Monday, December 30, 2013

Endicott Student-Athlete Defends Both Field and Nation

Christine Todd
Photo by Dave Hicks
By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
December 9, 2013
(This story is a part of a package of stories on college athletes written for the Boston Globe North.)

As many college athletes prepare to go home for the holidays, some, like Lauren Todd, still have work to do.

Though Todd, 23, graduated a semester early from Endicott College with a degree in psychology and concentration in criminal justice and four years on the soccer and lacrosse fields, she began classes just days later in Endicott’s homeland security master’s program. She is one of a growing number of today’s students who move directly from undergraduate studies into a graduate program.

“She came on my radar as someone who’s not only very intelligent, but also manages her time well,” said Professor Michael Andreas, the director of Todd’s Homeland Security Studies Graduate Program who taught her as an undergraduate. “She’s a natural born leader and a very high performer.”

Her college career both off and on the field, she said, produced in her skills such as time management, leadership and excellence, qualities that began forming while growing up in New Field, New Hampshire. When it came time to attend college, she knew she wanted both to stay in the Northeast and to play lacrosse in college. But it was Endicott’s women’s soccer coach Jodi Kenyon who ended up recruiting her.

“She immediately struck me as a young woman who knew exactly what she wanted,” said Kenyon. “From day one at Endicott, she had everything mapped out for the next four years. That’s rare these days.”

As an NCAA Division III school, Endicott’s athletics department emphasizes balance between academics and athletics. Todd’s lacrosse coach, Meghan Fitzgerald, was impressed by the way she succeeded in both.

“She’s the ultimate example of a D-III athlete,” she said.  “She was so successful in the classroom that she was able to graduate early. To do that while playing two sports, and participating in multiple internships is a huge achievement.

Hoops Down Under

By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
December 9, 2013
(This story is a part of a package of stories on college athletes written for the Boston Globe North.)

While most Australian boys grow up dreaming of rugby and cricket, Lachlan Magee, 23, grew up hoping for a chance at college basketball. This holiday season, he will be finishing that dream, playing basketball for his fourth year at Endicott College.

Originally from Melbourne, Australia, Magee came to Endicott as a freshman in the fall of 2010. Because he had earned college credits in high school, he was able to graduate early with a business degree in May 2012. But in order to play one final season, and to prepare for a professional life as a businessman, he immediately enrolled in Endicott’s 12-month, full-time MBA program.

Between classes and the court, Magee maintains a schedule that most college students do not.  In his last semester as an undergraduate, he even managed to maintain an internship at a private equity firm, write a senior thesis, and work as a tutor in Endicott’s writing center.

“Being a student athlete is a big commitment,” said Magee. “But playing basketball has helped me learn how to manage my time well. It’s given me many important skills to succeed in everything from academics to my professional life.” 

From Tennis to Travel

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
December 10, 2013
(This story is a part of a package of stories on college athletes written for the Boston Globe North.)

NORTH ANDOVER—When Alyx Barnes, 21, of Portsmouth, NH, graduated high school, Merrimack College asked her to play tennis on scholarship.

“I was unsure of what I wanted to do after senior year,” she said. “So I decided to take the offer.”

Now, as a senior, she said this season has been the best her team has played in her four years.

“When I was deciding to take this coaching position, Alyx was one of the players I was most looking forward to coach,” said head women’s tennis coach Paul Arsenault, 30, of Nashua, NH. “She has been a reliable player for our team and is a big part of why this team has improved so much in the past few years.”

Barnes is a business major with a self-proclaimed “indecisive personality.” Although she has no definitive career plans, she is excited to graduate and set out on her own adventure.

“I love to travel,” she said. “After graduating, I am going to move back to Portsmouth to work and save money so I will have the funds to go around the world and see other countries.”

Barnes said although she doesn’t have plans to continue tennis professionally, she will always play for fun with family and friends.


First an Athlete, Now a Trainer

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
December 10, 2013

(This story is a part of a package of stories on college athletes written for the Boston Globe North.)

NORTH ANDOVER—While many college students can take a break from the books this holiday season, Nicole Curtis will still be studying.

As a senior studying athletic training at Merrimack College in North Andover, Curtis, 22, of Billerica needs to take the Athletic Trainer’s Board of Certification exam in the spring to become a licensed trainer, something she has wanted to do since high school. She will then be one step closer to achieving her goal of going to graduate school, part of a growing trend for today’s college athletes.

Curtis played soccer, basketball and lacrosse at Billerica Memorial High School where she acquired a serious shoulder injury, requiring surgery. After spending much of her time with an athletic trainer in rehabilitation, she was inspired.

