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Red High Heels are For More Than Just for Walking

Written By: Stephanie Heisler 17′

The Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter hosted their second annual Walk a Mile event this fall. The event took place on Sunday October 2. This event raised money and awareness towards ending sexual and domestic violence. Community members registered to walk the route, with the option of wearing a pair of red heels. Participants could bring their own set of shoes or borrow a clean pair at the event. Attending this event was eye opening; people of all sizes, shapes, and sexes came out and walked. Sponsors and community partners brought munchkins, bagels, orange juice and apple cider to kick off the cold morning and ending the course with warm chili. Everyone who attended seemed to have a great time.thumbnail_img_0113

There were three of us members of the Community Service house who showed up to assist with registration, cheering, clean up and set up of the event. We were able to interact with a large amount of diverse groups who came out to support the event for a variety of reasons. The event ended up having about 300 participants and raised over $30,000. This event is the biggest fundraiser that the Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter hosts during the year. Overall, the day was a huge success in my opinion. I was able to walk in the race and represent the Castleton University Cheer Team who were decked out in full uniforms of green, white and silver. Being able to represent my university through my involvement in different groups was a wonderful feeling.

It was important to those of us who volunteered for the event to show that on our own university campus we do not stand for these actions against anyone. Anyone can be affected by sexual or domestic violence, there are no barriers of age, gender, economic background, race, religion, major or any other differences between people here on campus. At Castleton University, we are fortunate to have a multitude of resources available to those who have been affected by sexual and or domestic violence. Being at the event and seeing the massive amount of support from the community around this issue was very inspiring.

It was great to be involved with this event and the wonderful people and groups who showed their support. Our community adviser in North House, Emma Blaiklock, is on the Board for the Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter and was the one who encouraged us to get involved. If anyone else is looking to get involved with this wonderful organization and help to support those who have been affected and to make a stand against sexual and domestic violence in our community, get in touch with Emma.

My hope is that in future years they host the event at a time when Castleton University is not on break, so we can see more of our campus community connecting with our local communities on this important issue. I am incredibly glad I was able to be involved with this amazing event and can’t wait to see how the event continues to grow over the years!

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Small Competitions Bring in Over 5,500 Items to be Donated to Local Charities

Written By: Emma Blaiklock 17′

15320400_10209557764673512_577036300_nThe Friday after Thanksgiving, lines form miles down the streets for people waiting to trample each other to get great deals on stuff. Three days later, everyone is anxiously searching the web for the best bargains without having to leave the comfort of home or their office. Following our national day of giving thanks for what we have are two days centered solely on getting more things. “Giving Tuesday”, the day following Cyber Monday, began five years ago as a way to bring the focus back to being charitable and kicking off the giving season around the world.
 
Castleton University partook in Giving Tuesday for the second year in a row. Last year about 3,000 items were collected between the community, athletics and student government clubs. It was overall an incredibly successful day and we aimed to beat last year’s record for this year. My focus with helping to plan the events of the day that were centered around incorporating athletics, the student government clubs and the residence halls and increasing all of their involvement to help bring the whole campus together for the day.

e-blaiklock-givingAthletic teams competed against one another in a canned food drive, bringing in a total of 4,373 non-perishable food items! Men’s Ice Hockey ended up winning in the athletics competition with an average of 48 cans per team member. Eric Horsfield was able to organize and motivate not only the athletes but the entire athletics department through his dedication to the project, which alone helped us to surpass our goal of the previous year’s collection total.

