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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.

Creative arts come together to form division

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Written By | ALMA BUSTAMANTE | Editor-in-chief | Amarillo College has consolidated all the arts under a new division as of March 21. The School of Creative Arts includes the music, theater, mass media and visual arts and design programs. Dr. Deborah Vess, vice president of academic affairs, decided to create the new school to highlight the arts in general. “Our arts programs have a very fine reputation in the state as well as locally, and in some cases nationally,” Vess said. “It’s just really time to refocus our efforts with the arts, because they were in a division with many other kinds of programs. They weren’t really receiving the kind of attention that we need to give them.” In addition, Vess said she hopes that with the change, enrollment will increase in those areas. Vess appointed Victoria Taylor-Gore as dean of the School of Creative Arts and Jill Gibson as associate dean. “Vicky is a famous artist; she has a national reputation,” Vess said. “Vicky was the best person for the job, and I think that was clear to everyone.” Vess also highlighted Gibson’s abilities and said the partnership will bring in new ideas. “Jill is an incredibly creative and very talented person,” she said. “She was selected because of the leadership ability that she has demonstrated in the past and her ability to lead programs that we already have. “She and Vicky Taylor-Gore have had a partnership across different departments for quite some time. Now they are together, and they are able to do things that they weren’t able to do before.” While the arts may get a reputation of something that is not needed, Taylor-Gore said they are an important part of a well-rounded education. “Any of these disciplines create creative and critical thinkers, because we solve problems,” she said. “We think out of the box. The creative energy is important.” Primarily, Taylor-Gore and Gibson said they want to get the word out about their programs and Read more [...]

Instructor performs in ‘Love Letters’ play

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Lynaé Jacob, left, Cindi Bulla, Allen Shankies and Anne Lankford performed in Amarillo Little Theatre’s production of Love Letters. The three actresses played Melissa Gardner on alternating nights, and Shankies played Andrew Makepeace. They performed the play during March.
Written By | Randi Riggs | Anyone who cannot get enough drama wrapped up in a love story might just love this play by A.R. Gurney. Amarillo Little Theater presented Love Letters in March. The story, which goes on during a man’s and woman’s life, is brought together through a series of love letters written to each other starting from grade school. Allen Shankles played Andrew Makepeace Ladd III, and Melissa Gardner was played by three women on alternating nights: Cindi Bulla, Anne Lankford and Lynaé Jacob, chairwoman of communications at Amarillo College. Jacob has degrees in speech and theater education. She also has won awards for many of her roles, including winning a ALTAs for Blood Brothers and Death of a Salesman. “I have not played this role before, but I have directed another play by A.R. Gurney, The Wayside Motor Inn,” Jacob said. “I love the natural-sounding language that he masters.” Former AC student Michele Close attended the play when Jacob played the role of Melissa. “I really enjoyed Mrs. Jacob,” Close said. “I believed she was really the character. It was like she had the same personality as the character she played.” The story begins between the two characters in birthday party thank you notes. After growing up a little, both are sent off to different private schools. The pair keeps in touch and carries on a relationship through adolescence. With Melissa coming from a wealthy family and Andy coming from a normal, everyday family, they are unlikely friends. Soon the friendship turns into a romance, which is short-lived after both go to college. Their letters see each other through broken marriages, career changes, war, children and life problems. One leads an exciting life, travels, marries and has children, divorces and remarries. The other, a bit more stable, goes through life with school, war, marriage and children and then is elected to the U.S. Senate. The story may not end how most love stories end but Read more [...]

Familiarize yourself with Campus Carry Law

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Written by | Maggie Tinoco | On Aug. 1, the Texas concealed carry law for four-year college campuses will go into effect. On Aug. 1, 2017, it will be the law for two-year colleges in Texas. The law will allow concealed handgun license holders to carry concealed handguns on campuses with the exception of areas that college administrators designate as off-limits. Robin Malone, coordinator of paralegal studies at Amarillo College, has plans to have a panel discussion about the issue and how AC will handle it. The discussion is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. April 22 on the Downtown Campus. “We are going to have members of law enforcement and faculty members discuss the law in general and discuss the effect of the law in Amarillo as well as here at AC,” Malone said. Some students said they feel uneasy toward the state decision and do not understand why this law passed. Adrian Moore, an animation major, said, “It makes me feel very concerned. Just having guns here in school. I personally don't like guns, and having them around is really terrifying.” Malone said the panel discussion will help students who have questions or concerns about the new law before it goes into effect. “A lot of students are going to have questions and even have a little bit of anxiety, so we are hoping that this will help educate and allay some of those feelings,” she said. Malone said there are certain requirements regarding the new law. For instance, the weapon has to be unseen and concealed, and the carrier has to have a CHL. On the East Campus, Rudy Guillen, a machining major, said protection in school no longer will exist. “You would think school would be a safe place to just learn and socialize, but now fear will be experienced, as if you are entering a bad neighborhood with violence all around,” Guillen said. “There are certain things you can do and procedures to make sure everyone is still safe,” Malone said. “In the discussion, Read more [...]

Nursing program recognized as outstading

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Written by | Maggie Tinoco |

The Texas Board of Nursing has approved the Amarillo College Associate Degree Nursing program. The first passing rate was almost 95 percent in on the national licensure exam. Dean of Nursing Dr. Richard Pullen received a letter from the Texas Board of Nursing stating that the program went from full approval warning to full approval. “In 2014 our passing rate was 77.6 percent, which eventually we went to a full approval warning.” Pullen said the actual passing rate for the Texas Board of Nursing should be at least 80 percent. “We had to evaluate on how we were doing things,” Pullen said.
The national licensure exam became more difficult in April 2015.

“The program required it to be more challenging for students to get in as well as to raise the expectations for students and nursing instructors,” Pullen said. The ADN program did make changes that not only benefits the school but the students as well. Nursing instructor Karrie Young said, “We have smaller sections for classes just to be able to interact more with the students.” There is more hands-on training than before; lectures are kept at a minimum, Young said.

“A lot of times we look at the numbers, and that’s good. We can see how the state bases us. Sometimes we get caught up in that, and I want the community to see that our grads and students are well prepared.” Nursing major Elena Lopez said it’s a lot harder but she is reassured by the end of the day. “When I have to take the test, I can guarantee I am going to pass it because the instructors are going to prepare you,” Lopez said.

Pullen wants to continue reaching a high passing rate for the ADN program. “A program that has an annual pass rate of 90 percent or higher annually is recognized for having an outstanding rate,” he said.
To continue with the standards, other goals are to provide more tutoring improve the curriculum.

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