Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Students present research at national health technology conference

Thawda Aung '13 and Jim Kwon '14 recently went to a national conference to talk about a technology they are developing with a Randolph College professor.

The two students traveled with Katrin Schenk, a physics professor, to the 2011 mHealth Summit, an annual conference that focuses on using wireless technology to improve medical care. This year's event brought together leaders in government, the private sector, industry, academia, health care providers and nonprofit groups from across the country. 

Kwon gave a talk about using cell phones to measure gait speed. Aung presented a poster about using cell phones to monitor patients and motivate them to increase physical activity.

Kwon and Aung have collaborated with Schenk, as well as researchers from other institutions, to develop cell phone programs that measure a medical patient's activity, giving doctors better information about how to treat various illnesses. Their project won a grant from the Alzheimer's Association to study its application to Alzheimer's disease.

NAACP honors Hermina Hendricks for community service

Earlier this month, the Lynchburg Unit of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People honored a Randolph College staff member for her service to the community.

Hermina Hendricks, the College’s multicultural student services director and a music instructor, received the organization’s Citizen Achievement Award, an annual award that recognizes people who have contributed much to the community.

Hendricks said she was surprised to learn that she would receive the award, but it recognized that she had met a long-held goal. “One thing I always wanted to do was make a difference in my community,” she said.

Hendricks has served the community in numerous ways while teaching music in the public schools, and working at the College since 1997.

She has served on grant review panels for the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has held leadership positions in the Lynchburg Chapter of the Links, Project LEAD, National Committee for Services to Youth, Lynch’s Landing, the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, and more.

She recently conducted a choir for a holiday concert benefitting the Dunbar High School Memorial Wall Committee. She is conducting research on the life of Clarence Seay, who worked for 30 years as principal of Dunbar, Lynchburg’s African American high school in the days of racial segregation.

The endless service came naturally to Hendricks. “One thing led to another. When I was asked to serve on a committee or board, I would just say yes and try to give my time, my talent, my energy, or my voice, to whatever the community needed,” she said.

At the College, Hendricks teaches music history classes, such as jazz history and popular music in America. She also plans multicultural programming and leads initiatives to strengthen diversity on campus.

A few years ago, she was one of the organizers of Lynchburg’s first Get!Downtown Festival, an annual event that draws thousands of people, including many local college students. She said the idea came about as she and others were trying to help more people get to know Lynchburg.

“I wanted people to like the city and to see the city the way I see it,” she said.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Winter break in the U.S. Virgin Islands? Yes, please.

What are you doing for winter break?

Six Randolph College spent finals week and the first part of the break on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. They conducted research that could be useful to people working to save the beautiful coral reefs there. (They soaked up rays in 80-degree December weather, too.)

This fall, they took an environmental forensics class taught by Kathy Schaefer, a biology professor, and Brad Bullock, a sociology professor. Then they went to St. John applying what they learned.

They tested water in the streams and bays around the island, looking for coliform bacteria, such as E. Coli. They hope to discover whether such bacteria are causing damage to the coral reefs.

The coral reefs are an important part of St. John’s ecology and economy, but they have experienced significant damage in recent years. Knowing whether coliform bacteria contributes to the damage could influence interventions designed to protect the reefs.

The research trip was funded partly by the Randolph Innovative Student Experience, a program that allows each student to apply for up to $2,000 to fund research projects, creative projects, and other projects and activities that give them hands-on experience and skills that apply what they learn in the classroom.

This research trip is one example of how Randolph students are gaining experience that is unique for undergrads. It also is a great reason to spend a couple of weeks travel to the Virgin Islands—in case you need an excuse to go there.
Much thanks to Danielle Robinson ’12 for sending the photos!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tips for a sustainable, environmentally-friendly holiday season

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me,
A donation to a charity—and a card on recycled paper, along with a basket of local produce.

The holidays are often associated with plenty of activity involving buying, sharing, and throwing away. But the celebrations can become more friendly to the environment by rethinking a few traditions.