I saw so many athletes come in with injuries during that time and my athletic trainer was able to diagnose them, treat them and get them back on the playing field,” she said. “I knew then that I wanted to do that.”

Now, Curtis is living her dream. Because the Merrimack athletic training program requires students to be an athletic trainer for a sports team each semester, she has been currently working with the men’s basketball team, helping players with injuries and providing support at their games.

When she graduates next May, Curtis hopes to work towards a master’s degree in sports medicine. For now, she has been using the National Athletic Trainers Career website to look for schools with graduate programs in sports medicine and working with her adviser and the sports medicine department to create a resume and get reference letters.

 Nicole is in a grueling major that has both an academic and clinical component,” said Curtis’ preceptor for her clinical rotation Heather Carr, 28, of Methuen. “Most collegiate athletic training jobs require a master’s. In professional athletics, you will see dual credentials.”

But Curtis did not only choose Merrimack College for its athletic training program. With a significant athletic scholarship, she has also been the goalkeeper for the women’s soccer team.

Ice Hockey Student Gears Up for Future

By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
December 10, 2013

(This story is a part of a package of stories on college athletes written for the Boston Globe North.)

SALEM—Christmas break for Salem State’s men’s ice hockey senior Mark Macdonald, 22, of Norwell, will be short. Winter practice starts up again on Dec. 28 with the team’s first tournament on Jan. 2 and the Frozen Fenway event in Fenway Park on Jan. 7 against UMASS Boston.

“Hockey’s the sport that I’ve always revolved the schedule around,” said Macdonald. “You’re committed to the team from the middle of October to the beginning of March, and you’re with the same kids everyday.”

Macdonald first picked up a hockey stick at age four. He played on club teams until high school at the Xaverian Brothers High School in Westwood, Mass., where he played three years of varsity. He played one year of Midget AAA for the Boston Advantage Hockey club. After graduating in 2009, he took a year off and played junior hockey for the Bridgewater Bandits. In 2010, he enrolled at Salem State as a finance major with a minor in economics.

“The older I’ve gotten the tougher it has been to balance hockey and school, but I know hockey has 100 percent helped me in my academics,” said Macdonald. “I think you become more productive by being an athlete in school, because you have to be.”

Macdonald is committed to hockey practice everyday from 1:30 to 4:30, while also taking six classes and doing an internship with the athletics department. He is unsure about his plans after college, but he wants to gain some work experience before going on to graduate school.

“It’s going to be a tough transition to stop training for hockey everyday,” he said. “I’m hopefully going into a fulltime job, but I also want to stay involved in the sport, maybe even coach part time.” 

Salem State Athlete Puts Head and Heart in the Game

Lauren DiCredico
photo by Katherine Stephens
By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
December 10, 2013
(This story is a part of a package of stories on college athletes written for the Boston Globe North.)

For Salem State senior Lauren DiCredico, 21, of Tewksbury, athletics has been all about heart. In fact, a heart condition forced her to take off two semesters from SSU softball and field hockey, but the honors student has been cleared to play for the spring. That’s why she’ll be spending her Christmas break preparing her pitching arm and re-gaining her strength for her last season before graduation.

“It feels great to be part of a team again,” said DiCredico. “I’m finally not feeling weak after my workouts or practice anymore so physically I am definitely getting there.”

A psychology major and sports science minor, DiCredico began playing softball at age six and field hockey her freshman year at Tewksbury Memorial High School. She competed at the varsity level for four years in both sports, which she continued into college after Salem State’s head softball coach, Leanne Doviack, recruited her.

“I knew she could be a two sport college athlete,” said Doviack. “She is an amazing, determined young lady in both athletics and academics. I never saw her leave practice without throwing a whole extra bucket of balls.”

DiCredico was named MASCAC Rookie of the Year her freshman year, and spring of her sophomore year, her softball team won the MASCAC Championship, which took them on to the NCAA tournament.

But during her junior year in field hockey, chronic viral symptoms began to plague DiCredico.

“I was able to play, but not to my fullest potential. I would play two weeks and then sit out for two weeks,” said DiCredico. “Nobody knew why I was sick.”

In January 2013, a few days before softball practice started, doctors told DiCredico she had a heart condition called Post-Viral Cardio Myopathy and could not be active for six months.

“I was definitely upset, and even had a little bit of regret thinking about what more I could have done to stay healthy,” said DiCredico. “But I thought about everything I had learned in sports psychology and realized that maybe this heart condition happened for a reason, because I needed to learn how to relate to athletes in the future.”

