Category Archives: FEATURES

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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Gearing up for spring quarter

by Emily Huntington

Horizon Reporter

A brand new class taught by Cathy Hagman is being introduced to Whatcom. Titled “Religions of the Far East,” it looks at religions from South Asia, India, China, Japan – religions such as Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Shinto, to name a few. It examines how they began, and what impacts they have on today’s society. Hagman will also be teaching “Intro to Philosophy.”

Need an English class, but can’t come to class every day? English 100, 101 and 102 are now being offered as hybrid courses, said Jeffrey Klausman, English department chair. Klausman said that students in hybrid courses outperformed those in a day-to-day English lecture class, according to a recent study performed by a department of education.

Klausman also recommends “Gender and Literature,” taught by Sue Lonac. This class looks into different literary works and examines the role of gender in literature.

Sherri Winans will be teaching an online version of Children’s Literature. This class focuses on reading and analysis of literature for pre-adolescent to young adults. It will touch on both classic and contemporary works, and may focus on a theme, genre, or time period.

Both “Gender and Literature” and “Children’s Literature” satisfy the humanities requirement for the general AA/transfer degree.

If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by all the coursework, and all the hours you spend behind a desk indoors, there’s always “Intro to Hiking,” taught by Bernie Dougan, a geology instructor. The class is offered for 1 credit, and includes three day-hikes throughout the quarter, which will teach the basics of hiking.

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“It is important for students to have appropriate footwear that has good traction and support,” Dougan said. Light hiking boots, running shoes, or hiking shoes should be sufficient. Dougan stresses that it is also crucial to have some degree of physical fitness before starting the class, as most hikes range between five to eight miles long. Hiking, Dougan said, means up and down steep mountain trails, not “a walk in the park.”

“Hikes will be on Chuckanut and Blanchard Mountains and maybe in the Cascades depending on weather and lack of snow,” said Dougan.

Doug McKeever, professor of geology, takes his students on several field trips throughout the quarter. His oceanography class takes a trip to Whidbey Island and Deception Pass to study “beaches, eroding sea cliffs, a failed seawall, among other things,” he said. They also go to Point Whitehorn Marine Park, near Birch Bay, to observe an undisturbed natural cliffed coastline in relation to erosion in the area that threatens some homes.

In his class on natural disasters, McKeever takes his students on two field trips. One is to observe flood issues and flood control strategies in the area. The other is to visit a landslide that occurred about a year ago in the foothills west of Mt. Baker, “as well as a huge 2,400 year old landslide that came from Church Mountain and covered the land where the town of Glacier is located today,” he said.

Although the geology and other science classes are typically reserved for science majors, anyone who wants to learn is welcome to join the class and participate in the field trips.

Tresha Dutton, social sciences department chair, recommends “History of the American West,” taught by Ed Chatterton, a geography instructor. This class will investigate the American West, and try to solve how the untamed wilderness became tame and industrialized. Students will do so through the eyes of the industrialists, women, Native Americans, minorities, etc, not just through the eyes of the cowboy.

Those are just a few of the recommended courses. For more classes being offered, visit Whatcom’s Web site and browse the classes by quarter, through my O.A.S.I.S.


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WAAC! at Whatcom

Photos by Esther Martinez

Horizon Reporter

On March 5 and 6, student artwork took over room 108 of the Syre Student Center for the Whatcom Art Awareness Club’s first student art exhibition. The theme was “Illumination: Dark vs. Light.” Here are just a few of the displayed works:

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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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