Red Sox, Working for Worcester, and Music Events!

Hi everyone! Hope you are surviving the unseasonable cold that has struck Mt. St. James and that spring comes back soon! I’ve been pretty busy the past couple weeks, making it to a Red Sox game, Working for Worcester, and looking forward to a bunch of music opportunities!

This past Friday my friends and I took the commuter rail into Boston to see a Red Sox game at Fenway Park! It was the first time I had been in a while, and some of my friends’ first time in general. Although our seats got pretty chilly, we enjoyed watching the Red Sox beat the Orioles 8-3 (except for my roommate, Elena, who will always root for the Orioles).

My friends and I at Fenway Park! (notice Elena’s Orioles gear)

Yesterday, I volunteered with Working for Worcester, an organization looking to benefit the Worcester community through acts of service. Started by two Holy Cross students in 2012, Working for Worcester has a build day every year, where members of the community, including students at local colleges, families, and government officials, all help out to improve different areas in Worcester.  My group, lead by one of my friends from spring break immersion, helped clean up a local park. My friend Ian (a Worcester native) lead a group at a local elementary school, where they helped refinish an outdoor basketball court. Take a look at this before and after shot–great job, guys!

These next couple weeks I have a lot of work to do as we close out the semester, including a variety of musical opportunities. On April 25, the Chamber Orchestra is playing a concert with the artist-in-residence Jan Müller-Szeraws, an incredibly gifted cellist and musician who will be playing the Saint-Saens cello concerto. We also have a guest clinician, Dr. Heidel, coming to work with the concert band before our concert on April 29. It is sure to be an exciting couple of weeks musically!

Check back in soon to hear about more updates from Holy Cross!

Academic Profile: Teddy Roosevelt’s America

Hi everyone! March seemed to fly by this year, as it usually does, and this week I wanted to profile one of my favorite classes. Teddy Roosevelt’s America is my 110 level history course that is all first year students and taught by one of my favorite professors, Prof. Ed O’Donnell. We examine the Gilded Age and Progressive Era through the lens of Roosevelt’s complex and sometimes controversial presidency while learning important reading and writing skills.

Each class, we usually talk as a full group and then meet in smaller groups to discuss the readings or viewings for that particular class. It is extra helpful to first be able to bounce ideas or interpretations off peers rather than in front of the whole class right away! Then we reconvene as a class and one or two people will share some of the best ideas we had in our group. We’re about halfway through the semester, but I can already tell my oral presentation skills have improved!

We also have a couple semester-long projects, including a podcast project, in which two students choose an event from 1870-1920 (roughly TR’s period of relevance) and produce a 7-10 minute podcast about it. There is a lot of research involved in not only the history aspect (mine is about the Flu Epidemic of 1918) but also on how to write and deliver an effective podcast, including narrative storytelling and background music and sounds! We will even get to record them in a soundbooth on campus before the end of the semester! Part of our homework for each class is listening to history podcasts to learn not only about the history itself but also how the narrators style and craft the podcast itself.

We also have two debates throughout the semester. The debate takes a full class period and each group member has either a major speaking role or writing role. We take a step away from our era in history to discuss modern topics, like DACA and gun control.  I am looking forward to mine in April!

Hope you enjoyed this week’s profile on one of my favorite classes, Teddy Roosevelt’s America! Check back in soon to hear more updates from the hill!

 

Spring Break Immersion: Glasgow, VA

Hi everyone! I hope you all survived the snow and enjoyed a restful spring break (if you had one!). As I mentioned last time, I spent my spring break in Glasgow, VA immersing myself in their culture and values–and had a great time!

The trip was interesting to say the least. Most days were spent doing service work for the community, like cleaning and doing yard work for elderly citizens and painting the community center. We were also invited to a variety of church services and meals, which gave us an opportunity to interact with members of the community and hear their stories. Like all groups on SBIP, we all participated in reflection at the end of every day to help process what we had seen and heard and help find meaning in what we were doing.

My group and I were graciously welcomed at the local Episcopal church for dinner one evening.