Why I'm "Settling" As a Small-Town Journalist

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
December 29, 2013

Finally, after a long semester, I am home for Christmas break in Peterborough, New Hampshire—the inspiration for Thorton Wilder's Our Town. I spend most of my time next to the fire, inching as close as I possibly can before the heat is too much to bear. The view from every window is the same—trees. There are no sirens, no honking horns, just the occasional sound of snow falling from the roof.

On the coffee table sits a stack of the local newspaper, the bi-weekly Monadnock Ledger. As I peruse the headlines, I'm not surprised to see things haven't changed. A feature on the local food pantry; ornament decorating at the library; the police chief's retirement; the high school's ski club.

Too often people look at me with skepticism when I tell them I want to be a print journalist. "Isn't that a dying industry?" And they do have some ground to stand on. Many of us studying journalism have heard more than once in recent years how metropolitan papers around the country are being bought out or declaring bankruptcy.

The real misconception people seem to have about journalism, however, is that it is a primarily urban career. "So you're going to move to Boston, then?"

Monday, November 18, 2013

Preparing for Hanukkah Through Yoga

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
November 18, 2013
(This story appeared Nov. 19, 2013, in the Peabody Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

PEABODY—Forty-eight Jewish women have found a new way to prepare for Hanukkah this year: meditative yoga.

The Lappin Foundation of Salem offers programs it hopes will promote Jewish identity across generations while also fostering community. This year, it is debuting a class called, “Movement for Your Jewish Soul,” a yoga session held four times a year, one for each of the major Jewish holidays: The High Holidays, Hanukkah, Passover and Shavuot. The Hanukkah session will be held Monday, Nov. 18. 7:00-8:30 p.m. at the Aviv Centers for Living in Peabody.

The goal, according to the foundation’s executive director Debbie Coltin, is to engage participants in a multi-sensory experience that will help immerse them in the essence of Jewish holidays and strengthen their physical and spiritual links to them.

“I believe the mind-body connection fuels our faith and our faith feeds that mind-body connection,” said Coltin, 56, of Peabody. “I thought of how much richer our holiday celebrations could be by strengthening these connections.”

The idea for the yoga program originated as an extension of another program called “Breakfast for Your Jewish Soul,” which focuses on the same mind-body concept using food.  

Though the first session for the High Holidays has already passed, people can still enroll for the three remaining sessions. The classes are free and open to all, including men and teens. Coltin said she hopes to launch a yoga program specifically for teens next year.

Local Food Pantries Brace for SNAP Cuts During Holiday Season

Alyse Barbash at Haven from Hunger
By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Nov. 18, 2013
(This story appeared Nov. 18, 2013, in the Peabody Your Town site as well as the Beverly, Danvers and Salem sites of the Boston Globe.)

BEVERLY & PEABODY—Thanksgiving is a busy time of year for food pantries, but this one will be especially so. Due to the recent Nov. 1 nationwide cut in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, also known as food stamps, food pantries like Beverly Bootstraps and Haven from Hunger in Peabody are trying to gauge how much more they’ll need once the decrease goes into effect.

“We’re beginning to track our client’s response to this cut,” said Gus McDonald, food assistance supervisor at Beverly Bootstraps. “In the month of September we already had 18 new families, and in the month of October we had 36.”

As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) that Congress passed in 2009, funding for the SNAP program and others was terminated, according to the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA). States are unable to change the law, and 497,000 Massachusetts SNAP households will see a decrease in their food stamp benefits, says the DTA. Each reduction varies according to the number of people per household. A six-person household, for instance, will notice a cut of $53 per month, while a one person home will notice an $11 dollar decrease in their monthly benefits.

“We exist because food stamps exist,” said Alyse Barbash, executive director at Haven from Hunger. “If all of these food stamps are taken away over the next few years, then on a normal day, where I have 120 people lined up outside, I won’t be able to fill the need and my doors will close. Barbash said they need the food stamps, because her organization is just a supplement. “I can’t give enough food to a family of four or five for two weeks.”

Organic Café Offers Pay-it-Forward Thanksgiving Meal

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
November 14, 2013
(This story appeared Nov. 18, 2013, in the print and online editions of The Salem News, Nov. 18, 2013, in the print and online editions of The Gloucester Times, and Nov. 14, 2013, in the Beverly Your Town site of the Boston Globe as well as the Globe North print edition.)

Beverly—What’s a Thanksgiving without the turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes? For some, it’s an all-natural, vegan meal at the Organic Garden Café in Beverly. The café will be hosting its third annual pay-it-forward Thanksgiving dinner, asking customers to pay what they can for a meal. Those who want to give back can pay more than the suggested price of $18.95 so that any additional amount goes towards a meal for someone who can’t afford it.

