Overwhelmed? Here's Help for Students, Faculty, and Staff - UNLV NewsCenter

Overwhelmed? Here's Help for Students, Faculty, and Staff - UNLV NewsCenter Overwhelmed? Here's Help for Students, Faculty, and Staff - UNLV NewsCenter Posted: 23 Nov 2020 09:21 AM PST Over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, faculty and staff have worried over their students' wellbeing, not always knowing how to help or where to suggest students go when the strain seems to affect their academic success. "UNLV students are presenting to Student Counseling and Psychological Services for mental health services with increased symptoms of anxiety and depression," said Shauna Landis, director of student counseling and psychological services.  Although statistics for UNLV students were not immediately available, Landis said student visits to CAPS seems to track with national data. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , 40 percent of American adults surveyed in June 2020 reported experien

Waco musicians, wind instrumentalists find outdoor harmony - Waco Tribune-Herald

Waco musicians, wind instrumentalists find outdoor harmony - Waco Tribune-Herald

Waco musicians, wind instrumentalists find outdoor harmony - Waco Tribune-Herald

Posted: 21 Nov 2020 03:46 PM PST


Wind instrumentalists, as many musicians, have found rehearsals and concerts upended this year by new coronavirus measures: time-limited and player-distanced rehearsals, fewer indoor concerts, smaller audiences.

Some Waco performing groups have found the space this fall to breathe and blow, returning to a familiar player-audience dynamic, by going outside.

For local bagpipers, last month's Walking Tales event at Oakwood Cemetery provided the opportunity. Baylor University student wind players found their chance on campus in building porticos or outside doorways.

Walking Tales, the Heart of Texas Storytelling Guild's annual event where storytellers dress up as figures from Waco's history and tell their stories, has had a bagpiper in the past, but a full contingent turned out for the most recent one. Piper Carrell Myers, 58, joined fellow pipers Kermit Brock, Greg McEwen and Jason Nering.

Bagpipers at Walking Tales

Waco bagpipers Kermit Brock (left), Jason Nering, Greg McEwen and Carrell Myers took advantage of last month's Walking Tales event for a rare and welcomed outdoor group performance.

Myers was representing Scottish immigrant and Texas settler Neil McLennan, the county's namesake, not only by music, but kilt as well, wearing the MacLennan clan tartan.

It was the first time the pipers had played together since March, when the first communitywide pandemic control measures went into effect.

"After an hour or two, it got better," said Myers, who picked up the pipes after her retirement from a nursing career.

She and her fellow pipers had met weekly at the Lee Lockwood Library and Museum, the headquarters for Waco's Scottish Rite Masons, for rehearsals until the facility restricted its use by outside groups because of COVID-19 considerations.

Though technically a wind instrument, the bagpipes do not require much of it once the bag is inflated, she said.

Bagpipers at Walking Tales

Jason Nering adjusts the drone pipes for piper Kermit Brock.

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"I smoked for 35 years and I can play," Myers said. "It takes five breaths of air to get the bag up and then you just breathe normally. … It's like patting your head and rubbing your stomach."

Beginning pipers start on a chanter, the recorder-like pipe with holes to play nine notes. Once players get the rhythm of playing notes and breathing, they progress to adding the drone pipes, then learning to march in a group.

"It's the best thing you can do in this world with your clothes on," Myers said with a laugh.

Baylor student musicians definitely had their clothes on this fall when playing outdoor recitals with fellow students walking to and from their classes as a moving audience. The open air performances were part of the music school's new COVID-19 protocols designed to continue instruction while minimizing the circumstances in which the coronavirus could spread.

Indoor rehearsals were limited to 30 minutes before required breaks for ventilation. Players rehearsed and performed with 6 feet of space between them. Instrumentalists wore masks with slits to accommodate mouthpieces.

Concerts and recitals were livestreamed rather than played before an audience, and many private lessons were done online via Zoom.

Masked musicians

The Baylor University Graduate Brass Quintet finds an impromptu outdoor stage outside Armstrong Browning Library as coronavirus precautions this fall canceled indoor performances.

To give students the chance to share their music with others while performing live, there were outdoor "art attacks" or pop-up concerts by groups including the Amet Saxophone Quartet, the Baylor Jazz Ensemble, Wind Ensemble and the Graduate Brass Quintet, playing for listeners on their way to classes.

