Fall Semester Closing Notes and McCann Center Update

As the semester comes to a close, there are lots to reflect on about this past semester and also things to look forward to for the upcoming spring semester.

One of the biggest things happening around campus this semester was the renovation at the McCann Center. With construction starting over the summer and a projected completion date set for the fall of next year, there are lots to look forward to for students who will still be around.

Darren McCormack, Associate Atheltic Director For Facilities and Operations, shared that the renovation is on schedule for a fall 2019 completion date.

“The renovation appears to be on schedule,” McCormack said. “Pylons, which will support the new building, have been drilled into the bedrock and the foundation has been laid down.”

From there, the framework of steel will be installed around the building, which should be completed around the middle of the spring semester. After that is completed, the building will be enclosed with walls and ceilings going up shortly after.

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Ariel view of McCann Center, from goredfoxes.com

The new building is going to contain many new features for current and future students to enjoy. Some of the highlights of the new building are going to be two new weight rooms, one on the first floor and one on the second floor. The one on the first floor will be reserved for student-athletes only, while the one on the second floor will be for the general student body.

Additionally, there will be artificial turf and additional meeting rooms for teams and other conferences/groups on campus as well as well as additional performance spaces for the dance ensemble and other performing arts groups on campus.

Perhaps the most notable addition will be a second basketball arena that will allow for more flexible scheduling for basketball practices.

As far as the facilities that are open now to students, such as the north and south field fitness, not much is going to change.

“We don’t anticipate that we will be changing the hours,” McCormack said. “Right now everything should stay the same.”

As of now, on basketball game nights, all of the facilities in McCann will be shut down, with students being able to utilize the South field fitness center.

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McCann Center Rendering, from goredfoxes.com

The Athletics Department has also been providing updates on their website, goredfoxes.com, where renderings for the new additions are also available for viewing.  

On the academic side of the semester, the Registrar has said that registering for the spring semester went well. All of the processes for registering for classes will remain the same for the foreseeable future.  

“For those students who have not completed their schedules, they may still come into the Registrar’s Office to do so,” said Kathy Coomes, Administrative Coordinator at the Registrar, in an email.

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Beacon Bicycle Menorah celebrates members of the community

This week, Beacon Hebrew Alliance (BHA) and BeaconArts partnered up to bring the community Illumin8tion, a public menorah-lighting ceremony located in Polhill Park.

This year, Illumin8tion presented the Beacon Bicycle Menorah, a giant menorah in which the “candles” are comprised of bicycle tires wrapped in colored lights. According to the Dutchess Tourism website, each night is dedicated to honoring different members of the community. The first night, which was last Sunday when Hanukkah began, was a celebration of the town’s educators, but on different nights of the week Illumin8tion will honor activists, first responders, volunteers, and other notable members of the community.

On Wednesday, the lighting was dedicated to the children of Beacon. Children and their parents gathered around the menorah and sang ‘This Little Light of Mine.’  The kids then formed a line leading up to the menorah, and passed the newly lit bicycle tire down the line to place atop the menorah. The activity was meant to show the children how they can work together to bring light into the world.  Then, the group recited prayers around the menorah. .

According to Ellen Gersh, the cantor from BHA, the idea for bicycle tires came from a local artist named Ed Benavente.  Benavente does a lot of work with recycled materials; in particular, he frequently uses bicycle parts in his art. Gersh said that Benavente first came up with the idea for the bicycle menorah about four years ago. Since then, the menorah has gained popularity throughout the community. Benavente even traveled to Washington D.C. to give a smaller bicycle menorah to President Obama during his tenure in office.

The event is meant to be a celebration of hope and light.  The Dutchess Tourism website reads, “Hannukah tells us that we can hope against all reason and sometimes, we will prevail. Sometimes, the mighty will fall before the weak, and sometimes, just a little bit of fuel will get us through the darkest night — or even eight of them, if need be.”

Illumin8tion will conclude on the last night of Hannukah on Sunday, December 9th.  BHA and BeaconArts will host a community Hanukkah party at 11, followed by the menorah lighting at 5:30. The final night will be a celebration of the community’s artists and musicians.