While in Glasgow, we were housed in a local community center (which we eventually helped paint) and slept on cots. We cooked some of our own meals and were generously fed by members of the community for others. A big part of Appa specifically is “roughing it,” or not totally knowing what we are going to do next, but it makes the trip exciting and fun!

In addition to meeting a great community, my group from Holy Cross was able to bond and now we are all great friends! I loved getting to know upperclassmen whom I may not have met otherwise. Our bond is definitely unique, as we spent a whole week living, working and learning about this great community together.

My group and I right before we left Glasgow at the end of the week!

For now, I will just have my souvenirs to remind me of my great week as I adjust back to reality and prepare for midterms and papers. Check back in soon to hear about more happenings on the Hill!

Warm Weather and Preparing for SBIP

Hi everyone! Hope you all enjoyed Valentine’s Day and are off to a reflective season of Lent. These past two weeks have been busy academically, but I found time to go for a hike when it was warm and prepared to go on Spring Break Immersion!

One of my favorite parts about Holy Cross is the variety of volunteer opportunities. One of the biggest volunteer programs is the Spring Break Immersion Program (SBIP) where students travel to different areas around the country and immerse themselves in a new community. While we are there, we get to know a new group of people and perform some volunteer work, like painting, cleaning, landscaping, etc. I’ve never been on a trip like this before, so I am really excited!

My group has about nine students, including a senior leader. On the application, there is a spot to declare who you know who is going on SBIP–so they don’t put you in a group with people you already know! It is a great opportunity to meet new people, especially upperclassmen, who I might not have met otherwise. We have already had a couple meetings to go over planning for the trip, and I am excited to get to know each member of my group better!

Although I’ve been pretty busy doing work the past couple weeks, I found some time this week to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and go on a hike with my friends! It was my first hike and I am already looking forward to going back in the spring.

My friends and I on a hike (taken by my friend Emma!)

That’s all I have for now–check back in soon to hear about Spring Break Immersion!

Montserrat Event: Ignatian Yoga at the Joyce Contemplative Center!

Hi everyone! Hope you all enjoyed the Super Bowl and this less-than-snowy February (I am not complaining!). This week I want to profile my one of my Montserrat extracurricular events–Ignatian yoga with Bobby Karle SJ!

As I’ve mentioned before, Holy Cross has a yearlong seminar course called Montserrat, which is regularly scheduled and has papers and reading like any other class (in fact, it might be my most challenging class). My Montserrat is philosophy based and my professor is a Jesuit, but there are Montserrat classes in nearly every discipline! We participate in discussion every week and really get to know each other and our professor, because we spend all year in the same class.

Montserrat is organized in six clusters (mine is Contemporary Challenges), each focused on a different theme. Members of clusters are housed together during the first year, so Montserrat becomes a living and learning experience. In addition to regular class, Montserrat includes special events, like attending talks from visitors to campus, viewing relevant films, and trying new activities.

My friend Anne and I practicing yoga at the Joyce Contemplative Center on the Escape Retreat earlier this year.

Our January special event was a visit to the brand new (opened in 2015!) Joyce Contemplative Center, where we were introduced to Ignatian yoga, led by a friend of my professor, Bobby Karle SJ. We learned a bit about Ignatian spirituality in general, got to know each other a little better, and practiced yoga and meditation. Although Ignatian spirituality is rooted in Catholic thought–after all, it is based on the life and teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola–I found the meditation very neutral, and many of my non-Catholic friends said they were able to find peace and calm during the yoga and meditation.

It was a nice opportunity to get away for an evening and eat a delicious dinner at the Contemplative Center (it is well known on campus for its homecooked meals) and see our classmates outside of class and our residence hall. Overall it was a great experience, and I cannot wait until my next opportunity to visit the retreat center!

The chapel at the Joyce Contemplative Center (from http://www.telegram.com/storyimage/WT/20161031/NEWS/161039833/AR/0/AR-161039833.jpg)

Thanks for reading my profile on Montserrat and Ignatian Yoga. Check in next time for more updates from the Hill!

Back on the Hill and Dance Marathon!

Hi everyone! Since my last post I have moved back into school, started new classes, and completed a Dance Marathon (I’m shocked too).

