New culinary class teaches organic gardening

Groce teaching students

Instructor Kim Groce, center, works with students Holden Knapp, 19, left, and Charles Schwarz, in the LA building’s greenhouse before they plant another batch of tomato seeds. The plants will remain in the greenhouse until the weather permits their transfer to the Core Garden. Gray Bancroft | Washtenaw Voice

By Natalie Wright
Editor

Kasey Shelton spent the last five of her 27 years sitting in a cubicle. One day she realized it wasn’t what she wanted.

“So you sit at your job every day and if you like it, you love it, and if you don’t, you think about what you’d rather be doing,” Shelton said. “For me it was food.”

Shelton, of Ypsilanti, quit her job working for an auto supplier, got a job at Whole Foods and signed up for culinary classes at Washtenaw. Now, she is studying baking and pastry, and is pursuing her interest in organic gardening in the Farm Harvesting and Management class that began this semester.

The class, which is a part of the culinary department, was developed by divisional counselor Kim Groce, as a support for the Core Garden project she spearheaded last year. It brings a body of labor to the garden that was desperately needed, Groce said, and gives her an opportunity to teach students, which is why she created the garden in the first place.

“It was always my plan to be able to teach students how to grow,” she said. “I didn’t know I would be able to actually have a class.”

When Vice President of Instruction Bill Abernethy had the idea to create a formal class, Groce was excited, she said, but also overwhelmed.

“We really only had six weeks. Normally it takes about a year to put together a whole new class.”

The course could have gone into a variety of areas, Groce said, like business or environmental science, but culinary is the best fit, she said.

students mixing soil

Students Charles Schwarz, left, and Holden Knapp, 19, both of Manchester, make a fresh batch of soil from which a new batch of seedlings will sprout. Gray Bancroft | Washtenaw Voice

“We can look at the concept of ‘farm-to-table’ and teach students the importance of growing and knowing where your food comes from,” Groce said.

Charles Schwarz, a student in the class and lifelong farmer, said that even if students continue to go to the grocery store for their fruits and vegetables, this class will help make them better consumers.

“All the time people at the grocery store put down a fruit or vegetable for a ‘better one,’ because it looks brighter; it’s shinier; it has more wax on it, but that doesn’t make it better,” Schwarz said.

Learning how to grow also means learning what to look for in the best food products.

Schwarz admitted that he was a little disappointed when the class started. A farmer all his life, Schwarz, who is in his 40s, signed up for the class expecting it to cover topics like fertilizing methods, farming machinery and crop rotation.

“The first day I showed up and said, ‘Where do I park my John Deere?’” he said. “Where’s my parking structure?” While the farm harvesting class wasn’t what he expected, he stayed with it, he said, because he felt he could learn something and that his experience would be valuable for others in the class.

“I would like to see them have a good agricultural farm program here, though,” he said.

Brook Miller, 40, said that although she has been gardening for five or six years, there is still so much to learn.

“I’ve only just started,” Miller said.

While some students have as much as 30 years of experience in growing and others have never been able to keep a plant alive, they all seem to agree that more goes into gardening than meets the eye.

students gardening

Culinary arts student Chris Colaner, 52, of Ypsilanti, left, and WTMC student Imani Johnson, 17, of Canton, add water to their soil mix to bond the dirt together. Gray Bancroft | Washtenaw Voice

“I didn’t know as much about gardening as I thought I did,” Shelton said. “You have to go back generations to learn the true and tried methods.”

Only nine students make up the class, and that’s “the only way it works” Groce said. The small class size allows for each student to have more hands-on time and helps to develop a sense of community and teamwork.

On their way up to the greenhouse atop the LA building, where seedlings are housed for the winter, the students crowded 10 to the elevator.

“Family style,” Groce said.

As the packed compartment carried them up, Miller asked Groce if she needed any help tending to the plants over break.

“Absolutely, I do,” Groce said. “I’m here every day, just let me know when you want to come in.”

Last summer, Groce tended to the garden mostly on her own, for months. It was a labor of love, but took a toll on her. Having students who are not only willing, but excited to help is a huge relief for her, though she is still keeping busy, she said.

“I can focus more on the administrative side and looking for grants to help support the garden project while the students do the more hands on experience,” she said.

But she doesn’t plan to give up all her weeding and watering responsibilities. “I’ll be out there as much as I can,” she said. “I’m never letting go.”

 

What: CUL 103: Farm Harvesting and Management

When: Spring semester, May 15–July 17, Fridays 1-6 p.m.

