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Students react to academic change

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amarillo college mascot

Written by | Angel Oliva
The spring semester saw a change at Amarillo College as some courses went from a model of 16 weeks to eight weeks in order to help part-time students attend as full-time students. Officials hope the change will be especialy beneficial for parents and working students because they’ll have the opportunity to take four accelerated classes (two every eight weeks) rather than two over the 16-week semester. A student under this model would be classified as full-time by completing 12 semester hours,two classes at a time per half semester, according to AC news releases.

Some students are reacting negatively. Luke Amos, a history major, said the change is “a little bit of a pain. It makes it harder having so much to schedule.” Monique Metchel, a graphic design major, said that “it feels like you’re not getting the same quality.” Metchel described the intensity of eight-week classes. “It’s a lot of pressure to learn a lot of information in a short amount of time,” she said.
An AC news release said students are able to maintain better focus by taking two or three courses over an eight-week period instead of four 16-week courses where dropout rates increase by the ninth week.

Even students who are full-time now can benefit from the faster courses. Only a few accelerated classes in criminal justice and computer information systems are offered for the spring. CIS offers two certificate programs in computer system support and network essentials, with most of the program being eight-week classes so they can be completed in a single semester. The transition to more programs and degree options offering the accelerated classes will continue during the summer and fall semesters.

Leadership program inspires students

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Written by | Austin Ulen

Sixteen blue office chairs sat in a lifeless semi-circle in the college union basement, but over the next two days those chairs witnessed a swelling of positivity and passion they had never seen before. For 13 students, two faculty members, and one special guest…this was an experience like no other.
Many students and those in the workforce have attended some sort of leadership training.

Amber Brookshire, director of Testing Services at AC and attendee of the program, said, “We have these other leadership speakers come in every year. I’ve experienced them as a student in college and as a club sponsor, and they’re good, and I’ve seen good things come out of them.”
The HEART of a Leader program that took place on January 5th and 6th isn’t like all of the other programs to come through AC though. “The program was outstanding…and that word doesn’t even give it justice, “ Brookshire said. The program is unique not just because of its content and facilitator, but because of the attitudes participants are encouraged to have during the two rigorous days.

They’re asked to open up their hearts and minds, and the rest falls into place. This doesn’t mean there’s no hard work involved.Participants are taken through a gauntlet of exercises that allow them to strengthen themselves mentally and emotionally, and realize the potential that lies within. Emily Henriquez, a social work major and training attendee, said, “The track’s laid out for you to succeed at the end, and every piece of information he had to give to us, and every example he had, and every activity was geared toward finishing on such a strong crescendo that there’s no way it could fail if you really wanted it.”

retreat feb 2016

retreat feb 2016

Ryan Penneau, the founder and facilitator of the HEART of a Leader program, makes it well known throughout the training that he doesn’t believe his training is “transformative” or “life-changing”, but does believe it is a catalyst for change. The struggle with most is the “follow-up factor”, what you do with the knowledge afterwards. People tend to scoff at the idea of forced self-improvement and once the door to that training room closes, few carry what they learned out that door. When asked why he created and leads the program Penneau said, “Why? I do it because it works. I like investing my time and energy into something that works, and I believe it does. I believe the HEART of a Leader experience demonstrates the true potential of individuals. They get to experience themselves without hesitation, fear or insecurity. They surprise themselves, and from then forward, they know what they are capable of and hopefully continue to develop that awesome authenticity.”

Student Life is sponsoring an AC Student Leadership Retreat with Ryan Penneau taking place on Friday, March 4th from 9 a.m. until Saturday March 5th at 6 p.m. at the Talon Point Conference Center in Channing, Texas. The retreat is open to all students and the cost is only $20. Student Life is covering all additional expenses, including overnight lodging, leadership facilitator fees, supplies, all snacks and drinks.
Friday lunch and dinner, and Saturday breakfast and lunch will also be provided.

Space is limited, and the deadline to sign up is February 26th, so register in the Student Life Office in the CUB basement of the Washington Street Campus.
“I’m supposed to work that weekend, but no, I’m not working, because this is important to me. Even though I know it’s going to be different, and I’m not going through it like the students are going to go through it, but to be supportive and be a raving fan for the students that are going through the program. That’s important to me, and that’s worth anything I have to give up that weekend. I don’t want anyone to miss this opportunity,” Brookshire said.
For questions or information regarding the AC Student Leadership Retreat, call 806-371-5303 or email Heather Atchley at

Ask Agnes

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Dear Agnes, who exactly are you? That’s a fair question to start off with! Well, I’m Agnes. I’m your quirky, outgoing fellow Amarillo College student. I’d like to think that I have some unique perspectives on life that enable me to share all of my glorious wisdom with you beautiful people. I’m also very sarcastic and think I’m way more funny than I really am. At the end of the day, you’ll get to know me more as this column progresses, so let’s get that started!
Dear Agnes, I think my tutor at the Math Outreach Center is awfully cute. Would it be OK for me to ask her out on a date? So let’s think about this for a second. Is the Math Outreach Center a place that you frequently visit? If so, then that’s like asking someone out that goes to the same gym as you; it could be very awkward if it doesn’t pan out the way you hope it does and you continually run into each other. That being said, life is short! And if the idea of possibly running into this person on a regular basis doesn’t worry you, then heck, yeah, you should! Who knows, maybe this person secretly hopes you need help on your algebra or calculus homework so she gets to see you.

