North Woods to Form Commune

Written by Kristina Norgard.

The students of St. Mary’s College of Maryland are known to be adventurous, outdoorsy, progressive, and willing to take some risks every now and then. Because we are a campus that boasts an impressive riverfront with surrounding wooded areas that are begging to be explored, The North Woods behind the upperclassmen housing of Waring Commons, has become a popular place to “explore.” 

Between and after class “adventures” have become more and more frequent for a fellow group of students. A few weeks ago, the Woods only had an abandoned lifeguard chair, a table, and a few other unmentionable items scattered around. Today, there are more than just the tents they started living in out there – they have built a few brick houses and even a hairdresser and a bakery that has brought some serious competition to Enzo’s in Historic St. Mary’s City.

We interviewed a member from the junior class (‘21) who said that their “escapades” have become so frequent that they have now “dropped their housing and meal plans after building a small village between sociology and painting classes.” This group of students has now reached a headcount of more than 25 and has simply started calling themselves “The North Woods Commune.” 

Some fellow members of the senior class (‘20) have been concerned about the members of the senior class who spearheaded the idea of the commune, noting that it could possibly be a coping mechanism for not wanting to graduate and leave the river. (The wellness center has walk-in hours as well as the career center, because seniors, we care about you). We interviewed a senior resident who lives on the greens, “My roommate moved out two weeks ago and she hasn’t been back since. I went and visited her a couple of days ago and she insisted that she wasn’t going to return back to Homer anytime soon. She said that the woods were her home now and nothing could tear her apart from the fresh air, her sourdough starter, and her twenty-two plants growing out of recycled ceramic mugs.” 

Some public safety employees have been concerned about the student’s wellbeing and have been seen pacing outside the treeline of the woods, but not walking actually inside. We reached out to public safety for a comment on this, but they declined to respond. 

A few professors have been rumored to also be spotted after class in the new commune. There have been mixed reactions from faculty across the board as to what the students have started doing (according to a poll sent out to every member of the SMCM community for a psychology SMP). Overall, as a result of the poll, students and faculty have reached a 65.8% approval rating for the commune so far. The biggest complaint from the 34.2% was the “pungent” smell that now lingers from the north end of campus. 

If you or someone you know from the St. Mary’s community has any thoughts about the new commune, feel free to reach out to the paper and let us know how you feel.

Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

Joe Biden to Hold Presidential Rally at Nearby Solomons Island Venue

Written by Devin Garner.

Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 election Joe Biden will be holding a rally at a local venue in Solomons Island, Maryland. Biden will introduce his vice presidential running mate and will further unfold his platform for his campaign.

When the news came out that Biden would be holding a rally in Solomons, constituents from around the Southern Maryland region were stunned. One Biden supporter stated, “I am shocked that he will be coming down here to this area. While I am surprised, I am very proud that we will be able to show off this beautiful town that Southern Maryland has to offer to such a great presidential candidate.” 

In Biden’s press release about holding a rally in Southern Maryland, he argued, “It is important that all my supporters across all regions are aware of my goals as president. I want to reach every supporter across the country. I am going to represent all people.” As he continued, Biden remarked on the beauty of the region and his admiration for the great state of Maryland, explicitly mentioning St. Mary’s county.

When explicitly talking of St. Mary’s county, Biden mentioned St. Mary’s College of Maryland. He acknowledged the prestige of the college and stated the possibility of visiting after his rally. He stated, “I have been made aware of the National Public Honors College here in Southern Maryland. Many have told me that this college is a hidden gem. I hope to take a walk through campus and shake many of the students’ hands across campus.”

Upon hearing this news, the college’s twitter account reached out to Biden’s campaign and stated that they would love to have him on campus. The college tweeted, “We would love to have you @JoeBiden, please provide contact information so that we can arrange for you to come to campus.”

When many of the students across campus heard the possibility of Biden coming to campus, they were shocked. One student said, “This is unbelievable. The possibility of the future president of the United States coming to campus is absolutely incredible.” One student even remarked on a rumor that they had heard, “I heard Biden will be coming to many lectures across campus and will discuss his political experiences.” This will provide a great opportunity for students and will allow them to build a further connection with him.

