First came the stories. A year ago, fifth-graders in the Penn Yan Elementary School classroom of Terry Test ’73 met three times for interviews with Keuka College “authors” in the introductory English course “Literature in the Wider World” to craft stories from the perspective of each child. Now, colorful images bring an extra punch to the words on each page.
The project, dubbed “Who is Penn Yan?” was the brainchild of Associate Professor of English and Chair of the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts, Dr. Jennie Joiner. The goal was to provide both college and elementary students with a hands-on learning experience in story development and characterization.
Rather than an exercise in creative writing, the assignment emphasizes “the power of story,” Joiner said. “It’s catered to the child, and goes back to the narrative form and what it means to take someone’s story in your own hands and be responsible for it.”
This year, the collaboration took on new dimensions with the addition of an illustration component, provided by students in the book illustration course taught by Melissa Newcomb, assistant professor of art and design. A group of college artists were assigned to produce illustrations spanning a wide range of artistic styles and mediums.
Both the stories and illustrations came together over several weeks during the fall semester. College artists met first with each child, to discuss what they had in mind. The fifth-graders borrowed books from the library to use as examples of styles they liked. The College author teams then spent three weeks meeting with fifth-graders at the elementary school to hear how the children envisioned their stories unfolding, jotting down notes each time to take back and work into drafts in progress. College artists then collaborated with authors to determine what key story element to illustrate for each one.
According to Test, the Keuka College students made quite an impression on her class.
“To have fifth-graders see a college student sit down and write and take notes—well, this year’s class was impressed. They mentioned it after the first day and I see much better note-taking than there was before,” she said, adding that she was also seeing improvements in their writing too, particularly in response to literature.
And it’s not just the tangible improvements that have Test thrilled.
“They see that real people go to college and how it’s do-able. In talking with their authors, they realize they have to get good grades, finish high school, and they have to plan for it,” she said.
Just before Thanksgiving break, College authors brought near-finished drafts of each fifth-grader’s story to the school to read them aloud and gather any additional feedback. More than a few were waiting with bated breath. Take Elysia Robbins ‘18, for example, who teamed with “Jack” on a story about his character facing football tryouts.
“I was really nervous coming here this morning, but this is so rewarding!” Robbins said after hearing Jack rave over the results. “Coming down here is such a unique experience.”
In another corner of the room, “Tiffanie” listened to Katie Crossley ‘16 read through the story of her character’s experience fast-forwarding through life with a magic remote control.
“I kind of like the end more,” Tiffanie explained. “My character finally realized she didn’t need to live in the past. She can live in the now.”
At another table, Ian Ault ‘17, an adult student, sat with “Johnny,” reviewing a detailed tale of Johnny’s exploits as a superhero known as Lizard Ninja. As far as Ault was concerned, far more than mere fantasy happened in the tale.
“It’s a matter of taking a concept, such as good versus evil, and recreating how you view it, and with kids, they make up a story and that’s how they decide what decisions they’ll make,” Ault said. “For some, like Johnny, you create the story and the concepts, and that’s how you learn.”
Similar revelations unfolded when the artists returned to the elementary school on December 1, visiting Test’s classroom to unveil final paintings, drawings or multimedia works to each child.
“It was challenging, because it wasn’t just my fifth-grader’s vision, but it had to fit the author’s vision too,” said Courtney Knauber ’17, who illustrated two different stories of a dog named Pug-Popo for “Christy.”
According to Prof. Newcomb, creating different pieces in different styles and mediums for each child stretched her art students outside their comfort zones, and provided personal experience in working with a “client” just as they could encounter as a professional.
The sustained interaction with Keuka College students was maturing Test’s classroom in new ways too, she said.
“You had 17 ten-year-olds discussing art for 40 minutes in hushed, gallery tones,” said Test.
Back at campus, College authors made final revisions to each “Who is Penn Yan?” story, turning them in to Joiner as part of the final project for her English course. Then over winter break, artist Jesse Ninos combined all of the elements into the second volume of the “Who is Penn Yan?” collector’s book for his senior Field Period™. The finished books rolled off the press just days before Test’s entire class made a special visit to Lightner Library where the new College mascot, Kacey, waited with Joiner, Newcomb and their students to celebrate the book’s release.