Open-air performances for the fall are over, with Baylor students leaving campus after Wednesday to finish the balance of their classes online. The Baylor Wind Ensemble will have a livestreamed concert at 7:30 p.m. Monday, available at baylor.edu/music, under the Concerts & Programs tab.

The School of Music's long-running tradition of its "Christmas at Baylor" concerts will not be held this year, though student and faculty ensembles and soloists will perform a "Countdown To Christmas" Dec. 1-24 with short videos of Christmas music posted daily to baylor.edu. Last year's "Christmas at Baylor" concert will be broadcast as "A Baylor Christmas 2019" Dec. 24 and 25 on KWTX-TV.

Masked musicians

Baylor University graduate brass players, masked and with instrumental bell covers, perform outside Armstrong Browning Library.

Amet Saxophone Quartet

Members of Baylor's Amet Saxophone Quartet take advantage of an outdoor setting to maintain social distancing while performing.

Lake Country Faces: Crosslake School director found a passion for helping kids - Brainerd Dispatch

Posted: 22 Nov 2020 01:00 AM PST

"I knew I loved kids," he said, which led the Crosslake Community School director to a long career in education, where he especially enjoys helping students.

He joined the charter school in Crosslake in late January, and worked there for just five weeks before COVID-19 hit and forced all schools into distance learning.

Despite the challenges the coronavirus pandemic has caused, Skagen remains committed to his students, whether they're grade K-8 students who normally attend school in person or high school students who attend classes online.

"I love working with kids. It doesn't matter if they're 4 years old, 18 or 19 years old, I just love working with kids," he said.

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"I love working with kids. It doesn't matter if they're 4 years old, 18 or 19 years old, I just love working with kids." - Cliff Skagen, Crosslake Community School director

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Skagen grew up in North St. Paul, a small, tight-knit community, and attended Macalester College in St. Paul after graduating from high school. He earned a degree in economics and business in 1986, and went on to work for Target stores in management and in opening new stores.

He and his wife, Betsy, moved to Eveleth where she worked for the daily newspaper in Virginia and he continued to work at Target. They later returned to the Twin Cities, living in south Minneapolis.

That's when Skagen decided it was time for a change. In the early 1990s, he obtained his teaching license in social studies from Augsburg University in Minneapolis by working at Target during the week and attending college on weekends. In 1992, he landed a paid internship at Chaska-Chanhassen schools and discovered he loved teaching.

He taught social studies for a few years at Robbinsdale Middle School, where he started an afterschool program to help kids. Eventually, he earned his master's degree in teaching administration, and in 2002, he obtained his K-12 administrative license.

That led him to the Lakeville School District in 2003, where he became program director in the district office, working with before and after school programs, intervention programs and with area learning center students. He's proud of the vast improvements those at-risk students made in test scores.

"They just needed a second chance," Skagen said, noting he's had students return from college to thank him for saving their life. Another student who was bullied joined the Army Reserve and now works in management. Yet another at-risk student attended college and now does trading on Wall Street.

As Skagen shares these stories, he still easily recalls each student's name.

"What can we do for individuals - it's looking beyond the big picture of how well are all my students doing, to how well is each individual student doing," he said.

Skagen also started a K-12 online program in Lakeville, saying that's another way to reach kids. He worked for the Lakeville School District until 2017, and then spent a year and a half as director of teaching and learning at Twin Cities Academy, a charter school in St. Paul.

"My passion really is teaching, learning, instruction," he said. "How do we get student improvement?"

Skagen's goal is not only to help kids who are struggling, but also those who are exceeding standards because he doesn't want students to be bored in class. Another goal is to get schools to function in a way to raise student learning.

"How do we get students to learn more?" he said, reiterating the need to "help kids both on the low and high side, and support and challenge kids in the middle, all while following the mission and vision of the school."

At Crosslake School, that mission and vision is environmental with Osprey Wilds (formerly the Audubon Center of the North Woods) as the school's authorizer. Skagen and his family - which includes two children in college - love the outdoors, including walking their two golden retrievers. They've had a cabin on Lake Mille Lacs for 30 years and now live in Outing.

"We love the environment. We love the non-hustle and bustle of the city," he said of the area.

Skagen also loves music and the grand piano he has at home. And, of course, he loves kids.

"I found a passion for kids. I didn't plan it, but it's just right," he said.

Nancy Vogt may be reached at 218-855-5877 or nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com. Follow her on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Nancy.


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