By The Beacon Staff

Congratulations, SMCC, we are but a few days away from classes ending for the academic year 2016–17, a week or so away from graduation ceremonies, and a bit more from the start of the summer semester.

The Beacon would like to take this column to highlight some of your accomplishments that we regrettably missed, while informing you of what lies ahead in the near future, the not-so-distant future, and what lies just over the horizon.

Monday a week ago, in addressing the audience at the CeSIL Awards ceremony, Rik Sawyer, student activities advisor and SMCC alum, spoke of the impact of participation: “Some of you took on goals that might have seemed small at the time, but probably had a greater impact than you realize, and some of you took on goals that were, well, simply put… great.”

Congratulating the graduating members of our student community, wishing all luck in their future endeavors — whether it may be continuing your education, starting a career, or traveling the world — seems the appropriate place to start. On Sunday, May 21, graduating seniors, family members and friends will join President Cantor, Dean of Students Tiffanie Bentley, Dean of Academic Affairs Charles Gregory, SMCC faculty, residential-life staff and WCSH’s Bill Green for SMCC’s 70th graduation ceremonies in Portland’s Cross Insurance Arena. Ceremonies start at 2 p.m.

Joining the above dignitaries on the stage will be the 2016–2017 Student of the Year winner, Devyn Vermette. Vermette was honored along with recipients from all of the Maine community colleges on April 26 by the Maine Community College System (MCCS) in Augusta. The award, which is named after John H. Lapoint, Jr., includes a $1,000 honorarium.

Vermette is from Topsham and graduated Mt. Ararat High School in 2016. She majored in Liberal Studies at SMCC and is transferring to the University of Southern Maine, where she will study behavioral science with a focus on counseling. Vermette has been active in the Captain’s Cupboard as a volunteer and works for the SMCC Security Department; she organized the recent food drive to help stock the Captain’s Cupboard.

Speaking of the Captain’s Cupboard, and summer, the Cupboard is expanding its hours this summer. The Cupboard is a wonderful resource — maybe even one that is underutilized —  and with the intention of broadening their presence the Captain has the intention of being open Monday through Thursday throughout the summer.

Volunteers are needed to help make this intention factual. If you are on or near campus this summer and interested, please email The Captain’s Cupboard is looking to bolster its volunteer ranks with individuals who are interested in helping others as agents of positive growth.

The Captain’s Cupboard opened in late 2013 as part of a Phi Theta Kappa community project, with the intention of providing food and other items to students and their families.

Besides providing packaged food and hygiene products, the Captain’s Cupboard has expanded its offering of prepared meals. The Cupboard has partnered with the Culinary Arts program, packing frozen microwaveable meals. The meals range from chicken to seafood or beef, and contain a starch and a vegetable. Soups, pastries and other foods items are available.

While student involvement seems strong on campus, but could always get stronger, SMCC students will also be going international next year. Congratulations to Michael Marino of Freeport and Max Lorber of Portland. Marino and Lorber have received George J. Mitchell Peace Scholarships to study in Ireland next year.

Marino and Lorber’s selection as Mitchell Peace Scholarship recipients raises the total to five SMCC students named since 2010.

Cork Institute of Technology is the destination of these SMCC students studying abroad, located on the south coast of Ireland. Their studies in Ireland are scheduled for the upcoming 2017–2018 academic year.

Marino, who is working towards a degree in Construction Technology, plans to continue his education in Construction Management upon graduation, with the end goal of starting his own construction company.

Lorber, who is enrolled in the Communications and New Media Studies, hopes to continue studying design graduating from SMCC and has a career goal of working in design and/or the advertising fields.

The Maine Community College System and the University of Maine System created the scholarship as a tribute to former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell for his efforts to facilitate peace in Ireland and Northern Ireland. MCCS awards two Mitchell scholarships each year to Maine community college students.

The scholarship covers tuition and fees, books, and room and board, while also providing a living-expense stipend and a travel grant.

The Beacon would also like to extend a belated congratulations to Matt Hayes, who won the Maine Association of Plumbing, Heating and Cooling Contractors’s apprentice contest on March 24. The contest was held in the Augusta Civic center and during the association’s annual trade show.

The competition consists of students installing pipes and fixtures in a bathroom to code. As for placing first, Hayes received a plaque, $500, and assorted cordless power tools. Hayes was awarded the prizes by SMCC Plumbing Department Chair Aaron Ford.

In the world of scholarship opportunities, on Feb. 10, the SMCC Foundation held a reception recognizing students who received scholarship this past academic year. This year the SMCC Foundation awarded more than 200 students, with scholarships exceeding $225,000. The Foundation is active year round, raising funds that support deserving students through scholarships. The Foundation also helps to enhance academic programs, and to revitalize classrooms and equipment.

Our last set of congratulations goes out to the five students who exhibited their work at Zero Station last week on May 4 and 5. Lindsey Checker, Heather Cron, Marti DeCosta, Cheyenne Roberts and Desiree Willette exhibited work that ranged from Xerox lithoprints, colleges and assemblages to abstract, surreal and figurative painting, digital illustration, landscape photography and printmaking.