Dear Agnes, I’m far too hard on myself. I am constantly evaluating my progress and go through phases when I have little to no internal self-confidence. How can I elevate myself so I don’t feel like an enormous piece of poop? First off, I totally get it. Self-confidence and acceptance is one of those things in life that if you don’t have it, you don’t know how to attain it. I would say, as cliché as this sounds, make a list every single day — yes, every single day — with at least 10 things that you love about yourself or that you’re proud of. Start noticing what kind of story you’re telling yourself. Are you telling yourself that you’re a piece of poop, or are you building yourself up for success and acceptance regardless of your failures? I personally like to take a moment when I notice that I’m in a rut of self-hatred and give myself a little reality check. Nine times out of 10, I’ve dismissed all of the good that I’ve done and focused my attention on the bad. All of this boils down to becoming self-aware. Practice will make perfect, or at least progress, in this case. Good luck!

Dear Agnes, HELP! I need new music in my life! This is a true emergency! If you’re into alternative, fun vibes, I highly recommend the Underhill Family Orchestra. If you’re more of a rap enthusiast, look into Hopsin, A-1 and Kehlani. If you don’t really know what you like, you legitimately cannot go wrong with Twenty One Pilot’s Vessel album. I personally prefer it to their newer album. If you don’t want to put any effort into this, go onto Spotify, whether you have an account or not, and go to Browse, then Moods, and pick a playlist that calls your name. Spotify is bae when it comes to filling a music-less void. Of course, you could always listen to AC’s FM90 for all of your funky, new music needs.

Dear Agnes, should I become a doctor and make my parents proud or become a teacher and be happy? Man, this is relatable to so many students. This question is one of the most popular ones I’ve received so far. Not everyone may agree with me on this, but you need to pursue what will make you happy. You are living your life, not your parents, and quite frankly, what parent doesn’t love to see their child happy? So, if being a teacher is what will make you happy, then go be a teacher! If they don’t agree with it, at least you can stand strong in the fact that you did what you knew would make you happy and not what you were pressured to do. I honestly think parents never mean to cause harm when they push their children, but sometimes they just don’t understand. Bottom line: live your life for you and not your parents.

To submit questions to Agnes, visit the various boxes around the Washington Street Campus or send questions to This column is not a substitute for professional

Cheech Marin talks chicano art

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Cheech Photo-Mark Hodges

Cheech Marin, legendary comedian, actor, director, author and art collector, came to talk about his collection of Chicano art Tuesday at the Amarillo Museum of Art. Marin has a tour called “Las Chicanitas” show with which he has been traveling across the country the past several years to make people more aware of Chicano art. He started collecting paintings in 1985 and now holds the world record for having the largest collection of Chicano art. It is not like other types of art, Marin said; it has a unique element.

City at Night by Frank Romero
“City at Night” by Frank Romero

“Chicano art is not based on style; it’s not a certain type of painting,” he said. “It is a description of a culture told from many different viewpoints.” Marin mentioned how people already judge this type of art without taking the time to appreciate it. He said he became fascinated with art when he was assigned to study art as an extracurricular activity as a child. After that, he started visiting museums and learning as much as he could about art. “You can’t love or hate Chicano art unless you see it,” Marin said.

"Donkey Show" by Jari "Werc" Alvarez
“Donkey Show” by Jari “Werc” Alvarez

New dean at home in East Campus job

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Written by | Natalie Villarreal

They say “Home is where the heart is” and for Megan Eikner, AC’s new dean of technical education, that was the case. Eikner took over the new role at the beginning of January. The journey to her new role began when she was dean of continuing education for the college’s downtown campus. “I would ensure that the college was following the coordinating board rules and guidelines around continuing education,” Eikner said, as she explained her position. That job gave her the opportunity to become involved with the state’s Workforce Education Course Manual executive leadership team. “We all worked together to ensure that the course manual was up to date for the occupational needs of every occupation in the state of Texas as best as we could.”