Ludovic Lemaitre ’11, Randolph College’s sustainability coordinator, and John Abell, a Randolph economics professor who studies sustainability, recently created a list of ways to make the holidays more friendly to the environment and the community.

From local food to recycled giftwrap, here are 12 ways to make a more sustainable season:

1.      When you prepare for holiday dinners, stop by your local farmers’ market. Greens, meat, fruit, and dairy products are in season and often of better quality than similar supermarket items. At the market, you get fresh produce and invest in your local community.
John Abell

Even if you are traveling out of town for a holiday dinner, you can contribute to the sustainability of the meal by bringing locally-produced food from growers you know. A cooler and ice will help you transport produce, turkey, chicken, or a ham.

2.      Use reusable plates and cups. They are classier than disposables, and cut down on landfill waste.

3.      Look for recycled, fair trade, or locally-made gifts. Yard sales, antiques, and thrift stores are also great places to find quality, meaningful, and low-impact gifts. Gifts without batteries are a bonus, because the recipient will not have to buy batteries nor throw them away.

4.      If you want to offer an electronic or electric appliance as a gift, select s product with the Energy Star certification. It will cost less to operate and will be more friendly to the environment in the long run.

5.      When you wrap gifts, use reusable cloth, personalized brown paper grocery bags, or the comics section of your newspaper.

6.      Your gift doesn’t have to be something you can hold in your hand. Go for services such as dance lessons, performance tickets, whitewater rafting trips, camping trips, etc. Also, consider giving a financial gift to a charity in the name of your family and friends.

Because people wish for their charitable contributions to be used wisely, you might want to peruse Charity Navigator, where you can learn about how charities use their contributions.

7.      Go light on lights! There are many ways to decorate without making the electric meter go round. Look for LED lights and other reusable decorative items. Check out d├ęcor from fair-trade suppliers like Ten Thousand Villages, make your own decorations, or buy local.

8. Try a potted Christmas tree that you can use for several years, or a plastic one made of recycled content that you can use for a lifetime.

Ludovic Lemaitre

9. Donate items you don’t use anymore. It will open up space in your closet or living room, make other people happy, and give new life to your unwanted items.

10. Save paper by sending electronic greeting cards. It will save on paper. However, if you feel paper cards have an irreplaceable feel to them, use recycled and FSC-certified paper.

11.   When the holiday season is over, recycle everything you do not need: plastic bottles, aluminum cans, wine bottles, gift packages, etc. Compost food leftover from holiday parties.

12.   Give the gift of time. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, nursing home, homeless shelter, or another community organization.

Abell pointed out that a change in gift giving habits could be met with some surprise as it departs from traditions. Therefore, the sustainable holiday habits might require careful consideration, conversation, and role modeling.

What do you think? Have you and your family made any changes to limit the environmental and social impact of your holiday celebrations? Tell us in the comments below.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Astronomy students study cosmic radio waves in West Virginia observatory

Some of the most important signals stars send through the universe are invisible, so a group of Randolph astronomy students traveled to West Virginia to study the heavens with a radio telescope this month.

Starting at 4 p.m. on Dec. 2, the 30 students worked for 12 hours at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Green Bank, W.Va. They steered a 40-foot radio telescope, collected information from cosmic radio sources, and analyzed the data. The process gave them experience with the kind of work professional astronomers do.

The observatory houses the world’s largest steerable radio telescope with a 100-foot diameter, as well as a 40-foot telescope that is used for educational purposes.

Katrin Schenk, a professor of physics and astronomy, said this was the first time she knows of the College taking students to the Green Bank observatory. While controlling and monitoring a large radio telescope is not an everyday experience, students regularly have the opportunity to study the skies in Winfree Observatory, the College’s star gazing facility featuring a computer-controlled 14-inch telescope.

The observatory also is open to the public for occasional Star Parties, which are listed in the College’s events calendar.

