The New President-Elect

Big news at Bates College! Our new President-Elect was announced yesterday: Clayton Spencer.

For information about her background and enormous accomplishments, as well as video and other content, look to the website, here. Bates did an incredible job coordinating the unveiling of our newest leader, including providing a feed of the event online, as well as live-tweeting from the long dormant @batescollege twitter account.

Here’s my big shocker, though. I know Clayton Spencer. I have known her since I was six or seven years old. And I was just as surprised as everyone else when this was announced! Both of our families live in Winchester, Massachusetts and in elementary school, her son was very close with my older brother. Our parents got along well, and we even visited them at their vacation home in Maine once. I was on the field hockey and track teams with her daughter in high school. I always thought of her as extremely intelligent, but she was in some ways, just another mom in parental sphere of my younger life.


Clayton with her kids, Will and Ava.

I was watching the live feed from my room on Sunday afternoon, doing some homework as the speeches were given in the background. I was very interested, especially as all of the impressive qualifications were detailed. “Wow,” I thought. “We really got a good president for ourselves.” And then when she walked out on stage and her name was announced, it immediately clicked. I called my mom and yelled into the phone “CLAYTON IS THE NEW PRESIDENT OF BATES!” and she said that I had to immediately go find her, and congratulate her. She also laughed because she had run into her at Starbucks recently, and Clayton had asked her “Nora goes to Bates, right?” and my mom dismissed her unexplained question because they were both talking about what their kids were doing, but in retrospect, the secret upcoming announcement was the real motivation. Cool!

I really encourage you all to read up on President-elect Spencer, and prepare for great new things to come to Bates College.

Watch videos here

The very exciting webcast here

And maybe the most important/cool: Keep an eye on the trending topic “#batesprez” on twitter for the social media response.

*Photos from Bates.edu

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Hotel Universe

Last night I saw the theater department’s fall mainstage show: Hotel Universe. As with all mainstage shows, the direction, acting, design and production value was very impressive. At Bates, we have two mainstage theaters and one black box, but this show was put on in the smaller of the two: Gannet theater. Working with a smaller space invites creativity in staging the show; what Hotel Universe did was really play with the space and made something very interesting to look at.

My friend Schuyler was totally the star. And by star I mean amazing female lead. The show was also two seniors’ thesis show for their acting thesis. Serious business. The cast was small, only 9 students. The makeup of that group was very odd, as  well… it was half freshmen and half seniors– nothing in between. Even so, all cast members filled their role very well; the freshmen did not appear shy or less experienced than their older counterparts.

The show was a bit of a psychological drama- as it unfolded, things became more and more eerie and complicated, but ultimately were resolved. The actors had the difficult job of playing a part that stays in the same setting, but transcends that time and place at some points.

It’s funny because  I’d been hearing about this show from the very beginning of school– every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning when I go to the gym with Schuyler she would share a day to day concern or status check on her lines or a scene she was worried about…And yet, now i realize that she must have been censoring herself for the sake of my own discovery of the play when I actually saw it. There was so much more to Hotel Universe than I had thought– I’m still actually digesting it.

There are still two more performances, log on to Batestickets.com if  you happen to be in the area and want to see some great theater!

Dr Dog Concert

So… Dr Dog left me super euphoric but entirely worn out, both from the awesomeness of dancing my butt off as well as working the event from 10 AM-12 AM. So, I will present a photo!

Soudcheck, around 3 pm

A few hours later, after the sun went down, the grass filled with fans and a great time was had by all!

A choppy video:

Language arts live– alive!

How is it already the weekend? I love Fridays because I don’t have any classes so I get a chance to catch up on work, sleep and relaxation. (Which I definitely won’t have any time for this weekend, with concerts and clambakes and what not!) But I wanted to be sure to post about this awesome fiction reading that i went to on Wednesday, which was a part of the Language Arts Live series that I wrote about last year. The series is co-curated by my advisor, and she arranged for me to meet the author for lunch before the reading. It was so exciting!

