Spring Dance Show A Worldly Performance

Performed in Bruce Davis Theater for anyone lucky enough to find a seat, this semester’s Dance Show was an impressive combination of well-rehearsed choreography, diverse participation, and inspiring messages.

The Spring Dance Show, titled “The World Is Our Stage,” was performed at 8:30 p.m. on April 18-19 and 7 p.m. on April 20-21. Composed of 28 performances spread over two acts, the roughly two-hour show was far from small this year, and the size certainly did not come at a cost to quality.  One of the most popular performances of the night, “America’s Best…Degrassi!?!?” (choreographed by Jemarc Van-Axinto), was performed first and included 16 dancers on stage reflecting on what it really means to be “cool” in school.

The show did not lose momentum after dance number one, with well-practiced performances throughout the evening. The dances themselves were not only large groups of St. Mary’s students, but also individual and two-person dances. Almost all of the Senior Spotlights, or dances choreographed and performed by a senior in the club, were done individually, including (among others) Alyssa Ames’ “Girl You Know,” and Colleen Brummitt’s “If It Kills Me.”

Songs used throughout the night included those from Florence and the Machine, Coldplay, Rick Astley, Brooke Fraser, Timbaland, Scarface, and Christina Aguilera, all encompassing the worldly theme of the show. The performances themselves, as always, also reflected such diversity, with performances not only being upbeat and exciting but also romantic,  funny, cute, and somber. Each dance group had a different story to tell during the show, and did so in a seemingly flawless way.

Those who stayed in the theater during the intermission (between acts one and two) were treated with a performance choreographed by Dance Club alum Ricky Ramos, who recently graduated from the College. The performance was powerful, fast, and upbeat, and certainly seemed to get the audience excited for act two.

The second half of the performance began with “Four Years on the River,” with 15 performers choreographed by Holly Callan.  With six of the 14 performances being senior spotlights, act two mirror-reflected act one, though the performances were far from similar. The humorous “Internet Trainwreck” dance choreographed by Marina Carlson in act one was balanced well by Allison Romano’s “Jailbreak” in act two.

The entire theater was filled for the Friday evening show, forcing some of the students to sit in front of the seats on stage. A taped line on the stage indicating the area where people could sit, a line placed for good reason given that several performances worked right to that line to give those in front an up-close and personal view of the dance.

Sponsored by Assistant Vice President of Academic Services William “Lenny” Howard, the show turned out to be an overall success, well-succeeding last semester’s spectacular performance. The Dance Club is headed by President Holly Callan and Vice President Maurielle Stewart.

Spring 2012 Exam Schedule

College exams will begin this Thursday, May 3 (following a reading day on May 2), and end on Tuesday, May 8. The schedule below is courtesy of the St. Mary’s website.

THURSDAY, MAY 3

M, W or MW classes meeting at 2:40 p.m.: 9:00 – 11:15 a.m.

T, R or TR classes meeting at 12:00 p.m.: 2:00 –  4:15 p.m.

M, W or MW classes meeting at 6:00 p.m.: 7:00 –   9:15 p.m.

FRIDAY, MAY 4

T, R or TR classes meeting at 8:00 a.m.: 9:00 – 11:15 a.m.

 T, R or TR classes meeting at 2:00 p.m.: 2:00 –  4:15 p.m.

SATURDAY, MAY 5

M, W or MWF classes meeting at 8:00 a.m.: 9:00 – 11:15 a.m.

M, W or MWF classes meeting at 10:40 a.m.: 2:00 –   4:15 p.m.

T, R or TR classes meeting at 6:00 p.m.: 7:00 –   9:15 p.m.

MONDAY, MAY 7

M, W or MWF classes meeting at 9:20 a.m.: 9:00 – 11:15 a.m.

M, W or MWF classes meeting at 12:00 p.m.: 2:00 –   4:15 p.m.

T, R or TR classes meeting at 10:00 a.m.: 7:00 –   9:15 p.m.

TUESDAY, MAY 8

M, W or MWF classes meeting at 1:20 p.m.: 9:00 – 11:15 a.m.

Sustainability Intern Positions to Continue Next Year

In light of College and State of Maryland budget crises this year, the recently terminated Sustainability Fellow position is not scheduled to be reinstated next year despite considerable campus support.