This was the 11th group of students to graduate from SMCC with an Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Studies with an art concentration.

As SMCC closes out academic year 2016–17, let’s look ahead to the fall. When we return in late August, The Beacon will be hosting a student club and organization get-together. The purpose of the event is to connect the clubs and organizations directly with The Beacon so that we as a newspaper can help you promote and build your clubs, while getting the word out about your accomplishments. The get-together is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 5, and will take place in Jewett Auditorium on the South Portland Campus.

Have a wonderful summer in your adventures, travel well, stay safe, and we’ll see you in a few short months.

Lights, Camera, Mayhem!

By Jack Gentempo

Before there were movies, humans drew pictures on cave walls to tell stories. Then humans invented community college, and everything changed. On Wednesday, May 10, five students from the SMCC Communications and New Media program will be premiering their short films at Nickelodeon Cinemas at 1 Temple Street in Portland. I reached out to a few of these young Spielbergs and Shyamalans to hear what they have to say about their films and the stories that inspired them.

‘It’s a Match!’
Director: Nicole Kumi

In the director’s words:

“It’s a Match is a documentary, featuring Evelyn Waugh, that follows her navigating the online dating world using Tinder a dating service app. The film shows a glimpse into her day to day life and follows her on two Tinder dates. When making the film I wanted to capture the awkwardness of dating in your 20s and how first dates can be so cringe-worthy. The film certainly captures that and much more. People will have to come to the showing at Maine Mayhem to see if her dates were a Match!”

Q: Why did you choose a documentary format?

A: “I chose a documentary format because I love sharing real stories. I’m fascinated with real people and real stories. Although, I like fictional narrative storytelling I do feel like a director can comment and shed a light on stories that need to be told in our community. I’m also interested in going into a career in reality television because I feel like it falls into that same category. This documentary was such a learning experience for myself since I worked so hard on it.”


‘The Windigo’

The Windigo BTS 04

Director: Ness Hutchins

In the director’s words:

“The Windigo is about a young Native American woman, Kaye, who is tormented by a monster in her dreams after her beloved grandmother passes away. Meanwhile, people in their small town start turning up dead, and Kaye believes it’s her grandmother back for revenge.”

Q: Do you have a personal connection to Native American culture?

A: “I don’t have Native American heritage, although, like Kaye the protagonist, I lost a grandmother I was very close to. She was a great storyteller. Writing Kaye as Native and including the oral storytelling tradition felt like a way to bring her character to life by tapping into some of my own (white) experiences. Being a white person writing about a culture different than my own, I wanted to show Kaye through a filter of life challenges everyone faces and can relate to. But, I also tried to subtly show how her experiences might be different, like being alienated from your white small town and not having a good support system from your community.”

There will be a 7 p.m. screening at the Nickelodeon, followed by a Q&A session with the filmmakers. If you don’t have a car or you miss the bus into Portland, there will also be an encore screening at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are available right now on the Nickelodeon website. If you are an expert procrastinator and find yourself without tickets on May 10, there will also be a screening on May 12 at Central Gallery, 89 Central Street, Bangor. Additional information can be found at the Maine Mayhem Film Festival’s FaceBook page.

‘Wizard Wars’

Wizard Wars (Maine Mayhem)

Director: Nicholas Cavanaugh

In the director’s words:

“Wizard Wars is about two wizards who battle to the death for different reasons. Nicholiavage who is a wanted wizard and has supposedly been dead for years is the only one who can fight against Kelcey, the power hungry witch. Kelcey is also Nicholiavage’s first and only love. Now he must decide does he destroy her or does he save her from the dark path she is on. Throughout the film, Nicholiavage will struggle to try and turn Kelcey back to being good, but he also must stay ahead of the law.”

Q: Are any of the characters in “Wizard Wars” based off of real people?

A: “Nicholiavage is based off me because it was the nickname given to me by my co-writer (David Beane). He used to call me Nicholiavage when there was another Nick in the room. One time after using After Effects, and learning After Effects, he said, “Nicholas, we should do a video off this.” I’m like, “Okay. What would my character be?” He’s like “Nicholiavage.” I’m like “Okay.” So that’s how Nicholiavage came to exist.”

‘The Mustang, The Hand, and the Big Man’

Mustang (Maine Mayhem)

Director: Andrew Anzora

In the director’s words:

“The Mustang is searching for memories stolen from her- stolen and distributed among high-ranking​ employees of the shadowy organization known as The Company. As she tracks down these members, she must evade the gun for hire after her on behalf of those she’s hunting- The Hand, and face off with the one in charge of it all — The Big Man.”

Q: What was the hardest part of making “The Mustang, The Hand, and the Big Man”?

A: “The hardest part was something no one ever told me about. I knew all about the pitfalls of production… My hardest problem was my expectations of myself and of the movie. I’m constantly trying to outdo not only my contemporaries but really myself. I want the growth to show, you know? So, finding out where my limitations were and kind of being humbled by them has been a process, but now I know where my bar is and where I need to surpass myself next time!”