On the clubs side of things, there were donations of clothing items, toiletries and non-perishable food items totaling around 1,100 items. HEAL Kenya, Rotaract, and the Student Nurses Association (SNA) were the top three donating clubs (listed in order of first to third). This year’s clubs will be donating their winnings (a total of $900 between the three groups) to local chapters of organizations that focus on working to better individuals lives in different ways.
Other clubs who participated in the day included (in no order): the History Club, Spectrum Pride, Sustainability Club, The Spartan, Business Club, Sports Admin Club, Men’s Rugby, Habitat for Humanity, PlanesWalkers Club, Democratic Leadership, Republican Club, and the Equestrian Club Team. Volunteers from Community Service House, and the Student Government Association contributed a combined total of about 90 hours on the day volunteering their time collecting items, counting and sorting them into distribution piles.
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The day was incredibly successful thanks to the support of all the participating teams, clubs, faculty, staff, administration, community members and volunteers. This year we collected a grand total of 5,528 items to be donated to local organizations for distribution into the community. The benefiting local charities include: Castleton Cares, the Rutland County Women’s Network and Shelter, Fair Haven Concerned and the Rutland Community Cupboard.
On the academic side of campus the Gift of Life Marathon blood drive took place at President Wolk’s House, and the Giving Office collected monetary donations all day from sponsors around the country. It was really wonderful for me to see everyone on the campus able to get involved and be integrated into this important day through a variety of opportunities. I am looking forward to being an alumni and seeing the potential this day has to grow exponentially here on our campus as we all do our part for #GivingTuesday.
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Environmental Hackathon

Written By: Devin Perry ’20

On September 30th, the Campuses for Environmental Stewardship held an ‘Environmental Hackathon’ at the University of New England. The purpose of this event was to bring to light the issues the environment faces today. Both the students and the faculty voiced their views on these issues. Additionally, the students had a chance to discuss environmental issues on their campus and come up with a solution to that issue. Once a solution was developed, the students spoke about their plan in an attempt to attain a $500 mini-grant to kick start their project. This grant was the purpose of the ‘Hackathon’ aspect of the event.

I attended the event with three faculty members and a fellow student. Along with being nice individuals, they were all very motivated to learn more about sustainability efforts being made by other campuses and their students. I enjoyed being able to connect with new people about a topic I am very invested in and care a lot about.

My advisor told me about the event and recommended I go to it. I was honored to go, as I am an environmental science major and it would inform me on the issues that I could possibly face down the road. Additionally, I knew I would be able to gain knowledge on how to better face environmental issues, and bring that information back to Castleton.

I learned a lot from going to the ‘Environmental Hackathon’. Before the event, I did not realize the motivation of some people, to make a difference in the environment. The participation of the other students blew me away. Lastly, from trying to think of an environmental issue on Castleton’s campus, I realized Castleton does very well with being environmentally conscious and campuses struggling with environmental issues should look at Castleton as a model. We are not perfect, but we are far ahead many of the other schools represented at the conference.

The event opened my eyes to many things and made me realize making a difference isn’t as difficult as it seems to be. The best way to make a difference is to get the word out. Informing others of your cause will get them on board with you to spread the word as well. I would consider going to other events like it to gain more knowledge on the idea of sustainability and stay up to date on how arising issues are being handled. I would encourage others to go to these events because, as I said, if you want to make a difference, telling others about your plan can set the plan forward with other people supporting you.

The Power of a Candy Wrapper

Written By: Daniel Warnecke 17′

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Parades are always something to look forward to, and the Halloween Parade in Rutland, Vermont certainly excites and lives up to expectations! The floats are elaborately decorated, and there is an enormous amount of candy given out—the perfect parade combination. This amount of excitement brings in huge crowds every year, and every year one BIG aspect of the parade is overlooked: trash build-up. The accumulation of more trash at public events that bring in large crowds is just something that happens—and that’s okay.

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The excitement of a parade makes it that much easier to forget about candy wrappers or plastic bags that plummet to the ground. One has to understand the unfortunate reality that parades bring in a lot of people that have and create a lot of trash, so it’s great to know that Castleton University students stepped up to the plate to do something about the extra trash this year. On the morning following the Rutland Halloween Parade, the streets that once held masses of people the night before were now full of roaming students, equipped with rubber gloves, trash bags, and smiles, of course. The students were simply picking up all of the trash that had been left behind from the night before, and although the trash did not seem to be too prevalent on the streets while driving on them, the 11 large, stuffed bags of trash that were accumulated at the conclusion of the cleanup painted a much different picture.