Green Engineering students use physics principles to build solar and pinewood cars

Another group of Randolph College students has learned how to apply engineering principles to build their own solar-powered cars and help local Cub Scouts improve Pinewood Derby car designs.

The Green Engineering Design course explores how engineers can increase energy efficiency for power plants, manufacturing facilities, and vehicles. Peter Sheldon, a physics professor, developed the course after Edison2, a Lynchburg-based automobile design firm, won $5 million from the X Prize Foundation for building a car that gets more than 100 miles per gallon.

This fall, the students in the class built miniature vehicles powered by solar panels. That project culminated in a race, where the team Stagnetti’s Revenge—consisting of Pujan Shrestha ’15, Alex Kwakye ’15, and Mark Patterson ’15—won first place.

The next day, the class traveled to a church in Lynchburg where they helped local Cub Scouts design, build, and improve Pinewood Derby cars. The same type of engineering that can increase a car’s gas mileage can also help a wooden car speed down a track more quickly, so Randolph’s physics students have built a partnership with local Cub Scout groups to practice engineering principles.

In fact, the Randolph College Society of Physics Students hosts a Pinewood Derby race for the Cub Scouts at its annual Science Festival. The next Science Festival slated for March 22-25 in 2012.

In addition to teaching physics and the Green Engineering course, Sheldon coordinates the College’s dual degree program allowing students to study physics and engineering at Randolph for three years and then complete an engineering degree at a partner institution in two years.

Because engineering can help find solutions to many of the world’s problems, Randolph gives students the chance to learn the concepts of the science in an environment of accessible professors and small classes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Student Center Renovation Update December 13

What a difference a few weeks can make! The $6 million renovation project has now fully moved from the demolition phase into the building phase. The structural steel beams are in place in the main area of the Student Center. In fact, you can see the framework for the multi-level open space that will make it possible to see below from the WWRM's new DJ booth. Workers are also installing the flooring systems, which will soon lead to more visible changes.

In addition, what is now an opening in the side of the building will soon be transformed with large windows. Some brick is being removed to accommodate the materials.

Construction is also continuing in the back area of the facility, which previously housed the Skeller and other offices and spaces. The concrete floor has been laid and steel beams are also in place.

Construction will continue while the Randolph is closed for winter break.

It is an exciting time to be at Randolph College!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Computer lab font change could help save money

If you can name this font, you can name one of the newer money-saving, environmentally friendly initiatives on campus.

This semester, the default font on all computers in the College's computer labs has been changed to Century Gothic. With its thin lines, it takes less ink to print a page in this font than in other fonts, such as Ariel or Times New Roman.

Today, this change was featured in a Campus Technology article about easy changes a college can implement to become more sustainable.

Ludovic Lemaitre ’11, the College’s sustainability coordinator, recently showed Victor Gosnell, chief technology officer, a Printer.com study about fonts that use less ink. Century Gothic emerged as the font with the smallest footprint, closely followed by Ecofont, which has tiny holes in the lines of text, and Times new Roman.

The second page of the Campus Technology article "Green Flash" tells how Gosnell decided to implement the changes at Randolph College. In September, the information technology team began changing the default font used in the College's computer labs.

"We continuously keep our eyes open for new ways to save resources, time, and money," Gosnell says in the story.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Davenport leaders adopt a home in Madison Heights

A home in Madison Heights is ready for the holiday season thanks to a group of Randolph College students.

The students in the Susan F. Davenport Leadership Program have adopted a duplex owned by Rush Homes, a nonprofit that helps people obtain affordable housing.

Rush Homes allows groups to adopt homes to provide seasonal decorations, plant flowers, pull weeds, clean gutters, and complete other chores that the residents, who often have disabilities, cannot always do on their own.

Last summer, the Davenport Leadership Institute students decided to adopted a duplex in Madison Heights, a community in Amherst County. Tina Johnson ’93, director of the Experiential Learning Center, also invited past participants in the Davenport program to help with the home.