Until the visit is officially announced to the college, students are still questioning the possibility of whether or not Biden will actually visit the campus. One student remarked, “This is an exciting possibility but I doubt it will actually happen.”

Biden will be holding his rally on April 1 at the Calvert Marine Museum stage. The Calvert County police are preparing for a big crowd for the event. After, Biden will visit a local pub–the Green Door– and have dinner with Maryland government officials. Biden remarked, “I am thrilled by this opportunity and cannot wait to see all of you Marylanders come out and support me. We are going to win this election.”

Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

Great Room Soft Serve Found to Contain Trace Amounts of Laxatives

Written by Rebecca Raub.

Recently, many students at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) have been complaining of stomach issues, especially right after eating at the Great Room. In a survey of a wide range of SMCM students, 80% shared that they have experienced this phenomenon. In particular, it seems that the soft serve machine may be the culprit, as all of the students that shared that they’ve been having these issues have one thing in common: the preference of having ice cream as a dessert after meals. 

A freshman at St. Mary’s, who wished to remain anonymous, shared, “I used to never have these issues before I came to college. I’ve heard people make jokes about the Great Room putting laxatives in our food, but I’m starting to think this stuff is serious.” He went on to say, “Every day after lunch and dinner, I get chocolate ice cream from the soft serve machine. And every day after lunch and dinner, I need to sprint to the bathroom. Seriously- I usually finish my dessert before my friends, so I’ll just be sitting at the table waiting when I get that feeling in my stomach. I’ll give my friends a look, and they instantly know what’s up. They know that I’ll be gone for about 30 minutes and not to worry. I’m lucky that they wait for me.” 

When asked why he did not just choose another dessert, the student said, “Well, I know I might regret my life choices immediately after I eat the soft serve, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.” Many other students seem to share the same philosophy. 

In fact, a member of the Great Room head staff shared, “We have received several complaints about the ice cream causing stomach problems, but so far, the soft serve has still been in high demand, and we still see many students eating it.”

When asked about why the soft serve may be causing so many problems, a Great Room employee shared, “Okay, promise you won’t tell anyone. But I think I know what’s been happening. I went to my doctor and he told me that I should start adding MiraLax powder to my drinks for…reasons. So one day, I was supposed to fill the soft serve machine up and I realized that I had forgotten to take my daily dose. I quickly brought my drink and the container of MiraLax over so that nobody would see, and I was filling my drink up when my hand slipped.”

She continued, “Next thing you know, half of the powder from the container is in with the soft serve. I quickly mixed it in so that nobody would see what happened, not thinking about what that would do for those who ate it. I didn’t want to say anything to anyone, because first of all, they would know about my stomach problems, and second of all, I’d get in so much trouble. I apologize for all of the bathroom visits that I have caused.” The employee wished to be kept anonymous.

It seems that this may be the reason for laxatives being found in the soft serve, however, the employee assured me that this will never happen again. Although this may urge people eating in the Great Room to stay away from the soft serve, a little bit of laxatives won’t hurt you, plus there is no other place on campus to get soft serve.

Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

St. Mary’s Student Concussed by Falling Shoe from Shoe Tree

Written by Olivia Sothoron.

On Wednesday, April 1, a St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) student was walking back to their dorm in Prince George’s Hall when they were struck on the head by a shoe falling from the Shoe Tree. The student was knocked unconscious by the falling shoe and was immediately rushed to the St. Mary’s County Hospital where he remains in critical condition. 

The shoe tree, one of SMCM’s seven wonders, was first reported in a 1992 article featured in The Point News. In the early 1990s, the tree was considered an installation of student art. However, by 1997, it came to be known as a marker for memorable “firsts” on campus, whether it be your first A on a college exam, your first meal in the Great Room, or, you know what I mean. 