Last Monday I moved back into my dorm and on Tuesday I started classes for the new semester. Some people call the first week back “syllabus week” because they don’t think you’ll do any actual work (and just go over the syllabus in class), but at least in my experience that was not at all true! Although we spent time going over the syllabus, I was in the library every day making sure I stayed on track with various assignments. We do not waste any time here at Holy Cross!

My friends Julianna, Emma and I at Dance Marathon!

Additionally, this past Friday I participated in Holy Cross Dance Marathon (HCDM) to benefit the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF). Participants are sponsored and meet a fundraising goal (though most surpass it) and commit to staying up from 8PM to 8AM. You don’t have to dance the whole time, but you at least have to stay standing! Luckily, the steering committee scheduled a variety of activities, like performances from student bands and the dance ensemble, as well as vigils and talks about EGPAF and the important work they do. I was also visited by many supportive friends and my Montserrat professor (he is a Jesuit and lives on campus).

Needless to say, my feet are very sore but it was all for a great cause. Overall we raised just over $27,000 to bring treatment to babies born HIV-positive–great job dancers!

Check back in soon to hear about Spring Break Immersion’s Reveal Night, a visit to the Joyce Contemplative Center, and returning to SPUD and orchestra!

 

Visiting Philadelphia and Preparing for Next Semester

Hi everyone! Hope you all had a good New Years celebration and you’re sticking to your resolutions (if you made any!). I’ve been relaxing and preparing for second semester (and managed a visit to Philadelphia)!

Last weekend I drove down to Philadelphia to visit my friend Emma from school. I had never been before, and Emma introduced us to some of Philadelphia’s best-known sights and food, although it was pretty cold. Here I am with my roommate Elena, who made the trip up from Baltimore, eating Philly cheesesteaks (which were really good!). Shoutout to Emma and her family for hosting us and not making fun of our hats!

I have also been preparing for second semester, buying books and checking syllabi (yes, some of them are available!). This semester I am taking Music Theory 2, Teddy Roosevelt’s America (a super cool history class) and Principles of American Government in the PoliSci department. I will also be taking my Montserrat, which is philosophy based–my professor (who is a Jesuit!) will stay the same.

Although Montserrat classes last a whole year, as opposed to just a semester, usually the focus switches at least a bit. For example, last semester in my class we talked about “Degradation and Demonization” in terms of genocide, and this semester we will talk about “Reconciliation and Remembrance” with regard to similar events. So although we will continue reading a couple books from last semester, the focus of our discussions will shift.

That’s all I have for now! Be sure to check back in two weeks when I am back on the Hill!

Midnight Breakfast, Finals Results and Christmas Break!

Hi everyone! Hope you all survived finals (if you had them) and enjoyed a relaxing holiday with loved ones. Last time I talked about preparing for finals, and now I can discuss taking them and receiving final grades, as well as finding something to do with myself for the next 3 weeks.

I had three finals this semester: English, Music Theory, and Calculus I, which all happened to be on consecutive days. That’s not how it will always work, because they assign finals times based on when your class meets, but it was convenient this time around. After the finals period, the professors have time to grade profusely and then grades are released online (this year it was Dec. 19). One thing that makes college different from high school is that you just get a letter grade for each class–you don’t know what you got on the final itself, or what comments your professors have, just a final letter grade. It’s not as scary as it sounds, but it was definitely a change.

But finals week isn’t all books and stress! On the  Sunday night at the beginning of finals week, Kimball hosts a “midnight breakfast” (actually 9PM breakfast) served by some of the Jesuits to nourish us as we begin studying. For each following night in finals week, Crossroads serves midnight breakfast; although not quite as charming as being served bacon by your Montserrat professor, it achieves the same idea. Additionally, Dinand Library serves free coffee after 10PM each night of finals, because if you’re in the library after 10PM, you definitely need a pick-me-up.

Of course, the best part about finals is finishing and journeying home for Christmas! Holy Cross gave each student a Christmas present in the form of a fun video about the 12 Days of Christmas (link below). I’ve watched it at least 10 times.

Video: 12 Days of a Holy Cross Christmas

Be sure to check back in a couple weeks as I prepare to move back on the Hill for second semester!