“I just really enjoyed it, and I’m from a technical background as well. It was the perfect fit for me,” she said. Eikner grew up on a farm and ranch and said that her new position makes her feel at home. “I always had my hands in the technical things. That is where my heart lives so it’s neat to be involved in these programs,” she said. Eikner noted that her background, her work in continuing education and the support of her new co-workers have helped her make a smooth transition to the new position. “I really feel like this is where I belong. I love the campus,” Eikner said.

When she moved to the East Campus, Eikner brought along Leon Guerro as her executive secretary. “The people out here at the East Campus have been great. They’ve welcomed Megan and me with open arms,” Guerro said. East Campus staff members say they are pleased with their new leader. “It’s been a smooth transition; as far as our department goes it’s been great,” said Heather Ann Reese, East Campus housing administrative clerk. “I think Megan has some great ideas that will bring some positive changes to the campus.”

Hatsune Miku takes over

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Written by | Aldo Aguilar

You’re standing waiting for the performer to walk on stage. The band comes out and sets up, but no performer is in sight. A burst of magic dust and a virtual idol appears. She breaks into song and dance while the band plays in the background. The crowd goes wild for a performer who’s not really there.
The virtual idol is known as Hatsune Miku, one of Japan’s biggest pop stars. Miku is a 16-year-old pop star who never ages. She doesn’t have a physical presence or voice of her own. She’s the visual representation of a “Vocaloid,” a software that synthesizes vocals from a pre-recorded voice bank to mimic actual human singing. Miku’s vocals are provided by anime voice actor Saki Fujita. With the Vocaloid software, people can make Miku sing any song they desire or make new songs of their own.

What attracts me to Hatsune Miku? Well, her music isn’t made by huge record labels that write most of today’s pop music. Her music comes from fans who create their own songs. From hard-hitting rock to catchy pop songs Miku isn’t stuck to a single genre. Hatsune Miku’s creators, Crypton Future Media, design her that way so fans have control over her music, personality and even her appearance. While music is created for her, it doesn’t belong to Miku or Crypton, only the creator owns it. Many Japanese creators have made names for themselves like Dixie Flatline, Supercell and CircusP to name a few. As the software has become more widely recognized, some have even gotten record deals in Japan. Her voice is unique. Once you hear it, you know it’s her. Miku sings in both English and Japanese. The voice sounds synthetic and robotic without any tuning. But with proper tuning, her voice sounds like her voice provider auto tuned. Word pronunciation sounds clear and at times it sounds realistic. Her voice fits many songs, but her voice truly shines in techno, rock and pop songs with instrumentals that complement her.

My gripe with her voice, at times, is when she hits high notes. The sound gets to a high pitch that makes me lower the volume of the song. When it’s low-pitched, it’s a little hard at times to make out lyrics. Her English sounds good when not singing, but once she sings, the heavy Japanese accent plagues her voice making it hard to understand. Her voice isn’t perfect, but it’s farbetter than AI voices like Siri who is hard to understand. Since she is Japanese, you’re probably asking, “Why is she relevant in the west?”

Hatsune Miku has a huge following worldwide and has many fans, including myself, in North America. Her exposure started in 2012 with Toyota using her in a set of commercials to promote the Corolla cars. In 2014, Lady Gaga announced that Miku would be an opening act for her tour. In the same year, she appeared on the late show with David Letterman to promote her art show in New York. With these appearances, she got a huge exposure to many Americans. This year she is having a North American tour hitting major cities, including Dallas on May 14. Many can experience her virtual show.

In an industry where many record labels are trying to make the next big thing, Hatsune Miku stands out and shines. If you are bored or want to find some new music, I highly recommend you check her out. With her unique presentation and voice, it’s hard not to check out her music. The massive support of her songs and fan art keeps the virtual idol fresh and interesting. With no huge TMZ scandals or tabloid news, Hatsune Miku can keep on going without the hassle many real world artists face.

Bow tie breakdown

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Correct BreakdownLogo (1)

This is a forum for Amarillo College’s president, Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, to connect with readers of The Ranger. Each edition he sits down with The Ranger to give insight on what’s happening at AC. It’s a deeper, more exclusive look into the mind of the man behind the bowtie.

Amarillo College introduced eight-week classes this semester. Here’s Dr. Lowery-Hart’s viewpoint on the new option:

“The goal is two-fold. The goal, primarily, is to help improve your learning as a student. The secondary, but still really important goal, is to improve your time to degree.“

“Seventy percent of our students are part-time. Our system, and our three-year graduation targets given to us by the State and the Feds, is set up to ensure that full-time students can complete in three years, but not part-time students. If seventy percent of our students are part-time, I have to figure out how to change the system rather than changing the student.”

“Eight-week classes allow students to focus on their learning in a more concentrated way. All the research says that if you can focus on two classes at a time, in a short amount of time your learning increases, and your commitment to goal increases. When students get overwhelmed by the process and life issues get in the way, and they don’t see the goal as attainable. In an eight-week format, you blink and you’re at the end.”