Some members of the SMCM community do not support the Shoe Tree, arguing that it is a tacky feature of the campus which tarnishes the appearance of the College. “I have never liked that tree,” remarked an SMCM groundskeeper who specializes in the South Campus area. “It just looks trashy and it was only a matter of time until someone was hurt by the careless actions of the students who wasted good shoes on that tree.” 

The tree definitely captures the attention of prospective students and their parents when they first tour the school. One touring prospective student stated, “My mother and I were a bit confused when we first saw the tree with all of the hanging shoes, but then we passed someone on campus who informed us that pretty much everything that goes on around Dorchester Hall is strange and confusing.” 

While the Shoe Tree is a memorable feature of SMCM, it is definitely a safety hazard, as demonstrated by recent events. The injured student, who wishes to remain anonymous, recounted the events of that day, stating, “I was just walking back to my room to do some homework when I heard a branch snap. I looked up at the Shoe Tree and saw an old, weathered high-top Converse hurtling downwards from the tree straight for my face. Everything went black, and the next thing I knew, I woke up in the hospital.”

President Tuajuanda Jordan did not wish to comment on the recent event; however, another member of the Executive Board of SMCM released the following statement: “We offer our deepest sympathy to the student who was recently harmed by the falling shoe from the Shoe Tree. As St. Mary’s faculty, it is our job to protect the students. We are working on establishing deeper precautions to prevent any similar occurrences from happening in the future.” 

While the Shoe Tree is dangerous to the students walking underneath it, it is still a prime example of the mantra “Keep St. Mary’s Weird” (there are few things more weird than a tree draped with people’s shoes). There have been protest posters posted throughout the campus, arguing against the removal of the tree. One student remarked, “[the Shoe Tree] is a part of the St. Mary’s tradition. We simply cannot get rid of it. I’m sorry for the student who was injured, but if we need to institute college-funded helmets to protect the students, I am all for it.”

Everyone at The Point News wishes the injured student a speedy recovery. Hopefully the concussion will not impact their ability to look at their computer screen to join their class meetings on Zoom. 

Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

Bath Bombs: The Sensation That Gripped SMCM Nation

Written by Clare Kelly.

Bath bombs are the latest fad! People use, make, and give them to one another. These objects of every shape and size—for they’ve evolved from the common, traditional shape of a sphere—have taken over every body of water from baths to pools. And, well, now they’ve come to St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM)–yes, even the little college, way down on the Western peninsula of Maryland. Chemistry, Mathematics, and Biology students deliberated with each other for weeks regarding the prospect of releasing a large bath bomb into the St. Mary’s River. The chemistry students studied the mechanics behind the reaction of the baking soda and the type of water in the St. Mary’s River while the biology students wanted to ensure the bath bomb would be eco-friendly to the organisms that claim the river as their home. The mathematicians calculated the exact measurements to ensure the bath bomb’s circumference did not exceed the length and width of the river itself.

Ironically, the science and mathematics departments reported instances of missing supplies to The Office of Public Safety (PS). The faculty claim there have been strange occurrences of finding classrooms covered in baking soda. One staff member even acknowledged seeing a ghost in Goodpaster Hall, although, on second thought, she said it might have just been a student covered in cornstarch and baking soda—or perhaps it’s just Casper dropping in for a visit. The SMCM community may never know. In an interview these students commented, “It’s truly strange, I- ah -I wonder how they happened.” Well, so does the rest of the SMCM community, buddy.

In the spirit of the St. Mary’s Way, no posters or advertisements were made for the releasing of the 9ft ball of baking soda, starch, and all of the other ingredients that appear in a bath bomb,  yet, all of campus knew the time, place, and location of the unveiling. Students gathered at the waterfront in anticipation to see a great display. One spectator commented, “I’m excited to see the bath bomb. Rumors have engulfed all of campus, it has been the talk of the month.”

When the much-anticipated time approached, a Sysco truck pulled up to the St. Mary’s River Center. In much confusion, students chatted amongst themselves about the possibility of the truck being lost. Students began to swarm the truck to get the driver’s attention, but they just kept steadily backing up into the river, only stopping within feet of the water’s edge.