‘Leap of Faith’

Leap of Faith (Maine Mayhem)

Director: Chris Motley

In the director’s words:

“Leap of Faith is a religious comedy about a young man named Lu, who believes he is being punished by God. He longs for a girl named Eve but never makes his presence known to her because he has isolated himself due to his condition. Then Lu befriends his new neighbor, a pastor with a serious alcohol problem, and they try to put their heads together and finally answer the big question: Why is Lu being punished? And more importantly, can he put a stop to it? The film aims to make you laugh and think at the same time.”

Q: Is there anything in your life that you drew inspiration from while making “Leap of Faith”?

A: “I had the idea sitting in a church, thinking it was funny how not religious I am. I thought it wouldn’t be surprising if being in the church made me burst into flames. And the idea went from there! I did draw a lot on the need to have a scapegoat. I think we all feel more comfortable when we have someone to blame for our problems other than ourselves. It lets us be flawed without feeling guilty about it.”

Why Do So Many Students Fail the ServSafe Exam?

By Capt. W. Russ Webster, USCG (Ret.)

Similar to other careers, culinary arts has standards that are supported with an exam process that establishes credibility. To culinary arts students, the ServSafe safety exam is a critical component for any serious food professional. Passing the exam is a gateway to higher wages for some and a requirement for SMCC’s two-year Culinary Arts degree. Test takers must pass the 90-question test with a 75-percent grade or higher. So, why are so many students — as many as 30 or 40 percent of them — having to take the exam more than once?

To better understand the issues, I spoke to my fellow Culinary Arts students and tracked my own successes and failures in the approach to the exam. At 62 years young and with previous schooling under my belt, Chef Rascati, the CULA 100 Food Safety course administrator, told me I could have skipped the course and just “taken the exam.” Having taken most of the CULA 100 course at this writing, I can assure readers that “I could not have passed the ServSafe exam without having been in the chef’s course.” But, I’m a baby boomer.

It’s important to note that I studied like other students over 40 — I read everything, attended every class, got a grasp of concepts, did the Pearson online practice quizzes and took ServSafe’s study test. So, why did so many of my classmates, especially millennials, have difficulty passing the class? One 20-year-old student freely admitted to me that he “just didn’t study until the night before the exam.” Several students were flummoxed by the Pearson online learning modules and ServSafe’s practice test.

My own experience with Pearson’s online “dynamic” learning module exposed a flaw in the system where if you got the question wrong, the system just kept asking you the same question until you got it right. A more valid system that tested “concepts” would replace the original question with a different but similar question in the same learning area.

My approach to learning was clearly different from the other students, who were 40 years my junior. The younger students, to a fault, relied heavily on the online practice tutorials to pass the exam. Chef Rascati had told her students, “Study this, it’s on the exam.” And, often, it was. But, answering the exam question about the minimum internal cooking temperature for hot-held macaroni and cheese meant you had to know the concept that mac and cheese fits into the grains (rice, pasta) category.

But, not every failure can be ascribed to generational learning differences and faulty online learning resources. I spoke to another chef, who made me aware that food-safety-exam “pass rates” for focused ServSafe-sponsored courses were much higher than SMCC student pass rates — as high as 80 percent. When I queried why, the answer was complex, and on some level, disturbing. The chef asked me to consider who was paying for the college course and what the motivations might be for the student versus for the outside culinary professional.

When I dug deeper, the chef explained that outside students had already been in the industry for a while, whereas most Culinary Arts students were just getting started in their understanding of food concepts. And, the outside students had added motivations to pass in many cases because a successful exam often meant an immediate bump in pay.

I’m still left with questions about responsibilities in the ServSafe exam dilemma. If the disconnect between online food safety learning resources is known, who has the responsibility to address the issue? SMCC certainly should advocate for more advanced technical resources that help new generations of learners. Pearson, the online vendor, should address the shortfall with more realistic questions provided by ServSafe. And, students should accept responsibility for knowing the concepts and doing whatever is necessary to “get it,” including forming a study group with some over-40 old farts.

SMCC Business Club Heads to the Big Apple

SMCC Business Club 1

By  Nathalie Mitchell

On Thursday, April 20, the SMCC Business Club traveled to the business capital of the world, New York City, for three days of education, sightseeing and bonding. The next morning, the club had a guided tour of the United Nations, where they observed sessions of the U.N. General Assembly and the Security Council. After a morning of watching international relations in action, the Business Club traveled to Wall Street.

On Wall Street, students visited iconic sights such as the New York Stock Exchange building, Federal Hall, the Trump building and the famous statue of the “Charging Bull,” along with the newly installed “Fearless Girl” statue.

Other NYC sights visited included the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial, Chinatown, the Empire State Building, and, of course, the craziness that is Times Square. Some significant walking was done throughout the club’s trip.

Funding for the trip was provided by SMCC’s Student Senate, fundraising by the Business Club and contributions by the travelers.

Participants included students Haleigh Barrett, Savannah Barnes, Erik Beaudet, Matthew Brown, Gianna Dudley, Mosa Khalifa, Bronson Kieltyka, Nathalie Mitchell, Michael Moser, Joey Mullins, Steven Ntibandetse, Hali Parsons, Celetta Richard, Ray Richard, Valerie Roy; and Business Club advisor Professor Steve Strand.