SCHOOL SCENE A Special Supplement to the Sullivan County Democrat
A look at activities at SUNY SULLIVAN
SECTION S • APRIL 25, 2017 • CALLICOON, NY
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School Scene A Look at Activities at
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SUNY ‘family’ takes on hunger, homelessness as part of its mission
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Monticello resident Thomas Scian, enrolled in SUNY Sullivan's Hospitality and Tourism program, is a firm believer in using one’s skills to help others. STORY AND PHOTOS BY KATHY DALEY
he word “camp” in campus will take on its literal meaning one weekend in May when Honors Program students like Jiangni Brown take to the tents on the grounds of SUNY Sullivan. The goal in the marathon sleepover will be to raise awareness and funds for charities like the Sullivan County Federation for the Homeless. “Helping others is essential,” said Brown, who is an early admittance college student from the Tri-Valley Central School District. The freshman plans to work in child psychology as a career. “We’re a community college,” Brown said. “It’s all about commu-
nity.” The Honors Program offers rigorous college courses for bright students at the same time as it champions connection with other students on campus and with the wider world outside the college grounds. SUNY Sullivan Interim College President Jay Quaintance agrees with Brown that community counts. “Sometimes the ‘college’ part of our name gets all the recognition,” said Quaintance, “and the ‘community’ part gets lost.” The college’s links to people and places off campus are rich and varied, he said. “Whether it’s access to the arts like our Metropolitan Opera simulcast (in the Seelig Theatre), or our modeling of sustainability activities and behavior, or our connections to the
local school districts, or our community garden – we want very much to be a part of our community's activities,” Quaintance said.
ON THEIR HONOR, ON THE STAGE Students like Thomas Scian are certain they want to play a helping role. Scian, who is from Monticello, is an Honors Program student like Brown and also a member of the SUNY Sullivan Performing Arts Club. In March, he pointed out, the Honors Program held a fund-raiser for the Children’s Tumor Foun dation in the name of Honors student and Performing Arts Club member Brianna Worden, who suf-
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fers from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder of the nervous system in which tumors develop on the nerves. Honors students also bring food and baked goods from the college’s Culinary Arts program to the Federation for the Homeless to help feed the hungry families. Scian noted that the Performing Arts Club has held cabarets in the Student Union for events to benefit things like World AIDS Day, and to raise money for AIDS/HIV research and treatment. “Not everyone can afford to help themselves,” he said. “If you have the ability to help others. it's the least you can do.” Learning Center Director Rose Hanofee says the college's Food Pantry for hungry students is always in need of food and donations of non-perishable items. At left: Student Jiangni Brown is working on a fund-raiser to collect money to fight homelessness.
HUNGER ON CAMPUSES Meanwhile, the SUNY Sullivan community has banded together to fight hunger on its own campus. It’s not alone. Across the U.S., colleges are developing food banks to help students who, while they might be fortunate enough to earn college scholarships or benefit from student loans, just don't have the money to spend on eating. “We established a food pantry over six years ago,” said Learning Center Director Rose Hanofee. “It started out as just a large box of cheese crackers – I purchased it when one of our students came to campus hungry on a regular basis.” Eventually, Hanofee mentioned the concept of a food pantry to her nine staff members, and each began to cart in canned goods like soups, ravioli and vegetables and packed items like granola bars, packets of oatmeal and occasionally, a loaf of bread and peanut butter. The Learning Center, located above the college library, offers tutors and advisers, along with computers, wifi and private rooms for tutoring or study groups. Tucked away in a conference room is the food pantry, which consists of sever-
al closets crammed with non-perishable packaged and canned goods. Faculty and staff often refer hungry students to the food pantry. No questions are asked when they arrive for food. “The pantry is sort of hidden so that students can feel comfortable and have privacy when selecting items,” Hanofee said, adding that hunger exists among students who dorm at the college, as well as those who commute each day. Last fall was the first time the college asked outside organizations for food pantry donations, an idea suggested by Health Services secretary Marilyn Verderame. ShopRite in Liberty donated 20 bags full of food. WalMart in Monticello gave a $100 gift card. Bethel Lions Club, through SUNY Sullivan’s nurse Christine Burlingame, offered $100 and canned and packaged goods. The Honors Program donated gift certificates from the Hurleyville restaurant Frankie and Johnny's, along with a donation of $50. “Without the food pantry, some students might not still be here at the college,” said Hanofee. “When you’re hungry all the time, you can’t do the work. You can’t learn.”