On Saturday, they went to the home, strung lights through outdoor bushes, swept the porch, and supplied bright poinsettias.

The leadership program is named for Susan Funkhouser Davenport '69. Through classes, mentoring, and community service, students in the program learn about leadership and strengthen leadership skills.

Students celebrate Holiday on Main by making cards for troops

Randolph College community members made 108 greeting cards to be sent to U.S. military troops during Holiday on Main on Friday.

Holiday on Main is an annual tradition during which the College celebrates the season on the last day of classes before exams. Staff members offer homemade cookies and other treats for the students to enjoy.

This year, students, faculty, and staff decorated holiday cards that were then submitted to the Holiday Mail for Heroes program of the American Red Cross. The Red Cross distributes cards from that program to service members, veterans, and their families.

Other activities included making art on cards from the Maier Museum, decorating sugar cookies, signing up for the Career15 network, and enjoying time together before the stress of exams really kicks in.

You can see more photos from Holiday on Main 2011 in this Facebook album.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Political science students excited to meet and hear from political strategist Karl Rove

Republican strategist Karl Rove will speak at Randolph College in January, giving students the opportunity to seek his insight on political strategy, campaigning, the Republican primary and a contentious presidential race.

Rove, the former deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to President George W. Bush, will speak at Randolph on January 26. The College has now opened reservations for free tickets to the public.

Political science students are anxious for the opportunity to speak with Rove and hear his thoughts. Because he is coming to campus less than two years after Howard Dean—former Vermont governor and chair of the Democratic National Committee—they have another chance to converse with a political giant.

“I think that few people have been able to hear firsthand from giants in politics like Howard Dean and Karl Rove,” said Will Dede ’14, who plans to become a legislative assistant after graduating. “Hearing them, their ideas, their positions, their ways of doing things, what they’ve done—that gives you more information than a lot of other people have.”

Rove advised former President Bush in his successful campaigns for the governorship in Texas and the White House.
Karl Rove at Randolph College
Election 2012 Insights
7:30 p.m. January 26, 2012
Smith Hall Theatre
Seating is limited. Request your free tickets online.
Since leaving the Bush administration, he has founded political action committees that support Republican candidates. He is a contributor to Fox News and a columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

Because Rove has always focused on strategy rather than actually serving in elected office, he should have interesting insights into the political process, Dede said. “What he’s going to bring to the school is not the policy side of things, but the political side of things: What you need to do to run a successful campaign,” Dede said.

Dede pointed out that Rove will be on campus shortly after the Iowa caucus and the South Carolina and New Hampshire. “I’m interested in talking to him about what he thinks the candidates are going to do to win the nomination,” he said.

Patrick Glynn ’12 said he expects Rove to provide a stark contrast to Dean’s visit and highlight the debate in the Republican nomination process. He said he looks forward the opportunity to talk with Rove.

Glynn said he expects to disagree with much of what Rove says—he recently worked on a state senate campaign for a Democrat candidate, and last summer he enthusiastically participated in President Barack Obama’s first Twitter Town Hall event. But he said he won’t pass up the opportunity to meet Rove.

“Regardless of my personal beliefs, I do find Mr. Rove to be a fascinating and relevant player in our political system,” Glynn said.

Sue Lockhart, a political science professor specializing in American government, said Rove, who is credited with Bush’s presidential victories, is a perfect follow-up to Dean, who is credited for coming up with the Democrat Party’s strategy that helped elect Obama.

“American politics are quite controversial,” she said. “Textbooks are fine, but hearing from and questioning major figures on both sides is a far better way to engage in the controversies.”

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Chamber holds meeting for elected officials and constituents at College

Randolph College hosted an event for the Lynchburg Regional Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday, December 6.

The chamber holds "Pancakes and Politics" every December to allow constituents the chance to talk to politicians in state government about the upcoming General Assembly session in Richmond.

A group of local business officials filled Smith Banquet Hall for the meeting, which included breakfast catered by Randolph College dining services.