“I love the idea of anybody being able to walk in the door and get this incredible meal, even if they don’t have any money,” said the café’s owner Rawbert Reid, 49, of Arlington. “It’s a great day to reach out to the community and people in need.”

The meal includes a “turkey-free” loaf—which is a dehydrated specialty made with sunflower seeds, walnuts, celery, onion, and carrot— in addition to cranberry relish, pecan mushroom gravy and a choice of two sides. Diners can order the meal anytime during Thanksgiving week to prepare at home, or they can eat in house on Thanksgiving Day between 11 a.m-3 p.m. There will also be a “community table” for those who want to connect with others or make new friends.

Monday, November 4, 2013

MASCO High Film Festival Draws Self-Taught, Multi Talented Students

Dan Proctor, second from left, with friends and
teacher (right) Gregory West.
By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Oct. 30, 2013
(This story appeared Oct. 31, 2013, in the Danvers Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

TOPSFIELD—From screen writing, casting, production, and directing to the occasional cameo and then hours of editing, the students at Masconomet (MASCO) High School have been busy this fall preparing for their bi-annual film festival. Though the school provides some resources, the student-directors are mostly self-taught and use their own equipment while collaborating with student actors and crewmembers to create original films.

“When we first started doing the festival, I knew more about video than anybody else, and now I know nothing compared to these students,” said Gregory West, health education teacher at MASCO since 1988, theatre instructor since 1993, and advisor to the festival since it began. “They’re growing up making videos with their own equipment. They are brilliant with their films; they are creative with it, and their tools are amazing.”

The festival runs from Friday, Nov. 15 to Saturday, Nov. 16 at MASCO High School’s auditorium at 7 p.m. both nights and is open to the public. This is the fifth festival in the course of ten years, and this year features six short films, each around fifteen minutes long. Admission is $10, and proceeds will go to the drama department to help fund costumes, sets, copyright for the shows, staff, etc.

With no official drama club, MASCO high school produces a musical every year, with either the film festival or a play the other years. Students pay a $200 fee at the beginning of each school year in order to participate in the drama productions.

Senior Dan Proctor, 17, directed a film two years ago and is back again with the longest film in the festival at 20 minutes titled Midsummer High.

“It’s a retelling of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream,” said Proctor. “It takes place in a modern high school show the parallels between a Shakespearean play and high school personal life.”

Friday, November 1, 2013

Crane Estate Art Show Features Local and Student Artists


By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
Nov. 1, 2013
(This story appeared Nov. 4, 2013, on the Beverly,Danvers and Newburyport Your Town sites of the Boston Globe.)

IPSWICH—When Montserrat College of Art junior Evan Sullivan began creating his series of art prints about re-urbanization, he was doing it for a class assignment, not an art show. Now, at the suggestion of his printmaking professor Len Thomas-Vickory, Sullivan will have one of his silk screen prints from the series on display at the tenth annual Crane Estate Art Show and Sale Nov. 9 and 10 in Ipswich.

“The assignment was to make a poster that promotes something,’” said Sullivan. His series of posters contains several variations of a four-color traffic jam with suburban homes and a city center with walking pedestrians.

“We created the suburbs with the best intentions but we are actually destroying the nature around us to build them,” he said. “Reurbanization is about bringing people back to the cities, but also to change the cities, make them more walkable and eco-friendly to preserve the natural landscape around us.”

Sullivan’s pieces reflect the greater theme of this year’s show, hosted by the Trustees of Reservations, “Shifting Perspectives.” All of the art highlights some aspect of North Shore landmarks and landscapes, and sales will benefit both the Trustees and the artists.  The show is free to attend and will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at Castle Hill on the Crane Estate.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Final School Committee Forum Explores Issues Before Elections


By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Oct. 28, 2013
(This story appeared Oct. 29, 2013, in the Salem Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

SALEM—Despite competing with game five of the World Series, the Salem School Committee Candidate Forum drew close to 100 people Monday night, Oct. 28, at the Nathaniel Bowditch School. It was the last opportunity for voters to hear from all six candidates before the Nov. 5th elections.

Three incumbents— Janet Crane, Lisa Lavoie, and Brendan Walsh—joined three challengers— Rachel Hunt, Rick Johnson, and Patrick Shultz—as each candidate campaigned for a spot among the three available positions on the seven-member board.

The nearly two-hour forum included introductions, statements, and rebuttals from each candidate and ended with a 20-minute question and answer period from residents. Moderator Dave Olson, editor of the Salem New, read questions from note cards that had been passed around at the beginning of the meeting.

Janine Matho, president of The Salem Education Foundation, began the night by thanking the speakers “for stepping up and running for office and caring about our schools.” She then encouraged the audience to, “get out there and vote. Grab your friends and neighbors and get to the polls, or all of their work will be worth nothing.”