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Beyond athletics to Dean of Student Development Services BY JOSEPH ABRAHAM
here are few people as wellknown on SUNY Sullivan’s campus or with a resume quite like Christopher D. DePew, who’s in his 16th year as the Director of Athletics and 19th overall at the school. In March, DePew added more to his title, Dean of Student Development Services. He served as the Interim Dean of Student Development Services from February 2016 through January 2017. “My responsibilities include sitting on the President’s Executive Committee and the direct oversight of the following critical departments of the College: Financial Aid, Admissions and Recruitment, Learning, Advising and Counseling Center, Health
Services Student Activities and Athletics,” DePew said. “In addition to the oversight of those critical departments on campus, I am responsible for handling all disciplinary incidents on campus, as well as Chairing the Faculty Student Association.”
SUCCESS IN ATHLETICS DePew coached multiple sports at SUNY Sullivan, and has been a pioneer for the school’s athletic program. He’s responsible for starting the Men’s and Women’s Inter-collegiate Cross-Country Running Programs, the Men’s Intercollegiate Baseball program, the Co-Ed Cheerleading program, the Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Track & Field Programs, the Women’s Volleyball
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Program and the Men’s Intercollegiate Wrestling Team during his tenure. DePew has accomplished a lot with the school’s men’s basketball team, as the Generals amassed a 726-101 record during his time at the school, including a 176-28 record as the team’s head coach. In 2007, Coach DePew led the Generals to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) National Championship with an undefeated record of 32-0. During his tenure at the school, the Generals won seven Region XV Championships, eleven Mid-Hudson Conference Championships and seven trips to the NJCAA National Championship Tournament, winning it all in 2007 and finishing 2001 and 2002 as the NJCAA National Runnerup. DePew has held several titles with the NJCAA, including becoming the first SUNY Sullivan Athletic Director to hold the position of NJCAA Region XV Men’s Director. He is presently the National Chairman of NJCAA Division III Men’s Basketball and sits on the NJCAA National Football, Division III Golf and Lacrosse Committees. Also, in 2016, DePew was named to the NJCAA Championship Events Committee, which oversees the selection and oversight of all NJCAA National Championship Sites, as well as National Poll regulations. He proudly serves as the Executive Director of the NJCAA DIII Men’s Basketball National Championship Tournament. Nationally, DePew is in his second year of a two-year term as the 1st Vice President of the NJCAA National Men’s Basketball Coaches Association that supports all junior college men’s basketball coaches nationwide. He has been recently elected and will serve as the Association President effective August 1, 2017 for a two-year term. He additionally sits on the Board of Directors of the Basketball Coaches Association of New York (BCANY) for the past 12 years. Coach DePew was honored in the spring of 2013 with the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service. DePew resides in Kerhonkson with his wife Heather and their 13 year old
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Christopher D. DePew
son, David. DePew is active in his community, serving on several non-profit Boards of Directors, town committees and organizations, serving as a volunteer coach for his son’s Little League and Babe Ruth Baseball, Valley Vipers Travel Baseball and Rondout Valley Scholastic Modified Baseball and Basketball teams. Additionally, DePew currently serves as the Chief of the Kerhonkson Volunteer Fire Company, and has been a member for 33 years, joining the company at the age of 16. On the new position, DePew said, “I am most excited about the fact that I get to work with a dedicated and amazing group of professionals that all have the same goal of making our college the very best that it can be. SUNY Sullivan is at a turning point within its history, and I am excited about having a voice in a new path moving forward. “I have learned quickly in my new role that every day is different. We are charting a new path to build on our long standing commitment to excellence both in and out of the classroom. I very much look forward to the future and the excitement that it brings. This is an exciting time to be a part of Sullivan County, and everyone here at the college is committed to meeting the needs of our student body and community to continue to build on our recent honor of being selected as one of the top 10 community colleges in New York State!”
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During a rehearsal, Performing Arts Club members Payton Powell, Genesis Shuler, Brendan Dromazos, Savan Chaudhari, Thomas Scian, Brianna Worden, Brett Hughes, Tyler Young, Gabrielle Corvest and Julia Kehrley.