“I love seeing the community come together,” Gersh said. “In times of darkness, we have to have hope.”

Student-Athlete: Easier On or Off the Field?

Don’t be afraid to ask if you have questions- coaches, CSAE, professors, anyone they are more than willing to help you figure things out and make sure you can succeed,” says Beatrix Bradford, a member of the Marist College Women’s Rowing Team, when asked what advice she would give to prospective student-athletes.

According to NCAA.org, there are more than 460,000 student-athletes this academic year across the nation which is a record high number.  

So what is the reason for so many students participating in athletics?  Some may say it’s for the scholarship opportunities.

“More than 50% of parents push their children to compete at the collegiate level…because there is potential for money off the tuition price,” says Daniel Stevens, Athletic Trainer at Performax Physical Therapy.

According to marist.edu, Marist College sponsors NCAA Scholarships for 21 of Marist’s 23 men’s and women’s Division I programs.  

However, many student athletes say that it can be overwhelming being on both a sports team and being a college student.

At Marist College, most athletes, when in season, can have practice as early as 6 a.m. meaning they have to arrive at least by 5:50 a.m.  The early waking calls for an early night to bed, but due to homework and other projects, sometimes that can be hard to do.

“We practice for 3 hours everyday and that doesn’t even include lift, team meetings, film, and prehab/posthab. Not only is playing a sport physically exhausting it’s also mentally exhausting but we’re still expected to perform at the highest level in the classroom regardless of that,” says Stephanie Stone, Marist Women’s Volleyball.

So the stress of high performance on and off the court is inevitable.

Athletes don’t necessarily have to be roommates with other athletes but there are pros and cons to doing so.  A popular comment made by many athletes is that a pro to living together is you have the same morning and night routine such as when you wake up and when you go to bed.  Because of this, there is less worry of waking up your roommates and making them agitated.

But some athletes also say it’s good to have more than one friend group.  “I would tell a future athlete to make friends outside of the team. You’re with your teammates everyday and although it’s important to get along well with your teammates it’s also important to get that separation. A lot of times what happens/the emotions in practice or in a game get carried off the court,” says Stone.

“If anything, sports has helped me create a plan and stick with it which has been very helpful,” says Bradford.

 

Men’s Basketball Wins Bracket in Belfast

On November 26 the men’s basketball team traveled to the Emerald Isle in the hopes of taking home the gold in the second annual Belfast Classic, the only college basketball tournament in Ireland. 

The tournament, hosted in Northern Ireland’s capital, was put on by the Sport Changes Life Foundation (SCLF) in partnership with the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame (BHOF) and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). 

The two bracket tournament included eight college basketball teams, all from the United States. The two brackets were called Samson and Golitath, named after the two cranes that helped build the R.M.S. Titanic, which was constructed in Belfast. 

Marist was placed in the “Samson” bracket alongside Dartmouth, Long Island University-Brooklyn, and University at Albany. Senior guard Brian Parker recalled, “It was funny to step onto the court in  Ireland to play a team from New York.”

Marist won the first game against Dartmouth 76-58. They then continued on to play LIU Brooklyn, who they defeated 70-53, making them the champions of their bracket. The last time the men’s basketball team won a November tournament was 2001. 

Parker scored 18 points in the first game, and 15 in the second. Parker’s exceptional playing was recognized and he was awarded MVP of the Samson bracket. “It’s always a great feeling to celebrate a win with your teammates,” commented Parker. “It’s also cool to be able to say we’re undefeated in Europe.”

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Corinne McGovern displays a photo she took of Belfast.

Cheerleader Corinne McGovern remembers the moment the buzzer sounded, declaring Marist had won their bracket. “Everyone on the team had huge smiles on their faces,” she said, donning a grin of her own. 

One image that stood out in both Parker’s and McGovern’s minds was seeing all the Irish fans waving Marist banners and pom poms. “Even though we were in a huge arena, seeing all the Marist gear made me feel like we were back in McCann,” said McGovern. 

According to Darren McCormack, Associate Director of Athletics for Facilities and Operations at Marist, who traveled with the team to Belfast, both the basketball players as well as the cheerleaders and dance team members participated in clinics with local schoolchildren. 