Where: TI 125

 

Making music in Ypsilanti

Making music in Ypsilanti

MATT DURR

Staff Writer

WCC has recently announced a partnership with the Ypsilanti Community Band. This will allow students to experience playing infront of a large audience.

RIDE-LIFE PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY PHOTO

Music students at Washtenaw Community College will get the chance to perform in front of live audiences starting next year. The college recently announced a partnership with the Ypsilanti Community Band to allow students to receive credit while gaining the experience of performing with a live band. The two-credit course will be taught by former Eastern Michigan University Dean Jerry Robbins. Robbins was the dean of the College of Education from 1991-2004. He is also the conductor of the YCB and looks forward to adding WCC students to the band. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work together with WCC in this way to create a new, larger, and better concert band,” said Robbins. Robbins, along with WCC student adviser Jean Morrison, designed the course, which is on track for approval. Matt Winick, 19, of Ann Arbor, has been a member of the band since March and encourages others to get involved. “I would definitely recommend joining the band,” said Winick, who plays the B-flat clarinet. “I enjoy playing the different pieces. Some are hard, some are easy. But Jerry always helps us with the harder pieces. He is very nice guy to work with.” The partnership between WCC and the YCB started when the YCB contacted Dean Bill Abernethy about re-forming a partnership that existed years ago. Abernethy then approached the school with the idea, and a deal was made. As part of the new partnership the YCB will be renamed as the Washtenaw Community Concert Band. The school, in return, will provide very limited funding to the band and also give the band access to new members every year. “We get the opportunity for our students to play as part of the band in a credited course,” Abernethy said. The band will remain open to anyone from Washtenaw County, not just students from WCC. The Washtenaw Community Concert Band has been involved with the community since 1979 when Lynn Cooper organized the band with friends and former students. Cooper was then the director of the Ypsilanti High School band. “WCC students don’t have to take the course to participate in the band, but I’m sure they will find it helpful,” Abernethy said. Joe Burke, the band’s president, sees the partnership as a way for the community to attract new musicians and expand its appeal. “It will allow the College to offer its students musical opportunities without having to create a class from scratch,” Burke said. “Most importantly, this partnership will provide the Washtenaw area with a world-class musical group that is accessible to the entire community. I cannot imagine a better ‘win-win-win’ situation.” The YCB plays all sorts of music ranging from show tunes to full on orchestra pieces. The 75 member band also sponsors a band that performs at special events. The YCB will remain as a Michigan nonprofit organization, and will continue to store its equipment at Whitmore Lake High School. Rehearsals will also take place at the high school where the band previously rehearsed. The band will perform five concerts during the school year at WCC and during the summer at various times at the outdoor park, weather permitting. The concert band will also perform at different outdoor venues in the Ypsilanti area, as it has in the past. Those concerts will also feature solo performances and guest musicians from the area. Students will not have to audition to be a part of the band; however, Robbins will meet with each student to get a feel of their musical history. Robbins suggested those with no musical experience should try learning  before attempting the class. Students will be graded based on how they handle various tasks, which will include playing music with the band. They will be required to have their own instruments before joining, unless they play percussion.

College’s reaccreditation team deserves kudos

College’s reaccreditation team deserves kudos

Editorial

Washtenaw Community College’s recent reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) is not only exceptional news for staff, but also for students (see ‘Good for 10 years: Reaccreditation process is complete,’ Page One). WCC’s faculty and staff should be commended for the hard work they put into the venture. Long before the HLC team visited WCC in October, Bill Abernethy and others on the reaccreditation team took a critical look at the college and put together a self-study. The attention to detail and the time spent on the redoubtable report certainly played a part in the HLC’s decision to give WCC unqualified reaccreditation, which happens only about 15 percent of the time. An unqualified reaccreditation was the best outcome WCC could hope for. Writing such an important document meant WCC couldn’t only highlight the good things about the college; it had to see what improvements could be made, too. Knowing areas in need of improvement is vital to having a successful college where students, staff and faculty can enrich their lives. Accreditation is essential to students. Because of the hard work of everyone involved in the accreditation process, students can be assured their credits will transfer to other colleges and universities. Transferring credits is an important part of a community college, especially if a student wishes to obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher. Although WCC won’t be visited by the accreditation team for another 10 years, faculty and staff will certainly continue to strive to uphold the strict standards required, thereby helping the college, and students, to continue to excel.