With a loud bang, the truck’s rear entrance snapped back to reveal the 9ft bath bomb. Students began to cheer and chant, as others helped roll the ball off the truck. To create the greatest effect, they decide to drop the ball off the side of the dock.

With one last cheer, the students settled into a deep silence as the bath bomb was pushed off the dock. Students watched the ball fall in silence, but all remained in suspense as they watched in anticipation for this ball of hope to re-emerge from the depths of the St. Mary’s River.

Students lined the decks, docks, grass, and boat ledges as they watched the bath bomb re-emerge to the surface. As the baking soda dissolved into the murky body of water—home to SMCM’s only Division 1 Team—colors of blue and gold emerged on the water of the river.

One student mentioned, “It’s beautiful to see all the students come together to grace the wonderful water of the St. Mary’s River with society’s greatest fad. What better way is there to commemorate THE National Public Honors College.”

It is without a doubt, that in all SMCM students do, they remain steadfast in their pride for the blue and gold. At the end of the day, they will do anything for their school, even if that means creating a 9ft bath bomb.

 Disclaimer: This article was published as a part of our April Fools Edition.

Wellness Center Hosts New Art Therapy Group

Written by Emily Murphey.

The St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) Wellness Center has adopted a new way to reach out and help students through the use of what is known as “art therapy.” Maria Haugaard, a licensed counselor and art therapist at the SMCM Wellness Center has brought her love for art and counseling together to the  in her art therapy group. Art therapy is a form of psychotherapy which involves encouragement from a counselor for the client to freely express themselves whether in drawing, painting or modeling. Kelly Muldoon, another art therapist at the Wellness Center states, “sessions are for individuals, families, couples, and groups.” During these sessions, an art therapist might offer specific art directives to a client to help them approach an issue or topic that they might be struggling with. Or, an art therapist may invite their client to make whatever they would like in session if they just want to explore and create. Haugaard reflects “Chalk pastels can illustrate emotion through abstraction, and pencils a desire for precision.”

The benefits of the SMCM art therapy include allowing students to express their feelings in a tangible way in order to gain insight into their own psychological state, allowing students to relieve painful emotions in a creative manner and allowing students to become cognizant of feelings that they may be unaware of and to uncover the obstacles to heal. 

Before joining SMCM, Haurgaard used art therapy to help elderly and homeless citizens in D.C. while working with N Street Village.  At St. Elizabeth’s psychiatric hospital she worked with several populations, including the forensic patients, incorporating art therapy. She also noticed how those in drug rehab used art therapy differently between pre- and post-treatment. Each of these settings allowed people who normally may feel separated from society to freely express their individuality while also working with others. 

As a licensed therapist, Haugaard helps in facilitating the group activities and the therapeutic process by encouraging participants to analyze their artwork after the session. She also provides counseling while doing so in a group setting. Haugaard notes that at the end of the sessions, participants’ attitudes towards themselves tend to be different than when they first began. Muldoon also adds “Sometimes for someone with different physical abilities, the goal in treatment is to pick up a paintbrush and be able to make some marks on the canvas or mix colors. Or, for someone who may have limited cognitive abilities, the goal is for sensory activation to help them engage with their senses. ‘Art as therapy’ is often used for the therapeutic value of art-making.” 

SMCM is one of the few colleges in the U.S. that incorporate art therapy into their college mental health programs. The SMCM art therapy group is a nine week session hosted each semester on Fridays. Programs differ each semester, whether they are intended to help those with body image, drug abuse, relationships and grief. Currently this semester, two sessions of “My place in the world,” and “Loss and Renewal,” are available for spring 2020. Each meetup takes place over an hour and 15 minutes. The first 10 minutes allow students to reflect on their last week’s art work. The next 45 minutes are used for art time, and the remaining 15 minutes allow for students to come together as a group to discuss what they made and internalize what they discovered about themselves. Haugardd concludes, “No art skills necessary!”’ Muldoon says “Art has been a universal language for hundreds of years, so making art is a way to help a student communicate, explore, and understand what it is they are working on.” Muldoon also believes that with art therapy, certain parts of the brain can be activated which are not always used in verbal communication. By integrating these parts, it allows the possibility for people to heal from traumatic events. 

