Category: On Campus

Old Settlers Cemetery

By Celina Simmons

With a beautiful location right off Casco Bay, SMCC’s South Portland Campus offers an immense amount of adventures and sights to see, from the everlasting view of the ocean to the ruins of a historical naval base. But how many stop to think about the little ol’ cemetery right next to our dining hall? I did, and my curiosity led me to doing some research.

The Old Settlers Cemetery, also called the Thrasher Cemetery, marks the location of the first settlement established here in South Portland. It is the oldest historical landmark in the city, dating back nearly 360 years! The settlement was abandoned 20 years later due to King Philip’s war, which lasted from 1675-1678. This left the land destroyed and deserted until nine families attempted to resettle another 20 years after. In 1703, those families suffered a disastrous massacre from a local Indian tribe, where 25 of their people were killed and eight were captured. It wasn’t until 1716 that the next wave of settlement came.

There are no records dating back to the first burials on that land. Oftentimes, funerals in the New England region didn’t offer individual eulogies for the deceased, and markers would have been made out of wooden crosses or slates which, through the years, would not have survived. In other cases, the headstones could have been floor level and sunk below the ground by now. We know of 18 legibly marked stones in the cemetery today, but there could be many more.

Out of those 18 deceased, a couple names stood out to me. I found that Mrs. Ann Simonton passed away in April of 1744, which would make her stone the oldest one recorded. She and her husband, Andrew Simonton, were part of the first families to reinhabit South Portland. In the South Portland Historical Society Archive, I came across an inscription list of the cemetery, and on it was a note from the late Mrs. Rosella Loveitt, a history teacher in South Portland who passed away in 2006. She wrote that Andrew Maxwell and Mary White died in 1744 and were buried in that cemetery, though there are no other records of this. She claims the headstones were once there and stated “the oldest headstone marking.”

Another family that stood out to me was the Thrashers. Seven out of the 18 marked stones were part of the Thrasher family and I wanted to know where the Thrasher Cemetery name came from. Thanks to Kathryn DiPhilippo with the South Portland Historical Society, I found out the Thrashers were a significant family at the time.

An old gravestone watches over SMCC and Willard Beach from the
Old Settlers Cemetery. Photo by Troy Hudson.

They owned a lot of land in the area and operated a popular store on Preble Street. From what we can tell, it is possible that the Thrashers purchased the land and buried their family in a pre-existing graveyard. In the 1800s it would have been more commonly referred to as the Thrasher Cemetery due to the eminence of their name at the time.
The full history behind the Old Settlers Cemetery may be lost, but it is certainly not forgotten. As Mrs. Loveitt proves with her note, there is a lot we don’t know about this burial ground, and yet there could be so much to uncover. With historians keeping an extra eye out for the Old Settlers Cemetery, the history behind the beginning of South Portland and the settlers buried there could be revealed one day.


Art Club Invites Group Participation on Sundays

By Troy Hudson

Every Sunday from 10 to 4 p.m., the Art Studio is open for anyone to take advantage of the bright, open space. Plenty of art supplies and materials are available, as are panoramic views of Casco Bay for inspiration. Now the Art Club is looking to bring some beauty and fun to your Sundays with organized activities during these open-studio hours.

Art Club member Calie Soucy believes art can be a powerful team activity. She joined the Art Club this semester and she’s excited about the events the club has planned for the coming weeks: “For our first event next Sunday we’re going to put lights in clear tubes and partly bury them in the sand, so when the tide comes in it will illuminate the water.” She said anyone is welcome to come be a part of the project, and all supplies will be provided by the Art Department.

The Art Club meets in the Art Studio on Thursdays from 12:15 to 1:00 p.m., and the ocean illumination project will take place at the studio between 10 and 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 15.

Cultural Night [updated]

This story has been updated on April 12, 2018, to add J.M. Zulu’s quote and photo, and to correct the date of the event.

By Rebecca Dow

On Thursday, April 5, Resident Assistant Jean Medard Zulu organized and hosted a Cultural Night in the South Portland Campus – at the Noisy Lounge located in the Campus Center. Participants were encouraged to bring traditional food, wear clothing representing their background, and act out performances that mean something to them, in an attempt to share and celebrate diversity among the crowd. “The goal of the ‘Cultural Night’ was to assimilate all the different students from SMCC to spend a good time together, no matter what their background was in one place.”  (J. M. Zulu). Throughout the night, over 100 people attended, densely filling the space provided. Shown below is a photo of Jack Gentempo directly following his mime act. Additionally, we have is a photo of Wazo, a local music group passionate about their work; and Zulu in traditional attire. At the close of the performances, stories were shared about individuals and their respective places of origin, namely those from immigrants who came from countries struggling with civil war and discord.