Good for 10 years: Reaccreditation process is complete

Good for 10 years: Reaccreditation process is complete

Quinn Davis

Staff Writer

For the next 10 years, students can continue to take classes for credit at Washtenaw Community College. For that, they can thank Bill Abernethy. Abernethy, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, has been working for the last two and a half years to ensure that WCC would be reaccredited during the North Central Association’s decennial visit. After a lot of help from staff, faculty and students, Abernethy achieved this goal — and surpassed it. “The percentage of schools that actually get an unqualified reaccreditation is less than 15 percent of those who go through that reaccreditation process, so when you’re in the top 15 percent, I think it says something about Washtenaw Community College, and it says a lot about the teams that worked on it — Dean Abernethy and the whole reaccreditation team,” President Larry Whitworth said. Due to the success of the reaccreditation team, WCC won’t have to face another evaluation visit for 10 years. Most schools have to prepare for multiple visits during that time period. Abernethy is thankful that he won’t. “It’s kind of an affirmation that we’re doing a good job. The other thing, on a practical level, it means we don’t have to write anymore reports and prepare for any more visits!” Abernethy said. To prepare for the visit, Abernethy first had to form committees. Each committee was given one of the five criteria laid out by the Higher Learning Commission for reaccreditation. “First of all, they had to interpret these criteria because they were written in educationese,” Abernethy said. “They’re deliberately kind of vague. They want you to define these criteria, you know, what these criteria mean to you.” After this step, Abernethy directed the committees to gather evidence documenting how WCC either met or failed to meet the criteria required. Once all the evidence was found, Julie Morrison, consultant for assessment and accreditation, wrote and graphic designer Jason Bolton created the 312-page report. Abernethy set the report down with a lingering thud. “Although the conventions for writing it are very different, it’s kind of similar to a master’s thesis or a doctoral dissertation in that we are asserting something and then we are documenting the truth by producing evidence,” Abernethy said. In fact, the HLC knew about the parking problem here way before its visit by reading the report. By the way, even though the HLC extended WCC’s accreditation, its representatives agreed that parking was a problem. “The truth to it is that it’s an opportunity for the college to really look at itself,” Abernethy said. “They didn’t come in here and watch our parking lots and say, ‘Hey, you guys need better parking.’ We told them!” The HLC representatives visited WCC in October. At the end of their visit, they conducted a presentation for the college on the conclusions of their stay. The commission told the school that it planned to recommend a 10-year unconditional reaccreditation. It wasn’t until more recently that the decision was made official. “It’s unusual for any of the reviewing boards to overturn the findings of a site visit team. Could it happen? Yeah, it could happen. I didn’t expect it. But yeah, it was a relief when it was over,” Abernethy said. Despite his humility, the rest of WCC’s faculty and staff have made it no secret how thankful they are for Abernethy’s work and the work of his team. “Obviously it indicates there are a lot of people here that are working hard to make this a truly outstanding institution,” Whitworth said. “But it doesn’t happen just writing a report; it’s really what you’re doing everyday.” Elizabeth Ross contributed to this article.

Huron River Review to check submissions more closely to safeguard against plagiarism

Huron River Review to check submissions more closely to safeguard against plagiarism

Elizabeth Ross

Editor

Google’s soon to get a few more searches. The Huron River Review, Washtenaw Community College’s award-winning literary magazine, is checking submissions for its next edition more closely after the last one featured three stolen photographs. “Textual stuff is not difficult to search,” said Tom Zimmerman, editor of the Review and head of WCC’s Writing Center. “Digital images are very difficult to search. That is something we will definitely look at with our digital images this particular issue. We’re certainly going to check, as much as we can, given the limitations of the technology and our time limitations.” The plagiarized photographs were discovered by former Washtenaw Voice photo editor Chris Asadian, who noticed a discrepancy in style, searched on the photo-sharing Web site Flickr and found the real photographers, Stacie Ann Graczyk and Brandon Short. Former WCC student Rebecca X. Cleveland admitted to the plagiarism. When contacted by The Voice, Graczyk had no comment except to say she felt insulted “as an artist and professional” for comments made by Zimmerman and Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Bill Abernethy in the story “Huron River Review marred by plagiarism,” published Aug. 29, that she felt suggested she was not a professional photographer even though she owns a photography business. Amir Gamzu, part-time photography instructor, lectures his classes on the dangers of putting photos online, stressing that photos are easily stolen that way. Still, he said, those images are copyrighted, and copyrights are important — for professionals or non-professionals. “All copyrights need to be respected, regardless of whose it is,” Gamzu said. The Review won first place in the Central Division Small-budget Magazine category from the Community College Humanities Association in its 2009 literary magazine competition. Zimmerman said the judges knew of the stolen photographs. “I contacted them right away,” Zimmerman said. “I let them know what the situation was.” Zimmerman said magazines often depend on the honesty of contributors, and the Review is no exception. “We do the best we can, and we’ll try to do better,” Zimmerman said. “That’s all we can do.” The next edition of The Huron River Review will be published in the spring.