The author, Courtney Eldridge, is this amazing woman who is so full of energy that I had the most upbeat, rich-in-conversation lunch so far this year. I’d done a little bit of reading before meeting her, and checked out the website for her most recent project, Saccades. The website describes and features her process for writing a Young adult novel which focuses on communication and relationships for teenagers in the age of high technology. Basically, this book is set right smack dab in the way I spent my teen years– online and exploring and discovering. When we got to lunch, I was ready to jump right in and talk about her project… I felt like a total stalker at times, but whatever… sue me, I read the website closely! It was interesting!! She spent so much time contacting teen artist online to help with her process by contributing images and playlists, and it seems to have really shaped how the story developed. I was in awe, truly, that a non-teenager would really “get” the connection that teens feel with one another using the internet as vessel for communication, creating art, and building relationships. I’ve been there– I’ve had my parents or other adults just totally misunderstand what internet can do for young people. And it’s not their fault, it’s just that the technology is growing so fast, and the access teens have make it their tool to explore the entire world. It was wonderful to hear Courtney say that she didn’t believe what people say– that kids these days are passive, dumbed down, uncreative, numb… She saw in them art, and creativity.. and reached out for collaboration. After the lunch ended, I was so thrilled because the project seemed so ambitious and new; it reminded me of what one of the Language Arts Live speakers last year, Brian Kim Stefans, said: that with digital fiction, authors/artists are constantly reinventing the genre. So yes, Courtney isn’t exactly the same as Stefans…(check out the post here!) but what she is doing is adapting, and making use of the changes technology is making on society. AH. So. Cool. She might be my new hero..

Anyways, that night at the reading, there was a great turnout, and I got to see a different side of the author– the celebrated, published, and HILARIOUS Courtney Eldridge. After being introduced, she explained that she looks at her stories in print and wants to make little changes after so many years, but it’s in a humble, pleased way. She read two stories for us– the first, “Fits and Starts,” was about writer’s block and detailed a list of unfinished or abandoned pieces using the most delightful wandering stream of consciousness. There were many things said in that story which hit very close to home, like “I don’t have to feel alone because I have a list” (i’m neurotic about making and checking off to-do lists). A hilarious story about a bad date’s wrongful assumption that a story beginning was a threat to castrate him, her insistence that you can’t talk about cheerleading without talking about cowboys, and her sure-fire cure to writer’s block, the threat of “dancing” her story, were also included in the piece.

The second story had my entire row of students, mostly upper class, female english majors, doubled over in our seats, cracking up the entire time. The story, “Sharks,” was a go-between of a speaker and her friend about an irrational fear of sharks in swimming pools. Even Courtney started to lose it at times. I really, highly recommend reading this story, because my writing about it cannot do it justice. It’s in her collection Unkempt, pick it up! But I will leave you with this– No pool is safe.

That’s the extent of my notes on the reading– it was really lovely and I’m definitely going to get the collection and then give it to my mom because I know she will love it. (Unless you already have it, Mom…? Do you? Hi! Hope your vacation is going well!)

Have a lovely weekend!

Summer So Far

I’ve been terribly MIA so far this summer, with not one good reason, but possible many. I’m about to start week 3 of work, which is Creative Arts summer camp where I run around all day with 8 and 9 year olds, singing, dancing, acting, creating art, and of course splashing around in a pool. Just like last year, I’m feeling very fulfilled but also very drained by the work. This lack of energy for all things after the 4:30 pm dismissal partially explains the gaping hole in my summer blogging. But I digress…

Until work started, I had a very angry, sparse, scary looking empty month. Somehow I filled it with many enjoyable trips, adventures, events and plain old nights spent doing nothing. This summer I’ve spent a lot of time hanging out with some Bates grads (class of 09) who live close by. Their apartment is a very welcome escape most nights, considering that my work situation has me still living at home under the reign of my parents. Through them, I’ve begun to get a taste for a phenomenon that commonly occurs in “the real world,” where groups of people come together to be friends but not from any one reason, for example that they all went to school together. Instead, it’s this person’s friend from high school with that person’s college buddy and my best friend from home. Despite a lack of years and memories, the mishmash of people usually get along and form bonds of their own. I mean, I know that this is the basic concept of friendship here (I have a friend, and you are another friend. I like you and I like my friend. You would like my friend. Etc, etc) but I spent last weekend on Cape Cod with a group just like this, and it was the vibe was fascinatingly one of friendship all around. Bates kids from different class years, friends from high school, friends from college, friend’s friends from college…a true smorgasbord. Anyways, I guess what i’m trying to say is that a)I really enjoy hanging out with all of these old friends and new friends as well as b)it’s cool to get a taste of the future, while still being able to relish in the fact that I have 2 years of school left.

