Naugatuck Valley Community College President Daisy Cocco DeFilippis, Deans, faculty, staff, and foundation members gathered for the traditional, end-of-semester All-College Meeting. The meeting opened with a welcome by President DeFilippis to celebrate the achievements, generous contributions, and talents of the NVCC community.
Moderated by Dean of Community Engagement, Waldemar Kostrzewa, the agenda followed with two votes. Motions to approve the applicants for the January 2020 conferral, and another to approve a block of curriculum items submitted by the Curriculum & Educational Affairs Committee (CEAC) were unanimously accepted.
For her work with homelessness and food-insecurity among students, Kathleen LeBlanc, MS, MSW, Professor & Program Coordinator Human Services & Social Work Studies was honored with the You Changed My Life Award presented by Professor Kathy Murphy, President, NVCC Alumni Association Board of Directors.
Emeriti status was conveyed by President De Filippis to recent NVCC faculty and staff including Scott Colvin, Professor of Accounting; William H. Foster III, Professor of English; and Elaine Milnor, Library Associate.
Special recognitions from each academic area and employee recognitions for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 40 years of service were presented by the President and Deans.
Then the festivities turned to the annual talent show which has become the highlight of the December All-College meeting. The talent show opened with a country line dance. Dean of Student Services, Sarah Gager; Payroll Clerk, Yolanda Crowder; Assistant Professor, Elma Solomon; and Administrative Assistant, Elizabeth Catuccio; danced to the lyrics of the country classic, Git Up, by Blanco Brown. According to Dean Gager, “the performance provided a great opportunity to have fun with colleagues. Now we’ll be ready to join in and dance with students at the spring fling. It was inspired by Yolanda Crowder, an incredibly talented dancer, who patiently led us through the steps while providing lots of encouragement and opportunity for laughter.”
The next act featured students and faculty. Fermata the Valley, NVCC’s Music Society a cappella group and NVCC’s theater production students, led by Gil Harel, Assistant Professor of Music, and joined by Jason Seabury, Associate Professor of Mathematics, opened the second act in the annual talent show with the Simon & Garfunkel’s classic, Bridge Over Troubled Water. According to Professor Harel, "the song was chosen because its unique message seems to resonate with this time of the semester. The opening line discusses feelings of weariness and fatigue - how apropos as we head into finals week! Ultimately, the message is clear - when times are tough, we're there for each other. And that is perhaps the ultimate mission of the a cappella group and of music-making on campus: to lift the spirits of our friends, neighbors and family members through song.”
The Naugatuck Valley Community College Foundation, represented by Chairwoman of the Board, Martha Bernstein, Ann Miraiam Feinberg, Diane Texeira and Dr. Kathleen O’Connell Chesto, made a guest appearance at the show. They wrote and performed a parody of the traditional holiday poem, The Night Before Christmas, in which President DeFilippis was characterized as St. Nick, who appeared with a bag of poetry!
The fourth act in the annual Talent Show was presented by the Center for Academic Planning and Student Success (CAPSS). The entire staff of counselors, advisors performed a parody of the Queen classic, We Will Rock You. Changing the words to We will Advise You, they charmed the audience and animated the stage. CAPSS Director, Bonnie Goulet noted, “Each year the staff from the CAPSS office looks forward to the talent show as an opportunity to share our enthusiasm for the work we do in supporting students on their educational journey. While we don’t all have true talent, we thoroughly enjoy being able to have some fun, entertain and collaborate with staff from other offices.”
The Fifth and final act in the annual talent show was a collection of three dance solos, performances choreographed by students under the director of NVCC Dance Instructor, Megan Boyd. The solos were sections from the larger fall dance showcase, a performance event mostly comprised of student-created dance pieces.
According to Instructor Boyd, “The solos came out of dance program curriculum that emphasizes self-investigation and discovery as the route for creating original and authentic dance pieces. For example, students registered for the course DAN H221 Repertory Ensemble I course spend part of the semester forging their own autobiographical solos. The meta-lesson is, if students are able tell their own personal stories through dance, they mature and are better able to create larger cast dance pieces, with richer knowledge of how to direct their peers. Frankly, making solos is hard and feels exposing, so fall semester students wrangle with self-doubt and mental blocks, which is all part of the growth.”
Boyd described how the choreography fits into the learning objectives of the dance program. “My overall philosophy in the dance program and advising the dance club is whether we make a dance, a poem, a song, an essay, a presentation - the act of generating and completing that project is empowering and lays a solid foundation for future progress in whatever life path we are following. My observations have been that students (and most people - in general) love to create and love to share what they've made with their community, which is the nature and style of all of the dance showcases and concerts that happen each semester.”
Wrapping up the talent show and meeting, President De Filippis commented, “Another year of hard work and significant achievements comes to a close, and we once again affirm the power of our very diverse and caring academic community of purpose. Mil gracias y bendiciones to all at NVCC and the communities we serve during the holiday season and in the coming year. Feliz Navidad, Happy Holidays.”