Category: Cover Stories

The latest News from students at Southern Maine Community College

Automotive Fire Destroys Vehicle, Damages Building

By Troy Hudson

IMG_20180328_132930A fire in the Johnson Automotive Technology Center that occurred in the early morning hours of March 27 has destroyed one vehicle and caused extensive damage to nearby equipment, as well as the upper level of the building itself. No one was injured as a result.

The blaze was caused by a battery charger left running overnight, which overheated and set fire to a Nissan Altima. The car was totally destroyed in the fire. Before the flames could be extinguished, they melted nearby equipment including a mobile computer station, and caused extensive smoke damage.

IMG_20180328_132918IMG_20180328_132638The fire appears to have started overnight while the building was unoccupied, though it is not clear who was responsible for leaving the charger running.
When we visited the scene of the fire on March 28, the acrid smell of melted rubber and plastic hung heavy in the air. Cleanup efforts are underway, but it may be several more weeks before the space is cleared for use. Additional repairs may be necessary this summer. In the meantime, classes are proceeding in the lower level of the building, and automotive instructors are continuing to review safety protocols with students. The total cost of cleanup and repair is not yet known, but Dean of Students Tiffanie Bentley says it is estimated to be around $400,000. The fire is still under investigation.

Pictured: The charred remains of the Nissan Altima sit in the Automotive Technology Center awaiting a post mortem analysis to find the cause of the destruction. Photos by Troy Hudson.



A Mile in Our Shoes, Part 1

By Dana Abdulhay

These interviews are the collaborative work of Dana Abdulhay (vice president of Phi Theta Kappa) and Daniel Gatchell (president of Phi Theta Kappa).
First, let me introduce Phi Theta Kappa to you. It’s an international honor-society club for two-year colleges. We are working on a PTK project called “Mile in Our Shoes,” which also satisfies a requirement for our “Philosophy in Action” class. The project is about giving the under- or misrepresented a chance for their voice to be heard, or anyone else that has something to say and share.
We had about five to eight questions, which we asked face-to-face or sent to the interviewees so they could send back their responses. Also, we took photos of the interviewees’ shoes to symbolically reference the name of the project.
‘Pho Pho’
I am Pansexual.

PTK- A Mile in Our Shoes interviews #1-2
Photo By Dana Abdulhay

Q. What are the most significant factors that contributed to where you are today as a person?
A. I think the friends/people I’ve grown up with and been around have been the biggest influences on who I am today as a person. Also, being able to connect with others through the internet/media/books have shaped the way I view the world and interact in it.
Q. What kind of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than yours?
A. I learned to listen to people with different experiences than me, and found that my love for reading from a young age allowed me to be more open to differences and actually have a desire to understand it, and not just tolerate it!


Q. Have you ever faced difficult challenges, that have prevented you from being who you are?
A. I’ve been lucky and privileged enough to be able to be myself in most aspects of my life. My biggest controversies have been within my family for my struggle with mental health since I was a child.

Q. Have you ever witnessed prejudice? And whom is the prejudice aimed towards? Have you been a victim of prejudice?
A. I’ve faced prejudice more as a woman than I have as a member of the lgbtq community personally. I have witnessed prejudice, both subtle and outright prejudice towards various groups. The most prejudice I’ve seen is sexist, racial, and/or against the lgbtq community.
I am Transgender.
Q. What are the most significant factors that contributed to where you are today as a person?
A. It’s kind of hard to say this early on in my life, but definitely a lot of the people around me, Portland’s accepting environment, and exposure to LGBT friendly people and media.
Q. What kind of experiences have you had in relating with people whose backgrounds are different than yours?
A. I usually have good experiences with people with different backgrounds. I like to ask polite questions, with their permission, to learn more about their background and how it contributed to the person they are today.
Q. Have you ever faced difficult challenges, that have prevented you from being who you are?
A. I’ll always be myself, but sometimes it’s hard to present how I want to. In some environments it just isn’t worth it to engage in the conversation of explaining my identity and my pronouns to someone if they use the wrong ones unknowingly. It can be hard to speak up when you don’t want any unwanted attention being drawn to an identity that isn’t really yours, even if it’s associated with you.