Photos by Rebecca Dow

Maine Public Hosts Bake-Off at SMCC

By The Beacon Staff

Illustration by Vanessa Porier

Maine Public will host the second annual CREATE IT MAINE Recipe Contest on Saturday, April 28, in the Culinary Arts Building at SMCC. The contest, which is open to the public, invites entrants to submit a dessert recipe using as many local, Maine-centric ingredients as possible. Five finalists will participate in a live bake-off before a panel of judges, including SMCC’s own executive chef Jill Hannaford.
Entrants must submit their recipe in 500 words or less along with a final prepared-dish photo. Multiple submissions are allowed. The deadline for submissions is Friday, April 13, at midnight. Submissions can be sent to

Business Club Helps Families in Need

By The Business Club

On Saturday, March 10, a generous group of SMCC Business Club students volunteered at Portland’s Ronald McDonald House to make and serve breakfast to families in need of help and caring. Ronald McDonald House’s mission is “keeping families with sick children together and near the care and resources they need.”

Business Club members showed up at the Portland location early on a Saturday morning (during spring break, no less!) to provide some relief and sustenance to numerous families. From pancakes to pastries to bacon to fruit salad, the SMCC Business Club proudly cooked, served and cleaned for hours. Participating Business Club members were: Ryan Patridge, Yu (Rene) Shi, Taylor Markee, Haleigh Barrett, Celetta Richard and Loreal Legare.

Business Club volunteers (5)
A display of breakfast food awaits those looking for a meal. Photo courtesy of the Business Club.
Business Club volunteers (1)
Pictured in order from left to right are Ryan Patridge, Yu (Rene) Shi, Taylor Markee, Haleigh Barrett, Celetta Richard and Loreal Legare of the Business Club. Photo courtesy of the Business Club.

Lockdown Drill Raises More Questions Than Answers

By Troy Hudson

On Monday, March 5, at 12:56 p.m., all SMCC students, faculty and staff received notifications via text message, email and computer-screen alert that the College was experiencing a lockdown drill. This came about three weeks after a 19-year-old murdered 17 people at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Precautionary drills are notorious for being regarded as nuisances, generating little serious action by participants (think of the lackluster enthusiasm for early-morning fire drills). But if ever there were a time to take a lockdown drill seriously, this was it.

Anecdotally at least, that wasn’t the case in many classrooms on the South Portland campus — including the author’s own, which proceeded pretty much as usual after a brief pause to draw the blinds. Melody, a South Portland Campus student, saw even less action taken in the Learning Commons. She said those around her did “nothing, absolutely nothing.” When asked if anyone else even seemed to know what was going on, she said, “Honestly, I don’t know. I didn’t see anyone else check their phones. I got an email but I didn’t check it until later.”

Many students simply don’t know what to do in the event of a lockdown, which is what drills like the one we experienced this month are supposed to clarify. The email sent by SMCC urges everyone to, “Utilize this time to discuss lockdown procedures and the ‘Run Hide Fight’ safety protocol,” which is the bare minimum everyone on campus should know to minimize the threat posed by an active shooter. SMCC does, in fact, have policies in place to save lives during such an event, but they are only valuable if faculty and students know how to implement them.

Popularized by the Department of Homeland Security, the “Run Hide Fight” strategy is intended to guide our critical decision making in a potentially confusing scenario. Basically, participants are supposed to first look for a way to flee the area. If it is not possible to do so, then they should find the nearest safe place to hide, keeping doors and windows locked and making no sound. Finally, if these options fail, they are urged to use whatever improvised weapons they can to fight the attacker.

“Run Hide Fight” is not a perfect strategy, but by familiarizing ourselves with it we at least have some tangible actions to take in the event of an emergency. A 2014 FBI study on active-shooter events found that about 70 percent of the situations in the study terminated in five minutes or less. There is simply no time to waste wondering what to do.

SMCC student Joseph told us he thinks many students “have a general idea from lockdown drills they may have done in middle school and high school, but I think a more structured system would be better. Maybe have the teachers explain what to do in the case of an actual lockdown.” This is something we heard from several students, who questioned whether instructors themselves even knew what to do.

While safety training is an important part of faculty and staff training, SMCC regards campus safety and security as a community responsibility. Both faculty and students are encouraged to review safety information on their own from time to time to make sure they are prepared for an emergency. As Dean of Students Tiffanie Bentley wrote in an all-students email following the Parkland shooting, “We need to remain ever vigilant and attuned to our own environment.”

The purpose of the lockdown drill was to create a space for discussion about safety protocols as well as to test the efficacy of the alert system. The latter seems to have been mostly effective, as everyone we spoke to was aware of the drill, but the opportunity for faculty and students to take advantage of the time for safety training seems to have been underutilized.

One group on campus that stood out as an excellent example of what to do in a lockdown drill is the Advising Office. Work-study students Maddie and Haley told us that as everyone followed protocols, “Nobody was freaking out. We were pretty calm. Most of the administrators were handling turning off lights and closing doors.” They said there are now posters up in the office detailing what to do in an emergency, in addition to the laminated maps and emergency instructions that are posted by the door in every classroom on campus. “It was after the Parkland incident that it became something more to talk about.”

If you want more information about what to do if there is an emergency on campus, SMCC offers safety and security information and tips on the MySMCC portal. The information can be found by clicking on the “Safety and Security” link in the left-hand column of the portal homepage.