Category Archives: FEATURES

Whatcom receives new grants

By Jeremy Clopton

Whatcom Community College received $2.25 million from the Title III grant awarded by the United States Department of Education to be dispersed over a five-year period and is aimed at developing a student welcoming program as well faculty facilities, funding began Oct. 1, 2018 and ends Sept. 30, 2023.

Title III, known as the Strengthening Institutions grant, has an extremely competitive application process and this is the first time WCC has received the grant in almost 30 years.
The grant was developed based on institutional needs, and helps bring to life Whatcom’s strategic plan, which prioritizes students and their success.

One of the main determining factors for this grant is the percentage of low-income students who are enrolled at the college.

Only applications with perfect reviews are accepted with only the top several institutions receiving funding that will be dispersed through a five-year period.
The grant will help the college become self-sufficient while expanding their ability to better serve low-income students by providing funding to improve academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability.

The main purpose for the Title III grant is to greatly improve student outcomes. The primary areas of focus are Guided Pathway, funding teaching and learning centers for faculty and staff, and a student welcome experience.

Guided Pathway is a program funded from the grant and is aimed at helping low-income students.

“Guided Pathway will provide a pathway to success and give students a sense of belonging since the beginning of the year,” said Whatcom Director of Finances Alison Scherer.
The grant funds salaries for faculty and staff, technology, equipment, and more to make this vision a reality.

The completion of the Learning Commons in the future will open new opportunities, courtesy of the grant.

This grant provides an unprecedented opportunity to create a teaching and learning center that will provide training to faculty and staff on guided pathways advising and inclusive, active learning classrooms that include the furniture, layout, and technology to help students collaborate and engage in new and exciting ways.

Among the funding for Guided Pathway is funding for new faculty and staff facilities, which will be designed to better serve teachers and staff at Whatcom.

Many details on how and when the grants funds will be utilized are still being ironed out, but Scherer is excited about the “new opportunities” that will be arising.

Whatcom also received another grant from the DOE, as the cybersecurity program was awarded $100,000 through the Cyber Pilot grant. That grant is the first of its kind to be awarded from the DOE, and will fund upgrades to the curriculum, software, and equipment.


Follow us:
facebooktwitterrss

New trustee appointed to board

By Kaila Cove

Teresa Taylor was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to serve a five-year term as a member on the board of trustees at Whatcom Community College in October.

“Trustees face the exciting challenge to seek out, consider, and balance many diverse values and interests as they engage in the policy-making process that guides the colleges to excellence and success,” Kloke said.

Taylor says that she has been living in Ferndale for 25 years where she is a member on the Ferndale City Council.

Teresa Taylor

Teresa Taylor accepted for position in October

Taylor moved to Whatcom County at the age of 3 after previously living in Chicago.

“I grew up in Bellingham where I attended Roosevelt Elementary, Assumption Catholic School, and Bellingham High School,” Taylor said by email.

Whatcom Community College is familiar grounds to Taylor.

“I am a graduate of Whatcom Community College where I received my AAS [Associate of Applied Science] degree.”

Taylor also was a student of Western Washington University. “I studied accounting and more recently project management,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s educational background also includes attending Washington State University.

“I completed the Master Gardener, Master Composter & Recycler, and Carbon Master programs from Washington State University and the Patient Navigation program at WCC,” she said in her email.

Taylor replaces board member Tim Douglas whom Taylor says she admires. Douglas served for 10 years on the board, Taylor said, but he decided to not continue for another term.

“I filled his position, and he’s a tough act to follow,” she said.

The board consists of five members from the community: John Pedlow, Steve Adelstein, Wendy Bohlke, Rebecca Johnson, and Teresa Taylor.

In addition to the Ferndale City Council, Taylor is an active member in various community groups, including Ferndale Downtown Association and Bellingham International Airport Advisory.

“Involvement with your community is both priceless and invaluable, and the feeling of fulfillment can be endless,” Taylor said.