For anyone interested to learn more about art therapy, please contact Maria Haugard or Kelly Muldoon at

College and State Response to Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Maryland

Written by Joseph McManus.

On Friday, March 6, President Tujuanda Jordan sent out an email message pertaining to new cases of COVID-19 discovered in Maryland. According to a memorandum distributed to all state employees from the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), three Maryland residents tested positive for the virus and were quarantined as of March 5. The Washington Post reported that all three individuals were Montgomery County residents.

In response to the presence of the virus in Maryland, President Jordan canceled the scheduled St. Mary’s Day on March 10, which was intended to promote civic discourse in anticipation of the 2020 Presidential election. On the cancellation of St. Mary’s Day, Jordan wrote, “This is an incredibly important activity for our community as it helps us navigate issues of inclusion that extend well beyond race and we sorely need help in doing that. Nonetheless, in spite of the fact that there have been no COVID-19 cases reported in Southern Maryland and to decrease the likelihood of mass exposure to a potentially infected individual, St. Mary’s Day will be re-scheduled to a later date.”

Despite the cancellation of the event, professors have been authorized to conduct classes as usual on Tuesday, though whether they choose to hold class is ultimately subject to their discretion.

Other college activities that have been canceled and suspended include all club trips that entail out-of-state travel to states “that have declared coronavirus-related emergencies” and all school sponsored international travel. The Programs Board trip to New York City which was scheduled to occur on March 7 was canceled as a result, among other events.

Dr. Jordan’s email also addressed restrictions on students, staff, and faculty who may be traveling to other affected areas over spring recess, suggesting they may be instructed to impose a 14-day self-isolation and to seek a medical diagnosis from a doctor before returning to the school.

Additionally, on March 5, Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in order to mobilize funding to the MDH and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, according to the MDH memo. The MDH Memo also states that those who have been to geographic areas of concern and exhibit symptoms, and those hospitalized for “unexplained acute lower respiratory symptoms” are eligible for testing at the MDH facilities in Baltimore.

Other schools in affected areas have chosen to alter their regular activities in response to the virus, including the University of Washington. According to The New York Times, the University of Washington is holding the rest of its class sessions online until March 20, the end of their spring quarter.

As spring break approaches and students disperse throughout the country and abroad, the college’s response is likely to evolve as to how the rest of the semester should be conducted in light of the virus. Whether or not classes and college activities will continue as usual for the remainder of the semester after spring break remains to be seen.

Relay for Life Raises $8,812 for the American Cancer Society

Written by Olivia Sothoron.

On Friday, Feb. 28, St. Mary’s College of Maryland’s (SMCM) chapter of Relay for Life held its eleventh annual Relay for Life event in the Michael P. O’Brien Athletic and Recreation Center from 6pm to 12am. The event is held to raise money for and honor those affected by cancer. In total the Relay for Life team raised $8,812.78 for the American Cancer Society. 

Throughout the night, participants walked around the rec courts in honor of those affected by cancer and enjoyed various events placed throughout the gym. Food and entertainment were both provided, including food catered by Bon Appetit and outside vendors. In addition, the rock wall was open for the duration of the event and people were able to enjoy that if they wanted to take a break from their laps. 

Joanne Goldwater, Associate Dean for Retention and Student Success, has been involved in every Relay for Life held at SMCM since the first time the event was held in March 2010. This event is close to Goldwater’s heart, who was diagnosed with breast cancer six months after participating in the first year of Relay for Life at SMCM. 

Goldwater remarked that the level of enthusiasm from the committee was great this year, as they received support from students in all departments who put aside their lives to help the cause. The event was co-chaired by Victoria Chang (‘20) and Davita Fennell (‘20). Committee members included Angie Draheim, Danny Capasso (‘20), Abbey Clements (‘21), Cady Gorsak (‘22), Dianna Greene (‘22), and Claire Lyhus (‘22) and American Cancer Society Partner, Jermell Stills. 