Flanked by special guests from the Keuka College Executive Alumni Association, which co-sponsored the field trip for the fifth-graders to come to campus, the Wolfpack mascot gave each child a hug before handing him or her their book.
“Beautiful job, you guys,” Dr. Paul Forestell, provost and vice president for academic affairs, told the fifth-graders as he got a first glimpse of the special edition and praised them for sharing their great ideas.
“What’s really interesting is to realize how much you as fifth-graders have taught our College students, and other way around. That’s a really important learning adventure, so thank you for being willing to join us and share it so well,” Forestell said.
Speaking above the laughter and excitement of her class as they downed cookies and punch, Test added her thanks to each Keuka College student for “the amount of time you invested into 10 year-olds.”
“We have a fifth-grade class that now loves writing and it’s an honor to say that,” Test added.
As fifth-graders and college students turned the crisp, new pages of their shared book, exchanging hugs — and autographs—praise for the project continued. Seated next to author Anna Kramer ’18, “Marley” demonstrated how the book flips open in the middle —right to her story.
“Oh, I like it! Two thumbs up!” Marley gushed.
Holding his copy of the work, Ian Ault ‘17 gestured to the schoolchildren beaming smiles.
“The book is cool, but the experience of doing it — you can’t put that on paper. This makes the college experience deeper.”
By Victoria Grisdale ’17
KEUKA PARK— Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates (CSCY) is now less than one month away, and with April 12th fast approaching, area residents are encouraged to sign up soon to participate in this annual service event. Organized by Keuka College and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce, CSCY is the day each year in which volunteers team up across the community on behalf of the county’s non-profit organizations. In the last 17 years, work sites have included youth camps, churches, cemeteries, libraries, fire departments and more.
Last year, a number of Keuka College students in various clubs, organizations, and sports teams —as well as individuals from the communities of Penn Yan, Branchport and Dundee — came out to help rake, clean, paint, and plant whatever was needed at 20 different non-profit work sites across the county.
One of those volunteers, Mike Wainwright ’15 worked alongside classmates Sara Sloan ’15, Haley Jordan ‘15 and Eric Saltrelli ‘15 at the ARC home on Hamilton Street last year and said they helped clean up garden beds and lay sod for spring, receiving a very warm welcome. Wainwright said he has participated every year and it has been a great experience seeing more and more students volunteer each year.
This is a great, supportive community that is always a part of the College, whether it is at sporting events or by hosting Field Period™ students,” he said. “I’m excited to go back this year and put a smile on someone’s face for something as small as fixing the yard where the snowplow scraped it up.”
Wainwright added that in addition to getting out in the community, CSCY provides a good opportunity to “roll up your sleeves and spend time with friends.”
Katie Talbot ‘17, a co-captain on the Keuka College women’s soccer team worked alongside teammates raking and mulching trails in the Teamworks! Adventure Complex on the hill behind the campus.
“It was a rewarding experience that helped bring our community together,” the sophomore said. “I’m looking forward to helping out again this year and spending the day getting to know the community better.”
To that end, volunteers are urged to pre-register online at http://cscy.org by Friday, March 20 to guarantee a free CSCY T-shirt and submit a request for any round-trip transportation needed to work sites on the day of the event. While walk-in volunteers will still be accepted the day of the event, March 20 is the cutoff to reserve transportation and guarantee an event T-shirt.
One of the sponsors of the event, AVI Fresh, will provide a free lunch in the Geiser Refectory in Dahlstrom Student Center between 11 a.m. and 12:50 p.m. for all volunteers checking in to receive work assignments the day of the event. The kickoff ceremony will begin at 1 p.m. and will include Keuka College’s new mascot, Kacey the Wolf.
Students in the Penn Yan Central School District will be receiving brochures to take home to their families to encourage participation, thanks to the generous support of school district leaders and the ARC of Yates print shop, which donated printing services to help spread the word.
Elsewhere in the community, the Ferro corporation has issued a “corporate challenge” to other area businesses to empower teams of company employees to volunteer during the event this year. Ferro is recruiting its own company team of volunteers for CSCY and is urging other businesses to do the same. In prior years, teams from the Eaves Dental Group, the District Attorney’s Office and others have participated on behalf of local companies to support the county-wide event.