Q. Have you ever witnessed prejudice? And whom is the prejudice aimed towards? Have you been a victim of prejudice?
A. Yes, I have witnessed prejudice, through others’ accounts, but also in person and on

PTK- A Mile in Our Shoes interviews #1-1

my own. The prejudice, when harmful, is usually towards people of minority groups. I have been a victim of prejudice, mainly by way of strangers unknowingly misgendering me, based on what I’m wearing or my general appearance.

Q. Have you ever witnessed prejudice? And whom is the prejudice aimed towards? Have you been a victim of prejudice?
A. Yes, I have witnessed prejudice, through others’ accounts, but also in person and on my own. The prejudice, when harmful, is usually towards people of minority groups. I have been a victim of prejudice, mainly by way of strangers unknowingly misgendering me, based on what I’m wearing or my general appearance.

Additional interviews will be published in the next two issues of The Beacon.



On the Diamonds With the SeaWolves; Squads Open Spring Season in Florida

By the Beacon Sports Staff

While the softball and baseball diamonds were covered in snow and the Southern Maine region was suffering through a few winter “bomb cyclones” over spring break, the SMCC softball and baseball teams where in Florida taking to the diamonds.

SMCC Softball in Florida 10
Emma Burns and
Madison Eastman. Photo Courtesy of Jodi Kenna.

The SeaWolves softball team returned to Florida after a three-year hiatus from traveling during spring break, while the baseball squad made it to Florida after making it to South Carolina two seasons.

The teams would combine winning five games and dropping 12 (the Lady Seawolves would post a 2-6 record, as the men would go 3-6); regardless, both head coaches Magnant and Yanni agreed that the trip was well worth the time and energy making it happen.

Head Softball Coach Magnant reflected upon the trip as, “a great opportunity to expose our players/ladies and compete against some very talented teams. Our trip was a bonding experience and we are ready and confident to take on the rest of our Spring Season.” Baseball Head Coach Yanni stated that the trip was, “a learning experience that I feel will go a long way when we get into our games here in the Northeast and in the YSCC.”

When asked what made this trip special, Meranda Martin shared, “I think what made this trip so special was being able to play softball outside in warm weather instead of being in a gym,” as Sara Ring added, “There were a lot of laughs on and off the field.”

The baseball squad started their spring-break games with a double header against Waubonsee from Illinois, splitting a double header. They would lose the opener 4-2 and win the second game 5-0. The win would come courtesy of the arm of junior pitcher Amos Herrin, who opened his spring season by pitching a complete game, having to throw 90 pitches while striking out 11.   

A day later, the Lady SeaWolves started their spring-break games, also splitting a double header. The Ladies’ double header was a non-traditional one, as they would beat Northland Community & Technical College from Minnesota in the opener, 11-0, and drop the second game against Spoon River College from Illinois, 0-9.

Planning for the trip started last summer for the softball team and last fall season for the baseball team. The goal for both teams was to do as much fundraising as possible in order to keep the out-of-pocket cost for the student athletes as low as possible.

According to Coach Magnant, “The team did a great job fundraising,” as the main goal Magnat had was to make sure all of his players had a chance to go “without breaking the bank.”

Fundraising events included “fall/spring softball clinics, selling DD Booklets, a Fundraiser Night at Buffalo Wild Wings and sending out sponsor letters to their families and friends.” “The team did such a great job fundraising,” Magnant said, “not only did they pay for the spring pre-season in Cocoa Beach and tickets to Universal Studios Park. They only had to pay $100 out of pocket for whole trip. They did a super job!”