One difference between this year’s event and past events is that the Relay for Life team decided to host the event on a Friday night, when it has typically been held on Saturdays. However, there were still many teams to participate in fundraising, bringing together students from various organizations across campus to support a common cause. Some of the student teams included Psyched for Life, Glendening Hall Fights Cancer, The Nightingale A cappella, Interchorus, All Night For The Fight, LGBTQ+ Student Services, SMCM Hawkettes, SMCM Rowing, SMCM Equestrian Club, Pre-Med Club and SMCM Women’s Basketball. Some of the teams also performed for the event, including Hawkettes, Interchorus and TNA. 

The teams that raised the most money were Psyched for Life, All Night For The Fight, and SMCM Hawkettes. The three individuals who raised the most money were Angie Draheim, Aileen Bailey, and Alyssa Heintzelman. Altogether, the total funds raised specifically on the night of the event was $1,168.54. 

Goldwater remarked that her favorite part of the event is always the Jail-and-Bail activity and the Stuck for a Buck exercise. The parts of the night that mean the most to her, however, are the survivor lap at the beginning of the night and the luminaria ceremony to honor those impacted by cancer. “It is very important to me to have the opportunity to celebrate being a Survivor during the opening lap.” She continued, “It is equally important for all of us who participate in Relay to honor loved ones who fought the disease and remember those who lost their battle during the Lums ceremony.” This part of the night also features a guest speaker. The guest speaker for the 2020 event was Kristina Norgard (‘22), who spoke about being her mother’s caregiver. Goldwater noted that Norgard’s speech was “very moving.” 

Chang stated that she considers this year’s event to be extremely successful. She said, “Everything seemed to go very smoothly and people looked like they were having a good time!” She also explained that her favorite part of the night was being taped to the wall during the Stuck for a Buck event. As a graduating senior, Chang hopes that SMCM can carry on the tradition of Relay for Life and continue supporting the American Cancer Society. She stated, “Hopefully people can see that even just by participating in our event or helping to raise awareness that everyone can make a huge impact for those who are suffering or have suffered from cancer.”

The event is sure to return to SMCM next year for its twelfth time on campus. Goldwater hopes that in future years, the event will continue to receive growing support from the campus community. She explained, “Almost everyone is touched by cancer, whether by a relative, neighbor, friend, or they have bravely fought cancer themselves.”

SMCM Alumnus Nathan Elliott Wins NASA Early Career Achievement Award

Written by Tyler Wilson.

Dr. Ethan Elliott, who graduated St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) in 2006, received an award from NASA in October 2019 for his work in NASA’s cold atom lab and being part of the team that generated, according to insideSMCM, “the first Bose-Einstein Condensate in Earth orbit.” The creation of the Bose-Einstein Condensate (BEC) in a dilute atomic gas, something even Einstein did not think would be possible, is not only a triumph of the human mind, but is a product of the 21st century technologies that scientists now have at their disposal.

In introductory physics, students are taught about the three main states of matter: liquid, solid and gas. While these states of matter each have their own unique properties, the atoms that make up each of these states of matter will collide and then go their separate ways if they run into each other. The atoms are showing particle behavior by bouncing off each other, which is how atoms normally behave. According to Elliott, atomic BECs are “massive, neutral atoms cooled so close to absolute zero that they become a collection of large matter waves.” If an atom is cooled to an extreme degree, like a BEC is, then they exhibit a more “wavelike behavior,” meaning that instead of bouncing off each other, they are capable of “passing through each other.” This is because cooling particles lowers their momentum, which in turn increases their wavelike behavior. Naturally low momentum occurs for particles with low mass, such as electrons, but through Elliott and his team’s work, they were able to “very unnaturally” manipulate atoms, which are “many thousands times more massive than electrons,” into exhibiting that wavelike behavior.