Simple cleanup events and community service projects may not seem to make too much of a difference up front, but they truly play a huge role in exciting the public, influencing them to make a difference within their communities. Public community service is like a “positive” disease; it serves as a reminder that we all have a duty to do our part—even if “entitlement” leads to thinking differently. I, myself, have been involved with the Castleton University Rotaract Club for four years now, and being a member within the club is emotionally rewarding, constantly reminding me that there is always need within our community and our world, and there always will be. I get to make a difference through community service, free of charge—something that continues to amaze me to this day.

Thank you to the members of the Castleton University Student Government Association, the Rotaract Club, the Castleton Community Service House, and the members of the Rutland Young Professionals group. Your constant service to your local communities does not go unnoticed, and because of your services, others continue to be reminded of their duties in this life. Who would have thought that picking up a few candy wrappers and trampled float decorations would prove to be so important?

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Connecting Castleton to Kenya

Written By: Tegan Waite 18′

t-waite-kenya-2The summer of 2016 was one for the books. I had the opportunity of a lifetime and spent three-and-a-half weeks in Kenya. I spent time at the Rapha Community Center, an orphanage and school, in Nyahururu-which is located in the mid-central highlands of Kenya. My days were spent observing classes, tutoring students, playing with children, learning how to REALLY play “football”, reading to students, learning phrases and words in Kikuyu, learning their cultural songs and dances and embracing every moment. I fell to sleep each night to the sound of whispers, and giggles in the girls dorm, and I woke to the sweet sound of them singing as they prepared for their day.  It changed my life, breathed new energy into my spirit, and gave me purpose. I have never met more positive, happy, spirited people, and the things that these children have lived through, seen, heard, and endured are so much worse than many of us could ever imagine. The way those children changed me, is more than I ever could have ever imagined, and I count the days until I get to see their bright smiley faces, hear their singing, and feel their little hands in mine again.

 

HEAL| Raising Our World, One Child at a Time was founded by a role model and friend Jennifer Musick Wright in 2007, while she was a college student. HEAL stands for Health, Education, Ample Nutrition, and Love. “Rapha” is HEAL in Hebrew. HEAL provides care, basic needs, education, and most importantly love for more than 45 children, and 80 students.

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Here at Castleton I have founded a club that is in partnership with the Rapha Community Center. Last year I hosted a Shoe-give-a-thon to raise money to dig a well for clean water. Many Castleton students got involved and were able to hear Jennifer speak. Fall 2016, after the club was official, we partnered with the HEAL committee in Rutland and hosted the first annual “Kenya Run?” We had 52 runners and raised more than $2,200. Our next project will be the giving-challenge on “Giving Tuesday”. We are committed to raising awareness on campus and in the greater community. We are committed to advocacy and sharing our passion with others. We are able to help give these children the tools they need to be successful. What we do is not a handout, but rather a hand up. Being apart of something that is bigger than yourself changes you in the best way. Being apart of HEAL, being with the children, has changed and impacted me more that those children will ever be changed or impacted by me.

 

You have the opportunity to get involved right here in Castleton! If you are interested and would like more information please feel free to email me at tegan.waite.2014@gmail.com. We would love to have you join the HEAL team. Make a difference, do what you are passionate about and know that every little bit counts.t-waite-kenya

Castleton University Students Provide Vital Role in Success of Statewide Summit

Written By:  Tyler Richardson

Secretary, Rutland Young Professionals and Assistant Director, Rutland Economic Development Corporation

 

On October 15th the Young Professionals Summit of Vermont was held at the Paramount Theater in downtown Rutland.  Over 150 attendees met to engage in a day filled with professionaldevelopment, networking, and facilitated workshops dealing with challenges faced by young Vermonters.  The event was designed and produced by a subcommittee of the Rutland Young Professionals, an all-volunteer 501(c)3 non-profit entity with a mission to engage with our community, create social and professional networking opportunities, and build a Rutland area that attracts and retains young professionals. 14680664_739797602826186_6798183962832041985_n