During the introductions, the candidates were asked to define what they saw as a priority for the people of Salem in their schools.

Johnson said he was encouraged to see that people are engaged and knowledgeable about Salem’s schools, but he notices a lack of results. “People are ready for results now,” he said.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Award-Winning Travelers Pull in to Salem


By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
October 25, 2013
(This assigned story appeared Oct. 28, 2013, in the Salem Your Town section of The Boston Globe.)

SALEM—Most people come to Salem in October for the Halloween festivities. But for John Ellis and Laura Preston, National Geographic’s Travelers of the Year, Salem was a place to rest.

After days on the road, the couple arrived in Salem on Sunday, Oct. 20, parking their Airstream travel trailer at Winter Island Park, one of only two RV spots in the North East. Since the middle of 2012, Ellis and Preston have been doing what many Americans only dream of: traveling across the U.S, Airstream in tow, driving back roads and highways to see the diverse regions of the country.

It’s a journey they call, “The Democratic Travelers,” referring to their crowd-sourced travel itinerary that’s decided by others through their website, www.thedemocratictravelers.com. Friends and strangers alike visit the website, suggest a place where the two should travel, or vote on the suggestions of others. If a place receives multiple votes in its favor, “The Democratic Travelers” will turn its camper in that direction.

While no one voted for the travelers to come to Salem, they came anyway to stay at Winter Island Park, glad for the chance to visit and restock their supplies.

“We heard Salem gets pretty exciting around Halloween,” said Preston. “It’s been great to catch a glimpse of what that means.”

By the Numbers:
Miles traveled: +20,000
Days on the road: 264
Campgrounds stayed: 60
Cities visited: 84
States visited: 25
Breakdowns: 0

The couple also used their time in Salem to get some work done, which finances part of the trip. Ellis, 28, works as a freelance webpage designer and Preston, 25, as a virtual assistant. While here, the pair ventured into Cambridge for some Ethiopian food and bluegrass music, and hoped to visit the Salem Witch Museum before leaving the area.

Pink Comic Hero Joins Band to Fight Breast Cancer


By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
October 10, 2013
(This assigned story appeared in a special print section Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in The Salem News and its sister papers.)

SALEM—Boston’s Marvel comic book character Deadpool has traded in his red suit for a pink one in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

James Jwanowski, 26, of Peabody, is a local cosplayer, or a person who dresses up as a fictional character from a comic book, video game or film and attends conventions known as Comic Cons. Jwanowski has taken his passion beyond the Comic Con events to become what he calls a “cause-player” and has been dressing up in his original pink Deadpool suit at various breast cancer charity events since October of last year.

“I want to actually be a superhero for people,” Jwanowski writes on his FirstGiving.com fundraiser page. “Since I can't fly, jump over buildings or stop a speeding bullet, I figured I could always dress up for charities for kids, the less fortunate, the sick or whoever wants a great costumed hero at their event.”

His next destination? The Gulu Gulu Café in Salem, Saturday, Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. alongside “Sylvana Joyce & The Moment,” a gypsy/blues rock band out of Astoria, NY.

The band’s drummer, Ross Liberti, 26, of Jersey City, NJ, grew up in Peabody and has known Jwanowski since preschool. Last summer, Liberti stumbled across a Facebook video of Jwanowski in the pink Deadpool outfit, speaking at a Comic Con event. Then, he had an idea.

It seemed natural, given our ties to Salem, the spirit of Halloween,” said Liberti, “and the fact that Sylvana Joyce & The Moment makes it a point to get involved with charities and benefits, to merge our plans for a Salem Halloween show with James's cause (breast cancer awareness).”

Former Marine Staying Active Despite Stage 4 Breast Cancer


By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
October 10, 2013
(This assigned story appeared in a special print section Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in The Salem News and its sister papers.)

PEABODY—When former Marine and North Andover resident Peter Devereaux, 51, bumped his hand into his chest one morning and felt a lump, he thought it was a cyst or fatty tissue. Disbelief and shock overwhelmed him when the doctor called back with the results: breast cancer.

“I had no idea men could have breast cancer. I repeated my name on the phone because I wanted to make sure he was looking at my records,” said Devereaux, who was diagnosed with stage 3B invasive ductal carcinoma in January of 2008.

“I can remember the day: it was a Wednesday night, my wife was working late and my daughter, Jackie, was watching Sponge Bob in the other room,” he said. “She was 10 years old at the time.”

