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Mayor’s breakfast highlights day cares’ ‘No Excuses’ policy

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Amarillo Mayor Paul Harpole announced Jill Goodrich, executive director of Opportunity School in Amarillo, as his Friend of the Year during a breakfast April 28 in the Oak Room of the College Union Building on the Washington Street Campus.

“Each year there is a national Young Child Week, and in honor of that we have been doing the Mayor’s Breakfast for Young Children since 1999,” said Mary Claire Munger, chairwoman of the Amarillo College child development department.

The mayor, in partnership with AC and other professional groups, chooses one person to honor each year and invites others who participate in children’s education to celebrate. Opportunity School provides part-day preschool and full-day learning to 80 children with bus transportation to low-income neighborhoods and space for 16 students to receive full-day care.

“One thing Jill discussed is the ‘No Excuses’ policy, meaning nothing should stop children from reaching their full potential,” Munger said.

“The Opportunity School is the first in the United States to practice the ‘No Excuses’ policy at a day care and pre-kindergarten level.”
Some day cares and pre-kindergarten classes have problems with overcrowding, resulting in some children lacking access to resources they need. The Opportunity School keeps classes small to accommodate each child’s needs.

“Amarillo College is the first public school that follows the ‘No Excuses’ policy, so we are proud to be honoring Jill, who follows the same policy,” Munger said.

Netflix continues to take over

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Netflix is one of the largest online streaming services available to people, and many Amarillo College students use its services.  The average Netflix user is using Netflix for roughly an hour and 33 minutes a day.  That translates to a person watching Netflix for 568 hours a year. With daily views of Netflix pushing ever closer to two hours, that can cut into the amount of time a student has for homework and focusing on classes. The hour and 33 minutes is the average; some students watch Netflix way more.  Colton Adams, an undecided major, watches three-plus hours of Netflix a day.  “I normally watch Netflix in between classes,” Adams said. “At night I leave a couple of hours open for homework.” Adams said that next semester, he will have to tone down the amount he watches due to having a job. Adams’ longest binge record was around 15 hours over New Year’s Eve. He and a friend binge-watched an entire season of Jessica Jones and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Carly Hurley, an EMT major, watches Netflix far less. “I put Netflix on at night and fall asleep watching it,” Hurley said.  She said she normally puts documentaries on because her boyfriend, a history major at West Texas A&M University, enjoys watching them. During Hurley’s weekend, what she normally views changes. She watches more movies during the weekend when she has time off. Zack Stubbs, a biology major, said he watches roughly eight hours a week.  “I have had to cut back on the amount of Netflix I watch,” he said.  Stubbs said his longest marathon was during the summer when he watched eight hours of Netflix in one day. Morgan Harper, a pre-law major, watches Netflix with her family at night.  “My family chooses a new show to watch every time we finish one,” she said. “It allows me to unwind with my family while we eat dinner.” Harper said she normally avoids binge-watching TV or Netflix because it has affected her grades and her social life on more than one Read more [...]

New VP joins business affairs

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Written by | Randi Riggs |  Steven Smith never imagined, when he was giving a speech in Dr. Paul Matney’s Business and Professional Communications class about how to properly shoot a free throw, that 15 years later he would become the vice president of business affairs at Amarillo College. Smith started full time as VP of business affairs on April 15. His responsibilities consist of managing the financial operations of the college. “My role at the college is to create plans and strategies that will allow us to use our resources responsibly,” Smith said. “I am thrilled to bring Steve back into the AC family,” said AC President Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart. “His own journey mirrors those of many of our students; he understands their struggles and will help us adapt our policies and practices to better serve them.” Smith said it took years to prepare for this position. In college, he set the goal that this was the position he wanted to achieve in his career. He chose a major that would help lead him to that goal, and he took classes that would help prepare him for this career. Banking and accounting also helped him have the work experience after graduation. Smith went the extra mile at work by asking for extra projects and responsibility so he could gain knowledge and experience before entering the work force. Smith met his wife while they both attended AC.“I was working for Selena’s cousin as an assistant manager at a loan company while at AC,” he said. “Her cousin planned us a blind date. “We were both working students who had big dreams in common, and we were married while attending AC.” Three children and numerous life experiences later, Smith is back at the college.  He said he would like to give upcoming graduates a little advice: “Your graduation commencement will be a very special day for you and your family. I hope that each of you will take the time to attend the commencement and also take some time for reflection on what it Read more [...]