Elected representatives talked about the state of the economy and several issues that they anticipate the General Assembly will face next year.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Student works on photo-a-day goal

Day 46: A photo collage featuring Daisy Chain
If a picture is worth a thousand words, Mimansha Joshi ’14 plans to have 365,000 words-worth by next spring.

Earlier this year, Joshi set a goal to take one photograph every day for a full year.

Since setting that goal, Joshi has documented events at the College, landmarks in Lynchburg, and trips to locations such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and Niagra Falls.

“I just take my camera around,” she said. “I take lots of pictures, actually—sometimes four or five pictures in a day, sometimes one. Whenever I see something interesting, I take a picture.”

Day 229: Mimansha Joshi poured ink into water for this shot.
She posts the daily pictures in two Facebook albums, one for the first half of the 365-day challenge, and one for the second half.

Her favorite image is a photo collage of photos she took during Daisy Chain, a beloved tradition at the college during which sophomores weave a chain of daisies to present to the senior class.

Joshi said she has practiced photography as a hobby for about three years. She was first inspired by a young boy in her home country, Nepal, who had lung disease and spent most of his days sitting on the street near her home, looking at passing cars and people. She started photographing him every day to document his expressions every day.

Day 228: Portraits of Linda Dagnachew ’14
Later, she photographed protesters who were opposing political corruption in Nepal.

One photo she took in Nepal won first place in the People category of the College's 2011 International Photo Contest.

“Photos should tell stories about people,” she said.

Joshi is majoring in environmental studies, and she plans to return to Nepal to pursue a career in that field—possibly in waste water treatment.

Photography could become a backup career, but she prefers to make it a hobby. She has learned that it brings joy to her friends and herself.

“If I ask a friend if I can take her picture, that can really make her happy,” Joshi said. “And when I post them on Facebook every day, and people give comments, they really inspire me and help me take more pictures.”

Day 185: A portrait of Satoko Hiyane
Day 182: Joshi marked the halfway point of her 365-day challenge with this photo of a leaf divided in two.

Randolph Economics Students, Professor Published in Virginia Journal

What is a "food desert"?

A paper researched and written by Randolph College students has been published in the Virginia Economic Journal. The students, who were part of the Economics of Food and Sustainability class taught by John Abell, spent the spring researching food deserts in Lynchburg.

The paper was the culmination of their semester-long research project. The students studied the foods and prices available at convenience stores, the incomes of residents in portions of the city, and other data.

“Research of this kind, involving hands-on data collection outside of the classroom, is still fairly atypical in economics research, where volumes of statistical data are only a mouse-click away, Abell said. “For me, as a professor, it meant something brand new: incorporating the students as equal partners in much of the class decision-making process. They eagerly took on a number of new roles.

The paper, “Inner City Food Deserts: Case Study of Lynchburg, Virginia,” was co-authored by John Abell, an economics professor, Lucas Brady ’11, Isabelle Dom ’12, Ludovic Lemaitre ’11, Mareeha Niaz ’12, Louise Searle ’12, and Reid Winkler ’12. It appeared in Volume 16 of the journal.

To learn more about their research, including some details of the price and income data they collected, see this news release at Randolph College.

Monday, December 5, 2011

College community gets involved with Christmas parade

The Men's Lacrosse team helped at Lynchburg's Christmas
Parade on Sunday.
The Lynchburg Christmas Parade went well Sunday night with the help of members of the Randolph College community.

The Men's Lacrosse team volunteered to help with some critical logistics before the parade started. They helped get every group participating in the parade into their correct starting positions so the parade would go smoothly.

Amanda Denney, the director of student activities, served as one of the float judges for the event. She often gets out and volunteers in community events, as detailed in a recent Randolph magazine story.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Lynchburg organization recognizes Randolph for promoting downtown

A downtown Lynchburg organization has recognized Randolph College for the role students and staff played in creating a hip downtown festival.