This was the second year the Summit was hosted by the Rutland Young Professionals, and it was the second year Castleton University student volunteers played an integral role in the success of the day.  While last year’s event – the first of its kind in Vermont – was a great success, we learned a few valuable lessons.  One of those lessons:  we needed more “hands on deck” throughout the day.  We reached out to Castleton University student volunteers for their help in providing even more assistance this year, and they didn’t hesitate or disappoint.  Seven volunteers showed up on site at 7:30 a.m. and stayed until the conclusion of the event at 4:30 p.m.  They helped with the physical set up in the morning, and the tear down at night.  They worked the registration desk, which became tremendously hectic at key moments of the day.  They guided attendees throughout downtown Rutland to make sure they arrived on time to various break-out sessions.  They greeted guests and made them feel welcome.  They represented Castleton University well, they represented the Rutland Young Professionals well, and they represented the Rutland region well.  The day was a big success, owed in no small part to these Castleton University student volunteers.

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It was important to us to have students engaged in the programming of the day, as well.  From some of the feedback last year, we got the sense that students felt this event was not for them.  We tried hard this year to dispel that myth, as student engagement is vital not just for the success of the Summit but for the future of Vermont.  We implemented a scholarship program to cover the registration fee and reached out to the Vermont State Colleges system to promote the Summit and stoke student engagement.  Not surprisingly, and to our delight, we had several Castleton University students take advantage of the scholarships.  They showed up and got involved in the day.  To see students taking an active role in their community – alongside other students, alongside individuals in more established stages of their careers, or with Congressman Peter Welch, or with Lt. Governor Phil Scott – it’s easy to be optimistic for Vermont’s future.  The future of Vermont relies, in part, on showing our student citizens that Vermont is a viable place to build their careers and their lives.  We need to do what we can to support their success, and our own success relies heavily on their ideas and perspectives.

Student engagement is crucial for an event like the Young Professionals Summit of Vermont.  Our sincerest gratitude goes out to the students of Castleton University for their support.

All Hands on Deck for Homecoming Weekend

Posted by: BreAnna Morse ’17

Homecoming weekend this year was successful thanks to the help of many active groups on campus: residence life, student government association and the alumni association to name a few. The weekend was filled with bouncy houses, cow plop bingo, maple cotton candy, and personalized trinkets such as coffee mugs, picture art, green screen photos, and caricatures.  It was a family, fun-filled weekend that made it an amazing event to be a part of. Due to my position in residence life and the student government association, I spent the day running around between activities which gave me a chance to engage with lots of different individuals all here for different reasons.blogpost2

The bouncy houses, run by Residence Life is always a huge hit at community based events.  Screeches and shouts of children racing each other was nothing less than entertaining.  Let’s not forget to mention the race between Director of Residence Life’s son, and Assistant Director of Residence Life, Shaun Williams.  Let’s just say, Shaun was put to shame.  Residence life put in hours of work behind the scenes and the day of to help engage not only the students of Castleton University but the alumni, community members and families who attended the joyous day.

Cow plop bingo is Homecoming tradition that many find entertaining.  This year, the cow, that everyone loved so much, ended up on multiple students Snapchats.  Needless to say, she had a nice little run from Public Safety to the baseball field where she interrupted a game.  Although the incident was known about all over campus, the cow did her deed and one lucky w inner got $100.00. blogpost1

Wanting something new this year, my family was generous enough to bring their Sugar Shack here to campus.  They had maple cotton candy, maple milkshakes, maple iced coffee, and other maple products.  The maple iced coffee was a hit, as most college student’s love iced coffee. It was a wondrous feeling to help bring something new to campus to change up the traditional events of the weekend.