As a member of the board of trustees, Taylor explained that her job, along with all the members on the board as “setting the college’s strategic direction, establishing policy for the college, awarding tenure, approving the operating budget and hiring the college president.”

Taylor, who is a registered member of the Lummi Nation and active on the Lummi Indian Business council, said she hopes to help contribute to making Whatcom inclusive and diverse by providing “a cultural and environmental feeling of belonging.”

Rafeeka Kloke, who is the special assistant to the president of Whatcom, said that trustees such as Taylor have an essential link with the community.

“They both represent the community to the college and advocate for the college in the community and state,” she said.

Part of Taylor’s role in this process is to establish partnerships with various agencies and organizations.


Follow us:
facebooktwitterrss

The Olde Fashioned Christmas shines

By Kaila Cove

The Olde Fashioned Christmas, which is held at Pioneer Park, is an event that includes live performances, holiday cookies and refreshments, horse-drawn sleigh rides, games, arts and crafts, baking, and a visit from Santa to kick-start the holiday season for Whatcom County.

This event is held by the Ferndale Heritage Society and attracts visitors from all over.

“Pioneer Park is the world’s largest collection of cedar log-slab cabins,” Linda Harkleroad said, who is coordinator of the Olde Fashioned Christmas at Pioneer Park. These log cabins started arriving in the 70s and contain historic artifacts.

Harkleroad said Pioneer Park was created in 1901. Back then, it was known as a picnic for settlers to gather.

She said that Ferndale owns the park and the log cabins, the Old Settlers own the artifacts, and the Ferndale Heritage society takes care of the park.

One of the parks newest additions is new Americans with Disabilities Act compliant sidewalks.

Dusty Sager, who has been attending the Olde Fashioned Christmas since the 90s says he, “can’t wait to go this year with the new pavement walkway.”

Pioneer Park holds public tours and runs the education program, in the spring, and the Olde Fashioned Christmas, in the fall.

harkleroad

Linda Harkleroad and Dusty Sager at the Olde Fashioned Christmas Festival

Harkleroad said that the Olde Fashioned Christmas is “an annual event. We always do it the first weekend in December. We try to keep it very non-commercial.” Everything is included in the $4 ticket at the door.

During this event, each historic cabin has a theme. “This year’s theme is our ‘favorite collections,’” Harkleroad said.

An example of “favorite collections” are angels, miniature Santas, and toy trains. Each cabin has a separate activity.

Tom Brand, a member of the Ferndale Heritage Society says, “It is nice to have that educational aspect for the younger kids and the reminiscent part for the older folks.”

Last year the park celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Olde Fashioned Christmas, and this year will be the events 26th year.

“It’s the main Christmas event for the community,” Harkleroad said. She says the main goal of this event is to get the holiday season started in a calming manner.

Harkleroad says the Ferndale Christmas tree lighting starts the event.

People come from all over to attend the Olde Fashioned Christmas. The Foresters Association has “pre-ordered 75 tickets already for their group to come in on Saturday,” Harkleroad said.

Brand says, “We get people from Seattle, Everett, Canada that have been here before, and they come back because they say it’s so spectacular. We bring people to town and Whatcom County.”

Harkleroad said that the mayor of Ferndale, Jon Mutchler, is expected to make an appearance and play the piano. At the same time, Ferndale Heritage Society said they hope that this event doesn’t become so large that the Olde Fashioned Christmas loses its intimacy.

The admission price to attend the Olde Fashioned Christmas is $4 for adults and $3 for children. “The cheapest entertainment you’ll ever have,” Harkleroad said.

She says this is an event worth people’s money because it is possible to spend the whole afternoon here.

Brand says, “It’s an easy two-hour amount of time to go through here. You can get as much out of it as you want.” People who attend this event have the option to walk through 12 decorated cabins that each have a holiday activity.

“It’s an outing for four bucks — coming down here and going though these cabins getting some hot coffee or cocoa to drink and cookies while going on a horse drawn ride and enjoying the entertainment,” she said.

Harkleroad said that this year was the last year that the Olde Fashioned Christmas will be able to provide tickets at such a low price.

