yesterday afternoon I drove out to Smuggler's Notch with recent graduate Alex Higgins for an adventure we had been talking about for some time. We were going ZIP LINING - for those of you who don't know what that is, let me quickly tell you that we climb into a harness, strap ourselves to a cable and ZIP from platform to platform through the hills/mountains at Smuggler's Notch. Oh yes, we also have to rappel down to the ground from two different platform towers. This 3 hour adventure was incredible and an amazing way to spend several hours on a Sunday afternoon. What a great time. I am hoping to get a LOT more students from SMC to try this as I will most definitely return here. They now have this year round and I am curious as to what it will be like when I do this in the middle of our winter. The name of the company is Arbortrek and you can check them out online or on Facebook. One of the many, many joys of working here for so long is when former students return here as parents. On Saturday afternoon Matt Monahan and his wife Justine brought their family and friends back to campus for the baptism of their daughter Riley. Fr. Marcel married them (I was there and the wedding was so much fun as it brought so many good friends back together for the celebration) and so it was fitting that he perform the baptism in our chapel. Matt is the oldest of four Monahan "kids" and I have had Matt, Greg and Alex in class and in the spring will have their "younger" sister Jill. Marge and John (the parents) have become my good friends over the years and so it was great to have time with them at the reception following the baptism.
Busy times as we are in pre-registration now - so please take good care, be well and please keep all of the members of our military and their families and all of our veterans in your thoughts and prayers.
There is often so much competition in today's sports world that we forget that there can be and often IS a greater purpose in athletic competition. Chris Kenny is our Associate Athletic Director here at Saint Michael's College and a very, very good man. Chris is so easy to work with and he is always thinking about others. He sent this email message out yesterday morning and since he seldom asks for anything for himself, when Chris asks for a favor, we ALL respond. I did go over to the Sports Center and did sign the T-shirt as Chris asked. Those of you who follow my blog know that I end each one with a simple request - PLEASE keep all of the members of our military - active and veterans AND their families in your thoughts and prayers - this is why......................
Chris' message to our community:
"Hi everyone -
The next time you are over here in Tarrant, would you please take a moment to stop by the main Athletics office to sign a shirt for John Coker?
Coker is a former student-athlete at Louisiana - Lafayette, and was seriously injured recently in combat in Afghanistan.
We recently received a heartfelt note from Kristi Stake, Director of Athletic Compliance and Academic Support at UMASS-Lowell. It was a call for support for this young man, who is battling for his life. It reads, in part, "I know that we don't often email unless it's about a compliance issue, but I wanted to ask each of you for a personal favor. I recently learned that one of my former student-athletes, John Coker, (from when I worked in Louisiana) was shot while serving in Afghanistan. He is seriously injured and on a long road to both physical and mental recovery. (His legs were both badly shot, he may never walk again, and he witnessed three of his fellow soldiers die right in front of him.) As a student-athlete, he was one of the "good ones" that makes our jobs as administrators enjoyable, always popping in to say hello, always smiling, always volunteering to help in any way that he could. I know we're supposed to be impartial, but truth be told, he was one of my favorites :) I know he's not a NE-10 alumnus, but I know how much college athletics meant to this young man. I have spoken to our baseball team here at Lowell about signing a baseball cap in order to show John support while recovering. I know it would mean the world to him to know that other student-athletes out there, even ones he didn't know, were supporting him in a tough time like this. I plan to send him a care package with other personal items from me, but then I started thinking how much more impactful it would be to flood him with signed baseball caps from other schools to show him just how much the baseball community supports each other. I know it's cliche, but sometimes the best family we can have is our athletic family.."
Coker played center field for the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana-Lafayette, and joined the National Guard after graduation. Like many "citizen soldiers" in the Guard, he was deployed to Afghanistan early this year.
Our baseball team is signing a cap for him, but we thought some "U-Knighted" support from our entire varsity program might really give him a good feeling. The shirt will be displayed on the desk as soon as you enter the office suite on the second floor of Tarrant. Just grab a Sharpie and sign your name. The shirt and the SMC ballcap will be sent to him as part of a NE-10 Care Package that Kristi is putting together at Lowell.
Thank you !!!!! Chris
This IS the right thing to do - period........
