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Upcoming Events-through Saturday,Oct. 9

Friday Oct. 8: Business Club Kickoff–Syre Center, room107/108 from 2-4 p.m.  With guest speaker Wes Herman, CEO of The Woods Coffee.

Friday Oct. 8: Volleyball vs. Edmonds–Pavillion from 7-9 p.m.

Saturday Oct. 9: Literary Critic Speaking at Whatcom Community College–Syre Student Center from 2-3 p.m.  Featuring guest speaker Dr. Charles Altieri.  The event is free.

Saturday Oct. 9: Womens Soccer vs. Edmonds–Orca Field from 5-7 p.m.

Saturday Oct. 9: Mens Soccer vs. Edmonds–Orca Field from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

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Digital fossils on display

by Kelly Sullivan

Horizon Reporter

Every day most Whatcom students pass by the glass case full of old computer junk on their way to the library, but many still question its purpose and presence.

The display is supposed to present a bit of history for Whatcom students. It shows the revolution of technology. Before the iPod, Blackberry, or even the Microsoft Windows program hit the market.

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The main focus of the display is the Heathkit Hero 1 Educational Robot, contributed by Bill Zilinek from the IT department. Sande compares its likeness to that of R2D2. The “skin” of the creature has been removed so students can see the programming boards on the inside. The robot is an educational tool and was used for this purpose at Whatcom. It can be programmed to talk in over 55 different voices. It became available in 1983 and sold through out the rest of the 80’s.

Besides the Robot, in the lower right hand side of the case there sits an old Compaq Portable II 286.

“I wouldn’t really call it a laptop,” said Corrine Sande, Computer Information Systems program coordinator, or CIS. The piece is transportable being the size of a small suitcase full of metal and plastic. Priced originally at about $4,000, some of the staff in Whatcoms business department owned these when they first came out in 1983. It doesn’t have any batteries, however, so it requires being plugged in every time it is used. It’s not the most convenient piece of technology, but at the time it was cutting edge.

“You could have been lugging that through the airport,” said Sande. Most of the pieces in the display, including the Compaq Portable, were not necessarily as “luggable” as was originally advertised by today’s standards.

IT Director Ward Naf explains a memory board from the 1970’s that didn’t make it into this year’s display. It is about the size of a large dinner plate and holds only kilobytes of information. Our phones hold gigabytes of memory, which is about 1000 times that of the old memory board, “the technology didn’t exist to get things that small and there was no need,” Naf said.

At the very top left hand side of the display is an old 8- inch floppy disc that Sande contributed. Beside it is a 5 1/2- inch refined version of the first floppy.

Sande says she has been researching these pieces on the Internet and some are still selling for a fair amount of money because people are still using the old systems and need the “ancient” parts.

The different systems in the display are not from too long ago, the oldest being from the 1970s. Sande had most of the old parts stored haphazardly in her office in Baker, and had the idea for the display to be set up outside the library. Laura Mackenzie agreed to take all the parts and organize the haphazard collection.

“I came over and looked and it was fabulous,” said Sande of the arrangement. Sande was curious if students would be interested.

“We’ve been talking about making a presentation for about 10 years,” said Naf. CIS and IT are hoping for a more permanent display to be set up in Cascade with more history and background for Whatcom students.

“For CIS and IT, we’re kind of in the background, so it’s good we’ve got something for people to look at.”

A final thought Sande added in terms of how technology has evolved over the centuries, “Bob Cratchett’s job title in “A Christmas Carol” was dealing with computers, because he dealt with adding up numbers.”

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The sounds of silence

by Lexi Foldenauer

Horizon Reporter

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In the halls of Whatcom Community College’s Kelly Hall, there is a particular classroom that remains predominantly silent, but if you happen to walk by at a certain time, you can hear random fits of laughter. It may seem strange to be in a class that remains totally silent for the most part, but that doesn’t mean the class is short on learning.

In ASL 121, a sign language course at Whatcom, the class is led by a deaf instructor – which to some may appear as a learning roadblock. Students Indigo Griffith, Hannah Jones, and Jenny Rodgers beg to differ, and say that this factor actually makes the course better.

“I think if it was another sign language teacher, it wouldn’t be as much fun,” said Rodgers.

The desks in the class are arranged in a circular order, leaving a wide open space in the middle of the room. A woman in a wheelchair seated by the door, who appears to be deaf and mute, communicates comfortably with the instructor and quickly catches on to his humor, filling the room with contagious laughter. There are 14 students in class, which is a noticeable difference from the thirty-some people who initially signed up for the class.