Harkleroad believes that this event is “as close as you’re going to get” to an old fashioned Christmas. “It is definitely authentic. There is nothing phony about it,” she said.

Harkleroads says, “For those interested in history, this is a gold mine.” Also if you enjoy Christmas lights, Harkleroad said that the park provides a beautiful visual display when the lights brighten up the park at night.

“It’s a treasure to have something like this all in one place,” Brand says.

Harkleroad says she appreciates the heartfelt spirit, the cabins, and the lights.

She also enjoys “the glee in some of these little kids — some of them concentrate so hard on writing that letter to Santa, and they are so cute.”

Brand says his favorite part of this event is seeing the joy of kids and learning about the artifacts. “I just think it’s neat to give back to the community and to keep a focus for people to have in this troubled time,” he said. Both volunteers feel this event is a great way to indulge in the atmosphere holiday spirit.

Harkleroad says live performances from local performers happen throughout the weekend and Rainbow Ranch brings their horses for horse-drawn carriage rides at no extra cost. Refreshments and cookies will be provided at no charge and old-fashioned games will be available. Crafts will be provided in every cabin and Santa Claus will be there to visit. Cookie baking and applesauce will be at the Jenny House and the Shields.

Harkleroad said some people have attended this event since they were children, and now they bring their own children along as a family tradition.

Sager says, “It’s a family tradition to see the park decorated for Christmas.” Sager says he brings his children to visit Santa and enjoys the tastiest applesauce.

“I think it brings the best of our small town together for a few nights,” Sager says. He says some of their favorite parts about the event is singing Christmas songs and going on horse-drawn carriage rides.

Harkleroad says that the “real Santa” visits the Olde Fashioned Christmas at Pioneer Park. “We have the real Santa, just saying,” Harkleroad said. It has also been noted that Santa writes back every single person that writes a letter to him at the Olde Fashioned Christmas.


Follow us:
facebooktwitterrss

Give me education or give me debt!

By Ken Johnson

Community college helps to bridge the chasm between the American dream and the American reality.

The United States, more than most other countries, prescribes a narrative over the lives of its citizens: grade school, university, career, retirement, and then an uncomfortable death at an unfamiliar hospital, doped up on morphine.

In most of the country, high-school graduates are expected to go to college, and about 70 percent of them do, according to Pew Research Center — that’s up 20 percent from 1970.

Many jobs that didn’t previously require a university degree, such as salesperson or pilot, now require some sort of degree. And that’s a little weird because a bachelor’s degree in history has nothing to do with flying a plane.

Even if someone manages to find a job that doesn’t require some sort of degree, people with degrees look down their noses at people without degrees, especially in cities like Bellingham.

A college degree might as well be the star on the belly of a sneetch.

So a university degree is a status symbol, as well as a prerequisite for landing a job. On the surface, that doesn’t seem like such a bad thing: a liberal arts education can provide context to an otherwise confusing life and help people become more informed citizens. It seems like that, if everyone was educated, there would be fewer problems in the world — fewer Donald Trumps.

Except that college is dangerously expensive.

In 2017, according to Pew Research Center, there was over $1.3 trillion in American student debt, and the average recipient of a bachelor’s degree was over $25,000 in collegiate debt. Roughly half of the people who have bachelor’s degrees do not think that the benefit of the degree outweighs the financial cost. That’s a 50 percent college-regret rate.

And some organizations, such the Huffington Post, have found a connection between student loans and suicide.

Is a liberal arts degree really worth all that?

No. It’s not.

Especially when the reason why anyone would get a liberal arts education is considered. I mean, think about the phrase “liberal arts.” In Latin “liberal” is generally synonymous with “freedom” or “the pursuit of a freeman” — think about the word “liberty.”

I’m not a linguist, but the point I’m trying to make is that a liberal arts education is all about being free. It’s about being able to think for yourself and engage with the world on your own terms.

But there is absolutely nothing liberating about being crushed and churned around in a Sisyphean cycle of debt.