Begun in 2008 as a one-year fellowship program, the Sustainability Fellow position was designed as the only full-time sustainability office position. The person holding this position would be in charge of organizing and researching sustainability initiatives on campus alongside campus planning and facilities.

However, recent budget deficits led to the position’s suspension last year (held at the time by Lisa Neu ’10), which, according to former Dean of Students Laura Bayless, would allow for the hiring of a new associate in the Office of Financial Aid and a Judicial Affairs Coordinator in the Office of Student Activities. Replacing the fellowship was the Sustainability Internship program, under which three students would work alongside Facilities Planner and Sustainability Coordinator Luke Mowbray throughout the year to expand the College’s sustainability initiatives.

According to Mowbray, the positions will be continued next year, with an intern also working over the summer in preparation for the upcoming academic year.

“The student intern program will be continued for the same reason it was started,” said Mowbray. “As a new program we’ve been figuring out how to be the most efficient with new staff resources.”

Much support has been shown by the College community to restore the Sustainability Fellow position, largely for the same reasons the initial suspension decision was called for appeal to the President’s Council last year by former Student Trustee Danny Ruthenburg-Marshall. While financially more efficient to hire three part-time (10 hours per week) student interns over a full-time Fellow position, the inherent decreased efficiency of the position from a sustainability standpoint is difficult to overlook.

“Overall the student interns were fantastic workers and achieved a great deal,” said Mowbray. “The challenges we had with the new structure had to do with the total number of hours worked by sustainability staff and the inherent scheduling and oversight issues typical of part-time student positions.”

Despite appeals to College President Urgo and the Board of Trustees by a variety of students on campus, including SGA President Mark Snyder, the Sustainability Fellow position remains suspended until further notice, and interns will be hired to continue into the summer and following year.

Orchestra and Chambers Perform for Community

Performing at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in St. Mary’s County on April 22,  the St. Mary’s Chamber Singers, Choir, and Orchestra sang and played a variety of pieces for the audience of College and county community members.

With 44 Chamber singers, 71 Choir members, and 44 Orchestra performers, the performance at 4 p.m. was far from small. The performance began with the Chamber Singers, who performed Eric Whitacre’s “Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine” alongside percussionists Gino Hannah and Nick Hughes. The music creates a picture of what a glimpse into the mind of artist Leonardo DaVinci might sound like, not only with Chamber singers, but also with vocalized sounds of flight to accompany the work. The music reflects the words of the story, written by Charles Anthony Silvestri.

The SMCM Choir and Orchestra, performing together with baritone Bob McDonald, a non-commissioned officer in charge of The United States Army Chorus, and soprano Colleen Daly, a professional opera singer, performed the six movements of Dona Nobis Pacem, composed by Ralph Vaughan Williams and written by Walt Whitman. As with the SMCM Chamber Singers performance, Dona Nobis Pacem was conducted by Larry Vote, Professor of Music at St. Mary’s. Vote is also a member of The Tidewater Ensemble, resident musical director to Interact (a theater company in Washington, D.C.), and a baritone soloist.

Meaning “grant us peace”, Dona Nobis Pacem was first performed in 1936 to remember recent wars of the past and state fears of one soon to come. The first movement, Agnus Dei (“Lamb of God”), is based on the original Catholic Mass from which the entire work was named, followed by Beat! Beat! Drums!; Reconciliation; Dirge for Two Veterans; The Angel of death has been abroad throughout the land; and O man greatly beloved. The lyrics are poems by Walt Whitman, who wrote them while he served as a medic during the Civil War. Vaughan Williams composed “Dona Nobis Pacem” as a response to the brutality of war he saw as he served as an ambulance driver and medic during World War I. The two works combine to be a sweeping epic of music that vilifies wartime atrocities and praises the peace of humankind.

The concert seemed to be well-received by College and community members.

Following a performance this past Sunday, the Music department will next be hosting the River Concert Series this summer, beginning in June and ending late-July.

Artist Spotlight: Colby Caldwell

With two shows open in Washington, D.C. and well-received reviews from The Washington Post, Associate Professor of Art Colby Caldwell continues a series of successes in photography, mixing the digital and film-based worlds into a cohesive presentation of art.