Let’s not forget the ever famous make-your-own event that the Campus Activities Board hosts every year.  This year, we had mugs, caricatures, letter art, and green screen photos.  From the nicknames on mugs, to the crazy hats and poses on the green screens, students and families had a blast. Community Advisor, KC Ambrose states, “It is a great opportunity for students and families to receive mementos from Homecoming weekend that are sentimental and exciting.” This is a fun way to get the surrounding community into our doors and encourage kids to look into college through having good experiences here.

Overall, Homecoming was a huge success this year.  Everyone who contributed did an amazing job planning a wonderful event that left people smiling.  It is events like Homecoming that make Castleton such a warm and inviting environment. The community and university are able to come together for a great weekend and really engage with one another in a fun way.

Kids Night Out

Written By: Kelly Mesler

Kids Night Out is an event organized by the psychology department (specifically the ABA class) for elementary aged kids from surrounding communities. We invite elementary students from local schools to join us for a day of fun. Some of the activities we do throughout the day include swimming, video games, scavenger hunts, gym activities, trivia, movies, and arts and crafts.

The event started as a fundraiser for the psychology department but continued due to popular demand. It was looked at as a night out for the kids and also a night off for the parents. We try to plan the event around the holidays for this reason to give parents the opportunity to get their shopping done while their children are having fun at the college.

Each time we have the event, we notice many familiar faces along with new kids excited to spend a day with college students. Many kids have requested that we have the event more often than just once a semester because they enjoy it so much. This upcoming year, we hope to make that happen. Because the events are relatively easy for us to organize now, we are hoping to have the proceeds from one date go to a charity rather than having both be a fundraiser for our department.

The event welcomes all volunteers, in and outside of the psychology department, to offer as much time as they can to spend with the kids. We often get athletes and civic engagement students eager to be involved in the event. Kids Night Out is a great way for college students to engage in our community and really make a difference in young students’ lives.

Changing Attitudes Towards School Through Tutoring

Post by: Kelly Mesler ’17, McKenzie Bover ’16, & Molly Perkins ’17

Over the past two semesters Kelly Mesler, McKenzie Bover, & Molly Perkins have been working on creating and implementing the Castleton Tutoring Project. The idea originated from our work in the Language Development course, a Civic Engagement (CE) course here at the university. Throughout the course, we noticed a need in our community for children affiliated with the university. We decided to take advantage of this opportunity and implement a program to address the academic needs of children in our very own community.

McKenzie, Kelly, and Molly (the creators of the tutoring program).

McKenzie, Kelly, and Molly (the creators of the tutoring program).

We began by researching the needs and benefits of tutoring. We found research that supports the need for tutoring along with many short and long term benefits students and tutors may receive from this program. There are many social benefits along with academic benefits of tutoring, like increased meaningful engagements in classroom learning. Children who utilize tutors have greater progress in school, participate more during class, and complete homework assignments more regularly and frequently than their non-tutored peers. It is obvious that there are many benefits for students who receive tutoring, but we also found a substantial amount of research supporting benefits the tutor receives as well. Tutors profit from the tutoring experience in several ways. Tutors improve leadership skills throughout their tutoring sessions and sessions also solidify their knowledge of a specific topic. Participation in tutoring practices provides them with experience working with children and a deepened understanding of how to help children achieve academic goals. Tutoring programs may enhance the relationship between schools and the community, something we hope to be achieving with our program.

The start up of our program consisted of distributing online and paper preliminary surveys. The results from these surveys indicated that members of the Castleton community are in fact in need of our services! We found parents not only wanted their children tutored, but they also know of others who would benefit from this program. Respondents reported a variety of subjects including math, English, art, secondary language, grammar skills, and even social skills building. Our program is currently targeted at core classes (e.g. Math and English) but we are hopeful we can expand to more subject areas in the future. Meetings, for now, take place in the extra office or conference room of the psychology department, with resources to facilitate tutoring sessions and allow us coordinators to check in regularly.

McKenzie and Kelly doing some tutoring business.

McKenzie and Kelly doing some tutoring business.