So on one hand, a liberal arts education is a nice thing to have, but on the other hand, getting one ruins lives.

That brings me to community college: the happy medium between an irreparable credit score and being able to name the impacts of climate change.

Community college has two main benefits: it’s cheaper, and everybody is accepted.

There is a special kind of dumb hypocrisy in wanting everyone to go to college, but then turning away a lot of potential students, because, however high an acceptance rate is, some people are still being denied.

Community college is pragmatic where most American universities are elitist. The realization that community colleges have made is that most Americans are not 18 years old and wealthy.

Some people need to work while they’re in school. Some people grow old, not Neil Patrick Harris, but some people.

Community college has flaws and in no way fixes everything. It’s kind of like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound… it helps, a little.

It keeps the good part of going to university — the education — and mitigates the bad parts — the debt and self-loathing.

Community college should expand, and it should become free.

I’m no financial analyst, but maybe we should spend money on educating people before we spend money on shiny Star Wars-style military jets.

Hell, with 1.3 trillion in debt, a crafty government could really get cracking on some state-sponsored terrorism. And if it’s lucky, even topple a democratically elected socialist.

Or educate its citizens.


Follow us:
facebooktwitterrss

Whatcom digs archaeology

By Apple Parry

Whatcom Community College held its fourth annual Archaeology Fair in the Syre Auditorium on Oct 30, where Whatcom’s anthropology faculty and the Association for Washington Archaeology welcomed students and staff from Whatcom and Western Washington University to show a variety of educational displays.

The fair had tables from Whatcom students, Western students, cultural resource management firms, private firms, the Lummi nation, a few independent researchers, and a table of archaeology-focused books.

“I’m really pleased that we’ve got such good representation here,” said Dr. Jennifer Zovar, a Whatcom professor and organizer of the event.

Zovar’s archaeology class was in charge of the “Garbology” display table. She explained, “Archaeology is really the study of ancient garbage, and so, by looking at modern garbage, what can we tell about our own campus? The project they did for this fair was looking at litter patterns on campus and what we might be able to learn about changing habits.”

Dr. Zovar

Dr. Jennifer Zovar

 

Zovar and her class found that, “a lot of [the garbage] is cigarette butts.”

Zovar said one of the biggest takeaways from the event was that “a lot of Whatcom students come and are able to meet students and faculty from Western.”

Students that are “getting interested in archeology here at Whatcom have ended up transferring and going on to archeology careers, in part because of outreach events like this.” Zovar said, adding, “The connections you make at an event like this, it’s much different than the connections you make in the classroom.”

A slideshow was debuted this year, featuring pictures all related to archaeology and anthropology, which played throughout the event. Zovar said, “It just helps to see those sorts of hands-on pictures, you get to see the faces of the people doing archeology in addition to
everything that we’ve got going on.”

One of those faces is teacher and faunal analyst Alyson Rollins, who has been involved in the fair since the start. Her topic, faunal analysis, is the differentiation between animal bones and human bones. One of her goals for this fair was to give the larger community insight into what kind of jobs and opportunities are available in the real world.

Rollins said her favorite part about the fair is getting the opportunity to “touch base with colleagues that we don’t get to see very often,” and “getting to interact with my students outside of the classroom.”

Riley Campbell, a student, said “It’s cool to see how things change over time, and the different methods people use to make different things.” His project focused on the timeline of bottles and cans, how they have aged, and how manufacturers have changed the shape and materials they use to make them.

Riley Rieber, a Western student, started her first archaeology fair in charge of the hands-on station. This station lets participants experience firsthand how to use the same tools and techniques used by the people of the past.

Rieber said her station is interesting because “if you were trying to survive out in the woods with nothing but the things around you, you can learn from the past and apply it to today.” The activities included shaving bark off a tree branch, using rocks to shape other rocks, and learning which types of rocks are most useful in certain situations.

Zovar said “Western always brings this hands-on display, it’s usually the most popular because it’s so cool to try and use the tools that the peoples used so long ago and see how they really work.”


Follow us:
facebooktwitterrss