Lynch’s Landing presented the award Thursday during its annual ceremony to honor people, businesses and organizations that promote downtown Lynchburg.

Randolph College had a role in the popular Get!Downtown festival from the beginning. In a story in today’s News & Advance, Hermina Hendricks, a music professor and director of multicultural services, explains that staff at the College wanted to create an event that would help the city’s many college students get to know the downtown district and local businesses.

“We wanted them to really know Lynchburg,” she explains in the article.

The first Get!Downtown festival was held in September 2009, and it has become an annual event. Many Randolph College students have enjoyed spending time there, watching street performers including stilt dancers, mimes, hip hop dancers, and bands.

The event also helps Randolph students get to know the coffee shops, restaurants, art galleries, bakeries, farmer’s market, and other local businesses just two miles south of campus.
Randolph College's radio station WWRM has played music for the Get!Downtown festival.

One Survivor Inspires: Gerda Weissmann Klein shares life experiences with Randolph audience

When Gerda Weissmann Klein was rescued from the Holocaust, a small act of respect began her healing process.

On that day in April 1946, she stood outside an abandoned bicycle factory, where many other Jewish women were lying sick. A car drove up and an American soldier hopped out to speak with her.

He asked her to take him into the factory so he could survey the condition of the women there. Then the soldier—whom Klein would marry a year later—opened the door for her.

“I was 68 pounds, dressed in rags, and I had not had a bath in three years,” Klein told an audience at Randolph College Thursday night. “And here was this very handsome American officer opening the door for me. … With that simple gesture, he restored me to humanity.”

During her speech in Smith Hall Theatre, Klein summarized her experiences in slave labor and concentration camps during the Holocaust, and how her marriage and experiences in the United States helped her overcome fear and dedicate her life to service and inspiration. Hundreds of people attended to hear her story.

“My story is not unique. It happened to everyone who was unfortunate to be born in that time in that part of the world,” said Klein, who was born in Bielsko, Poland, in 1924.

During World War II, she was separated from her family and sold as a slave to work in a German textile mill. After enduring the cruelty of a concentration camp, she was one of about 120 women who survived a 350-mile death march as their captors sought to evade the Allies conquering Germany.

After Kurt Klein, a U.S. Army Intelligence officer, liberated her from the Holocaust, the two began a correspondence. They married after one year, and settled in Buffalo, N.Y.

Klein then embarked on a life of humanitarian service. She started The Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation and Citizenship Counts, two nonprofits that work to help people to appreciate freedom, tolerance, and community service.

Her autobiography, All But My Life, was the subject of an academy-award winning documentary, One Survivor Remembers. This year, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President Barack Obama.

She said many people have asked her what it was like to receive an Oscar for One Survivor Remembers. She recalled the wonder of being surrounded by the famous actors and actresses. But she also remembered hearing women crying because they had not won.

“What didn’t they win? It’s a very lovely golden figurine,” she said. “It stands in my living room, and when the sunlight hits it in the afternoon, it looks golden.

“But it is very cold.”

“In the loneliness after losing my husband, it hasn’t spoken to me,” she said. However, “The embraces of my grandchildren are tender and warm.”

Klein described the concept of “a boring evening at home.” Although she languished such nights as a child, her experiences in the Holocaust changed her perspective. “To come home to an evening at home with my family is now the greatest treasure,” she said.

She encouraged listeners to find joy in the fact that they can have such time with their family.

“When you return to your homes tonight, approach them slowly,” she said. “Approach them as a humble stranger would…and, through the eyes of a stranger, see what your homes and your lives contain.”

“Don’t focus on what might be missing, because there’s bound to be something missing from every life. Ask yourself the most important question: Why am I so lucky? Why am I so blessed? And if I am, what can I do for those people all over the world and in my own country for whom an evening at home is still utopia?”

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lynchburg video contest recognizes Randolph talent

Lynchburg’s first city-sponsored video contest highlights the talent of several members of the Randolph College community.