Non-profit agencies also have until March 20 to submit a request online for volunteer services as a designated work site this year. The form can be accessed online at: http://www.cscy.org/volunteer/become-a-work-site/
The annual spring Student Art Show at Keuka College returns next week to the Lightner Gallery and the variety and depth of creativity and expression in the pieces installed has Assistant Professor of Art Melissa Newcomb excited to share them with the public.
“I can’t wait for the students to show off what they’ve been working on in Allen Hall,” she said, referring to the campus building housing the art program classrooms and studios. “There is some really powerful work. Every year, these students are raising the bar in the quality of work they create, and it’s incredible to see what is happening in classes now that we have 20 students enrolled in the Art & Design major.”
The exhibit features students showcasing a variety of photography, illustrations, mixed media, ceramics, sculpture, drawing and design created in this year’s art classes and will run from March 9 through April 12 with an artists’ reception to be held 4:30 – 6 p.m. Thursday, March 12. Light refreshments will be served and guests will be able to browse the walls and pedestals of the Lightner Gallery in Lightner Library to hearts’ content.
If Prof. Newcomb is thrilled with the students’ work, the pride and enthusiasm from the students involved is even more palpable.
“The student show is an incredible way for students to show off their creativity, hard work, and talent, and I am always amazed when I see the artwork,” said Bridgette Fletcher ’15, who is exhibiting three portraits from her 11-part “Reflection” series, and an abstract image. Her inspiration for the series stemmed from recent campaigns about women’s perceptions of beauty and how they interpret what they see reflected in the mirror.
“I was incredibly proud of how the portraits turned out and I am honored to have them displayed in the student show,” Bridgette added.
In a different twist on reflections, one assignment in the digital photography course required students to take a self-portrait, but portray themselves in a different way than others usually see them. Art & Design major Kayla Medina ’17 took that opportunity to show sides of herself others don’t usually see.
“I decided to show my artistic and serious side, because many people know me as funny, goofy, laid back, and always smiling,” Kayla said.
Bringing others closer to the artists through their work is something that excites Lauren Esposito ’15, who is exhibiting photographs taken during the fall digital photography course.
“Creating art is such an incredible and intimate process; it allows for the individual to relax, express, create, and reflect,” said Lauren. “It’s even more incredible to see the work from others. We have so many talented students here at Keuka College and without the variety of art courses, most of that talent would be unknown.”
That principle is even more poignant for Lauren, who said art courses have introduced her to new people who have become some of her closest friends. As a senior, most of her academic hours are spent with the same few students pursuing the same degree (organizational communication), but art courses add a new dynamic, she said.
“I’ve also learned to communicate in an entirely new way through the variety of pieces I created in Foundations of Art and Design to Graphic Design to Digital Photography- which was my favorite art course,” Lauren said. Reigniting her passion for images even pushed her to conduct a photography Field Period™, she said, adding that it was the favorite of the four she has completed as a senior.
Other works from other courses, including ceramics (taught by Faith Benedict, adjunct professor of art), sculpture (taught by Sam Castner), graphic design, mixed media and drawing and painting will highlight the depths of creativity and artistic expression coming to the forefront around campus. According to Marina Kilpatrick ’16, having Prof. Newcomb select one of your pieces for the student show is always a great feeling, as is the energy generated when students, professors and other guests come together at the artists’ reception.
The show itself provides “a fantastic opportunity for art majors and minors to get to see their work displayed because it gives them that confident boost that many may need. I know that’s what it did for me,” Kayla added. “Ms. Newcomb has put a LOT of work into this show, and I know the show will be a hit. I’m so excited to see everyone’s work up and on display.”
Despite the deep freeze still hanging over the region, a sure sign of spring are the plans underway for the 18th Annual Celebrate Service … Celebrate Yates (CSCY) day of community service, to be held Sunday, April 12.
A collaboration between the Yates County Chamber of Commerce and Keuka College, CSCY is the day when volunteers from across Yates County join hands on behalf of the county’s many non-profit organizations. Youth camps, churches, fire departments, cemeteries, parks, libraries and other agencies receive help with spring clean-up projects, both inside and out, from participating volunteers. Non-profits provide the supplies while CSCY volunteers —which include many college students, local families, individuals and corporate teams—provide the service. In 2014, more than 218 volunteers came together to invest an afternoon completing tasks such as raking, cleaning, repairing and painting for 20 non-profit agencies.