In order to actually generate the BEC, Elliott and his team created a lab in the International Space Station that turned on when all the astronauts were asleep. This is because “the most advanced cooling techniques are improved by microgravity” so that a free falling BEC exists for longer periods of time in space. Setting up the space lab was a long and arduous process that required patience and ruggedizing advanced technology. It functions by releasing rubidium and potassium atoms into a vacuum chamber that are precooled with lasers and loaded into a magnetic trap where the atoms evaporate to a billionth of a degree above absolute zero. A final laser pulse casts a shadow of the BEC on an onboard camera and sends a picture back to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. This entire process would not have been possible without decades of advances in modern experimental physics, which is an amazing set of tools to deploy in space.

The discovery of BECs has many fascinating applications. First of all, as Elliott explains, “everything around us is made of atoms,” so we can study these atoms “for their intrinsic properties and fundamental science.” Besides learning about fundamental science, ultracold atoms can be used to model systems that we don’t have access to, such as the “interior of a neutron star” or the “the quark gluon plasma of the big bang.”Lastly, since the BECs have mass, they can be “extremely sensitive probes of inertial forces: rotations, accelerations, or gravity” which is needed because as Elliott says, understanding gravitational effects can offer insights into many poorly understood areas of physics such as the nature of “dark matter” or “dark energy.”
Elliott said his education at SMCM is “directly responsible for preparing [him] to do this work.” He worked at the PAX River Naval Air Station with SMCM physics professor Dr. Charles Adler, and there he “first started working with ultracold atoms,” where the Navy was interested in using “the inertial sensing properties of ultracold atoms to create a new generation of gyroscopes for dead reckoning navigation in GPS denied environments.” Elliott claims that summer research experience, such as he received at SMCM, is “the single biggest determiner in graduate school admission when applying to a PhD program in a scientific field.”

Poets Danusha Lameris and Naomi Shihab Nye Read at Evening to Honor the Legacy of Lucille Clifton

Written by Clare Kelly.

Lucille Clifton’s profound impact on the St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) community still thrives today. Clifton’s writing created strides in modern poetry. She won the National Book Award for Poetry and was the first Black recipient of the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement. Amongst all of these accolades and awards, Clifton’s teaching and attentiveness to students show her dedication to teaching. Lucille is known for asking, “did it change the room?” 

Two great poets did “change the room” in the name of Clifton. In the words of Michael Glaser, “two amazing poets and thinkers” visited the campus of SMCM on Saturday, Feb 29 for “An Evening to Honor the Legacy of Lucille Clifton.” Poets Naomi Shihab Nye and Danusha Laméris are both revered and accomplished throughout the country and worldwide. 

According to the information provided by the college on the artists,  Nye wrote many books of poems including “The Tiny Journalist,” “Voices in the Air: Poems for Listeners,”  “You and Yours,” which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award and “10 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East,” a collection of poems about the Middle East. Nye uses her voice to her Arab-American heritage through her poems and short stories that have appeared in numerous journals and reviews.

Laméris’ first book of poems, “The Moons of August”  won the 2013 Autumn House Press poetry contest. Her poems have been published among many journals, including the Crab Orchard Review, Poetry Northwest, and The SUN Magazine. Laméris earned her B.A. in fine arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She also studied at the Shaq Valley Writers Workshop and with the poet Ellen Bass. 

Before the event to honor the memory of Clifton, the two poets gathered for an informal conversation. To begin this event, Michael Glaser, the facilitator for discussion, asked both poets to read a poem that speaks to how poetry can serve us. Nye read a poem entitled “This Morning for the Girls of Eastern High School.” She comments on how “people, both girls, and boys, that would sit up stronger” when they heard this poem.  Nye believes this poem “invites students to think about their own lives and how they mattered. It’s a great poem to enter any room.” 

Following Nye, Laméris said “It’s surreal and emotional; [it’s] beautiful to be in this world of poetry and how poetry sustains [Lucille Clifton].” Laméris read her poem entitled “Small Kindnesses” that speaks to all the small acts of love. As Laméris herself says, “small things tend to be the greatest things.”