While the planning part of the process for the baseball team started a little bit later than the softball, the details that needed to be taken care of were highlighted when Coach Yanni shared that, “Securing flights, lodging, transportation for 21 people (16 players, 3 coaches, and 2 helping hands) for 5 days is a task in itself.”

Baseball Florida 02
Caleb Chambers. Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Smith.

Coach Yanni also shared the same sentiments that Coach Magnant had with keeping the trip as cost effective as possible for the student athletes, stating that, “The biggest obstacle was trying to do this trip and keep it affordable for the players but at the same time allowing them to get the work in and the experience. We held a bowling fundraiser that raised a few bucks and the kids also sent out sponsor me letters to help, in the end it only cost each kid $400 for the trip.”

In terms of play, both teams maintained a schedule that didn’t leave them with much down time. The baseball team played nine games in five days, four days on which they played double headers. The softball team played eight games over the course of five days, as the first two days and last two days of play saw the Lady SeaWolves playing double headers.

Both squads faced teams that are well outside of the New England region, as they took to the diamonds against teams from Minnesota, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Michigan, New Jersey and New York.

When asked how he felt his squad did against the teams they played, Coach Yanni stated, “In general, I guess the athleticism may have been better but in the game of baseball I believe it is more about your mental fortitude. Being able to make adjustments and turn the tide when a game is not going your way is what we struggle with. We could of beat every team we played down there, we have the skill to do it, what we lacked was a little bit of mental toughness. I am not saying we aren’t mentally tough because we battled all week and ended up 3-6 but we should of been 4-5 and some of the games that got out of hand I don’t think the score reflected the team we are.”

Meranda Martin spoke of how the level of competition affected her and her teammates: “…the most challenging part of the trip was staying up when we were down. I think a lot of people got down on themselves when they were not playing their best game. Which then carried over to the entire team, then after we were losing by a few runs it was harder for us to refocus. I will say I think everyone learned that even if we are down we still need to stay up and be focused.”

Sara Ring reflected on how the team responded when they found themselves not playing well. “I really thought we did a good job of laughing things off when we did something that seemed silly,” she said. “I was also extremely proud of how everyone gave it their all when they went in. No one went into the games giving only 70%.”

Considering that the Yankee Small Conference softball and baseball spring seasons are quite short, having a spring-break trip scheduled is quite the marketing component for recruiting. Softball coach Magnant stated, “The Florida Trip is a great recruiting tool! Not only will recruits save a lot of money at SMCC, but it also shows recruits that we are serious about our softball program and we run our program like a Division 3 program with trips to Florida to compete and face talented teams to get ready for the spring season. It also shows Recruits we’re willing to play a tough/busy schedule like Division 3 colleges.”   

Baseball coach Yanni reflected upon the trip as a recruiting aspect with these thoughts, “going to Florida is a commitment to the program and hopefully showing kids we are serious about our program thus pulling some recruits and growing our team. We will undoubtedly need to grow the team especially in the pitching staff department. Currently a lot of my position players are also my pitchers, this puts a lot of stress on arms and the players when we are playing in so many games. Every team except one that we played had a full bullpen, fatigue for them was not in play as much as it was for us.”

The Beacon would like to thank Jody Kenna and Mackenzie Smith for sharing the photos they took of the SeaWolves softball and baseball teams in action with the paper. If you are interested in viewing the softball and baseball portfolios you can find the photos in the Photo Galleries under the dropdown menu in the Fan Zone on the homepage of the SMCC Athletics website. Hit the 2017-18 season prompts for either team. For the softball team you’ll find the softball album labeled as March 11-16, 2018 Cocoa Beach Spring Training (Titusville, Fl).

You should also find the baseball photos under the baseball 2017-18 season prompt with March 10-16, 2018 Russmatt Central Florida Invitational.

Baseball Florida 04
Amos Herrin. Photo Courtesy of Jody Kenna.
SMCC Softball in Florida 06
Meranda Martin. Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Smith.
SMCC Softball in Florida 04
Kristen Mackenzie. Photo Courtesy of Mackenzie Smith.
Baseball Florida 01
Amos Herrin. Photo Courtesy of Jody Kenna.

