Snow White meets Shakespeare in Academy’s playwriting project

Jeffery Allen, executive director of the Center for Lifelong Learning, (bold below) has been working with students on theatre projects at the Academy for the past three years.

The Herald-Times
By Mary Keck 331-4353 |
: Tuesday, December 17, 2013 12:41 am

Tragedy struck the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship on Monday, and it came in the form of puns and rhyming couplets.

Sophomores in Claire Roth’s world studies class performed original plays based on popular fairy tales, and each had a Shakespearean twist. For example, one group of seven students acted out “Much Ado About Ariela,” a variation of “The Little Mermaid” that doesn’t end as happily as the Disney version. Instead, Ariela drinks poison, and as a result, her heartbroken father, King Triton, falls to the floor.

“My heart shatters, and I die,” cries King Triton as he dies in dramatic style. He was played by Dominic Lettsome-Martin, who wore a long, gray beard, a black bathrobe and a jeweled golden crown to look the part of merperson royalty.

As in playwright William Shakespeare’s tragedies, the sophomores created tales with mistaken identities, love triangles, struggles for power and dramatic deaths in which all the most significant characters die in the end as a result of suicide or murder. To complete the project, they wrote scripts, memorized lines and acted their plays out in costume before a panel of four judges.

Reflecting Shakespeare’s productions at the Globe Theatre, Emma Griffith played two characters: Lucifer and Dopey, the dwarf, in “Snow White.” In place of Sneezy, there was a dwarf named Sleazy, played by Tristan Carney, and another dwarf named Bloody, acted by Cameron Doyle. Not a single dwarf made it out of the play alive, nor did Snow White or the Huntsman.

“I curse thee, Sleazy, slayer, coward, murderer of kin,” Bloody cried as he pierced his own heart with a knife at the end of the play. “Knife, quench thy thirst!”

Doyle said he enjoyed the freedom his group was given to create the play, because “we got to be ourselves.”

Carney said, “I had a great time with this project.” When he found out about the assignment, he was excited to try his hand at writing in the language of Shakespeare. His role in the group was to work iambic pentameter into the script.

Griffith said, “The hardest thing is just the language. I thought I was never going to understand it.” Now that she’s memorized rhyming couplets and changed words such as “you” to “thou,” Griffith isn’t quite as intimidated by Shakespeare’s work as she was when Roth first introduced the project.

Once they got past the language, the students discovered the 16th century writer was pretty talented. They admired his use of puns and double meanings.

With a laugh, Carney said, “Shakespeare tells a lot of dirty jokes.”

Despite the tragic elements of the students’ plays, they drew a lot of laughs from their audience full of fellow students and parents. In “Much Ado about Ariela,” Jordan Brickert drew chuckles from the crowd when he took the stage in a blond wig for his role as Ursula. In Shakespeare’s time, male actors regularly played the female parts.

Roth said she assigned this project because “this way, kids hold on to it more. They must experience it, and they must put their knowledge into practice.”

Not only do the students learn about Shakespeare’s plays, they also learn about collaboration. Roth’s 28 students were grouped into four acting troupes, each with seven members.

She said, “It really forces students to work together, regardless of differences they may have in opinion.” Among their acting troupe members, the students had to be creative while sticking to a timeline and managing their own projects.

Roth expects the work they’ve done in class to aid students in the future. “It prepares them for today’s workplace. A lot of people are given projects, and they have to work together to create a product.”

For the group of actors who performed a tragic version of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” cooperating as a team was the best part. “Working with a group was really fun,” said Sarah Small, who played Snow White. “I liked our group.”

Griffith said collaborating with others taught her the importance of communicating. She said, “If it’s not done, it’s going to fall apart.”

The atmosphere of collaboration wasn’t limited to the students of the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship, however. Roth worked with history teacher Pam Gunkel to immerse the students in Elizabethan England. In addition, Jeffery Allen, the executive director of the Ivy Tech Center for Lifelong Learning, helped get the students comfortable with acting.

