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Tag: higher education

Success in class and on dance floor (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — Elgin Community College President David Sam likes to party.

That’s what he told new students at the community college’s new student convocation Friday in the gymnasium at the Spartan Events Center.

And that’s what he proved afterward, dancing the Cupid Shuffle in a suit and shades with students at the Campus Jam Barbeque outside the building.

“In college, I was a party animal. I partied a lot,” Sam told students. “But I had outstanding grades. I’ll show you how to do that, too.”

The community college president shared his tricks for success, both in the classroom and on the dance floor, before the fall semester begins today, ranging from doing well on your first test to knowing when to have fun. (See accompanying tips)

The college kicked off the 2012-13 school year with the new student convocation, followed by a cookout, DJ and giveaways at Campus Jam; new student workshops; and campus tours. It also showed the movie “The Hunger Games” that night on an inflatable screen outside on the Spartan Athletic Field.

It has held a convocation — a “bookend” mimicking its graduation ceremony and giving students “something to strive toward” — for the past four years, Sam said. He doesn’t know of any other community colleges that do the same thing, he said.

“I am tickled pink. I am happy to see you here because you’re embarking on a journey — a journey that will culminate in your receipt of a diploma or certificate,” he told students.

For the rest of the story, and Dr. Sam’s tricks for success, read Success in class and on dance floor (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Jon Konstantaras.


Biweekly Wrap-up: Back to school 2012-13!

The 2012-13 school year started this week with a bang.


I got rear-ended on the way to Jacobs High School in Algonquin on Monday, the first day of school in Carpentersville-area Community Unit School District 300.

I was sitting in my car at a red light in Carpentersville. It was raining, and I heard tires squealing, and I glanced up into the rearview mirror and thought, “The first day of school!” I ended up halfway across the intersection. Luckily, the light just had turned and nobody had started into the intersection yet. Not luckily. Miraculously.

The other driver was terrified and apologetic. She’d never been in an accident, much less caused one before, she said. I hugged her and said it was OK, it was raining, it was slick, it was just my bumper, accidents happen. And, hey, usually when my car gets hit, and this isn’t unusual with all the miles I drive between work in the suburbs and home in the city, it gets totaled and I end up in the hospital. When the very kind Carpentersville policewoman arrived, she asked if I wanted her to write the other driver a ticket. My car just had spun out on some rain on top of oil on the expressway the week before, so I had a lot of grace for this sort of thing. And I said, no, I didn’t want to put her through that; I just wanted her insurance to fix my bumper, cracked and dented and hanging off one side of my car. The policewoman wrote her a warning. I still made it to school before the back-to-school assembly I’d planned to cover for the newspaper.

For a delirious moment, it felt like the Kingdom of Heaven had arrived on earth. Things were working as they ought, with honesty and grace and forgiveness and humor. This was salvation — not just in eternity, but in the here and now, salvation from the trouble she could have caused me and unglued reaction I could have had. And then the other driver’s insurance let me know yesterday they won’t be sending me the full price to replace the bumper. There was a small dent already in the bumper, so they don’t have to, they said. I looked this up, and they’re right: in Illinois, at least, they don’t. Which seems unfair. And also like a great deal of money I would rather not spend.

I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, other than the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away, may the Name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21). And while we join Christ in the work of His new creation, a new heaven and a new earth, we ain’t yet perfect and it ain’t yet here (2 Corinthians 5:17, 2 Peter 3:13-15).

Also, there is no owl.

Hopefully, the start of the school year next week at Elgin Community College and School District U46, the second-largest in Illinois, will be a little quieter. Here’s what I’ve written the past two weeks leading up to that:

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.



ECC sustains green efforts with passion for native plants (Sun-Times Media)

ELGIN — Gardening is one of Harriet Happel’s passions.

Happel — office coordinator for Elgin Community College’s division of Sustainability, Safety & Career Technologies — plants native vegetation that will attract the birds and bees to her home, she said. She plants river birch and pussy willow in the flood area in her backyard, plants that absorb water without altering the environment.

“I think part of it is getting that connection with things after everything we do all day that’s artificial,” she said.

Happel was one of about two dozen Elgin Community College students, staff and faculty who connected Thursday with the Kane County Forest Preserve District to plant native vegetation near the wetlands on campus at Spartan and Renner drives.

That’s part of the forest preserve district’s Prairie at Home program and part of the community college’s goal to create a more sustainable campus.

Volunteers chipped spades and struggled with an auger Thursday in the hard-packed dirt — a result of the recent hot, dry weather in the Elgin area — to put in more than 500 plants native to northern Illinois. Some familiar plants include coneflower, bee balm, coreopsis and wild quinine, according to Robb Cleave, volunteer coordinator for the forest district.

“A lot of them are really showy, so it’ll be a nice aesthetic addition to the campus,” Cleave said.

For the rest of the story, read ECC sustains green efforts with passion for native plants (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.

Weekly Wrap-Up: Catching up after a full week in the Northwoods…

I spent most of the weekend catching up on sleep, and most of the workday Monday catching up on email after I spent the first week of June with my nonprofit, Hope for the First Nations, on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota. I plan to write more about that trip Monday on the blog.

Meantime, here are all the articles I wrote that week and this week for my day job at Sun-Times Media:

Photo credit: File photo for Sun-Times Media.