Tag Archive for community service

5th Graders Sample Wesleyan Sciences

Brian Stewart, associate professor pf physics, demonstrates how liquid nitrogen looks like water but evaporates rapidly at room temperature. Fifth grade students from Snow Elementary School toured the Wesleyan sciences June 19.

Brian Stewart, associate professor pf physics, demonstrates how liquid nitrogen looks like water but evaporates rapidly at room temperature. Fifth grade students from Snow Elementary School toured the Wesleyan sciences June 19.

Vacek Miglus, lab technician and curator of the Physics Department, shows the students how various lamps are lit by a Tesla coil without being attached to wires. Brian Stewart is on the right.

Vacek Miglus, lab technician and curator of the Physics Department, shows the students how various lamps are lit by a Tesla coil without being attached to wires. Brian Stewart is on the right.

Laurel Appel, adjunct associate professor of biology, senior research associate and director of the McNair Program, watches DNA fibers come out of a solution as ice-cold alcohol meets the warm, salty, DNA solution. One of the students described the reaction as looking like a spiderweb.

Laurel Appel, adjunct associate professor of biology, senior research associate and director of the McNair Program, watches DNA fibers come out of a solution as ice-cold alcohol meets the warm, salty, DNA solution. One of the students described the reaction as looking like a spiderweb.

McNair fellow Kelley Miller '10, at right, helps the Snow Elementary School students isolate DNA from wheat germ. The recipe for this, and other experiments is online at http://lappel.web.wesleyan.edu/expts.htm.

McNair fellow Kelley Miller '10, at right, helps the Snow Elementary School students isolate DNA from wheat germ. The recipe for this, and other experiments is online at http://lappel.web.wesleyan.edu/expts.htm.

Astronomy graduate student Amy Langford, at right, teaches the students about Wesleyan's Alvan Clark 20-inch refractor telescope inside the observatory. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Astronomy graduate student Amy Langford, at right, teaches the students about Wesleyan's Alvan Clark 20-inch refractor telescope inside the observatory. (Photos by Olivia Bartlett)

Jazz Orchestra Performs for Local Public Schools

Elizabeth Gauvey-Kern '11, a music and government double major, sings Duke Ellington's "It don't mean a thing (if it ain't got that swing)" during a Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra performance April 30 at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Middletown.

Elizabeth Gauvey-Kern '11, a music and government double major, sings Duke Ellington's "It don't mean a thing (if it ain't got that swing)" during a Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra performance April 30 at Woodrow Wilson Middle School in Middletown.

Wesleyan jazz musicians have been tooting their own horns to the local community.

During spring semester, the 20-member band has performed six times at public elementary, middle and high schools in Middletown. They work under the direction of vibraphonist-composer Jay Hoggard, adjunct associate professor of music.

Jay Hoggard directs the Wesleyan jazz orchestra at Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

Jay Hoggard directs the Wesleyan jazz orchestra at Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

“It’s good for the Wesleyan students to get out of their little shell of the universe according to Momma Wesleyan, go a few blocks away and play for young people who may or may not have been exposed to this type of music before,” Hoggard says. “We’re representing jazz and we’re representing Wesleyan.”

The orchestra’s 2009 repertoire consists of music by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, Thad Jones, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins and Jelly Roll Morton. The group spends the fall semester listening and learning music, and performs select pieces at the schools during the spring semester.

The Wesleyan students dress to impress. On stage, they don black pants, shirts and a Cardinal red vest.

The concerts themselves lasted for about 50 minutes. If time allowed, Hoggard also introduced the Wesleyan musicians and their instruments, which ranged from clarinet to trumpet to piano.

“We sound, and we look, impressive,” Hoggard says. “The audience, especially the elementary-age kids, look at the Wesleyan students as professional artists.”

Baritone saxophonist Bob Gambo ’10 played for a large jazz orchestra in high school and joined the Wesleyan orchestra to continue his musical education, and gain a deeper understanding of jazz music.

“Playing at local schools is a great experience; we learn a lot about ourselves as musicians, the music we play and the community at large,” Gamo says. “Jay emphasized the community-building nature of these concerts, and refers to us as ‘ambassadors’ of jazz music to the children and school faculty that we entertain. The response has been positive and encouraging from the students we perform for.”

Elizabeth Gauvey-Kern ’11, a music and government double major, sings two songs, “It don’t mean a thing (if it ain’t got that swing)” a famous anthem of jazz written by Duke Ellington, and Frank Foster’s arrangement of “In a mellow tone,” another Ellington tune. She also sings in the band, rather than in front of the band, for Charles Mingus’s “Moanin.”

