Board Authorizes Feasibility Study of Student Housing in Pottstown

Over the past several years, growing numbers of Montgomery County Community College students have expressed their desire to have the “full college experience,” which, for many, includes campus housing and the wrap-around services supporting it.

“Research shows that engaged students are more likely to persist and graduate,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, president. “At commuter institutions like ours, many students leave campus immediately after class, which makes it challenging to create a campus identity or to grow involvement. However, students who live on or near campus have a built in support network that can help to keep them engaged and connected with their education.”

See NBC10’s coverage

Eighteen months ago, the College began investigating the feasibility of offering student housing in partnership with a private developer. The College’s research—which included focus groups, an email survey, a peer institution analysis, an off-campus market analysis, and a financial pro forma—yielded promising results, and Pottstown emerged as an early candidate for further exploration.

“The College’s West Campus, situated in an urban, downtown setting, is easily walkable and has numerous resources that are attractive to our students—restaurants, art venues, parks, and more. Plus, it compliments the Borough’s economic redevelopment efforts,” said Dr. Steady Moono, vice president of MCCC’s West Campus.

Read about it in ‘The Mercury’

During focus groups and a survey,  students from both Central and West campuses expressed interest in Pottstown student housing. Importantly, MCCC’s peer institutional analysis revealed that community colleges with student housing report increased recruitment—especially for international students and athletes, as well as county residents—thus creating a more diverse campus environment.

As the next step in the process, the Board of Trustees authorized College officials to negotiate a letter of intent with Cross Properties, Inc., of Philadelphia, on Feb. 23. The letter of intent commits the College to working exclusively with Cross Properties to continue exploring the feasibility and logistics of developing student housing at MCCC’s West Campus in Pottstown without incurring risk or negotiating a lease agreement at this time.

According to Dr. Moono, the College issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) in June 2014 and a Request for Proposals (RFP) in late July 2014, followed by presentations and Q&A sessions with five private developers, through which Cross Properties was ultimately selected.

“Over the next several months, Cross Properties, Inc. will explore potential site options, as well as land development and permitting, should the College choose to proceed with developing student housing at our West Campus in Pottstown,” said Moono.

~ by Alana J. Mauger

West End Student Theatre, Theatre Arts Program Present Pulitzer Prize-Winning Drama ‘Rabbit Hole’

by Diane VanDyke

"Rabbit Hole" cast includes Myasia Bynum, Carly Watson, Ron Quay, Sarah Koch, and Andrew Miller and is directed by Tim Gallagher. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

“Rabbit Hole” cast includes Myasia Bynum, Carly Watson, Ron Quay, Sarah Koch, and Andrew Miller and is directed by Tim Gallagher. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College’s West End Student Theatre and Theatre Arts program are proud to present “Rabbit Hole,” a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama by David Lindsay-Abaire. Show dates are Thursday-Saturday, November 13, 14 and 15, at 7 p.m. All performances will be held in the College’s South Hall Community Room, 101 College Drive, Pottstown. Tickets are $10 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, call 215-641-6518 between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. or visit mc3.edu/livelyarts.

“Rabbit Hole,” the 2007 winner for the Pulitzer Prize, is a bittersweet drama about finding hope in the lowest moments of life and the paths taken to return to the light of day. It tells the story of Becca and Howie, two young parents who could be anybody’s neighbors in a typical suburb, until the accidental death of their four-year-old son tests everything about that life… and their marriage.

“There is no manual for mourning. How or when do you restart/redefine your life in the face of loss? Becca and Howie are grieving the death of their son in very different ways. A terrible accident has uprooted their lives and created a wedge between them. Ultimately, this play is a journey home…a defiant, funny yet delicate journey home,” says director Tim Gallagher. This production contains adult themes and language.

Directed by Gallagher, assisted by Rianna Isbell, and stage managed by Desiree Humes, the cast includes Myasia Bynum, Carly Watson, Ron Quay, Sarah Koch, and Andrew Miller. The production is designed, produced and presented by the students of the West End Student Theatre, which includes Anthony Romano, Alex Hollowell, Nicole Corsey, Jeffrey Chernesky, Sarah Robbins, Freddy Ortiz, Joseph Donley, Lexi Lyon, Allie Johns, Sherry Smith, Edston Detrich, Sarah Robbins, under the guidance of Gallagher.