Take care, be well, and please keep all of the members of our military, our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers and especially John Coker
Last evening, during our Student Association meeting, I spoke with all of our student leaders about the tragedy over the weekend at Norwich University. On Saturday night, after leaving an off-campus party, a first year Norwich University student was killed when the car she was riding in went off the road and crashed into some trees. This 18 year old from Michigan lost her very young life while riding in a car with 7 others, none of whom reportedly were wearing seat belts and the car was designed for 5, not 8. The 22 year old driver of the car was arrested and has been charged with driving under the influence with death resulting AND the 20 year old who "hosted" the off-campus party also was arrested. Three others in the car were reported to be in critical condition.
One life lost - seven lives which will be full of horrific memories of that night - two young men who have been arrested and whose lives will NEVER be the same. They had been celebrating - having fun - enjoying Norwich's football team victory and Norwich's Homecoming Weekend festivities. None of them went out that Saturday night ever thinking that what happened WOULD happen. Vermont has something called a Dram Shop Law which holds responsible, those who host gatherings where tragic events result from the consumption of alcohol. That can be in a residence hall room, a Townhouse, an off-campus home OR even my own home. MOST students have no idea that they can be held liable for the actions of someone who leaves their "party" if that person is intoxicated. My attempt last night was to remind students that they ARE vulnerable - that they CAN make bad decisions (getting in a car when the driver has had too much to drink) - that there ARE consequences to their decisions and that YES, it CAN HAPPEN TO YOU. It was a sobering talk but one that I felt I had to deliver to our students.
Earlier on Saturday, SMC had hosted the Vermont Colleges' Women's and Men's Cross Country Championships. It was a very cold and very windy day and many of us who volunteered to help were cold and soaked right through BUT we did it to help out. Norwich University, along with many, many other colleges/universities sent their students to compete and when I heard the sad news on Sunday morning of the tragic death of the young woman, I couldn't help but wonder if any of the cross country runners from Norwich, whom we had all cheered on as they completed either a 5K (women) or an 8K (men) race that afternoon had been in that car OR at that party. The reality is that this tragedy could happen at any of our colleges. Mike Samara is our Vice President for Student Affairs and our Dean of Students - Mike is a very, very good man and he has always talked about "teachable moments" - our hearts and prayers go out to all of the members of the Norwich University community and their tragedy will hopefully be one of OUR "teachable moments."
We want students to have a good time - that is just ONE of the things that being young is all about. We also, as I told our students last night, want them to PROTECT YOURSELF BY MAKING WISE DECISIONS.
Take care, be well and, as always, keep the members of our military, our veterans and their families in your thoughts and prayers AND please keep the members of the Norwich University community in your thoughts and prayers too.
It has been a VERY busy couple of weeks with classes all going well and so much going around campus that it doesn't seem possible that we have already completed five weeks of classes. Yesterday afternoon there was a program presented by the campus Peace and Justice Club which, in honor of Gandhi's birthday they presented their Annual Peace Pledge Ceremony. Ten of us from across campus who had been nominated were then selected by the Club to read the Peace Pledge prior to a keynote speech by Amy Goodman. I was honored to be one of those chosen by the students to read one section of the pledge!.
Amy Goodman is the producer and host of "Democracy Now" and she spoke eloquently about having just returned from the funeral of Troy Davis - she spoke of his case in Georgia, how our Supreme Court had refused him a stay of execution (despite 7 of the 8 witnesses recanting their own testimony, calls from the Pope and from former President Jimmy Carter, pleas from several law enforcement officials across the country and countless other pleas for a stay) and of her coverage, as an INDEPENDENT JOURNALIST of his last hours AND of his funeral. She held the entire audience (it was a full house with a good mix of our students and many folks from the Burlington community) with her quiet but determined explanation of WHY this country desperately needs INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS. She spoke of her (and her colleagues') beating and arrest in Minneapolis during the Republican Convention and told us that today there will be a press conference from Wall Street talking about the settlement of that lawsuit. She spoke of how she covered the conflict in Timor and how she and her cameraman were attacked and almost killed UNTIL they showed their American passports (the guns the soldiers were holding on her were paid for by the USA) - it was one of the most powerful and riveting talks I have seen in many, many years and we should all be grateful to her for her courage, her passion to keep making a difference and for her message about the importance of INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS. I also want to thank Prof. Laurie Gagne and the students from the Peace and Justice Club for bringing her here.
A student is waiting to see me so I have to close, but, as always, please keep the members of our military in your thoughts and prayers. Take care Dave