“It’s really an honor for me how Jay makes me part of the band,” Gauvey-Kern says. “As a singer, it is often typical to be the final add-on, the last piece, not really included in the day to day rehearsal process. Jay doesn’t let that happen. I haul equipment and take part in rehearsals. He makes sure I’m one of the band.”

The students travel to the schools in their own vehicles, or a Wesleyan passenger van. They leave campus around 12:20 p.m. and return by 2:30 p.m. But it’s the getting there – and getting back – that teaches the Wesleyan students the most about life as a musician. Hoggard says the prep and take-down account for more than 50 percent of the time at the schools.

“It can become a real madhouse when you have 20 students packing and loading up instruments and equipment, setting them up, getting into place, hurrying up to get ready and finally playing for about an hour,” Hoggard says. “But, that’s what being a musician is. No one cares if you had to break your back carrying a piano up the steps. The audience just wants to hear the music.”

The young musicians are given a sample of the touring life in a way that few of them have ever experienced.

“Jay emphasized these practical aspects of the concerts just as much as the musical aspects, teaching us lessons of responsibility and leadership at the same time,” Gambo explains. “We became used to moving, unpacking and setting our equipment up quickly so as to maximize our time playing for the students.”

This is Hoggard’s 17th year directing the Wesleyan Jazz Orchestra at local schools. He started the program in 1992, when his own children were enrolled in the Middletown Public School system. He’s maintained the connection with the schools ever since.

In Spring 2009, Hoggard directed the Jazz Orchestra at, Keigwin Middle School, Wesley Elementary School, Moody School, Middletown High School and Woodrow Wilson Middle School.

“As a band-leader and professor, Jay cultivates the responsibility, independence and humility that are essential components to life at and beyond Wesleyan,” Gambo says. “Few other professors have the ability to do this so effectively.”

Photos of the orchestra below by Bill Burkhart.

Connecticut Nursing Board Requests Student Films

Chris Skorik '09 edits his film on male nurses.

Chris Skorik '09 edits his film on male nurses.

The Connecticut League For Nursing Board has requested Wesleyan students enrolled in the class, “Making the Science Documentary,” show and display samples of their films during the board’s annual convention June 4 in Portland, Conn.

The science and film hybrid class, designated a Service Learning Course, was designed to introduce students to topics in the life sciences and the basics of documentary filmmaking, in order to teach students the skills and art of communicating science-related issues through visual media.

The class was co-taught by Manju Hingorani, associate professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, and Jacob Bricca, adjunct assistant professor of film studies. The nursing profession was the topic of this year’s films.

Odede ’12, Posner ’09 Receive Award to Build School in Kenya

Kennedy Odede

Kennedy Odede '12, pictured inside his home in Kibera, Kenya, received a Projects for Peace award to build a School for Girls in Kenya's largest slum. Jessica Posner '09 is a co-recipient of the award, and will assist Odede during the 10-week project this summer.

Born and raised in Africa’s largest slum, Kennedy Odede ’12 witnessed abuse, rape, domestic violence and general mistreatment of school-aged girls in his community. His own sister, at age 17, gave birth to a baby recently as a result of rape.

Sadly, this is the norm. Without access to education, many of the girls are forced into commercial sex work at early ages. The Kenyan Government views the slum, named Kibera, as an illegal settlement and therefore does not provide any services or government-funded schools.

“Girls in my community lose their hope of ever attaining an education and ever leaving the slum,” Odede explains.

Jessica Posner '09.

Jessica Posner '09.

As 2009 Davis Projects for Peace grant recipients, Odede and his project partner Jessica Posner ’09 hope to make a difference in these girls’ lives by constructing the slum’s first all-girls school called the Kibera School for Girls. Project for Peace awards, worth $10,000, are designed to encourage and support today’s motivated youth to create and tryout their own ideas for building peace.

The school will offer 105 girls in grades K through six a high-quality formal education based on Montessori school teachings, as well as daily nourishment, self-empowerment, and a refuge from the pressures of the slum. By preparing students for higher education and skilled jobs, Posner says the school will keep the girls out of prostitution and offer them a potential path out of the slum.

“Our hope is that after they leave the school, they will be academically qualified for scholarships at prestigious government boarding schools, and can eventually attend college,” Posner says.

Faculty Teach Elementary Students DNA, Natural History

Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, taught a workshop on "Biodiversity in Connecticut and Beyond" during the Middletown Minds in Motion program March 21 at Snow Elementary School.