 

Concert Band, Lessons and Carols, and FINALS!

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are enjoying this season of Advent. Here on the Hill we’ve had two weeks of class and we’re now in finals period. But I also want to talk about the Concert Band concert, Lessons and Carols and the snow!

First up is the Concert Band concert, which we had on Dec. 3. It was a great first concert and I’m excited for second semester (highlights from next semester’s program include Give Us This Day by David Maslanka). Even Fr. Boroughs came!

The reason I delayed my usual alternating-Wednesdays blogging schedule is because I wanted to talk about Lessons and Carols, which took place this past Thursday. It is a tradition dating back to King’s College in the UK in 1918, and one Holy Cross adopted in 1978. There are nine Biblical readings and each is followed by a responsory song or anthem. As part of the Chamber Orchestra, I was able to participate musically, working with the Concert Choir and both student organists on campus. It was really neat to play in (full!) St. Joseph’s Chapel, where the acoustics are amazing. To make the evening extra special, Kimball Dining Hall had its annual Christmas dinner the same night! If you missed Lessons and Carols–don’t worry! The event was livestreamed and  published on YouTube.

This is a picture my mom took of St. Joseph’s Chapel decorated for Lessons and Carols.

Click for a video of “O Come All Ye Faithful” my mom took at Lessons and Carols!

After a SUPER busy two weeks of classes (my busiest so far, which is saying a lot), Holy Cross is now officially in “finals mode.” Final exams take a week, and as soon as you are done you get to go home for Christmas break. Monday is a study day, where professors hold review sessions and Dinand Library is sure to be packed; the exams themselves take place between Tuesday and Saturday. In college, depending on the class, final exams can be a fairly big portion of your overall grade for a class, so students will do everything they can to make sure they do well! I only have three exams, since my Montserrat final was a paper followed by a presentation and defense in class, but I still have a lot of studying to do!

Also, if you thought Holy Cross was enthusiastic in general, you should see us at Christmas! Each dorm is decorated to the nines (my hyper-festive roommate wrapped our door in early November) and we just had our first snow last night. Friends are exchanging gifts, Elf is being streamed constantly during study breaks, the bookstore had its annual 20% off sale last week, and the Office of Student Involvement offered free gift wrapping for students–Christmas is definitely here!

Wheeler Hall during the snow (taken by my friend Emma!)

Check back in soon to see if I survive final exams and prepare for Christmas! Happy studying!

 

 

 

Pep Band, Enrollment, and John Mackey!

Hi everyone! I hope you are all home safe for Thanksgiving and ready to celebrate tomorrow! We finished classes yesterday and I came home last night for the first time since October break. But besides preparing for my favorite holiday, during the past two weeks I played in pep band for the first time, met John Mackey, and enrolled for next semester!

Last Saturday I played for Holy Cross Pep Band for the first time! We played for the men’s hockey team vs Air Force and it was really neat to play a new role at the games, since I go to most of them anyway. Pep band traditionally plays the National Anthem as well as every third whistle during the game, and it is a great opportunity to play more well-known songs (like “How Far I’ll Go” from Moana) than our Concert Band repertoire. It was a great experience and I am looking forward to the rest of the hockey and basketball games!

In other music news, this past Friday the one and only John Mackey came to campus as Concert Band’s guest clinician for the semester. We are playing one of his pieces, “Foundry” for our upcoming concert and it was really neat to meet with him and receive his input. For context, bands around the country, from middle schools to conservatories, play his music (even one group at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade!) and he is widely known in the wind ensemble community. I played his music throughout high school, so it was really neat to see him in person!

Additionally, even though it feels like I just moved in, last Monday I enrolled for my second semester classes. I will be taking political science, history, music theory 2 (for the major) and I will continue with my Montserrat. For whatever reason–probably to make you question taking 8AMs–enrollment takes place at 7 AM on a Monday, so inter-house council provided a lovely post-enrollment breakfast for first-year students.

That’s all for now! Be sure to check back in for some post-Thanksgiving updates as I brave the two weeks of class heading into finals. Happy Thanksgiving!