“What a great fusion of history, literature and theater,” Allen said. He has been working with Roth’s students for the past three years, and felt this year’s class had pulled off the best plays yet. From his seat at the judge’s table, Allen felt the students “knew they were doing something unique and amazing.”


'Snow White' play at Academy

Tristan Carney, left, playing Sleazy, chases Sarah Small, playing Snow White, Monday in the play titled “Snow White,” which was written by students at The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship in the style of the famous English playwright William Shakespeare. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times


'Much Ado About Ariela'

Cece Pedro, left, plays the Prince and Olivia Stewart plays Ariela Monday in a fairy tale play titled “Much Ado About Ariela,” which was written in the style of William Shakespeare by local high school students at the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times


Tyson Schultz, right, playing the wolf, kills off Red Riding Hood’s grandmother, played by Jake Deboer, in the fairy tale play titled “Red,” which was written by students at the Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship in Bloomington.

Rabbit character

Jeremy Hogan

Rabbit character

Markus Peterson plays the rabbit in the fairy tale play titled “Red,” which was written by students at The Academy of Science and Entrepreneurship in Bloomington. Jeremy Hogan | Herald-Times

Motorist saves man stumbling through cold on Ind. 45/46 Bypass

This article printed in the Herald-Times last Friday. Samantha is an Ivy Tech-Bloomington student.

The Herald-Times
Posted: Friday, December 13, 2013 12:49 am | Updated: 1:08 am, Fri Dec 13, 2013.
By Abby Tonsing 331-4245 | | 21 comments

Driving home from work about 1 a.m. Thursday, Samantha Valkyrie turned the heat up in her car.

When her eyes returned to the road, she saw an elderly man fall down in the median of Ind. 45/46 just north of 10th and the Bypass.

He wore a button up shirt, slacks and dress socks. He wasn’t wearing a coat or shoes.

When she stopped to help, the man couldn’t tell Valkyrie his name, age, address or phone number. He had no idea where he was.

He kept trying to stand, only to fall into the snow-covered median again.  He started falling in the road.

The 78-year-old man was taken by ambulance to IU Health Bloomington Hospital, where he was treated for exposure to frigid temperatures and cuts to his forehead. He was listed in fair condition Thursday afternoon.

As Valkyrie, a nursing student at Ivy Tech and house manager for Stone Belt, assessed the situation and called 911, a security officer also stopped to help.

The security officer put his coat on the man and Valkyrie got an extra coat out of her car to cover the man’s legs as they waited for police and an ambulance.

The 78-year-old man told Bloomington police he might have been driving earlier and thought he may have been the only one in the car. He had told Valkyrie his car had blown up and he couldn’t remember where it was.

Officers found the man’s driver’s license and went to his apartment in the 300 block of North Pete Ellis Drive. At the apartment complex, they found his unoccupied 2004 Ford Taurus. The car had gone over an embankment, was stuck in the snow and had been left running.

The man also told police he had no idea how long he had been outside, Sgt. Cody Forston said.

Valkyrie, who is expecting her second child in May, didn’t think twice about stopping to help the man in Thursday morning’s extreme cold. She doesn’t think of herself as a hero.

“I just think it’s important to assist people who look like they’re troubled or in trouble,” she said.

Ivy Tech to reorganize, adjust for lack of advisers

The Herald-Times
Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 11:46 am
By Jon Blau 331-4266 |

Faced with a lack of advisers to help students graduate on time or transfer to a four-year university with necessary credits, Ivy Tech has developed a new academic structure to guide students down career paths — aided by an automated online system.

The new structure, scheduled to begin next fall, splits the college’s academic programs into four categories, with a “university” or transfer-bound division broken off from three other study areas nearly as broad: health , business and public service, and technology and applied sciences. Students will not enroll as “undecided” but will instead have to choose a “meta-major” to begin completing prerequisites for two- or four-year degrees, including broad areas such as liberal arts, health sciences or science, technology, engineering and math, called “STEM,” for short.