Devereaux signed up for the marines after graduating from Peabody High in 1980, and is one of 82 men diagnosed with breast cancer from a speculated water contamination at the Marine Corps base, Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. Devereaux, who was at the base from 1980 to 1982, did not know this was the possible cause until he was already six months into treatment. After 14 months of aggressive radiation, a mastectomy, and the removal of 22 lymph nodes, Devereaux was exhausted and knew there was a high probability of the cancer returning.

“The body gets beat up. Even now, I’m 51, but I feel like I’m 80,” said Devereaux.

National Cancer Survivor Group has Success at North Shore YMCA



By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
October 8, 2013
(This assigned story appeared in a special print section Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, in The Salem News and its sister papers.)

MARBLEHEAD—Six years ago, Sheila Vitale of Marblehead beat breast cancer. Even as she battled the disease, she continued playing the violin for the Boston Ballet. Now she’s meeting with local survivors to continue recovering an active lifestyle.

Vitale is one of eight cancer survivors who are participating in a new pilot program at the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA on Leggs Hill Road in Marblehead. On Sept. 23, the organization partnered with the LIVESTRONG Foundation to offer a new 12-week fitness program for cancer survivors. Although the program has been underway at YMCAs across the nation—over 22 are in Massachusetts—Lynch/van Otterloo is the first to offer it on the North Shore.

“It really was very emotional for me to meet with the group and to say again that I am a cancer survivor,” said Vitale, 70. “Even though we are different ages and at different stages of treatment, the fact that we all have cancer in common gives us space to talk about things that worry us.”

The new group was launched, according to Health and Wellness Director at the Lynch/van Otterloo YMCA Jaime Bloch, because everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer. “Our question was: what can we do?” she said. “We decided this was a great way to support survivors in our community, so we moved forward with it.”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Dogs Dress Up for Howl-O-Ween Contest


By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
October 1, 2013
(This story appeared Oct. 3, 2013, in the Beverly Your Town site of the Boston Globe, and in the print and online editions of The Salem News.)

BEVERLY—Kids aren’t the only ones who’ll be running around in costumes this Halloween. On Saturday, Oct. 5 from 12:00-3:00 pm at the Beverly Commons, owners will bring their costumed canines to compete in the Beverly Dog Park’s Fourth Annual Howl-O-Ween Costume Contest.  

“We came up with the costume contest four years ago to gain exposure for a potential dog park,” said Erinn Powers, 33, the park’s committee chair. “We wanted to let the community know we were working on finding land and raising money to put aside for the future park.”

According to Powers, the contest caught the attention of Beverly’s Mayor William Scanlon. As a dog owner himself, Scanlon supported the idea for a dog park and proposed several locations. After a public meeting held at the Beverly Public Library, it was decided that Paddle’s Park, named after the mayor’s golden retriever, would be located on LP Henderson road next to the Beverly Municipal Airport.

Powers said there are usually about 30-40 entries of people with their pooches at each Howl-O-Ween contest. Last year, a couple from Boston won the grand prize with their dog Chip as the Lorax and themselves as trees.

Halloween’s History Screens at Salem Cinema

Paul Van Ness
By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
Oct. 3, 2013
This story appeared Oct. 4, 2013, in the Salem Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

SALEM, MA—When Terry Peters, 55, of Ohio saw the Halloween decorations in downtown Salem, he had only a vague idea of how the holiday came to be. “I know it has something to do with Old Hollows’ Eve,” he said. “I think trick-or-treating started a little later?”

But Peters appears to know more than most. When asked about the history of Halloween, some Salem residents admit they don’t know. Even employees at a downtown magic shop laughed at the question, shrugged their shoulders, and dispersed.

“Salem could be considered the Halloween capital of the world,” said film director and co-owner of CinemaSalem Paul Van Ness, 66. “Tens of thousands of tourists will come here to celebrate it. But if you ask most people where these traditions come from, you’ll find that they really have no idea.”

Van Ness hopes that his new film, The History of Halloween, will change that. Shot entirely in the Salem area, the 35-minute film publically premiered at CinemaSalem on Friday, October 4, and will run throughout the month at the independent theater at One East India Square.

Local experts on the history of Halloween are impressed with the film’s historical veracity. “It’s very accurate,” said Erik Rodenhiser, owner of Gallows Hill Museum/Theater. “It gives you real information and makes you leave saying ‘Oh wow, I didn’t know that.’”

Salem Police, Residents at Odds on Halloween Curfews

Ann Whittier with grandson John-Iver Siegfried
 photo by Katherine Stephens
By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Oct. 3, 2013
(This story appeared Oct. 4, 2013, in the Salem Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

SALEM, MA—Grandmother and Salem resident for 42 years, Ann Whittier, pulls out all the stops for Halloween, decorating her house, trick-or-treating with her grandchildren, and participating in Salem’s Haunted Happenings events. Each year, Whittier meets people traveling from as far as Europe and the Midwest to experience Halloween in downtown Salem.