G-STEM Introduces Teens to the World of Environmental Science

by Diane VanDyke

Shakeem Lynch holds up a crayfish he found in the Schuylkill River. Photo by Diane VanDyke

Shakeem Lynch holds up a crayfish he found in the Schuylkill River. Photo by Diane VanDyke

For participating Pottstown Middle School students, Montgomery County Community College’s G-STEM— Green Science, Technology, Engineering and Math—program was the first opportunity they ever had to explore the Schuylkill River, hold crayfish or see schools of minnows swim by their legs.

By testing the water quality at various locations along the river, as well as in the Manatawny Creek tributary, students learned about what may impact the life cycle and inhabitants of this river aquarium.

“It is interesting and makes you think,” says Tyler Carter, one of the participants. “It’s a higher level of learning. We get to use what we learn in the classroom right here.”

“We learned scientific terms and concepts,” added Payton Reid, explaining that the program covers more material than what he has learned in school. “It’s good practice for college.”

Carter and Reid were two of 13 Pottstown Middle School students who participated in the one-week, academically intensive summer camp held June 23-27 at the College’s West Campus in Pottstown. G-STEM’s objective is to improve scientific literacy, environmental stewardship and appreciation of humanity’s responsibility in sustaining the environment.

“The philosophical goal is to provide an environment where students are exposed to and use scientific methodology and in doing so experience a success in a high-intensity science program with the expectation that will translate into a desire to pursue a college career in the sciences.

G-STEM provides a unique opportunity for these students to experience the career of a scientist,” Biology Associate Professor Dr. Davi Gonzales said.

In addition to the learning the basic concepts of scientific methodology, students learned about chemical concepts and data analysis. Each hands-on activity focused on environmental issues relevant to their community. At the conclusion of the program, the students displayed and shared their results using graphs, tables and Power Point programs with family, faculty and visitors.

For the past four years under the direction of Dr. Gonzales, MCCC has offered G-STEM to Pottstown area youth at no cost to the students, thanks to the generous funding of TD Charitable Foundation, the charitable giving arm of TD Bank.

Participating Pottstown Middle School students included Kha’la Frazier, Tyler Carter, Lamar Green, Dazah Regusters, Rebecca Harper, Terrell Taylor-Williams, Shakayla Sergent, Shakeem Lynch, Floyd Dashieel, Payton Reid, Alexandria Olvera, Shanyia Johnson and Keirsten Hickey.

Students work directly with College faculty, including Dr. Gonzales, program director and recruiter, teacher assistant trainer and faculty; Geology Professor Robert Kuhlman; Microbiology Assistant Professor Dr. James Bretz; Chemistry Assistant Professor Dr. Janet Graden; Biology Lecturer Dr. Matt Bobiak; Biology Lecturer Dr. Adam Meacham; and Mathematics Instructor Stephanie Isaac. Teaching assistants included Kaitlyn DeJohn, Patrick Robenoet and Amy Shaw.

Pottstown Middle School students waded through various parts of the Schuylkill River to take water and animal specimens for examination. Photo by Diane VanDyke

Pottstown Middle School students waded through various parts of the Schuylkill River to take water and animal specimens for examination. Photo by Diane VanDyke

Dance Program Offered in Pottstown This Fall

by Diane VanDyke

Dance students perform during the fall Performing Arts Showcase at Montgomery County Community College. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Dance students perform during the fall Performing Arts Showcase at Montgomery County Community College. Photo by Sandi Yanisko

Montgomery County Community College is now accepting registration for its Associate in Arts degree program in Dance to be offered at its West Campus in Pottstown starting Fall 2014.

This 63-credit program provides both a liberal arts background and dance courses comparable to classes offered during the first two years at a four-year institution. Classes include modern dance, ballet, jazz, hip hop, dance improvisation, dance composition, dance repertory and performance, dance wellness and fitness and dance history.

“The program is unique in that it offers courses for dancers of all levels, from beginners to experienced dancers,” said Dr. Melinda Copel, Coordinator of Dance, indicating that novices can take fundamentals-level dance courses while simultaneously taking degree courses.

Dance classes are open to all students, regardless of their majors, and will meet core education requirements for Exercise and Health Sciences and Aesthetic Sensibility and the Arts.

The Associate in Arts degree program in Dance allows students to transfer into a baccalaureate program in dance at many colleges and universities.

“There are a number of career possibilities in dance including performer, choreographer, teacher, dance or movement therapist, dance historian and writer, dance critic, arts administrator, and dance notator,” Dr. Copel said. “There are performance opportunities in a variety of settings including dance concerts, opera, musical theater, musical productions, television, movies, music videos, cruise ships and theme parks, such as Disney World or Sesame Place.”