‘The play’s the thing’ for theatrical SUNY students STORY AND PHOTOS BY KATHY DALEY
nvite young actors to talk about their craft and you’re likely to wind up with some engaging dialogue. “Art in general is a profession of self,” said Gabrielle Corvest, a student and musician in the Performing Arts Club at SUNY Sullivan. “For me, it’s necessary. We get to incorporate all our different talents and make something beautiful.” Student Julia Kehrley explained how the acting techniques used to get into character help actors to explore their own hearts. “At first it’s like ‘why is this character so mean?’” Kehrley said. “But you slowly learn ‘so this is why. I think I have some of this character in me – we do share something.’” Tyler Young said acting on stage at the college’s Seelig Theatre holds numerous rewards. “It’s here that we build friendships, become family,” Young said. “Acting can help you escape reality. It helps with learning, with reading, with literature, with Shakespeare.”
Echoing her students’ sentiments is Assistant Professor of Theater and Speech Jessica Lopez-Barkl. “Since the beginning of time, we’ve needed to tell our stories in front of one another,” Lopez-Barkl said. “We validate our human experience. And in acting, you encourage catharsis – the actors are crying, people in the audience are crying, or the actors are laughing and you are laughing.” As for the thrill of teaching theater, “you see the wonderment in a (new) actor who gets the bug. Maybe that's why we teach – we have to leave this legacy.” For SUNY Sullivan, the legacy begins in a theater arts program that includes Musical Theater and Classical Acting, taught this year by Dan Lendzian; Acting 1 and 2 taught by Nick Lopez; and Barkl's Theater History, Voice and Diction, Physical Theater, and Introduction to Production Technology. This winter, SUNY Sullivan students and their professors spent 10 days in Danbury, Conn., at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival. They were Tyler Young, Brianna Worden, Gerald Jones and
decades ago as a young actress in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. She studied performing arts at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Wash., and earned an MFA in Theater from Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville. She has worked as a director and actor across the U.S. At SUNY Sullivan, she mounts three student-acted productions each year, including this month’s April 13-23 run of “Marshall County Line.” Written by SUNY Sullivan professor and Honors Program advisor Gabe Rikard, the show is a musical adaptation of William Shakespeare’s virtueand-vice play “Measure for Measure.” Lopez-Barkl is also in charge of inviting into Seelig Theatre two community theater productions or New York City touring groups each year. Networking with local theater groups is crucial. Forestburgh Playhouse producer Franklin Trapp holds his season’s auditions in Seelig Theatre each year. NACL, the performance art theatre in Highland Lake, works closely with Lopez-Barkl. The teacher pointed out that next September, SUNY Sullivan students will join actress Debra Winger in a performance of NACL’s “Courage” on Governor’s Island in New York Bay. One of those on stage is likely to be student Brett Hughes. “After being incredibly shy and lacking in confidence, acting has allowed me to grow up as a person,” Hughes reflected. “This is what I am, and what I was meant to do.”
Malik Jones, who competed in acting, with Brett Hughes and Payton Powell as alternates; Jennifer Bronson and Eliza Martinez in stage management; and Alexander Concors and Dakota DePuy in projection design and lighting design. They were among nearly 500 participants. Performing Arts Club members benefit as well from weekly workshops on monologue auditioning, cold reading auditioning, lighting and sound design, tap dancing, improvisation and portfolio development. There are also workshops on transferring to a four-year performing arts program. Currently, SUNY Sullivan theater students can earn degrees in Liberal Arts in the Humanities. But a year ago, the college filed a formal request to launch a degreed program in Theater Arts and awaits approval from the SUNY system and the State Education Department Three years ago, the college hired Lopez-Barkl to start its theater arts initiative. For a first production in 2014, she chose a heralded 2002 play “Our Lady of 121st Street,” about students coming back to their neighborhood for a beloved nun's funeral. “I had auditions and hardly anybody showed up,” she recalled, “so I walked around the building asking ‘Do you want to be in a play?’” To make sure students showed up for rehearsals, “I went to the residence halls and pounded on doors.” Lopez-Barkl’s own career began two
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Theater Arts Assistant Professor Jessica Lopez-Barkl gives direction to student Brett Hughes on stage at the college's Seelig Theatre.