“It’s not an easy A,” said Griffith, of the large number of students to drop the class. “You actually have to do the work.”

Instructor, Glen Bocock, is hailed by his students as being animated and passionate about the material he is teaching, making the class fun and interesting.

“I like when he throws out new signs we’ve never seen before,” said Jones.

Bocock is known for the games he integrates into the daily class routine.

One such game, which has the students sign their favorite things, encourages them to interact with each other using the signs they already know.

Each student lines up to assemble 3 lines, and are instructed to communicate some of their favorite things, ranging from colors to foods. It was apparent the difference between students who were more comfortable with their ability to sign and others who struggled. Bocock approached certain students, and emphasized the difference between sloppy signs, and how to be clearer with each individual sign. As each student got to the front of the line, some appeared more assured than others, but nonetheless contributed their full effort to the activity.

Bocock seemed to move at an almost effortless pace with his students. Animated and swift in his movements, Bocock used dramatic story-telling techniques to teach and also refresh upon different signs. Since the beginning of the quarter, the students say that this was the type of technique he used to teach a class where a majority of the students came in with no prior sign-language knowledge. Some of the first lessons involved simply learning the students’ names, and looking to more experienced students to help the newcomers out.

Student, Julia Morac, said that part of the reason she took the class is because you can talk without using your voice. The class involves a lot of concentration in order to learn the signs effectively, and regular attendance is a key part to getting the signs down.

“You have to keep focused on him the entire time,” said Morac.

Dimitri Onishchenko, a student in the class, said that the class allows you to get to know people pretty well. With the exception of a few, most people are on the same level and help each other out, he said.

Everyone in the class has improved since the beginning of the quarter; some more than others, agree the students, but there is still a lot of material left to cover.

“There’s a whole dictionary of words that we don’t know yet,” said Jones.

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GED: The cap and gown alternative

by Kelly Sullivan

Horizon Reporter

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Whatcom student Ayanna McCabe, 17, was behind schedule to graduate high school due to stress at home. Her family had been moving frequently, and balancing a job made it difficult to attend school at the same time.

“Getting a GED just made sense,” said McCabe. She started Adult Basic Education classes, or ABE, at Whatcom last fall, and received her results for the test February 22. GED stands for General Education Development. To receive a degree is the equivalent of having graduated with a high school diploma.

“I thought I’d need another year before I took the test,” said McCabe. “All the teachers definitely try their hardest to make sure you are where you need to be.”

McCabe said one of her ABE teachers Denise Ranney was ecstatic when she found out McCabe had passed her test. McCabe would have graduated spring 2011, but by entering the program at Whatcom she received her GED a year before she was on track to graduate.

She is hoping to receive financial aid so she can continue her education this spring quarter, and enter the Nursing Assistant- Certified program.

Whatcom offers a preparation program for any one desiring a foundation or brush up on academic skills, before taking the GED exam.

The program offers basic education classes such as ESL, reading and writing, listening and speaking, Civics classes, basic computer classes, presentation classes and math.

Christie Rector, 36, hasn’t been to school in 15 years. She is also taking the Adult Basic Education classes, and hoping to get into the Nursing Assistant program this spring to eventually become a Health Unit Coordinator. She started her preparation classes in 2009.

“I was terrified to come back to school,” said Rector. “I went in thinking I had no math skills at all. Now after two quarters I’m working on geometry.”

“You can’t fail over there,” said Rector.

“I mean there is so much support. I am amazed at how much Katie knows about everybody, she’s always popping into classes and coming to people telling them what else they need to do to improve their skills.”

Katie Jensen is the Director for Transitional Learning at Whatcom that keeps track of the students involved in the preparation classes.

The program at Whatcom is federally funded so the cost of taking preparation classes is only $25 a quarter, for however many classes you enroll in. The program is not credit based and there is no limit or minimum amount of classes one needs to finish before taking the exam.

“It’s meant to be very accessible to everybody,” said program assistant Tobi Martinez. There are no books required for any of the classes to ensure it is easily affordable to students. “They take the expense away for everybody to get their basic skills down,” Martinez said.

“There’s a multitude of reasons people would be in our classes,” said Martinez. “Some people take it to keep up with their kid’s homework, brush up on education, or gain skills needed for a job.”

There are 523 students involved in the general preparation courses this winter. The number of students that go through the program at Whatcom and succeed at the exam is unknown, however nationwide one out of every 20 highs chool students receives their GED instead of a high school diploma each year.