While the state has recently passed legislation for state universities to create “degree maps” for students and to collaborate on general education classes for transfer, President Tom Synder said Ivy Tech’s plan has been three years in-process. The community college’s student body has grown, but the number of advisers has lagged behind. Ivy Tech, he said, has one adviser per 1,200 students enrolled, and, while students will still have an initial sitdown with an adviser when they choose their path, Ivy Tech hopes to have an automated system by the fall 2014 semester that will alert students to what classes they will need each semester and allow them to “self advise.”

Already under pressure from the state to graduate students “efficiently,” Snyder said this system should alleviate concerns that students aren’t taking the necessary courses to attain certifications and degrees or transfer credits in a timely fashion. In the transfer division, students looking to get into a four-year college can work through their sophomore year of accounting, criminal justice or pre-engineering, for instance, or they can sign-up under the liberal arts major and complete the “general education transfer core,” a set of 30 credits certified to transfer to schools across the state. “Undecideds” will have to start down one path or another, too. This fall, about 200 students on the Bloomington campus were undecided, according to Ivy Tech spokesman Jeff Fanter.

The new academic model at Ivy Tech will eliminate prerequisites of college algebra for many majors, Snyder said, because math has proven to be a giant hurdle for students but isn’t necessarily of practical use in their chosen field. In many programs in the technology and applied sciences division, for example, the college algebra math requirement has been dropped, and Snyder said they will instead take something more applicable to their field, such as qualitative reasoning or statistics.

Along with this new academic model, the community college has been in the midst of restructuring, potentially freeing up capital to hire more advisers, Snyder said. Part of the strategy could include early retirement offerings, which Snyder said could be offered to anywhere between 50 and 200 employees across the state. In Bloomington, 28 employees received email to gauge their interest in an early retirement plan.

Snyder estimated Tuesday that Ivy Tech needs another 200 to 300 employees to sufficiently lower the adviser-to-student ratio, but, “in lieu of” more advisers, Snyder said he wants to go the automated route. Fanter said the community college is developing the system to have it ready for launch with the new academic model in the fall of 2014.

The college has also folded the bursar’s and registrar’s offices into a “one stop” location for class sign-up. The community college will streamline the sign-up process for students — rather than making students visit five desks to complete the process, Snyder said — but it could also allow for the reassigning of personnel from those offices to advising roles.

More importantly, Snyder said the new system will “ease the burden” on adult students, in particular, who are too often taking classes that point more toward a transfer track rather than a two-year degree, because transferable classes are more popular. Time-constraints outside of the classroom, however, make it even harder for those people to reach their goals if they are taking unnecessary classes.

“They aren’t likely to finish with children , two jobs and the hurdles that come with that,” Snyder said.

Too early to know impact of 2% cuts to IU, Ivy Tech budgets, officials say

The Herald-Times
Posted: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 12:00 am
By Jon Blau 331-4266 | |

It is too early to tell what effect Gov. Mike Pence’s call for 2 percent cuts on budgets will have at Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington.

There is no doubt, however, that it was surprising to officials at each higher ed institution when news of reduced funding from the state came Monday.

IU spokesman Mark Land repeatedly called the news “a challenge” Tuesday, especially after calls by Pence for $1 billion in tax cuts and new spending on roads. The university based its lowest tuition increase in more than three decades on the $470 million operating budget granted by the state, Land said, but Pence’s order, which comes after a tax shortfall from the state of $141 million, will reduce the university’s budget by about $10 million over the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Pence’s plan also asks state agencies to reduce spending by 1.5 percent, while the governor’s office will relinquish an airplane believed to be valued at around $2.5 million in an effort to mitigate the state’s losses by $57 million.