Arriving at St. Mary’s for the first time in 2002 on a one-year contract from Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington, D.C., Caldwell entered the art department an already established photographer.

He has been presenting work since 1988, and within seven years of being hired for a tenure-track professorship at the College has shown works at the Hemphill Gallery in D.C., Paragraph Gallery in Kansas City, and Goodyear Gallery at Dickinson College.

Caldwell was not always on a direct path to the world of art. At Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, Caldwell was on his way to earning a bachelor’s degree in history, more specifically 20th century European history (and even more specifically, the history of Germany and Russia leading up to World War II). During his senior work, however, he “caught the art bug” when looking at photographs of the time period.

“I got fascinated by documentary war photographs,” said Caldwell in an interview with The Point News. “Pretty soon I was writing and presenting more of the photographs of the time than the history itself, and my adviser suggested a different field of study.”

After taking pictures of his college’s band and enjoying it immensely, he shifted to the world of photography, leaving behind his bachelor’s degree eight credits short of completion.

Caldwell is currently featuring two shows in Washington, D.C., both encompassing the same body of work. “Gun shy”, at the Hemphill Gallery, shows Caldwell’s images of shotgun shells, abandoned duck blinds, bird remains, and feathers, all found on his own Jesuit property in St. Mary’s County.While recently purchased by the State of Maryland, the property has not been changed much since its establishment in the mid-17th century.

“[Gun shy] is more narrative-oriented, telling a story as a body of work,” said Caldwell. “It’s about the state of photography right now, which is a balance between film and digital-based media.”

“Spent”, showing images from the same body of work with a focus on how the shotgun shells have deteriorated over time, is being presented at Civilian Art Projects in Washington, D.C. Both shows represent 10 years of development of the project “small game,” also presented at Hemphill in 2007. A production based on this work, titled gun shy, is 76 pages and includes color photography images, and writings by Frank Goodyear, Ferdinand Protzman, Joe Lucchesi, Jayme McLellan, and Bernard Welt.

Caldwell lives on the farmhouse property with his two dogs, Smalls and Poe.

2011-2012: To Say the Least, It's Been Eventful

This year at St. Mary’s has been one of do’s more than don’ts. It has been by far my most involved year on The Point News, not only as Managing Editor, but also as a writer. I’ve highlighted a few of the many events that have encompassed our year, in the hope that those who have been in the dark can see the picture I’ve had the honor of watching unfold.

We remembered Troy Davis and Trayvon Martin, not part of our community but still in students’ hearts. We welcomed Dave Zylak to his official position, and said farewell to Dean Bayless. The alcohol came to The Pub, then left, then came back.

Seniors planned Gala, designed a class gift, and celebrated our two big pre-graduation landmarks. We welcomed back The Nest, but didn’t miss Loni Love.

We said farewell to Norton Dodge.

We discussed Public Safety commissions, and started using our OneCards at St. James. We took a day to discuss what matters most, and continued our talks with Joe on Tuesdays, Dave throughout the year, and fellow students at The Pub on Thursdays.

We welcomed Dean Goldsmith, Blackboard 9, student Judicial Advisors, and sustainability interns. We also welcomed our SGA representatives once they got around to elections, and saw them get impressive work done for all of us.

We discussed College wages, what “living wage” really means, and the consequences and limitations of state budget freezes and admin salary changes.

We celebrated our Seahawks at Hawktoberfests, the CACs, and throughout the year.

We welcomed Regina Curran, and wished her the best at American University.

We planned our campus’ future, planned to make Route 5 safer, and continued sustainability initiatives as best as we could without our Fellow. We even moved Margaret Brent across a road, and stayed up with Joe to watch the whole thing.

We survived fires, earthquakes, a hurricane, mold, hotels, moving on a ship, and bed bugs (for many of us, this one should be longer).

Throughout ’11-’12, we have all seen the best and worst of ourselves, times we could have improved and times we were flawless (or at least good enough).