But Whittier also knows how frustrating it can be for visitors and locals when the Salem Police Department moves in at 10 p.m. and forms a barricade to shut down Haunted Happenings.

“People are shocked that they are pushed out of Haunted Happenings. I don’t think it’s a good idea, because a large percentage is adults, who need time to celebrate, and Halloween is a nice time to celebrate,” said Whittier. “It sort of shows disrespect to the people who have come all the way to Salem to celebrate. I wish there was more of a middle road.”

But with 60,000 to 80,000 people expected to attend this year’s Halloween from all over the country and even the world and in light of the Boston Marathon bombings, the Salem Police Department says it is strengthening security for the event and taking extra precautions to maintain a family friendly environment.

“We do always have people resisting, because no one wants to go home. People are having a good time," said Lieutenant Kate Stephens, who’s worked for the Salem Police Department since 1996.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Docu-Comedy Explores Diversity in “The Muslims Are Coming!

By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Sept. 24, 2013
(This story appeared Sept. 27, 2013, in the Somerville Your Town site of the Boston Globe.)

SOMERVILLE, MA—They traveled all over the country hosting stand up comedy routines and waving their “Hug a Muslim” posters proudly. Now, comedians and filmmakers, Negin Farsad and Dean Obeidallah, are coming to the Boston area to screen their new film, The Muslims are Coming.

The film uses comedy to combat prejudices and stereotypes placed on Muslim-Americans. Organizers of National Welcoming Week in Massachusetts—which is part of a national movement called Welcoming America that highlights the contributions of immigrants—knew the film was a good fit with their theme this year, “Uniting Neighbors, Celebrating Diversity.” They decided to partner with the filmmakers to sponsor the screening, along with other events, during its Welcome Week.

The Muslims are Coming opens Friday, September 27 at the Somerville Theatre, with a question and answer time with Farsad and Obeidallah to follow. The documentary’s world release was last October at the Austin Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award, and was re-released this year in Chicago on September 12. It has screened already this month in New York and Los Angeles, and runs in Somerville through October 3.

“What we’re trying to do is create a different cultural concept for Muslim Americans,” Farsad said during a phone interview. “We have these associations that Muslims are dusty people walking down the street with AK-47’s (and) just constantly violent. When in reality, Muslims can look like me. They can be stand up comedians, or really bad at bowling, who knows?”

Friday, September 20, 2013

Skateboard Ban Up in the Air with Salem Committee

William Watson, 7, at
Bamboozle Skate Shop

By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
Sept. 20, 2013
(This story appeared Sept. 21, 2013, in the Salem news online section of the Boston Globe.)

SALEM–Many Salem skateboarders may be surprised to hear that they are breaking the law when they take to the streets. 

In the mid 1980s, city officials passed a law to ban skateboarding after a young man was killed in a skateboarding accident on the street.

Mayor Kimberley Driscoll is hoping to lift the Section 24-7 ordinance, which states that, “it shall be unlawful for any person to play at skateboarding in any street or sidewalk within the city limits.”

Despite the law, Driscoll said there has been an increase in people of all ages, not just teenagers or adolescents, who are using skateboards around town.

“They’re out on the roads now, even with the ban in place,” said Driscoll. “So it becomes a tough issue from the police department’s perspective. Frankly, we don’t have the resources or the desire to chase down every skateboarder.”

The amended ordinance, which is currently being reviewed by a City Council Committee, would make skateboarding legal in Salem except on sidewalks and the Essex Street Mall between New Liberty and Washington Streets and Highland Avenue. If passed, it would become effective this fall.

Driscoll believes that if skateboarding is regulated so that it can be done safely, like bicycling, then there is no need for it to be banned entirely.

Lt. Conrad Prosniewski of the Salem Police Department agrees.

“This skateboard ordinance was put there for a purpose and perhaps it has already served its purpose,” he said. “Hopefully people understand now that with a skateboard, bike, or anything other vehicle, you have to be careful.”

Community Unites to Leave Cinema Reeling


By Dave Hicks
Gordon College News Service
Sept. 19, 2013
(This story appeared Sept. 23, 2013, in the Gloucester Times.)

GLOUCESTER—Ever since they donated 200 DVDs to the Cape Ann Community Cinema’s lending library, Marty and Michele Del Vecchio have stood behind the Cinema’s cause. So supporting the independent theater this summer when it launched its first major online fundraiser seemed like a no-brainer.