The clinics were organized by the Sport Changes Life Foundation, a charitable nonprofit that aims to help children in disadvantaged communities realize their potential through organized sports, specifically basketball. 

McCormick believes one of the foundation’s hopes in organizing the Belfast Classic is to advertise their Victory Scholar Program to college athletes because “Basketball is present in Ireland, but not prominent.”

The Victory Scholar Program, a scholarship programs that allows American student athletes to travel to Ireland and Northern Ireland to coach youth basketball teams while earning their master’s degree.

“Their motto, ‘Sport changes life,’ is something I think all of our athletes could connect with,” said McCormack. “I think it was good for the athletes to do a little community service and see how they can impact the lives of others.”

Road Trip to Radio City

On Dec. 2, students packed into three buses and embarked on a road trip to Radio City Music Hall in New York City for the annual Christmas Spectacular show starring The Rockettes.

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A ticket stub for the event taken in front amidst a crowded first floor at the beginning of the show.

“What I enjoyed most was being able to really get into the Christmas spirit. It is so hard to feel festive when we leave home and come back right when we would normally be doing different Christmas things at home,” said senior Emily Marold.  “Going into the city when it is all decorated and seeing the show make you realize it is the Christmas season and you’ll be home celebrating soon enough!”

After leaving campus around 9 a.m., the students arrived in the city around 11 a.m. and were given roughly two hours of free time to grab lunch or wander around the city before show time at 2 p.m.  While some students chose to take in the view of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, others took advantage of the opportunity to catch up with some friends in the area.

“This semester two of my best friends are doing Marist in Manhattan, so my friend that I went on the trip with and I met up with them for brunch at Toasties which was like a block away from Radio City!” said Marold.

“My twin sister and I ate lunch under Rockefeller Center and then walked to Central Park.  Other times we’ve gone on this trip we’ve done some shopping at the Christmas market in Bryant Park,” said senior Anna Bradford.

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Seniors Anna Bradford and Beatrix Bradford stop for a quick picture in Central Park during their free time before the show.

The Christmas Spectacular show was the last of this semester’s on-campus events hosted by Marist Student Activities (SA). This year, SA also sold tickets for three Broadway trips organized by the Marist Student Programming Council: Come From Away, Book of Mormon, and Dear Evan Hansen.

“I have been on [the Radio City] trip two other years, Freshman and Sophomore year, and I liked it a lot the other times too,” said senior Beatrix Bradford.

“For me, even though it’s generally the same show every year, I still enjoy it.  Aside from the cheap factor, this kind of trip is not something I normally would get to do so it’s been important that I take the most out of this opportunity,” said Anna Bradford.

Students are encouraged to follow SA on Instagram @marist_studentactivities for even more updates on what’s going on in the Student Center and other events around campus.

Aside from selling tickets for SPC’s Broadway trips, SA also hosted a wide array of off-campus events such as a bus ride to the Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald movie premiere at the local movie theater, shopping trips to Woodbury Commons and New York City, and Six Flag’s Fright Fest.

Student Activities announce ticket sales weeks in advance of the planned trip or event and regularly update students on these dates and deadlines through their social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Despite the long lines and hours of waiting, some students agree it is worth the wait.  “My favorite part about going on these shows is how cheap they are…We’ve definitely tried to take advantage of these deals because after graduation we’ll never have the chance to do this.  It also feels a lot safer than taking the train and you can just sleep on the way there and back,” said Marold.

Beatrix Bradford shared a similar sentiment.  “I like that you can go into the city for $25, and on top of that you get a ticket to the show. Yes, you have the limit of being on the bus and make the bus times-arrival and departure, but I think for the total savings it’s a small compromise to pay compared to a train ticket, and a show ticket.”

 

Redhawk Native American Arts Council Visits

images.jpgLocated in 337 of the Marist College Library, The Center for Multicultural Affairs acts as more than an office. Each day you will see a host of students entering and exiting the office as they speak with the administrative assistant, Pam, and counselors, Iris, Mary, Angel, Karen, and Terrance. But there’s more than that, there is coffee, snacks, and bonding that take places for the students which gives this place a home away from home feeling.