More importantly, though, I have been able to watch this community expand how much it really cares. More interest groups have formed this year than any other I’ve seen, and they’ve more strongly voiced their reasons for forming in the first place. Students are talking more about what they believe, and finding means to break down barriers of race, gender, and ethnicity. We’re no longer afraid to remember those we don’t know, or speaking our minds about things we do. We throw ourselves out there on stage, on the path and on the patio, and march from Waring Commons to Calvert Hall to show our concern. Each day, we are showing this campus more and more that we care about what St. Mary’s means to ourselves and the outside world.

With financial struggle, state freezes, loss of aid, and increasing tuition, we all have reason to question what is best for everyone, and if we’re really doing what’s right to maintain who we are. We have less to work with, and every decision we make as a community will have a bigger impact. Now, more than ever, is the time to voice our beliefs and concerns, and it’s a relief that our dialogue has stepped up to this need this year. My hope is that when I’m gone after May 12, I can still check out what’s happening on campus and see we’re as opinionated as ever.

It’s not easy to balance the experience and judgment of the administration with the beliefs of a majority student body. We all have opinions and experiences that tell us what is best for the whole, and no one should be forgotten. The only way to make sure of that is for both sides to keep that open dialogue, and hopefully, we can all make it through these difficult times with as few scratches as possible.

TOMS Shoes: Buy One, Give One Free

On Monday, April 9 at 8:15 p.m., the St. Mary’s women’s soccer team hosted For Tomorrow: The TOMS Shoes Story in Cole Cinema, a documentary telling the story of how TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie started a movement to give shoes to those in need.

Only 35 minutes in length and a mixture of interviews, textual information, and live footage, the documentary told the story of TOMS, a shoe company that donates one pair of shoes to third-world communities without them for every pair bought around the world.

Also the Chief Shoe Giver for TOMS, Mycoskie began the project in 2006 after seeing children in Argentina who grew up without shoes. In areas where the nearest school could be miles away and only reachable on foot over ground frequented by pathogens and parasites, Mycoskie was inspired to start a company to give back to the communities that needed shoes the most.

The documentary mainly focuses on Mycoskie’s first “shoe drop” to these same villages after he promised the people he would return. He did in 2007, bringing with him 10,000 pairs of shoes to place by hand on the feet of those in need.

Now, Mycoskie’s business has expanded, selling not only shoes but also eyewear. In this same way, TOMS follows the “One for One” policy; buying a pair gives a pair to someone else in need, not only in third-world areas but also first-world cities like Los Angeles.

Since 2010, TOMS has donated over 600,000 pairs of shoes. Mycoskie’s philosophy, quoting Indian independence movement leader Mohandas Ghandi, is “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Though the event was not largely attended, many of the audience members seemed to enjoy the documentary and Mycoskie’s philanthropist vision for all businesses and consumers.

St. Mary's Crew Team Begins Its Spring Season

For St. Mary’s Crew, just beginning its spring season with three competitions since February, there is much love and dedication to the team among novice, senior, and in-the-middle rowers.

“The team has definitely evolved since I was a first-year novice,” said senior and club president Andy VanDeusen. “We’ve been gaining boats, coaches, and many new members.  We have seen older classes graduate, leave, and come back as often as they can. We have seen people join the club, and then, sadly, quit. What has influenced my view of the change of the club more than how the club itself has changed, is how I have changed in relation to it. Being a novice is very different from being the club president. I remember having older rowers to look up to and aspire to, and it have take care of the club for me. Now, I have to be that older rower. I, and my fellow upper
classmen, are helping take the novices out on the water, coaching them, challenging them, and showing them what it means to be a rower for the SMCM Crew Club.”

Beginning spring meets in February with an Erg-Sprints competition at the College of William and Mary and continuing into March with a dual meet at Washington College, the crew team (including men’s and women’s novice and professional teams) has been active since last semester, preparing for intense meets later in the semester and after graduation on May 12.

“I rowed in the Wye Island regatta last semester, 12.5 miles around Wye Island on the eastern shore,” said junior and president-elect Hannah Coe. “It stands out as one of the best rowing memories I have so far.”

While a club team, St. Mary’s Crew is notorious for its work commitment, beginning practices at 5 a.m. during the competitive season under the guidance of several coaches and senior club members. Though they endure intense workouts and large amounts of blisters, club members seem to always show an unfailing dedication to their fellow teammates.