WCC gets unconditional 10-year accreditation recommendation after successful HLC team visit

WCC gets unconditional 10-year accreditation recommendation after successful HLC team visit

Addie Shrodes

Editor

ashrodes@wccnet.edu It’s congratulations and cake after the North Central Association Higher Learning Commission (HLC) review team recommended an unconditional 10-year accreditation renewal concluding its three-day visit to Washtenaw Community College on Oct. 14. That’s a rarity that happens with about one in five reviews. “I’m very excited about the unconditional recommendation of the evaluation committee,” said WCC President Larry Whitworth. “Very few schools get the kind of report that we did, and I’m extremely pleased.” “This is the best outcome we could have hoped for at this point,” said Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Bill Abernethy, who led the college’s two-year preparation for the visit. The cake in Abernethy’s office reading “Congratulations Bill” reflected the feeling of administrators across campus. The eight-person review team, consisting of community college representatives from the north central region, will pass its recommendation on to the HLC for final approval. The HLC has accredited the college since 1973. The college prepared for the review, which happens every 10 years, by preparing a 312-page Self Study Report to illustrate how the college fulfills the HLC’s five criteria: mission and integrity; preparing for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge; and engagement and service. Faculty and staff were fundamental in the preparation process. “When I sat here 2 1/2 years ago having to start from nothing, I thought, ‘I don’t know how we’re ever going to get this done,’” Abernethy said. “But people really willingly, cheerfully helped out with it.” “It was really a huge effort of the part of our faculty and our staff working together to make this happen,” Whitworth said. “It had nothing to do with me; it had to do with a lot of people working hard to make sure that what we’re doing is on target.” When the team was at the college, members had various meetings with WCC representatives, and evaluated the Self Study Report to confirm WCC is doing everything it says it is. “They asked many searching questions,” Abernethy said. “(The visit) was not a blow off, it was an ordeal.” About 10 students met with three HLC team members at the open student meeting, but the discussion was confidential. The team will send a written report to WCC, but it gave the college feedback at an exit meeting on Oct. 14. The team highlighted quality of programs, strong community resources, excellent facilities, high enrollment and the morale of faculty and staff, among other points. The team mentioned parking and program review as areas the college could improve on. “Nothing very important,” Abernethy said. Once the college gets the report in November, it will correct any factual errors, and the review team will send the final report to the HLC by Dec. 14. The HLC has until February to present the final result. “It’s not over until the fat lady sings,” Abernethy said. “The recommendation is reviewed by a board, so it’s not final yet.” When the final decision is made, Abernethy can have his cake – and eat it too.

WCC gets unconditional 10-year accreditation recommendation from HLC team

WCC gets unconditional 10-year accreditation recommendation from HLC team

Addie Shrodes

Editor

ashrodes@wccnet.edu The North Central Association Higher Learning Commission (HLC) review team recommended an unconditional 10-year accreditation renewal after concluding its three-day visit Wednesday to Washtenaw Community College, a rarity that happens with about one and five reviews. “I’m very excited about the unconditional recommendation of the evaluation committee,” said WCC President Larry Whitworth. “Very few schools get the kind of report that we did, and I’m extremely pleased.” The eight-person review team, consisting of community college representatives from the north central region, will pass its recommendation on to the HLC for final approval. The HLC has accredited the college since 1973. The college prepared for the review, which happens every 10 years, for more than two years, preparing a 312-page Self Study Report to illustrate how the college fulfills the HLC’s five criteria: mission and integrity; preparing for the future; student learning and effective teaching; acquisition, discovery and application of knowledge; and engagement and service. Faculty and staff were fundamental in the preparation process, which was led by Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences Bill Abernethy. “It was really a huge effort of the part of our faculty and our staff working together to make this happen,” Whitworth said. “It had nothing to do with me; it had to do with a lot of people working hard to make sure that what we’re doing is on target.”