This year, Ferro Corporation is putting together a team of employees to lend a hand and is challenging other local businesses to do the same.
“Non-profit organizations add to the health of our community and an event like this gives us an opportunity to support their objectives in a tangible way,” said Mary Anne Rogers, human resources manager for Ferro.
Rogers serves as coordinator of the Ferro corporate team for this year’s CSCY day of service, and has sent letters to local businesses inviting them to rally employees to form corporate teams of their own. In previous years, other companies or offices have sent teams to participate in CSCY, too. In 2012, the Eaves Family Dental group rounded up more than a dozen staff and family members to don hoodies bearing the company name and pitch in at Camp Koininea. And in 2014, staff from the office of District Attorney Valerie Gardner spent time serving at Sunny Point in Dundee.
Through March 20, volunteers can pre-register online at cscy.org to volunteer on the day of service and receive a free CSCY T-shirt, as well as request transportation to a work site. While walk-in registrations will be accepted on April 12 at the check-in area inside Dahlstrom Student Center, walk-in volunteers will not receive T-shirts and must provide their own transportation. Thanks to sponsor AVI Fresh, free lunch is available to all registered volunteers checking in at the College between 11 a.m. – 12: 50 p.m., before the official kickoff ceremony begins at 1 p.m. This year, new College mascot Kacey the Wolf will be a part of the opening ceremony.
Work site applications are also available in electronic form for non-profit agencies interested in hosting volunteers for service, as are interest forms for businesses or merchants willing to help underwrite the event. In 2014, CSCY was supported through the generous donations and in-kind goods and services of the following sponsors: ARC of Yates, AVI Fresh Catering, Eaves Family Dental Group, Esperanza Mansion, Ferro, Fitzgerald Brothers, Keuka College Campus Safety, and the Office of Alumni and Family Relations; Knapp and Schlappi, Knights of Columbus, K-Ventures, Lyons National Bank, Ricoh, Roto-Salt, Seneca Lake Duck Hunters Association, Stork Insurance Agency, Tony Collins Class of ’77 Celebrity Gold Classic, and the Yates County Chamber of Commerce.
Keuka College must be crazy for community service. After a record spring on behalf of the community, including nearly 1,000 service hours by almost 200 members of the campus body, primarily students, following May floods that devastated Penn Yan and Branchport, this year’s Angel Tree benefit set a new record.
Donations given in 2014 on behalf of 31 needy children and two additional families, each with four children, totaled $9,033 – that’s four times greater than last year’s contributions, according to Valerie Webster, who supervises students holding roles as community service advocates in the Center for Experiential Learning. The Community Service Advocates coordinate the Angel Tree program for Keuka College.
Similar to Angel Tree programs elsewhere, participants select an angel-shaped ornament from a Christmas tree with the name of a local child or family in need and their wish list of gift items. Donors then bring items to the sponsoring organization so each child can have a merry Christmas.
According to Webster, who delivered goodies Dec. 4 with community service student advocates, “some of the bags are so heavy, it will take two students to lift them to get out of here.”
The partner agency receiving donations for local families, Child and Family Resources, Inc. is a unique family-centered service organization with locations in Rushville, Penn Yan, Geneva, and Seneca Falls. For nearly 40 years, the agency has offered programs to support of the educational, emotional, and social needs of families and children of all ages. Alicia Avellanda, lead early childhood educator at the Penn Yan office said the agency is “incredibly grateful to partner with Keuka College for this very special program. Thanks to the wonderful students and college community we are able to share some holiday spirit with local families.”
Webster said she could not count the number of participants among students, faculty and staff – she only knew it exceeded all previous participation. According to her, not only were students, staff and faculty physically requesting “angels” from the tree, but even ASAP adjunct professors emailed in, sight unseen, to request information on a child they could support with Christmas gifts. Even local merchants, including Weaver’s Bicycle Shop on Route 14A, got involved. According to Webster, the shop owner sold students in the Rotoract club three bicycles at reduced cost with no shipping and handling, to give to a family who lost everything in the May floods. The Rotoract club sponsors an entire family for the Angel Tree project each year, she said.
“I just want to say thank you to the whole campus community for doing this, “she said. “I’m very grateful and I’m so proud of everyone right now.”