Student Zak Hampton swayed to the music and bobbed his bandana-tied head to the beat while playinghis saxophone as part of a jazz ensemble to welcome the crowd for Castleton State College’s spring convocation ceremony.
The college kicked off the 2010 spring semester Thursday
in the Fine Arts Center with President Dave Wolk bringing a mixed message of positive change and heartbreaking
Wolk greeted the audience
and reminded everyone of what a historical time it is in Castleton. He said the campus has changed so much in the past few months, with five grand openings in five months.
But that was followed by a somber message.
“While we celebrate here, we must remember the great devastation in Haiti,” said Wolk, followed by a moment of silence for those who were lost in the tragedy.
First-year students were required to read a book called ‘Mountains to Mountains’ this past summer before attending Castleton, a book that centers on Haiti. To continue their studies, first-year student seminar students are doing their part to help out. Donations are being made and Professor Gail Regan is in charge of making sure the money gets to those who need it.
The event continued with the student of the semester, Kim Turner being recognized,
as well as employees of the semester, Mariko Hancock
and Chad Voghell.
Mike Kiernan took the stage and introduced what would be in store for the event. Four different speeches
from four different historical
time periods awaited both students and faculty.
Pulitzer Prize winning author Ron Powers started the speeches off with a Mark Twain passage. He delivered ‘The War Prayer’ with vigor and passion. With his hands raised to the sky, he animated the piece as if it was happening
in real life.
Jon Insham Sr. followed with a doom and gloom selection from Tolstoy. He delivered ‘War, Patriotism, and Truth’ and stressed the golden rule to everyone in the crowd.
Castleton’s Collegiate Chorale and Percussion Ensemble got the crowd moving in between speeches with renditions of ‘Siyahamba,’
‘Jabula Jesu,’ and ‘We Shall Overcome.’ With the students on stage swaying and clapping, the tone in the auditorium was changed to one of hope.
Writer Stephen Kiernan then stepped up to the microphone
and quoted words of Gandhi. Former student Victoria
Vondle capped the event by reciting Martin Luther King’s speech, “I Have Been to the Mountaintop.”
Castleton’s Jazz Ensemble gave it their all, with each student playing their instruments
and moving with the music with smiled-filled faces as everyone exited to the lobby.
“This convocation really made me feel inspired to do well this semester and to try and make a difference around me. I feel like Castleton can make an impact on Haiti, a very minimal one, but it is still an impact,” said student Kayle Bowker.
Chorale member and student Brittany Colburn said preparation for this convocation
was different then ones in the past.
“It was really stressed to us that it was important to have a good time today, but this time around there was really some serious undertones
going along with it,” said Colburn.
Castleton is known as a small college with a big heart and Wolk stressed that that heart is now extending to those in Haiti.
“Students feel invested in Haiti, with the book they read this summer. We are all connected. Any family in Haiti is family of Castleton. We can make a difference, and it doesn’t end today,” said Wolk.