DCT’s Brighton Beach Memoirs offers humor and heart on CCBC stage
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 15:13

Neil Simon play runs through March 1

By Nicole Rodman

Growing up is tough. Throw in the turmoil of economic hardship and the looming threat of war, and it becomes even tougher.   
Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs, now onstage at Dundalk Community Theatre (DCT), tells the tale of Eugene Morris Jerome (Charlie Holt), a 15-year-old Jewish boy navigating the trials of puberty amidst the Great Depression and the gathering clouds of World War II.  
Premiering on Broadway in 1983, Brighton Beach Memoirs ran for 1,299 performances, closing in 1986. That year, the play was adapted into a film starring Matthew Broaderick.  
Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, 1937: Eugene Jerome lives with his father Jack (James Hunnicutt), mother Kate (Joan Crooks), 18-year-old brother Stanley (Will Poxon), widowed aunt Blanche (Regina Rose) and two cousins — 16-year-old Nora (Morgan Wenerick) and 13-year-old Laurie (Hunter Lubawski).
The action of the play is narrated by Eugene, an aspiring writer, as he dictates the memoirs of his ongoing adolescence. As the play unfolds, Eugene’s struggles  to deal with his family’s problems as he copes with his own budding sexuality.
In classic Neil Simon fashion, the semi-autobiographical play takes a serio-comedic approach — tackling heavy subjects with a blend of humor and heart.
DCT newcomer Charlie Holt is a standout as Eugene, effectively conveying the character’s adolescent tribulations in the midst of wider familial chaos.
DCT publicity director James Hunnicutt also delivers a solid performance as patriarch Jack. Hunnicutt fully embodies Jack, embuing the character with a potent blend of strength and vulnerability.
Joan Crooks, as Kate, and Regina Rose, as Blanche, also lend their skills to the proceedings. As Kate, Crooks deftly portrays a woman who shoulders the weight of the world — until that weight becomes too much to bear.
Local actress Hunter Lubawski, a ninth-grade theatre student at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, portrays 13-year-old cousin Laurie. Lubawski infuses Laurie with “know-it-all-ism” and standoffishness that are central to the character.
Marc W. Smith, DCT’s longtime scenic/lighting designer and technical director, deserves kudos for his outstanding set — a character in its own right.
The elaborate set shows a cross-section of the family home — both downstairs (living and dining rooms) and upstairs bedrooms. This two-story construction aids the narrative, allowing Eugene to describe the action below from his bedroom above.

Bullying awareness and lead poison awareness advocates team up
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 15:10

Witherspoon, Tunstall point to learning disability and behavior links

By Ben Boehl

Vermell Tunstall and Tameka Witherspoon are joining forces.
Tunstall, an anti-bullying advocate, was profiled in the Oct. 16 Eagle; Witherspoon, who works to raise awareness of lead-poisoning issues, was profiled in July and was named to a state lead poisoning commission in September.
They have now joined forces to warn of the links between lead poisoning and victims of bullying.
While it is common knowledge that children suffering neuropsychological effects of lead poisoning often have learning disabilities, trouble paying attention and poor work completion, it is less widely known that such children often show increased aggression and have a need for  intensive supervision from adults.
At the same time, the two advocates pointed out that children suffering from the effects of lead poisoning are often bullied because they have learning disabilities and have a hard time paying attention.
They added that over 310,000 children each year are diagnosed with lead poisoning, and it is likely that many others do not know they are suffering from the effects of lead poisoning.
Tunstall and Witherspoon said in a statement that they want to see children to get tested for lead:
“This is why it is important to get every child
tested for lead so they won’t have to face ... learning disabilities, and behavior problems. Most of all, they won’t have to deal with the bullying.”

Former resident wins $180k grant to fund teacher development program
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 14:55

SPHS grad now a professor at SUNY Cortland


Think back to history class. What comes to mind? Monotone lectures? Memorizing dates? This is a common perception of history education — one that former North Point Village resident-turned-history professor Kevin Sheets is looking to change.
Sheets and his colleagues are the recipients of a $180,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The grant will fund a program that provides teachers with innovative techniques for bringing history alive — both in and out of the classroom.
Sheets grew up in North Point Village, graduating from Sparrows Point High School in 1988. From there, he earned a bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College before going on to earn a master’s degree and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.
Today, Sheets is an associate professor of history at the State University of New York (SUNY), at Cortland. An accomplished historian and author, Sheets specializes in 19th-Century America. Many of his efforts focus on teacher education.
To that end, Sheets has been awarded three “Teaching American History” grants from the U.S. Department of Education. The grants, totaling nearly $3 million, have gone toward professional development programs for K-12 American History teachers.
Sheet’s latest grant will fund a program called “Forever Wild: The Adirondacks in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.” NEH awarded the program an initial $180,000 grant in 2012.
Forever Wild is a week-long residential teacher development program focusing on the latter 19th-Century periods known as the Gilded Age and Progressive Era. Sheets, along with SUNY Cortland history chair Randi Storch, will lead the program.
“Typically, schools present this period as the story of the rise of urban America so the focus is largely on cities,” Sheets explained.
“Our intention with this grant is to help encourage teachers to consider the intimate relationship between those urban regions and the wilderness.”
Teachers will spend the week at Camp Huntington, a National Historic Landmark in the Adirondacks in upstate New York.
During the program, participants will get the chance to visit several “great camps” — wilderness retreats once owned by the likes of J.P. Morgan and Alfred G. Vanderbilt.
The week will also include discussions with prominent historians and even sea plane rides over the six-million-acre Adirondack Forest.
According to Sheets, the aim of the program is to provide teachers with new techniques for their own classes.

CCBC expands Associate to Bachelor’s Nursing program
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 15:04

Students can work on two degrees at once


As the American population ages and copes with more chronic diseases, nurses are on the front lines of a rapidly-changing healthcare system.
In an effort to prepare nurses to deal with these changes, the Institute of Medicine set a goal of 80 percent of nurses possessing a bachelor’s degree by 2020.
The Community College of Baltimore County is helping prospective nurses reach this goal through the newly-expanded Associate to Bachelor’s (ATB) Nursing degree option.
The ATB Nursing option allows students to begin bachelor’s degree coursework at a partner school while earning an associate’s degree in nursing at CCBC.
Originally developed as a partnership between CCBC and Towson University, the program is now expanding to include three more four-year schools:  Frostburg State University, Notre Dame of Maryland University and Stevenson University.
To be eligible for the program, students must be accepted into CCBC’s Nursing program, have a grade point average of 3.0 or higher and complete required courses.

County residents could be qualified for Earned Income Tax Credit
Wednesday, 25 February 2015 14:54

Many working people qualify for federal and state credits

By Ben Boehl

Suzy Beegle, Job Network Administrator at the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services, wants Baltimore County citizens to see if they qualify for the the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
Beegle explained that EITC is a federal program for low-to-moderate-income working individuals — especially those who have children.
“It is a great benefit that, on average, paid about $2,300 for Marylanders who filed federal income taxes and qualified for this program,” Beegle wrote on the Baltimore County Now blog.
According to Beegle, the amount of the EITC is determined by an individual’s income and their number of children. A person may be eligible if his or her income is less than $52,427 and there is a son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, grandchild, niece, nephew or adopted child living with that individual.

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