When choosing tutors, we felt as if education majors were best equipped for tutoring practices and would also benefit from it the most by gaining experience in their field of interest. So far, we have about 10-15 tutors (mostly primary and secondary education majors) who specify in a variety of subject areas and availability. Our tutors are recruited by coordinator (currently Kelly, Molly, and McKenzie) presentation briefly at the beginning of education classes and school-wide emails. We tell students about the program and encourage them to become involved to gain experience and solidify knowledge on particular subjects without having to travel off campus.

Our role as coordinators is to be in contact with the child’s parents, discussing the area of struggle, goals, timing and availability, and be there to discuss any concerns they may have. We also are in charge of matching tutors based on availability and area of academic need. We suggest that students bring homework to work on, but there may be times where that is not possible. In that case, tutors can reach out to professors for materials (promoting agency in the education department) or we will happily do so. We are also responsible for keeping track of tutors and students’ names, availability, and making arrangements accordingly. We are in communication with all parties making sure the sessions are running smoothly and reassuring that we are there for any questions or concerns.

One of the tutoring sessions taking place.

One of the tutoring sessions taking place.

We have created a list of expectations and an agreement to participate to allow for assurance, liability and to keep coordinators active in the experience. In order to maintain a sustainable program and measure the effectiveness of the tutoring services, we utilize pre and post test measures. After collecting consent, students and parents will fill out surveys at the beginning of the first session and end of the last session to measure confidence and degree of enjoyment in the particular subject they are being tutored in. We expect to see an increase in both confidence and enjoyment for students on the particular subject in both students and parents!

Clearly, there is a need for tutoring in the Castleton community. Research supports that tutoring programs in general result in many benefits for both the students and tutors. We hope to bring these benefits to our community with our supervision and organization. Our program can help students get the academic support they need, help parents find reliable tutors, and provide education majors with an outlet to gain experience and academic benefits without having to travel to do so. We hope our project will expand in the future and with the success so far, the future of the Castleton tutoring program is looking bright!

Going Green for Earth Week

Post by: Catie Wielgasz ’16

Earth Week is celebrated by those throughout the Castleton Community in numerous ways. It is a time for the Green Campus Workgroup to put their best foot forward and teach the University and community ways to reduce their carbon footprint. Many plans have been made for this week leading up to Earth Day, which is today – Friday, April 22. For most of these events, gifts or prizes are being given out to those who win or attend!

The most well-known activity for Castleton students is the Electricity Reduction Competition. For an entire week, students attempt to reduce the electricity in their building by the highest percentage compared to any other residence hall on campus. Last year, the students took it to a whole new level; halls reduced their electricity by over 20% in order to win individual pints of ice cream. It was amazing to see the overall result of all residence buildings decreasing their electricity usage. This week, the competition is in full swing, as I have overheard students talking about it and their excitement. I have also experienced the competition by walking into my residence hall with no lights on and sightlessly finding my room. This year seems to be more successful than last year, on enthusiasm alone.

Earth DayTwo other major activities that are occurring on Earth Day are the Back to the Earth 5k trail run (at 5:30 pm) and the Earth Day Celebration and Recycled Art show (from 4 – 6 pm). I have already heard many students talking about the 5k and wanting to run it to show their support for this day. Proceeds will be supporting Pure Water for the World and the Sports Management Club. The Recycled Art Show and Celebration idea came from one of my Eco-Reps, Jessica Ralston; this idea is her project to spread awareness about sustainability for this semester. In the Art show, different groups of students could submit artwork made from recyclables, and various categories will allow the winners to be decided. Not only are Castleton Students contributing, but high school students will also be presenting their work on sustainability practices. I believe having high school students as a part of Earth Day will impact both current college students, and the presenters’ passions for sustainability.

With the help of the Green Campus Workgroup, Sustainability Club, and the Eco-Reps, I believe that 2016’s Earth Week will be extremely successful, and perhaps even more successful than last year. These new activities will bring students, faculty, staff, and the community together, and will also bring awareness and insight into sustainable practices. Please attend and participate in these events if able!

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