Gun Violence Sparks Debate and Activism in Southern Maine

By Troy Hudson

In the aftermath of the Feb. 14 Parkland, Florida, shooting that left 17 people dead, a national discussion around gun violence has ignited passionate debate in this country. This debate is playing out in social media, television and newspapers — and on Thursday, March 22, in Jewett Auditorium on the SMCC South Portland Campus. Students and faculty came together there to share their opinions at a forum hosted by the Southern Poverty Law Center Student Group as part of their “Real Talk” series. SPLC members Dorcas Ngaliema and David Plouffe moderated the event.

Illustration by Vanessa Poirier

The forum presented two questions, “What problems does America face regarding gun violence?” and “Do you have any suggestions for how to fix it?” before opening the floor to those in attendance. The conversation mostly centered around legislation, although a few students shared more personal perspectives.

While a variety of opinions were expressed, the tone of the event remained respectful. Some argued that legislation was ultimately an ineffective means of reducing gun violence, while others pointed out that focusing on guns doesn’t address the larger problem of violence and abuse in our culture. Others expressed frustration at the ease of access to guns and talked about the need for universal
mental-health care. Portland Rally

The final speaker at the forum, an instructor, who prefers to remain anonymous, shared a personal story about a shooting that took place at Montana State University in 1990. A 19-year-old student who was demonstrating clear signs of mental distress ended up murdering two fellow freshmen in their dorm rooms with a shotgun. “There is an immediate, incredibly intimate, personal level that wreaks havoc when that happens,” s/he said. “Three families in Montana were ripped apart by that murder.” The instructor emphasized that the real-world, human impacts of gun violence must not be forgotten as we seek for a solution to this contentious issue.

Victims of the recent Parkland shooting and their supporters are fighting to bring that personal experience to the forefront of national politics. On March 24, the March for Our Lives protest drew thousands of students and teachers to Washington, D.C., to demand tougher gun laws from lawmakers, and was supported by rallies in hundreds of other cities, including our own Portland, Maine.

Communications major Oğuzhan Özkan was present at the Portland rally, which drew as many as 5,000 supporters to an eight-block section of Congress Street in front of City Hall. Özkan was just passing through when he saw a large crowd of people holding anti-Trump signs. “At first I thought it was like Bernie Sanders had posted something on Facebook and people were rallying for that, but then I thought that it must be something good and I should go and blend in.” He said the participants ranged from small children to the elderly. “There were a lot of senior citizens. That’s something that caught my attention. I guess they want to leave a better place for their [grandchildren].”

According to Özkan, law enforcement was present to block off the street but otherwise kept a low profile. Rather than an atmosphere of anger or hostility, he described an uplifting mood. “It was really positive. People were really hopeful, and they were nice to each other.”

The willingness to engage in debate over issues like gun violence is a hallmark of a healthy democracy. At a time when faith in our politicians seems to be lower than ever, we may take heart in the strength of our communities. Through discussion and mutual understanding, we are getting closer to a solution that will prevent more tragic losses from occurring in the future while honoring the rights of our citizens to safety and security.

SeaWolves Place 4 on YSCC All-Conference Teams

By The Beacon Sports Staff

Abigail Ramirez
Abigail Ramirez. Photo by Jacob Clowes

Last Friday the Yankee Small College Conference announced its All-Conference First and Second teams.

The teams are generated by all of the head coaches, who each nominate up to four players per team from their squads. The players who are nominated are then ranked in a voting process by the coaches. Coaches cannot vote for their players. After all of the votes are cast, the top five vote receivers are named to the First Team, as the second five are named to the Second Team. The top vote receivers are named Player of the Year.