Side note: Please, Boston, STOP WITH THE 90 DEGREE WEATHER!!

Stages for All Ages

This week, from Wednesday until Friday, the Robinson Players put on a production of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.” Here’s the best part: the production, geared towards children, was free to area schools and over three performances, we were able to offer a fun, theatrical experience to almost 900 elementary school children!

It’s really cool to be able to give something like that to young kids. I’m a person who has always grown up around theater—I was very lucky to have parents who took me to shows and sent me to camps and even sewed squirrel costumes for a crazy production of Sleeping Beauty in 1999 (thanks again Mom). But, at a recent Rob players board meeting, while reflecting upon how excited everyone was for the kids, we realized that for many, this could be their first time seeing a play in a theater. When you’re young, there’s something so incredible about seeing the magic of a play put on—especially when there’s lights, sounds, and other production surprises.

I have many memories of being in elementary school and going to Creative Arts camp every summer. We had dance, drama, music and art classes, but to be honest, we mostly cared more about going to the pool. However, the bigger kids, the 6th-9th graders existed above us. Surrounded by an air of indelible coolness, they put on three shows over the course of the summer that we, the younger kids, got to see every Tuesday. During talkbacks, every little kid would have a question to ask. “So in that part where she disappears, like, HOW does that work???” or “How did the Princess change her dress SO quickly??” And hearing these cool, older, talented kids telling us all their secrets, letting us in on their artistic process and the way they made the sound effects and light cues… it was the coolest thing. Ever.

For the record, now I spend my summers working at said performing arts camp. And every Tuesday when I see the shows, my heart swells when an 8 year old girl tugs at my sleeve eagerly to point out just how magical the theater is.

But, back to the chocolate factory. This production is an annual project the Rob players does during short term. Last year we did “Honk,” the year before was “Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing,” etc. The shows are always geared towards a 1st-4th ish age group, but the schools can send whichever grades they please.

So I wasn’t in the show, although I’d had wild plans of trying out and being in my first musical since 9th grade. Unfortunately, my brother’s college graduation happened to run at exactly the same time as the last performance (which explains why I’m writing this blog from New York. Congrats Sarah Lawrence class of 2010!). However, despite my inability to be a cast member, I had an equally important task: I had to fill the seats.

Remember how I said 900 kids? Yeah, I did that. I spent hours on email and the phone with principals and secretaries of all the elementary schools within an hour of Bates. Offering a free field trip was so fun, and many schools were eager to send their students. A lot of students. While overwhelming and a bit difficult to logistically place everyone, in the end, it was pretty incredible to be able to say, “yeah, so I organized 900 kids to come see free theater.” But that is what my job requires. This will have been my final task as the Outreach Coordinator on the board for the Rob players 09-10. Someone else will be responsible for this next year. My only regret is not being able to see any of the kids squealing with laughter and their faces in awe by the magic of theater come the end of the show.

Ronjstock, how I love thee

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of short term, one spent in the sun with free food, live music, and fun activities: Ronjstock. This annual outdoor event is put on my the Ronj, a student-run coffee house on campus. While the weather seemed a little sketchy for a while, it held for the entire day and students were able to mingle on the ronj’s lawn all afternoon enjoying the day.

Last year, this event was combined with another event as the Block party. Read my post about it here. Again, I have to admit, my favorite performer was Computer at Sea. He came back again this year! How sick is that! And, since I knew what to expect this year, I was not skeptical at all when he began creating music out of the craziest set up. When I say crazy, I mean really wild. Proof:


Photo by Brad Gee, May 15 2010.

I even got to chat with him afterwards! It was kind of a bummer because only about 8 or so people were brave enough to get dancing during his set. (Which, of course, means the other like hundred there at the time were staring at us like we were crazy…guess what? it was worth it).

Anyways, it was a lovely way to spend a short term Saturday. And my Sunday? Well, I have a sunburn and sand stuck in everything, so i obviously took advantage of Range Pond today! Finally. I’m so glad the weather is beginning to warm up, I’ve been waiting for it to do so for weeks!