“What I am more interested in is seeing how many students go on to college,” said Jensen. The fact that the program allows for more students like Rector to become more confident in their skills and successfully transition to college courses, is what the program is most optimistic about.

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by Lexi Foldenauer

Horizon Reporter

For twelve years, Jimmy Kelsey was working five different sections at four schools throughout Seattle, not including the two online classes he oversaw as well.

“That was hard,” Kelsey said with a laugh, “That’s almost two full-time jobs.”

Kelsey, an economics instructor at Whatcom Community College, recalled the day he packed up his belongings from his Seattle apartment and moved to Bellingham. It was September 2001, and he had just landed a position a month prior at Whatcom, after living and working in Seattle most of his life.

“I worked everywhere,” said Kelsey.

The pressure of his numerous obligations led Kelsey to turn to food for solace.

“I was probably stuffing pain in some sense from the stress of the full-time job,” he said.

Kelsey recalled nights when he would open a box of crackers, only to open another right after. Along with frequent trips to places like Wendy’s and Burger King, the continuous snacking led him to a very unhealthy weight, exceeding 400 pounds. It was a Diabetes diagnosis a few years ago that acted as a major wake-up call to his unhealthy lifestyle, Kelsey said. He knew it was time to make a healthy change and lose weight.

“I knew I had to if I was going to stay alive,” he said.

Kelsey began researching online for ways to lose weight. He decided early on to avoid procedures like stomach-stapling or banding surgery, and knew he would have to do it the old-fashioned way.

“I focused on resuming a more active life-style and losing weight, instead of being immobile, being bummed out, and being morbidly obese,” said Kelsey.

A lot has changed for Kelsey in the past few years, and recently he had the rewarding opportunity to send out a group e-mail informing his colleagues of some good personal news. The e-mail reads “100 pounds lost” in big, bright red letters. Kelsey signed the e-mail, “My thanks to so many of you who have encouraged and supported the effort.”

Prior to having a heart surgery in 1997, Kelsey had gone through two other dramatic weight losses. He was put on a liquid diet under medical supervision, in which he was consuming an average of 700 calories a day. Kelsey lost 157 pounds while on the liquid diet, which was the lowest he had been in years. He was also given injections to suppress his appetite, which he said did not help much.

“I just kept stickin’ to it,” said Kelsey.

Unfortunately, the diets didn’t help long-term and soon his unhealthy eating habits returned, causing his weight to escalate more each year.

Around 2000 was when Kelsey’s weight gain began to really increase, he said, and by the summer of 2007 he had reached a high of 415 pounds, and said his life was temporarily put on hold. That same summer, a visit from some old friends gave Kelsey the boost he needed. He watched his friends play in a soccer tournament, and felt inspired to be able to get out on the field again himself. Even just visualizing gliding down a mountain on cross-country skis or kicking a soccer ball around were enticing thoughts that provided motivation.

“I felt like I had something to live for again,” he said.

Today, Kelsey has reached a more comfortable weight, which is something that he still works at daily to maintain.

“The hardest part is the first step,” said Kelsey, “just getting started.”

Once you make the effort and start to see some results, it is much easier to keep going, he said. Paying attention to what he eats, and why he wants it, has been a major part of his weight loss. He now chooses to treat himself to really good food, with more nutritional value, and takes the time to savor it. One of his favorite places to shop is Slough Foods, a specialty store in Everson, where he likes to purchase fine meats and cheeses. Another essential part of making such a major life transition is to be around people you love, said Kelsey, which he is certainly doing.

Aside from personal discipline, Kelsey attends St. Joseph’s Diabetes and Nutrition Center for support. He does activities in the therapy pool twice a week, with the guidance of his diabetes and nutrition counselor, Cindy Brinn. Kelsey is eager to enter the rehabilitation program after he gets down to a required 300 pounds, in order to receive a hip replacement. After this next step in weight loss, Kelsey will begin classes to learn how to live with a new hip.

Being an avid fan of soccer, Kelsey loves attending pick-up games, even to just watch them.

“It gives you something to think and relate about,” he said.

Activities he used to enjoy, like soccer, hiking, and bicycling, were no longer something he could possibly do when his weight had spiked, but he is looking forward to getting back out there. He hasn’t been to Whatcom Falls Park in six or seven years, and is eager to go back there to take walks. Among other things, Kelsey wants to buy a tricycle – “a fancy German one to ride back and forth from school,” he said.

Despite being limited to a wheelchair right now, Kelsey has season tickets for the Sounders, and plans on using them.

“I’m goin’,” he said, “No matter what it takes, even though it’s hard.”

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