“It’s just a challenge,” Land said. “Nobody saw this coming. … We aren’t going to complain about it, because we aren’t the only ones in this spot. It just presents a challenge.”

Only 24 hours into the process of figuring out where to find $10 million to cut from the budget, Land said it was too early to say what expenses may have to be rolled back. The loss of millions of dollars is not insignificant, but the IU spokesman speculated that it wouldn’t force the university to “slash and burn” programs. Rather, Chief Financial Officer MaryFrances McCourt and her staff will be “turning over rocks” to find savings as funding levels reduce over the coming months, he said.

Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder said the community college is “assessing the situation,” but he did not have any specific idea of what the cuts would mean as of Tuesday, either. Snyder said he recognizes that Ivy Tech exists in a “fiscally conservative state,” but he also said he thinks it is an approach that has benefited the state and, at times, the college.

The cuts will cost Ivy Tech about $4 million, according to Ivy Tech spokesman Jeff Fanter.

“We aggressively manage our financials at the school,” Snyder said. “We are Triple-A rated.”

Ivy Tech Chancellor John Whikehart named Bloomington’s deputy mayor

The Herald-Times
Posted: Tuesday, December 3, 2013 12:15 am
By Lindsey Erdody 331-4368 |

        John Whikehart
Ivy Tech Chancellor John Whikehart named Bloomington’s deputy mayor. He sits in his Ivy Tech office in this file photo from last month.  |  Jeremy Hogan

Ivy Tech Community College Chancellor John Whikehart won’t even have one day off after he retires in January.

Whikehart is retiring from the college Jan. 15 after 12 years as chancellor and will be the city’s deputy mayor effective Jan. 16.

Mayor Mark Kruzan said having Whikehart as deputy mayor was something the two discussed for a few months, and it slowly became more of a possibility.

“I thought about what the primary need for the leadership team with the city is, and he is a perfect fit,” Kruzan said.

Whikehart said the conversations about him taking the position evolved over several months.

“I don’t know if I could pinpoint an exact moment for you of when we said, ‘Let’s do this,’” Whikehart said. “When he offered me the opportunity, I was excited to accept.”

Kruzan said they’ve known each other for years, and have worked together on several projects between the city and Ivy Tech, specifically keeping the John Waldron Arts Center open downtown.

“This announcement reflects the best of both worlds coming together,” Kruzan said. “The City of Bloomington has benefited from his leadership for years.”

Whikehart replaces former deputy mayor Maria Heslin, who left the city at the end of August.

Kruzan didn’t fill the position until 2014 to save money in a tight city operating budget, and said he’s eager to have a full staff again in his office.

There used to be five people in the mayor’s office, but that was cut to four and without a deputy mayor, there were three.

“It has been more difficult than I imagined,” Kruzan said. “I wanted to bring him on board as soon as I could get him.”

Whikehart’s salary will be $89,554.

Whikehart jokingly said he considered his wife’s priority list and Kruzan’s list and decided Kruzan’s was easier.

“The opportunity to continue to serve the Bloomington community is just one I didn’t want to pass up,” Whikehart said.

He said it certainly became more clear that he was interested in the job after officially notifying Ivy Tech President Tom Snyder Nov. 11 about his intention to retire.

Whikehart will remain involved with Ivy Tech, as “chancellor emeritus” and with fundraising efforts.

“I’ll stay involved in a voluntary capacity… I don’t think that’s unusual,” Whikehart said.

In addition to his career with Ivy Tech, Whikehart was director of staff for Indiana Senate Democratic Leader Frank O’Bannon, City of Kokomo Director of Personnel for eight years and director of comprehensive employment training act program in Monroe County.

Whikehart was serving on two city boards — the Utilities Service Board and Board of Public Safety — but he will step down from those roles due to the conflict of interest with his new position.

“That reflects the level of trust I’ve already been putting in him,” Kruzan said. “At the end of the day, he’s just a really good guy.”

John Whikehart

Jeremy Hogan