Check out the next edition of The Ranger to find out about some of Dr. Lowery-Hart’s favorite movies and what he expects out of the Oscars!

Fantasy author offers new take on classics

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Written | Cassandra Briones

In today’s society, fairy tales are what Disney has shown us: stories that are twisted away from the original writings of the Brothers Grimm and various others. Don’t get me wrong; the Disney versions of events are more friendly compared to the Old World stories, but sometimes you need a more realistic telling of those tales. One author I have found who does just that ­— taking all of these classic stories and breathing new life into them — is K.M. Shea.
Shea has a multitude of books to her name, all of which are published in the Amazon Kindle store. The first series of books that hooked me on Shea as an author is the “Timeless Fairy Tales.”

These books are a reimagining of the classic stories that everyone knows and loves. They stay true to most of the lore and are given due diligence to their origins with a decent smattering of new ideas. It follows into all the books of the series, including Cinderella, Puss in Boots and Rumpelstiltskin.
The tale that begins this saga, however, and captured my attention, was the story of Elle, who crashed into the life of a cursed prince.
“Beauty and the Beast” is the first book in an ongoing series based in a world where magic is a well known entity. A broken leg is what begins this epic retelling of a story most people know and love. This is the first wayward change among many that set this book apart. Even so, the plot remains the same: servants striving to get their master to fall in love and break a curse. The begrudging friendship — and eventual love — is a mainstay of any version of Beauty and the Beast.

As everyone knows, in the Disney adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, the rose plays a major part in the storyline. Here however, it is not as big a plot device. Yes, there are mentions of roses, but it’s more of an ongoing motif. Another peculiar thing that really stands out is the “castle,” which in this case is a chateau with a distinct lack of singing and dancing furniture. The servants still are cursed, albeit in an atypical way, they can’t talk and communicate only through writing. A major plot twist centers around Elle and is so far away from what everyone knows, I was dumbfounded when I read it. No major spoilers, but here is a very brief summary taken from the book.

“Beauty and the Beast is a retelling of the traditional French fairy tale. It is a story of adventure and prejudice set in a fantasy land lush with magic, assassins, princes, castles, and curses. Filled with humor, deceptions, and clean romance, it belongs to the series Timeless Fairy Tales” (
The fundamental differences between Disney and Shea is refreshingly new. As it goes, I immensely enjoyed this book and all the rest in the series, Cinderella especially. The way Shea builds her characters and connects each story to a previous one is inspiring. If this sounds like something you would enjoy, I encourage you to give it a read.

Badgers choose to ‘eat mor chikin’

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Screen Shot 2015-09-16 at 9.16.46 PM

Written by | Tristan Pinter
The badger may no longer be the most popular animal on Amarillo College’s Washington Street Campus—it has been replaced by the chicken. Chick-fil-A is being sold from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. every Monday through Thursday in the Badger Den. Heather Atchley, AC student activities director, played a leading role in initiating the agreement with the restaurant. The service has been well received so far, Atchley said. “We haven’t had any complaints.” She also said AC faculty have taken a special liking to the new location, commonly going to get food between classes instead of waiting for a break hours later.

Many students said they are pleased to have the new food service. “I think it was a good choice, mostly because the closest Chick-fil-A is all the way on Georgia,” said Aaron Akins, an English major. “Going off campus is definitely still an option, but saving your parking spot is really nice and probably a good idea.” Other students said they “had no idea there was a Chick-fil-A on campus” and said they were delighted to know they may not need to leave campus for lunch.

“Chick-fil-A is a great company to work with,” said Atchley, calling the company “very supportive” and eager to meet the needs of the students. “Many students have back-to-back classes every day,” said Atchley. “This allows them to quickly get lunch and get back without even leaving campus.” Atchley said that this agreement could lead to more food choices on campus in the future. “If they do well, [Chick-Fil-A] may bring a food truck to campus” Atchley said. Chick-fil-A on the Washington Street Campus is organized and run by the Chick-fil-A on Georgia Street. The menu includes sandwiches, wraps, cookies, fruit-cups, salad and more; however, fries and nuggets are not available due to equipment constraints.

The campus service also comes with an approximate 30 to 40 cent mark up and does not reflect the pricing seen in-store at the Georgia Street Chick-fil-A location.

Jackson Street Presents Episode 3 Dan Johnson and the Salt Cedar Rebels

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Jackson Street Presents brings us a rocking country band from right here in Amarillo. Dan Johnson and the Salt Cedar Rebels share their hard-driving, traditional country and southern rock sound. Mass Media major and FM90 student music director David Lovejoy hosts this entirely student-produced show.

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