“We are competitive, spirited, and committed. The people we attract to crew are still outgoing, exciting, and fun,” said senior Raza Ahmad. “The team never loses the positive aspects of the team sport…and even though the coaches have successfully changed us into better, more competitive rowers, there is still a lot that is unchanged.”

The team is designed with a novice component, where beginning rowers (while usually not needing to wake up as early) can learn the ropes under the leadership of more experienced team members. The hope is that after taking an interest in the sport, these team members will progress to the early-rising competitive men’s and women’s teams.

“Prior to coming to St. Mary’s I had never been on a crew team, or even seen a crew boat,” said first-year and secretary-elect Teresa Padgett. “But in the past few months that I’ve been a part of the novice team I have fallen in love with this sport.”

While many of the team members are seniors, love for the sport seems to have disseminated to younger athletes, and all team members strongly encourage newcomers to come out to a practice to see what being on the team is like.

“Weaknesses [for the team] are those who don’t row,” said VanDeusen.

“The crew team [are] not just my teammates,” said Coe, “they are my at-school family, people who are worth getting up at 5 a.m. for!”

Beginning its spring semester season on the right paddle, St. Mary’s Crew will be competing during and after the rest of the semester, preparing in the waters, on the Ergs, and well into the early morning hours.

“I am planning on attending the American Collegiate Rowing Association Championships in Georgia after graduation, and I am sure that this massive regatta will be a very significant memory for me.”

Seniors Celebrate 50 Days Until Graduation

Held on Friday, March 23 at the Historic St. Mary’s City State House, the Class of 2012’s 50 Days Reception marked another milestone towards senior graduation, and a time for introductions, recollection, and celebration.

Marking the fiftieth day until graduation for the Class of 2012, the reception ran from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m., and included speeches from several administrators and students, as well as alcoholic refreshments.

“In the real world, you have to wear shoes,” said Director of Alumni Relations, Dave Sushinsky ’02, reading submitted quotes from St. Mary’s graduates as advice to the newly graduating class. Introducing the reception, Sushinsky offered a toast to all seniors, wishing them well in their final days as St. Mary’s undergraduates. Seniors toasted with specially-designed Class of 2012 wine glasses, with a slight bend in the stem that, while unintentional, exemplified the “uniqueness” of St. Mary’s, according to Sushinsky.

College President Joseph Urgo was also present for the event, asking the class to take the chance to slow time down in the last 50 days before graduation in May.

“Let us hope we can make these days go as slowly as possible, to accomplish what you must before you leave,” he said.

Urgo also offered a warning to seniors: be wary of large amounts of advice that would befall newly graduating seniors.

Baltimore Mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, the graduation speaker for the Class of 2012, also took a moment to recognize the senior class at the reception. In regards to her commencement speech, she said, “I was hoping to make [the speech] shorter, but after talking with some of [the seniors], it would be wrong of me to do any less than all 2.5 hours.”

Following Rawlings-Blake, Class of 2012, President Stephon Dingle, also had a comment for his fellow seniors: be wary of senioritis, which, according to Dingle, has already struck him. Dingle also mentioned some of his memories of his time at St. Mary’s.

Following concluding remarks from Assistant Dean of Students, Kelly Schroeder, students remained outside of the State House, overlooking the St. Mary’s River.

Wine was provided as a Class of 2012 gift from President Urgo, who provided red and white wines (one free of charge) for seniors of age.

College Speaker Describes HIV Vaccine Progress, Roadblocks

In a lecture on March 21 to College students and faculty, National Institute of Health (NIH) Vaccine Branch researcher Marjorie Robert-Guroff, Ph.D., discussed the history, vaccine trials, and treatment roadblocks of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the causative agent of AIDS, in her lecture “Developing Vaccines for HIV/AIDS: Challenges and Prospects.”

AIDS, or Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, is a disease characterized by a low population of CD4 T-lymphocytes (more commonly known as Helper T Cells) in the body, which prevents the body’s immune system from protecting against pathogenic infection and disease. The mysterious disease was first classified in California men in 1981. By 1983, HIV was discovered in patients with similar symptoms, and by 1984, HIV was officially recognized as the etiologic (causative) agent of AIDS.