The sole SeaWolf to receive enough votes to earn YSCC All-Conference First Team on either squad was Abigail Ramirez. Ramirez joined New Hampshire Technical Institute’s Riselly Deoleo, University of Maine-Augusta’s Caitlin LaFountain and Dominique Lewis, and the Community College of Central Maine’s Brooke Reynolds.

Dylan Silvestri
Dylan Silvestri. Photo by The Beacon Sports Staff

Ramirez ended the season averaging 11.3 points per game over 26 games played.
SeaWolf freshman center Amanda Brett was voted onto the All-Conference Second Team, joining CMCC’s Natalie Thurber and Kristina Blais, NHTI’s Michaella Biron and UMA’s Carmen Bragg. Brett averaged 10.5 points per game over the course of playing in 28 games.
On the men’s side of the court, SeaWolves Dylan Silvestri and Ryan Cloutier, the “Pelham Connection,” earned All-Conference Second Team standing, joining Vermont Tech’s Cameron Carter and Daniel Gill and University of Maine-Machias’s Darius Clark.

Ryan Cloutier
Ryan Cloutier. Photo by The Beacon Sports Staff

Cloutier maintained a 30 percent 3-point shooting average, draining 44 of 145 shots launched, while averaging 13.1 points per game throughout 28 games played. SeaWolf teammate Dylan Silvestri, who is the sole player leaving the program, grabbed 275 rebounds while averaging 15.2 points per game on a 55.0 shooting percentage over 27 games.

The Beacon would like to extend hearty congratulations to all four players. We wish all of you the best in your academic pursuits for the remainder of the semester and look forward to seeing the returning SeaWolves on the court next season.

Amanda Brett
Amanda Brett. Photo by The Beacon Sports Staff


SeaWolves Win Opener, Fall in Semifinals; Gutsy Efforts Keep Teams Competitive

By The Beacon Sports Staff


WB VTC 02 CMYK (1)
Priscila Berdeja showing us her tenacity, trying to get it up over two defenders. Berdeja would end the game getting one steal and one rebound against VTC. Photo by Jacob Clowes

Two weekends ago the SeaWolves basketball teams traveled to Concord, New Hampshire, to participate in the Yankee Small College Conference Elite Eight postseason tournament. This year marked the first time that the name “Elite Eight” presented the tournament a slight challenge, as only six women’s teams were eligible to participate in the tournament.

The four-day tournament traditionally starts on Thursday with the top eight teams in the women’s field pairing off against each other with the first tip-off at 2 p.m.

Lauryn Fagan going for the layup, pushing through the defense and her defender to try for 2 points. Fagan ended the game with 1 point and 4 rebounds against VTC. Photo by Jacob Clowes

With only six teams qualifying (teams that suffer a forfeit are ineligible), this year’s tournament got underway with the third through sixth seed teams playing Thursday: New Hampshire Technical Institute taking to the court against University of Maine-Machias at 6 p.m. and SMCC playing Vermont Tech at 8 p.m. The top two seeds, Central Maine Community College and the University of Maine-Augusta, drew first-round byes.

The NHTI Lady Lynx would open the tournament with a 70-54 win over the Clippers of the University of Maine-Machias squad. NHTI would next take to the court against the tournament’s top-seeded and United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) top-ranked team, CMCC.

Continue reading “SeaWolves Win Opener, Fall in Semifinals; Gutsy Efforts Keep Teams Competitive”

Art Club Hosts Bob Ross Craft Day

By The Beacon Staff

This past Sunday the Art Club hosted a craft day with SMCC’s very own Bob Ross look alike, Wylie Holt. SMCC students and friends came down to the Art Studio to make Valentine’s Day cards with Wylie and other members of the Art Club while watching “The Joy of Painting.”

Bob Ross has inspired many, and Sunday was no exception. Students created all types of cards, from hearts, to bees, to trees, to three dimensional dogs. With glitter and cupcakes for all in attendance, the art studio was filled with love, creativity and Bob Ross.


Photos courtesy of the Art Club