In her opening remarks, Professor Karen Leona Anderson, professor of English and Director of the Voices Reading Series, shared her personal story of courage and encouraged the audiences to use poetry as a means to “inspire our own [bravery].” President Tuajuanda Jordan remarked that Lucille Clifton was a transformative presence and a beacon. She created a space where taking risks wasn’t discouraged but encouraged. As Jordan exclaimed, “failures are our best friends.” 

After her respectful and heartfelt remarks about Clifton, President Jordan awarded the President’s Lucille Clifton award, instituted in 2016. This award is given to an employee that best encourages students the way that Lucille Clifton impacted the campus of St. Mary’s. It’s given to someone who exemplifies the compassionate elements that Clifton embodied. This years’ recipients include Lee Capristo, the director of publications, and Janna Thompson, an assistant professor of education. Samorah Neal ’23, a student of Dr. Thompson, said, “Dr. Janna Chevon Thompson is a woman who highly represents Black excellence and is such a great role model for her students. She is a determined and highly motivated spirit who just wants to see her students strive for greatness.” After presenting the President’s award to Capristo and Thompson, Jordan presented Nye and Laméris with awards. Jordan presented Nye with the Certificate of Appreciation and Laméris with the Legacy Award. 

As an interlude between speakers, the SMCM Women’s Ensemble, under the direction of Larry Vote, sang one of  Clifton’s poems called “My Girls,” with music by Gwyneth Walker. Allison Johnson, a member of the SMCM Women’s choir, said, “Though her poetry speaks for itself, bringing it to life through song is a unique experience, and we were glad to share that experience with those in attendance. Both Alexa and Gillian Clifton, the daughters of Lucille Clifton shared their reflections. They stated  how her legacy must continue, as one sister said: “reminds me of her celebration of diversity and truth-telling.”  

Nye introduced her reading by reading a poem by Clifton. She talks about how Anderson’s introduction deeply moved her as Lucille had helped her put it all together. Nye reads “Roots” by Clifton, a beautiful poem with deep, meaningful lines such as “we become a field of flowers” and “it’s the light in us.” These lines show the imagery Clifton used to root her reader in poetry. Clifton’s poetic language and the meaning she instills in her words live on through her publications. Her comparison of all becoming a “field of flowers” follows the theme of how light lives in each person. Nye closes with reading “Gratitude List,” which powerfully includes the line “almonds, roasted and salted, cheese.” These items of food express how the richness of nature comes with age and experience. Nye’s deep, powerful reading encompassed the attention of all those in the St. Mary’s Hall. 

As people digested and internalized the inspirational words and language of Nye, musical talent took to the stage. Brian Ganz provided a beautiful piano interlude that encompassed all the feelings of the room—his piece expressed both sadness and joy. Ganz described this night as “[the] most incandescent evening.” He remarks, “[Lucille] knew [how] to reach the light…walked straight up to the darkness and stared it down.” As Ganz played his expression proved the emotional appeal of the piece. 

In her reading, Laméris comments, “Every person is a country” and “Lucille Clifton was a country of grace and truth and sharp wit…learn so much by traveling to another country” “Lucille Clifton [was] not afraid to speak more of suffering” Laméris tells the audience how “paying attention to nature’s music allows us to hear its harmony.” As she read “Small Kindnesses” Laméris said, “[it’s the] small things we so need to be thinking about.” These small acts of kindness “will the smallest graces” and “let something happen that’s unexpected and beautiful.” Laméris concludes her reading by saying that, “Lucille Clifton made a beautiful life here and it’s a blessing to […] be included.” 

Kyra Smith ’23 says, “I loved the poets…they really moved me and made me want to start poetry up again. Especially the one where she talked about her childhood, I thought it was fun and engaging. But to be able to sit there in that room in the same space as those amazing women is something I can’t change and will remember it all my life [be]cause I don’t think I’ll get that opportunity again.” As Nye expressed with great gratitude during her reading, “Lucille gave everything she had” and we all need to follow in her footsteps.