“Many dancers combine performance with careers in dance education or choreography,” she said. “Dance educators teach in higher education, K-12 schools, private dance studios and community centers. Some open their own studios. Students may wish to combine their studies in dance with a related field such as technical theater or physical therapy. The arts are a big industry in the Philadelphia area, and there are plenty of opportunities.”

Beyond courses, students have performance opportunities with the College’s Dance Performance Ensemble, which is open to all students. Both the Dance Ensemble and the Dance Repertory class perform at the end of each semester.

For more information or to register, contact Dr. Melinda Copel at mcopel@mc3.edu or 215-641-6346.

West End Student Theatre Presents ’10 Minute Play Fest’

by Diane VanDyke

PDC_10minfestMontgomery County Community College’s West End Student Theatre and Theatre Arts program are proud to present “10 Minute Play Fest,” a collection of short, fantastic and foolishly humorous plays April 9, 10 and 11, at 7 p.m. in the South Hall Community Room, 101 College Drive, Pottstown.

Faculty member Jessica DalCanton leads student directors Zach Clark for “9 Hours to Fallujah” by Craig McNulty; Jeff Chernesky for “Median” by John Stinson; and Thomas Keller for “Black Paintings” by Neil Olsen. Additionally, DalCanton directs “The Hardy Boys and the Mystery of Where Babies Come From” by Christopher Durang.

The production ensemble includes Joseph Ricci, Rianna Isbell, Finbarr O’Connor, Ron Quay, Kendra Houck, Austin Moyer, Carly Watson, Ryland X. Beck, Leyna Gilleland, Zac Goodling and Michael Fitzpatrick.

The production is designed, produced and presented by the students of the West End Student Theatre under the guidance of Tim Gallagher and Jessica DalCanton.

The community is invited to this fun-filled evening of entertainment. Tickets cost $8 for general admission and $5 for students and seniors. To purchase tickets, visit mc3.edu/livelyarts or call 215-641-6518.

West Gallery Hosts Ninth Annual Art Students’ Exhibition & Competition

by Diane VanDyke

“The Bottle on the Beach,” oil painting by Lauren Marsh, Pottstown.

“The Bottle on the Beach,” oil painting by Lauren Marsh, Pottstown.

Montgomery County Community College will be highlighting the talent of its art students at its Ninth Annual Art Students’ Exhibition and Competition, which opens Monday, March 17, and continues through Friday, April 28, at the Fine Arts Gallery, North Hall, 16 High Street, Pottstown.

Approximately 50 students will be displaying their artwork in the show. The artists’ reception will be held Wednesday, March 19, from 5-7 p.m. with the awards ceremony at 6 p.m.

The exhibition and reception are free of charge and open to the public. The Fine Arts Gallery is open Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m.-9:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Closed weekends.

BLOG Tent

“The Tent,” oil painting by Sarah Schleiden, Gilbertsville.

The exhibition includes a full-range of media, including ceramics, sculptures, oil paintings, water colors, drawings, photography, digital arts and mixed media.

For more information about the exhibition, contact Gallery Director Holly Cairns at 215-619-7349 or hcairns@mc3.edu.

Follow us on Facebook at facebook.com/DestinationArts for information about upcoming performances and art exhibitions.

Students Raise $420 for West Campus Scholarship Fund

by Alana J. Mauger

Student leaders at Montgomery County Community College’s West Campus in Pottstown raised $420 during their 13th Annual Lasagna Dinner on Feb. 19.

Proceeds from the dinner benefit the West Campus Student Scholarship Fund through the College’s Foundation. The scholarship is awarded annually to a West Campus student who is engaged in community service and is in good academic standing.

The buffet meal of meat or veggie lasagna, salad, bread, dessert and beverage was served by MCCC student leaders and was available for dine-in or take-out. Between 6-7 p.m., members of MCCC’s West End Student Theatre (WEST) presented an interactive improv dating show that had diners roaring with laughter.

The West Campus Lasagna Dinner is one of MCCC’s “50 Acts of Kindness” as part of the College’s 50th anniversary celebration. Throughout 2014, MCCC students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters are committed organizing 50 acts of community service – one for every year of the College’s existence. To learn more at the College’s 50th anniversary activities, visit mc3.edu/50.

To learn more about scholarship opportunities through MCCC’s Foundation, visit mc3.edu/giving.

Photos by Sandi Yanisko