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Teenage climate warrior takes on the status quo, planet-wise
STORY AND PHOTOS BY KATHY DALEY
oung people are underrepresented in decisions that directly affect us.” That’s 17-year-old Iris Fen Gillingham speaking. She sits in a bright lobby at SUNY Sullivan, an earnest, chestnut-haired teenager wearing Native American earrings and cowboy boots. She’s proud to describe her Livingston Manor roots and upbringing. “I’ve grown up in a family living a conscientious lifestyle,” Gillingham said. “We had a CSA (a farm for which non-farmers could purchase a “share” and receive produce). “Then, in the space of six years,” she continued, “we were flooded out by two 100-year storms and one 500-year storm. We lost three tractors and all our topsoil on the 10 acres where we grew our vegetables. That was my first experience with climate change and its erratic weather patterns.” Homeschooled since a child – “my education has been all naturebased” – Gillingham entered SUNY Sullivan this past fall as an early admittance student, a practice that allows gifted high school students to accelerate into college. “I love it here,” said Gillingham of the college. “I’m creative and independent, and they give students freedom to follow their passions.” One of her passions is helping to save the earth. Last fall, Gillingham launched an on-campus “crew” of Earth Guardians, which is a nonprofit organization that encourages young people in environmental activism and social justice. Earth Guardian crews work in 25 countries on projects specific to their region but focused on the planet as a whole. In late 2016, 21 Earth Guardians initiated a lawsuit against the U.S.
and several federal agencies ing water, from the construcover the government’s tion of the Dakota access actions that have caused pipeline. carbon pollution and cliGillingham is no stranger to mate destabilization. That activism. Her father, Wes suit is making its way Gillingham, co-founded the through the courts. Catskill Mountainkeeper “We’ve been destructive to based in Livingston Manor, the earth as people,” said an environmental advocacy Gillingham. “What happens organization to protect the to the planet happens to us.” water and the ecosystem. She’s been involved with “My father took me and my Earth Guardians for several brother to the rallies over years, starting out with a fracking,” she added. “It was crew at the Fallsburg school the way we began learning district. She’s gone on to about issues involving the serve on the Board of land we love.” Directors of the internationShe continues to live at al organization; is youth home, where her parents director for Earth Guardians raise and grow 75 percent of in New York State; and the food they eat. serves on the Earth They raise ducks, chickens, Guardians Speakers Bureau, cows, Scottish Highland catspeaking at events and tle, three kinds of sheep and schools all over the U.S. a dairy cow. The house boasts She’s also on Earth solar panels for electricity, Guardians’ RYSE (Rising and is heated by wood, which Youth for a Sustainable also heats the water. Earth) Youth Council, com“I have deep-rooted conprised of 18 leaders from age nections to the earth,” said 10 to 22. RYSE members Gillingham. “Our land has attend training sessions been in the family since the once a year and enjoy week- Sullivan Renaissance gave its Spark Award to SUNY student Iris 1950s.” ly webinars and conference Gillingham, who launched a volunteer environmental activist Recently the college freshgroup on campus. Iris is the daughter of Wes and Amy man received the Spark calls. “Then, when I came here, Gillingham of Livingston Manor. Award from Sullivan my professors asked me to Renaissance for her work start an Earth Gardens with Earth Guardians on crew,” she said. count retail stores as part of a cam- both the local and national level. With about 10 students who meet paign against toxic products. The award is given each year to a each week, SUNY Sullivan Earth Major retailers like Target and person making a difference and Guardians helped organize the April Walmart have already adopted cor- helping encourage volunteerism. 1 “Sullivan for Unity and Equality” porate policies to screen out harm“I travel the country (for Earth march and rally in Monticello. ful chemicals. Guardians) and bring back to “Social justice impacts all of us,” On April 19 at Seelig Theatre on Sullivan County what I've learned,” said Gillingham. “For example, toxic campus, Earth Guardians were due Gillingham said. “Youth can be waste gets dumped in low income to air the documentary “Gather Our involved in so many ways – starting neighborhoods and neighborhoods Hearts at Standing Rock” by award- gardens, picking up trash, painting of people of color.” winning filmmaker Fidel Moreno. murals or organizing giant rallies. They also joined in an effort by the The film chronicles the Native Using creativity and innovation, we nationwide Campaign for Healthier American struggle to protect the can build a sustainable future for Solutions, delivering letters to dis- Missouri River, the source of drink- the world, for our generation.”
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Published on Apr 25, 2017
Sullivan County's only institution of higher learning is raising the bar for both students and faculty. Find out how inside our latest Schoo...