 

Marist CMA is more than an office but rather it is a resource. In addition to their direct support academic programs, they also provide programs and activities on campus that are open to anyone.

These events promote cultural awareness, leadership development, sustainability and even career exploration. Throughout every semester they host and co-host a series of events like the Hispanic Heritage Event, Vietnam Night, Indian Culture Awareness Night, The Global Fashion Show, and many others.

For 10 years, Marist CMA has been working to create an inclusive and welcoming community of which all students are welcome to join.

On Wednesday night, in collaboration with the Office for Accommodations and Accessibility, Student Affairs, Upward Bound, and the Diversity Council, and Human Resources, Marist CMA hosted the Red Hawk Native American Arts Council performance. The Red Hawk Native American Arts Council is a Grass-roots Not-For-Profit organization that was founded and is still maintained by natives from New York and New Jersey in 1994. Their purpose is to educate the general population about Native American heritage.

Iris Ruiz-Grech, the Director of Marist CMA said that she was excited that the event could have been rescheduled after it had to be postponed on November 15th because of the snow storm.

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Member of the Redhawk Native American Arts Council dances as Marist students and faculty watch.

Her greatest hope for this event was that students would learn about the Native American culture. The event was filled with dancing and singing as well as a wealth of information about the indigenous people.

 

 

 

“The hope is definitely awareness about the beauty and contributions of our Native Americans here in the United States,” said Ruiz-Grech. “I think it is amazing to be able to bring awareness to all of us about their importance since they were the first people in what is now called the United States.”

The council taught the attendees about the difference of tribes and also urged the audience to help their efforts by taking action.

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Cliff Matias (far right) and other members of The Redhawk Native American Arts Council

Cliff Matias is an artist, educator, photographer, hoop dancer, and actor for the Council. Matias is Kichwa and Taino. Throughout the performance, he sang, danced, and spoke to the audience.

 

When speaking about the importance of taking a stand he said that the use of Native Americans as mascots is highly offensive. He notes that universities have begun removing these mascots and so have some elementary schools although many remain resistant.

“In NYC, St. John’s University has changed their logo. So it is happening very slowly. It is only through conscious efforts and compassion and understanding of our young people, who are now moving into positions of change, we are seeing that these things are starting to take place,” said Mathias.

When pinpointing another specific change that he would like to see, he said that he believes that Columbus Day should be changed to Indigenous People’s Day.

Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and countless cities have changed. I would love to see more people of color joining in this struggle for indigenous people. In America, there were so many other atrocities that [Christopher Columbus] he committed,” said Mathias. “What about the fact that he introduced the Transatlantic Slave Trade, so how come not more of our African-American brothers and sisters aren’t joining us in that struggle. So we would love to see more. Also, American young people in general coming to stand with us.”

Students who attended this event were glad that they did. Caroline Kirsten, a Marist freshmen, said that she has gone to programs in the past where Native Americans spoke about their tribes. Despite this, she said that she never heard about their current situation.

“The greatest thing I took away was an understanding of the lack of resources and the lack of awareness. I feel like that is something that should be brought up much more,” said Kirsten. Now with this new knowledge, I want to help bring awareness. If there was any action to do so, I would love to be apart of it.”

On it’s special 10 year anniversary, Marist CMA continues to host a wealth of performances and events that expose Marist students to new ideas and cultures. Be sure to check out more of their events in the near future.

 

Local Bar Raided by Police, Liquor License Suspended

Pulsing club music quickly transitioned to the wailing of police sirens Friday night as local authorities shut down Darby O’Gill’s Food and Spirits in Hyde Park, NY, filled with underage patrons.

One hundred and fifteen minors were ticketed by the New York State Liquor Authority (SLA), with assistance from the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Dutchess County Sheriff’s Office, for possessing a fake identification card that night at a bar frequented by Marist College students, according to an SLA report.

Three bartenders were also arrested by the Hyde Park Sheriff’s Office for serving alcohol to minors and unlawfully dealing with a child. The owner of Darby O Gill’s was not arrested that evening, but as of Dec. 5, Darby O Gill’s liquor license has been suspended. According to a representative, the SLA intends to permanently suspend the license.