Michael Singer, assistant professor of biology, taught a workshop on "Biodiversity in Connecticut and Beyond" during the Middletown Minds in Motion program March 21 at Snow Elementary School. Singer taught participants about natural history and the biologically diverse animals that inhabit Connecticut ecosystems, focusing on insects, reptiles and amphibians.

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, taught a workshop titled "Who Done It? A DNA Investigation."

Ishita Mukerji, professor of molecular biology and biochemistry, taught a workshop titled "Who Done It? A DNA Investigation."

During a “Who Done It? A DNA Investigation,” elementary school aged children sported white lab coats and became “detectives” hoping to solve a crime.

The students learned about DNA structure by isolating DNA from wheat germ and comparing DNA samples from a ‘crime scene’ with the DNA from five suspects. They learn how DNA forensics actually works – just like on the television show “CSI.”

Wesleyan, Community Design Festive Greens

The Center for Community Partnerships hosted a "Green Your Holiday" craft event Dec. 6 for the Wesleyan staff, faculty and students and the local community. Volunteer Shelia Gray Smith, at left, taught participants how to make festive centerpieces using fresh pine greens.

The Center for Community Partnerships (CCP) hosted a "Green Your Holiday" craft event Dec. 6 for the Wesleyan staff, faculty and students and the local community. Volunteer Sheila Graham Smith, at left, taught participants how to make festive centerpieces using fresh pine greens. Elisa Del Valle, assistant director of student activities and leadership development, is pictured at right.

Ethnic Bake Sale Raises $1,200 for Food Pantry

Wesleyan hosted an international bake sale in the Usdan University Center Nov. 20 to benefit the Middlesex United Way.

Wesleyan hosted an Ethnic Bake Sale in the Usdan University Center Nov. 20 to benefit the Amazing Grace Food Pantry. Wesleyan raised $1,200 from the sale. (Photos by Intisar Abioto '09)

Swedish sweet bread, Greek jam cookies, Iranian walnut puffs and Irish soda bread were just a few tasty treats sold recently to benefit a local food pantry.

On Nov. 20, Wesleyan hosted an ethnic bake sale in the Usdan University Center. More than 70 bakers and volunteers contributed to the event, helping to raise almost $1,200 in two and a half hours. All proceeds were given directly to Middletown’s Amazing Grace Food Pantry.

Hundreds of baked goods were for sale.

Hundreds of baked goods were for sale.

“It was so wonderful to see the Wesleyan community come together as one and see what we could do for the community during these tough economic times,” says bake sale organizer Olga Bookas,

Kuan Receives NAACP Award for Community Service

Frank Kuan is the director of

Frank Kuan is the director of community relations.

Frank Kuan, director of community relations, received the Community Service Award from the Middlesex County NAACP on Sept. 26.

The award was presented during the 23rd Annual NAACP Freedom Fund Awards Dinner at Cross Street AME Zion Church in Middletown. The organization also awarded a business award and education award.

Film Studies Benefit Raises Homelessness Awareness

"Where God Left His Shoes" will be shown at the Center for Film Studies Oct. 25 to raise funds for Middlesex County Homelessness Prevention Fund.

When Frank, Angela, and their two children are evicted from their New York City apartment, they have no choice but to move into a homeless shelter. After a few difficult months, an apartment becomes available in a nearby housing project. There’s only one catch: Frank needs a job in order to qualify or the apartment will get rented to someone else. While the rest of the city prepares for Christmas, Frank and his 10-year-old stepson, Justin, roam the cold streets of New York trying to find a job by day’s end.

While this is the story line for the feature film, “Where God Left His Shoes,” the same scenario resonates in the local community.

Students Create Innovative Structure for Audubon Society

Wesleyan students built a bird-viewing platform for the Helen Carlson Wildlife Sanctuary in Portland, Conn. The architecture project, named SplitFrame, will be celebrated by a reception for the project at 2 p.m. Oct. 19 at the sanctuary.

Wesleyan students built a bird-viewing platform for the Helen Carlson Wildlife Sanctuary in Portland, Conn. The architecture project, named SplitFrame, will be celebrated by a reception for the project at 2 p.m. Oct. 19 at the sanctuary.

Imagine this architectural challenge: create a site-appropriate structure for a former cranberry bog covered with 3 feet of water; use durable and sustainable materials and construction technologies as extensively as possible; work within a budget and; make it optimal for observing Redwing Blackbirds, Scarlet Tanagers, Hooded Mergansers, and the occasional Great Blue Heron.