Cameron Hall ’13, a communication studies major, took second place in the category for amateur filmmakers over the age of 18 for his video “Super Kid.” The video follows Finn Healy, whose parents work at the College, as he explores Lynchburg wearing a cape. Mariah Reed ’14, Caitlin Hall ’14, and Hanna Neifert ’14 also appear in the film.

The third place winner in the same category, “Return to Hill City” by filmmaker Christopher Deetz, features Patrick Glynn ’12 portraying a soldier who walks contemplatively through downtown Lynchburg.

The college even gained a mention in the first place winner in the amateur category, a comedy called “Planet Lynchburg” in which two people give an alien a tour of Lynchburg to convince him to not destroy the city. They mention the College in their final speech which successfully saves the city.

Here are the two winning videos featuring members of the Randolph Community:

The city’s marketing partnership sponsored the video contest, “Lights, Camera, Lynchburg,” with a total of $4,000 in prizes, to challenge residents to make videos about what they love about Lynchburg.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Student Center Renovation Update: November 30

The inside of the Student Center is beginning to look much different than it has during the first months of the renovation process. Where workers spent most of their time on demolition, they are now building. The facility now sports new steel beams, and crews have begun to lay the flooring in some areas. In the part of the building that once housed the Bake Shop below and the Skeller on the main floor, there has been tremendous progress. Concrete has been poured, and steel beams are now in place. Crews will continue with the flooring during the coming weeks. Keep checking the blog for updates!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Christmas Vespers tradition continues

Students will continue a Christmas-season tradition this Sunday with the performance of Christmas Vespers.

This annual service at the College includes scripture readings and songs by a choir, with some singing by the congregation. The music and words progress through the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus.

There is something special about that experience every year, said Randall Speer, music professor and director of the Randolph College Chorale.

"I don't feel ready for Christmas until I do that," he said. Alumnae of the College have expressed the same sentiment when they have returned for the service, he said.

This year's performance centers around O Magnum Mysterium by the Spanish composer Tomas Luis da Victoria. The text of this song speaks about the "great mystery" that Jesus was born in a stable and laid in a manger as animals watched, Speer explained. The music is exciting, with several different melodies carrying listeners through the text, Speer said. Three students are providing cello, violin, and flute accompaniment for this piece.

The program also includes two Christmas-themed segments from Randall Thompson's Place of the Blest, serving as a preview of an April concert when Chorale will perform Thompson's entire work with Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra.

Speer recently looked through a collection of printed musical programs and found that the College has held Christmas Vespers regularly for at least 30 years.

This tradition is just one way the College is ringing in the holiday season. Tonight, students have the opportunity to decorate a tree in the Main Hall lobby, followed by a tree lighting service at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 8.

Holocaust survivor, Medal of Freedom winner speaks at Randolph this week

Gerda Weissmann Klein's story has inspired millions.

She survived slave labor and brutal treatment during the Holocaust. Then she devoted her life to humanitarian service and spreading a message of hope. This year, she received the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from President Barack Obama.

This week, she brings her story to Randolph College.

Klein is coming to Lynchburg for an event co-sponsored by the College and the Holocaust Education Foundation of Central Virginia.

At 7:30 p.m. today, the community can view One Survivor Remembers, an Oscar-winning documentary based on her autobiography All But My Life, in the Smith Memorial Building, room 300.

Then, Klein will speak at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Smith Hall Theatre.

Klein was 15 years old when German troops invaded her home town of Bielsko, Poland. She survived six years of Nazi rule, slave labor, and concentration camps. In 1945 she was rescued by Kurt Klein, a U.S. Army Intelligence officer, whom she later married.

Klein's life work has been dedicated to promoting tolerance, encouraging service, and combating hunger. She has written numerous books. She and her late husband founded the Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation to provide educational programs toward those purposes. In 2008, she founded Citizenship Counts, a national nonprofit organization that promotes values of citizenship and community service.

The College is happy to host Klein and hear her message this week.