Music department captures area award, commits to continue tradition of success

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Corey Cowart, left, Amarillo Symphony executive director, Steven Weber, chairman of the Amarillo College music department, and Jim Rauscher, an AC piano instructor, pose at the 34th 
annual Golden Nail awards April 7 at the Amarillo Civic Center. Weber received the award on behalf of the music department for its support of local fine arts.
Written by | Alma Bustamante | Both Amarillo College and the AC music department received the Golden Nail Award April 7 for their community partnerships and support of the fine arts in the area. During their 34th annual gala, the Golden Nail Awards recognizes individuals and businesses that have made a noticeable contribution to fine arts in this area. Michelle Fortunato, chairwoman of the board of regents, accepted the award on behalf of the school, while Steven Weber accepted the award on behalf of the music department. “It was a great honor for me to accept the award on behalf of the music department,” said Weber, chairman of the department. In his acceptance speech, Weber recognized two former department chairmen who have strengthened the fine arts not only at AC but in the community. According to Weber, Dr. Dale Roller was a visionary who implemented ideas to engage the Amarillo community with the AC music department. “There is not a person who loves Amarillo College or is more invested in Amarillo College like Dale Roller,” Weber said. Also recognized by Weber was Dr. Jim Rauscher, a piano instructor and former department chairman, for helping cultivate the ideas and making the AC music department an important part of the arts in the community. Roller’s ideas helped organizations such as the Amarillo Master Chorale, Amarillo Youth Choirs and the Suzuki program to develop and exist, Weber said. The music department is known for its high standards and high quality of teaching. “I feel like this department is a dream team department,” Weber said. Mary Jane Johnson, a voice instructor, said it is a great department where students get to experience opportunities to grow and learn. “We are very much like a small family,” Johnson said. “We are proud of what we do here.” Not only is the music department recognized locally but also nationwide, since AC also is accredited with the National Association of Schools of Music for its music Read more [...]

Conference to bring awareness

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Written by | SAVANNAH TARBET |

The Amarillo College Criminal Justice Program and more than 50 local businesses will host the 16th Annual Child Abuse Prevention Conference. The event will be conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. today in the Amarillo Civic Center. The registration fee is $25, which includes lunch. The conference’s purpose is to bring awareness and provide information about child abuse prevention to the Amarillo area, especially during April, which is National Child Abuse and Neglect
Prevention Month.

“Our Conference Steering Committee works hard every year to design a conference that will appeal to a broad audience of professionals working in the criminal justice, social service and other related fields,” said Eric Wallace, director of the AC criminal justice program. Guest speakers will include Joe Laramie and Chris Baughman. Laramie is a program manager with the National Criminal Justice Training Center of Fox Valley Technical College.

Baughman is a consultant on MSNBC’s show, Sex Slaves, a former police detective and author. They will talk about technology and child sexual abuse investigations, child pornography and crimes related to human trafficking, among other topics. “It is our sincere desire that this conference will provide valuable information and insights that will help participants achieve both their professional and personal goals,” Wallace said.

Child abuse is a growing problem all over the world, and Amarillo is no exception. “As far as child abuse statistics for this area, it is a problem,” Wallace said. In 2015, the top 26 counties of the Texas Panhandle saw about a 10 percent drop in the number of reported child abuse cases compared to 2014, while some counties have seen rates increase. Wallace said he hopes the event will benefit the community. “It appears progress is being made, and this conference is one more way to help make a difference,” he said.

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