique perspective, written with precise word choice, clear organization, and grammatical and mechanical correctness.
 
According to the contest website, judges look for essays that "connect the writer's experiences, insights, and observations to larger ongoing conversations about the world—about politics, philosophy, science, media, justice, family, race, happiness, the environment, or some other important component of our culture and/or world." Mendelowitz said this year's judges regretted not awarding several other submissions that also displayed originality, interesting life experiences, and clear writing.
 
Students taking a Humanities department course may submit essays for the McDonald Writer's Challenge. Faculty judges select a winner near the end of May. Besides a cash award, the winning essay is also published on SPARK, Parkland's online academic repository. SPARK now includes the new winning essays:

  • Mastering Language: Coffie’s essay offers thoughtful reflections on her journeys between different English language communities, demonstrating how our way of speaking can tie us to a community and sense of communal identity, while shutting us off from other communities and identities. https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/8/
  • Moving Up the Ladder: Having made the U.S. his temporary home due to civil war in Syria, Issa details his fears and confusions at his job due to his rudimentary English skills as well as the strategies he employed to overcome his fears and improve his speaking and comprehension. https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/7/
  • A Necessary Evil: In this well-researched essay, Kaitlyn Marsh offers a balanced analysis of the effects of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Illnesses (DSM), which has promoted humane and consistent treatment of people with mental illness, while also enabling "big pharma" to generate a dramatic increase in the numbers of Americans being diagnosed with and medicated for mental illness.  https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/6/
  • America's Immigrant Dream: An immigrant from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ngandu acknowledges sympathy for Americans who come from a line of long-oppressed forebearers while describing the contrasting perception and experience of many immigrants, including himself, for whom the U.S. is a land of opportunity.  https://spark.parkland.edu/mcdonald_award/5/

Teens from our popular Land Surveying and Mapping with Technology camp were treated to a visit from some surveying tech gurus and engineers from St. Louis mid-June. And there were drones involved.

Todd Horton, instructor of the camp and program manager for Parkland’s Construction Management Programs, arranged to have Thouvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. teach campers in the classroom and provide hands-on training outdoors on a perfect summer day near the gymnasium.

“We need to raise awareness in land surveying, and these guys are great at it,” he said.”

“These guys” were Derek Twente, Andrew Joost, and Josh Hoffmann, who taught the teens about telegrammetry and LiDAR imaging—cutting-edge technologies in the field of surveying and mapping.

“We work with GIS, surveying crews, civil engineers, and many, many more groups of people,” said Joost, a geospatial data manager who has worked in the field ten years. “There are many people involved.”

After spending some time in the classroom, the campers headed outside and received some hands-on instruction with a drone. Hoffmann, a geospatial construction services manager, held a captive audience as he put his drone on autopilot. It lifted into the air as he explained to students that the drone would take a series of 31 pictures at 250 feet, moving in a grid-like pattern. The resulting images would provide ortho-image data and plot points.

“It’s amazing technology,” he said. “When I show these kids the detail afterward, they’re going to be blown away.”

The trip up from St. Louis was an investment for these engineers. “Most kids out there don’t really know anything about what they can do in this field,” said Twente, who is also the president-elect of the Illinois Professional Land Surveyor’s Association. “I know of only one other camp in Illinois that does this.” He was referring to Todd Horton’s intensive surveying and mapping camp, which puts equipment in the hands of teens and shows them a potential future in surveying. The job market is booming, but there is a lack of awareness of what the industry entails and how to get in it.

With the advent of new technologies, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS, or drones) and the increased capabilities of cameras, imagery, and software, surveying has exploded into new methods of discovery and accessibility. The equipment can be fun, the work takes place indoors and outdoors, and the pay can be pretty good. The catch?

“Kids just don’t know about this stuff,” Horton said.

Except for these kids. They’re right in the middle of the fun, thanks to Horton and the engineers from Thoutvenot, Wade & Moerchen, Inc. They’ve gotten a leg-up on their peers when it comes to future job opportunities, and they got to do it in a fun summer camp.

Did your teens miss the camp? No problem! There are other ways to get involved. Here are some other opportunities:

  • For internships and inquiries, contact Derek Twente, Geospatial Services Manager, at 618/624-4488, or email dtwente@twm-inc.com.
  • For UAS/Drone classes, FAA licenses, and using mapping software, contact Parkland College Business Training & Community Education, at 217/351-2235, or register online at www.parkland.edu/btceRegister

For more information on surveying and mapping, future camps, and similar opportunities, email Todd Horton at thorton@parkland.edu.

Long Awaited "Taking Flight" Now Installed

Flock of 505 birds represent college's district number

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Three years is a long time for newly hatched birds to start flying.
 
But that's how long Champaign artist Ann Coddington had to wait before her artwork, a flock of 505 black, ceramic-glazed birds, could suspend from the ceiling in Parkland College's Student Union lobby.
 
Although each bird in the piece, titled "Taking Flight," is different from the others, the flock visually moves as a collective, from east to west, across the lobby's sky. Coddington, an Eastern Illinois University drawing and design professor, called her design choice an apt metaphor for an educational experience.
 
"The students who have come to Parkland College and have formed relationships go off on their own and are individuals again, but while they are at Parkland, they are part of this really special group," said Coddington, who also taught design classes at Parkland for 10 years.
 
Installed this past Memorial Day weekend, "Taking Flight" was originally scheduled to soar summer 2015, after Student Union construction was complete. That's when Illinois legislators froze the state budget, including monies earmarked for the project under the State of Illinois Art in Architecture program. 
 
"I was three weeks ahead of installing the work when they froze the budget," Coddington said. “The piece was finished and ready to go when it was put on hold, and the 27 boxes had to be stored in my mother’s basement!” 
 
When the state finally released the funds this past November, she still had to wait until school was out for the summer to finish the project; conditions needed to be right for the delicate work of hanging the birds to begin.
 
"The installation was quite involved," she said of the work that lasted May 21 to 29. "I had my crew of five assistants. We had to lay a floor, utilize a scissor lift, have special insurance. I also had to be able to cordon off the area."  
 
If the installation phase of the project was intricate, the design and preparation phase was even more so, taking nearly a year to complete. 
 
"Monday through Wednesday I would work at my job, then from Wednesday night on, I'd work along with two assistants for 40 hours or so until I went back to work," Coddington remarked. "It was a really intense production schedule."
 
First, she had to consider the natural elements--wood, stone, sunlight--that make up the bright, airy space she would be working with.
 
"The architecture is kind of open, bringing the outside in, so I wanted to continue that concept with the work," she said. "I wanted to respect the established architecture so that the piece I was installing was consistent with design of the space." Next, she wove 10 different bird shapes in an off-loom basket-making technique called twining, made plaster molds of each shape, then poured liquid ceramic slip into the molds, crafting thin shells of clay birds. She would painstakingly retool each bird before it was fired, glazed, then fired a second time.
 
"When you open the mold and remove the shell of clay, there's a seam where the two halves come together," she explained. "I would redraw the woven texture around each seam so there's not an obvious line; I had to recreate the texture." The number of birds, 505, represents Parkland's district number within the community college system.
 
While "Taking Flight" is not Coddington's first flock of birds (she had other installations in Cincinnati and St. Louis), it is her first permanent commissioned sculptured flock, one she was happy to complete for Parkland College.
 
"I loved my time at Parkland, and many of my old friends still work in the Art Department, so I feel honored to have a piece there," she said. "I wanted to create a unique piece for this special place."
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