Apparently, the Del Vecchio’s weren’t the only ones who thought so.

“We received an average of $130 per donor,” says the Cinema’s founder and owner Robert Newton, 44. “I’m still reeling. I just never dreamed it would be this successful.”

The fundraiser—which began May 23 and ended July 22—is helping pay for current upgrades for the screening equipment, upgrades that are necessary, according to CinemaSalem’s Paul Van Ness, 62, and part of a national trend for independent theaters.

“Most major film distributors are now only distributing their movies in a digital format,” says Van Ness, who this past year conducted a similar campaign to upgrade CinemaSalem’s projectors. “Independent theaters that are not equipped to screen to the industry’s standard must upgrade or they lose the capacity to play the movies that most people want to see.”

But these upgrades aren’t cheap. In the case of the Cape Ann Community Cinema, the majority of the fundraiser’s $30,000 goal went directly to the new equipment. The Cinema raised $54,000, however, and the money continued to flow in by mail.

More than $24,000 over their goal, none of the funds will be wasted, Newton said. The Cinema is also installing a new sound system, a tiered platform to increase seating capacity, and is covering the budget of the Cinema’s first feature film, “Over Cape Ann,” a new version of a television movie that has been playing since 1988.

Recycled Boat Sails, Flowers and Bathmats Strut Wearable Art Runway

Artist Beth Williams prepares work for the Show.

By Katherine Stephens
Gordon College News Service
Sept. 20, 2013 
(This story appeared Sept. 21, 2013, in the Gloucester online site of the Boston Globe.)

GLOUCESTER, MA—A wedding dress created from recycled boat sails and two dresses made of flowers are just a few of over 30 wearable art looks on the runway for the Celebrate Wearable Art Show on September 29. Hosted by the Society for Encouragement of the Arts (seARTS) at the Cruiseport Gloucester, attendees can indulge in high tea, enjoy a serenade from the Beverly High School Jazz Quintet, and see original, wearable art from local Cape Ann Artisans. The event brings Boston Fashion Week to the North Shore for the day.

“We have everything from Manchester High School students—making bath mat dresses with teacher, Marion Powers—to the sculpture class at Montserrat, to a professor at Endicott, to a couture designer from New York with her full collection,” said Jacqueline Michelle Ganim-DeFalco, chair of the board for seARTS. “It’s the kind of event that will engage the community creatively on many different levels.”

WOW—New Zealand’s annual World of WearableArt (WOW) Awards Show—inspired seARTS to begin its own seven year ago. Cape Ann’s 13-year-old arts-based organization hosted its first Celebrate Wearable Art show in 2011 at the Bass Rocks Golf Club, where they sold out. The show is the only fundraiser hosted by seARTS, and all proceeds go to the organization. This year, the runway is back with more ticket sales—over 300—priced at $100, a larger location and more designers to showcase their work.

“This event is a great opportunity for young artists or even for people like me. You know, you have a dream, and then you can do it; it’s just possible,” said Frieda Grotjahn, 52, who has owned her East Gloucester store Again & Again for the past eight years. “Otherwise you try to go to Boston for something like this, but it’s right here.”

This year, Grotjahn is bringing something new to the runway: her Grace Kelly-inspired wedding dress made out of recycled spinnaker boat sails.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ipswich Harvest Fest: Vintage Baseball Meets Beer on Tapmobiles


Tapmobiles
By Angie Sykeny
Gordon College News Service
September 10, 2013
(This story appeared Sept. 10, 2013, in the Boston Globe, online Your Town site.)

NEWBURY --What’s a harvest fest without a game of baseball and a truckload of ale?

This Saturday from 12-6 pm at Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm in Newbury, Ipswich Ale Brewery will kick off North Shore Beer Week with its annual Harvest Fest, complete with a bouncy house, vintage baseball games, and four “tapmobiles,” rentable vehicles into which the taps are built, filled with ale.

Since the Brewery opened in 1991, some variation of the festival has been held, and has grown each year, with an estimated 1,600-2,000 attendees expected this year, according to Mary Gormley, 25, of Methuen and the sales and events coordinator of Ipswich Ale Brewery

“This is just one of the events where we get to showcase everything we’ve got,” said Gormley. “We’re really looking forward to it.”

Gormley says the Brewery’s taps and tapmobiles will have a variety of beers available, including a cask ale that is a variation of the brewery’s fall seasonal Harvest Ale.

The tap mobiles might seem a thing of the future as they drive by some of the Fest’s vintage baseball games playing by 1864 rules. Sponsored by the Essex Baseball Organization, four teams have been playing at Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm for eight years now, with Ipswich Ale Brewery a regular sponsor.