“It defies understanding that this licensee has displayed an unconscionable indifference to the law by placing his personal profits above the safety of our youth,” said Counsel to the Authority Christopher R. Riano.

Undisclosed SLA investigators entered the premises Friday evening around 9 p.m. after receiving complaints of underage drinking at the bar. At this time, they witnessed 26 direct sales being made to minors.

Beginning around 10 p.m. the SLA investigators witnessed cabs beginning to drop off patrons, who they observed to be from Marist. An hour later, the DMV and the Sheriff’s Office shut down the bar and began checking IDs.

The investigators obtained an additional 46 statements from minors who admitted to consuming alcohol and stated that nearly 90 percent of the bar’s 200 patrons were under the legal drinking age.

“This is an egregious violation,” said Bill Crowley of the State Liquor Authority. “This isn’t a minor or two that just slipped through the door.”

The State Liquor Authority charged Darby O’Gill’s with 77 violations on Dec. 4, including 72 counts for selling to a minor, failure to supervise, serving in an unlicensed outside area, and failure to maintain accurate books and records.

Darby O’Gills refused to comment.

A press release issued by SLA Wednesday afternoon alluded to the possibility of future consequences for any local establishment that does not comply with the legal drinking age.

“I want to commend the Members of the Authority for sending a clear message today that bar owners who knowingly serve alcohol to minors will immediately be shut down,” Riano said.

An atmosphere of fear and confusion clouded the bar, according to a male student who was present at the time of the bar raid. The student wishes to remain anonymous.

He said, “Around 11:20, all of a sudden all of the lights came on and the DJ stopped playing. And we were really confused, then we look up and there’s at least eight cops in the place.”

The student described police officers ordering patrons who were over 21 years of age to come to the front of the bar first. The remainder of the crowd was then organized into four sections and rigorously questioned by police.

By the time he was done being questioned, the student exited the bar around 3 a.m. and received a ride home from one of the numerous cabs waiting outside.

Minors were given traffic tickets with court appearance dates printed on them. According to the student, court appearances have already begun and will continue into next week, simultaneous to the college’s final examination period.

“Everyone has a court date and now a lot of people are getting scared because they don’t know if it could be more,” said the student. “I don’t know if it’s supposed to be an easy fine, I don’t know anymore. It’s really up in the air so we don’t know what to do.”

“I don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s very stressful. It’s not even stressful, it’s more like nerve wracking.”

Following the off-campus raid, panic ensued on campus Monday evening as police cars were spotted in freshman residence areas. However, this was the result of a reported robbery in a freshman residence hall, according to Resident Assistant Evan Mastriano.

The Office of Safety and Security at Marist declined to comment, stating the incident had nothing to do with the college.

Michelle Obama Takes Memoir on the Road

Former first lady Michelle Obama and moderator Michele Norris addressed the crowd at TD Garden Saturday night.

Photo courtesy of The Boston Globe

Looking around TD Garden, one thing strikes you about the crowd that is assembled on this particular Saturday night. It’s not the normal crowd for an arena that’s home to both Boston’s professional hockey and basketball teams.

Instead, the crowd is mostly female and extremely racially diverse. Their reason for being here is completely different: to see Michelle Obama’s new memoir Becoming, come to life.

Along with her book release, Obama also announced a tour to go along with it, where fans can gather to hear her stories in her own words. Boston is the fourth stop on her tour that started in her hometown of Chicago.

Boston holds a significant part in the Obama family storyline, where the discussion of Barack Obama running for president. Here in this exact spot, Barack gave his famous 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech which spiraled a discussion of Obama running for president.

Michelle, grounded as ever, didn’t think anything of the speech. Even afterward when all the chatter started, she didn’t think anything of it and was skeptical about Barack running for the presidency.

Everyone knows how that story turned out, but not everyone knows Michelle’s story.

In her memoir, Michelle talks about growing up on the Southside of Chicago, Illinois in extremely tight quarters with her brother and parents. It follows her through her schooling, with her being stubborn at a very young age.

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Photo courtesy of Barnes & Noble

In kindergarten, Michelle’s class had to read colors spelled out on index cards that their teacher held up. On the first try, Michelle got every word except for the last: white. Two of her classmates got all of them with their reward being a gold sticker. The next day, Michelle wanted to prove herself.