“As of 2010, 34 million people were living with HIV,” said Robert-Guroff, “with 7,000 new infections a day that year.” While only 1.3 million of that annual infected population reside in North America, some cities in the United States show particularly high prevalence (e.g. 3 percent in Washington, D.C.), making the issue more than a Sub-Saharan African problem.

Said Robert-Guroff, “There’s been an intervention for achieving an AIDS-free generation.”

Since these efforts, HIV transmission has been reduced by 96 percent through anti-retroviral therapies (therapies against retroviruses like HIV), including a 75 percent decrease in perinatal transmission since 1992. However, these facts show support of treatment as a method of prevention, and do not exemplify the many problems behind HIV vaccine development that Robert-Guroff discussed.

“Challenges behind developing an effective HIV vaccine include the need to elicit sterilized immunity,” said Robert-Guroff. For vaccine developers, this means developing a reagent that can stop HIV from entering lymphocytes, where they can replicate, destroy the cell, and continue to infect the body’s immune cells.

A problem behind doing this with a HIV particle is the complexity of its outer shell, or sugar-protein coat. The GP41 (or “spike”) receptor that aids in HIV’s entry into a cell is a very possible target for HIV vaccines, but the shape of the coat creates steric hindrance that prevents most tested reagents from being able to reach GP41 to bind to it.

“A special kind of antibody is needed to bind to the virus,” said Robert-Guroff.

Other issues behind vaccine development include viral variability, viral mutability, and immune escape. There are eight groups, or clades, of HIV viruses that each differ to a significant extent from each other. This most likely prevents a vaccine developed for one group to be effective against another group. While HIV clades are mostly region-based, with the United States HIV cases mostly being clade B and Subsaharan Africa being mostly clade C, this further complicates HIV vaccine research by preventing worldwide focus on one structure of virus.

Furthermore, as a RNA-based retrovirus, HIV has a high mutation rate that prevents one treatment from working effectively in the long-term. As one treatment prevents replication of one HIV type (strain), that strain mutates so that it can still reproduce but no longer be targetable by the original vaccine. This has been one of the more frustrating elements of vaccine development, leading to HIV’s ability to avoid the immune response (viral escape).

To counteract this, researchers began targeting regions of the virus that, due to their vital and specific structure, would remain fairly constant even in multiple HIV strains (meaning that even if the virus mutated, the vaccine would still be effective). However, most of these regions are in indents, or pockets, of the virus that offer steric hindrance, preventing vaccine particles from targeting the sites.

Other roadblocks include HIV’s function as an infector of mucosal epithelia (a route of infection for which not many vaccines are currently available) and the lack of small animal models (like mice) for HIV infection. Having these models would allow for more effective and faster research, but without them, researchers are limited to monkey and, until recently, chimpanzee models that show slow, non-pathogenic behaviors of HIV and are extremely expensive, not to mentioned ethically questioned.

Vaccine development, however, has not been at a standstill. Two major human trials, including the STEP Trial in 2007 and the RV 144 Trial in 2009, changed how researchers in the field approached the problems of vaccine development. While the 2007 trial failed to stimulate CD8 T-lymphocytes (or “killer T-cells”) to attack the virus, the subsequent 2009 trial prevented HIV transmission in 31.2 percent of tested patients. While vaccines ideally prevent more than 90 percent of transmission, this was nevertheless a milestone in understanding effective vaccine development for the virus.

After a discussion of the successes behind RV 144 and strategies for developing different types of vaccines, she concluded with the main goals of the vaccine.

“For a vaccine, we want neutralizing antibodies,” said Robert-Guroff, referring to proteins designed by the human body that would specifically bind to HIV and stop it from entering human cells. She also discussed how an effective vaccine would create multiple immune responses to HIV infection, including immunity at the cellular, humoral, mucosal, and innate levels.

“Overall, I’m optimistic,” she said, “but it’s a long road. We’re not close yet, I think.”

The lecture seemed to be well-received by the audience of science and non-science majors and faculty. “I liked her in-depth discussion of vaccines, and how she was able to say we’re really not close to a cure yet,” said senior Biology major Michael Adashek.

The lecture was held at 4:45 p.m. in Cole Cinema as part of the Thirteenth Annual Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Colloquium.