“The next morning in class, I asked for a do-over,” Michelle shares in her book. “I was quick to claim my trophy, though, heading home that afternoon with my head up and one of those gold-foil stars stuck on my shirt.”

That spirit followed Michelle through her college years at Princeton and Harvard University and when she hit the workforce.

That is until a man named Barack Obama came along and changed her perfectly laid out plans.

“He was the king of swerve,” Obama said at TD Garden on Saturday. That swerve led him all over the country, eventually landing in Chicago while Michelle was working at the same law firm that they met at.

The swerving led them all the way to the White House.

One of the hardest days was when the Obamas were leaving the White House before Trump’s inauguration, for different reasons other than the obvious one.

Michelle shared a story of how the night before, Sasha, their youngest daughter insisted on having one last sleepover with her friends in the White House.

At the last minute, Michelle was trying to “push crying girls through the doors”. She was so frantic that she didn’t have the time to reflect on the last eight years in that house.

It didn’t hit her until the helicopter ride over Trump’s inauguration crowd when she let herself go.

“I had been crying for thirty minutes,” she said.

When she saw the crown from the ariel view something else hit her though, this time about the crowd.

“There were people of all ages and all backgrounds, and, the crowd…,” Michelle paused, then whispered the last little bit. “It was bigger.”  

Hughes Represents Kids of Special Olympics in NYC Marathon

Senior Caroline Hughes was making her way down the Verrazano Bridge alongside 50,000 other runners on Sun., Nov. 4, when it hit her that she was not running her usual route on the Walkway Over the Hudson, but was participating in the New York City Marathon.

Although always an athlete, Hughes picked up running in college as a way to clear her mind and destress. Only four years later, she trained for her first marathon entirely by herself, and finished in an impressive 5 hours and 47 seconds.

“Running next to complete strangers who also have a passion for running was such an unbelievable motivation,” Hughes said. “It was really, really awesome.”

Hughes first began training last summer, but it became harder to increase her mileage when she returned to Marist as the school work piled on. During mid-semester break, however, Hughes finally had time to pick up the pace, and ran 18 and a half consecutive miles, her longest distance yet. After break, she hit the gym for strength training, and, with only a few weeks to go before the big day, focused on getting enough sleep and eating properly.

Hughes’ decision to run the marathon was inspired in part by the children she works with at Windham Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation, where she volunteers in the winter. Many of the students she teaches there are a part of Special Olympics, an organization that helps children and adults with mental and physical handicaps participate in sports. While preparing for the race, Hughes fundraised alongside 15 other runners on the Special Olympics Team, collectively raising over $70,000 for the organization.   

On that Saturday before the race, Hughes picked up her race number at the NYC Marathon Expo, where she saw runners of all different shapes and sizes, speaking a wide array of languages. The night before the race, she was sent a heartfelt video from her friends and family,  who wished her luck. She also received a letter from a Special Olympics athlete with Down Syndrome, in which he thanked her for her fundraising efforts. By 11 a.m. the next morning, the day of the race, the few fears Hughes had experienced were well out of mind, and she was ready to go.

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Hughes poses outside the NYC Marathon Expo

At the starting line, Hughes’ was greeted by the sound of Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York,” a special moment she said she will always remember. Neon signs in hand, her friends and family were scattered along the route, cheering her on. As she ran throughout the city’s five boroughs, Hughes noticed how although the crowds changed, each brought something new and exciting to the race, and every bystander, even members of the homeless, were there to support her.   

“As a runner, I was running alone, but I never felt alone,” Hughes said. “There was just so many people cheering you on, even if they didn’t know you. It was such a moving experience to see all of the different people supporting you. It really unified the entire city.”

Hughes recalled mile 21 as her most challenging, but mentally related her pace to her route back home, to remind herself that she had completed similar distances before. For further motivation, she thought of the kids of Special Olympics, who had already gotten her this far.

When she reached Central Park, she realized she was almost done; after passing her family one last time, she crossed the finish line only a few miles away, and was instantly overcome with emotion.

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Hughes finished the NYC Marathon, her first, in 5 hours and 47 seconds.

“It was just a really unbelievable feeling, to know that I had just completed a marathon,” she said.

Despite the long day, and the lingering dehydration and leg pain, Hughes returned to Marist later that night. Her own reward for the once-in-a-lifetime accomplishment? Hughes skipped her 8 a.m. the next morning, and slept in until her 11 o’clock class.

“I didn’t want to give myself too much time to rest,” she said. “I had to keep going again.”

Hughes said her favorite part of the experience was running along 1st Avenue to “Empire State of Mind,” while passing her friends and family. In the future, Hughes intends to run more marathons, but wants to race in other cities to see how their environments differ from New York’s.  

“At the end of the day, I was extremely proud of myself, because I was able to set a goal, and stick to a commitment, regardless of other things going on at the time,” Hughes said. “[Receiving letters from Special Olympic athletes] showed me that I am very blessed to run for something that is bigger than myself. It was really special, and something that I’ll never forget doing.”  

Marist singers help bring Christmas spirit

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Each and every pew is filled at Redeemed Christian Fellowship on Saturday afternoon. Individuals patiently wait in a dimly lit room for the Ecumenical Service of Lessons and Carols. People are dressed in their winter coats, flipping through the pages of the program, minutes before the start time. Soon, an echoing chant fills the room. The service is about to begin.

The Ecumenical Service of Lesson and Carols features Marist singers, Chamber String Ensemble, Handbell Choir, and Campus Ministry. It is a 25-yearlong tradition that started out small then blossomed into a large event. It began as a tiny ceremony in the college’s chapel with just a few of the singers. Then, the event grew sizable enough that it had to be moved to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church located on Mill Street.

But eventually, the service needed an even bigger space to accommodate the large turnout every year. Moving the event to Redeemed Christian fellowship on Cannon Street was the answer. The space can hold a crowd up to 800 people. Inside there are several rows of brown, wooden pews, golden arches above the altar, and stained glass windows throughout the church.

The service commenced with a prelude, “The Oxen,” sung by the freshman women’s choir. The attention was on the choir who stood in the front of the room dressed in long, black gowns. The handbell choir then started to chime in. The bells were rung in a way that instantly set the tone to the Christmas spirit.

“It kicks off the Christmas season and it’s an opportunity to celebrate the beginning of Advent which is presented in the early readings,” said Campus Ministry Director Brother Frank Kelly. “As the service goes through– it progresses to the birth of Jesus. So the event is just a really nice bridge from Advent to Christmas.”

During the ceremony, the crowd listened intently to carols such as “O Come, O Come, Emanuel,” “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” and “Silent Night.” Sarah Williams, the director of choral activities conducted the choir, wearing an adorned, grey evening gown. She moved her hands rapidly while mouthing the lyrics, as the singers astutely followed her gestures.

“I’m beyond proud. Students that harness their love of music and give it as a gift –are the next generation of greatness,” said Williams.

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Choral Director, Sarah Williams looks onto the crowd just minutes before the service starts

Later in the service, the crowd participated in an “illumination.” Everyone held a candle that was distributed at the door. Usher men lit the candle of the person sitting on each end of the pew. Then, that person turned over to light the candle of the individual sitting next to them. It was a domino effect.

The lights were turned down low. Soon, the whole church transformed into a sea of lights with candles shining in the air. The orchestra played an instrumental, peaceful tune to set the mood.

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The “Illumination”

Brother Frank Kelly concluded the service with a closing prayer. The ending hymn was “Hallelujah.” The audience was invited to come up to the altar to join in on the singing. About 20 members of the crowd took the opportunity.

“It’s a really good event for everyone who comes to church and they get to experience all the songs we sing and get to sing along if they know the songs too,” said Marist singer, Brittany O’Reilly.  “We always do the traditional lessons and carols–it’s a packet of all these different songs that everybody knows. So it’s really exciting.”

Members of the crowd left, smiling. They chatted about the service that helped them get into the spirit of the holiday season.

“The service was beautiful and I enjoyed hearing the talented singers and musicians in this room. It really put in perspective for me, the true meaning of Christmas,” said parishioner Thomas Gordon.