Friday, March 28, 2014

Soweto Gospel Choir to bring energy, passion, meaning

Jesse Voth-Gaeddert
Staff Writer

 The Soweto Gospel Choir is a South African musical group who presents a blend of musical styles. Their performances will offer a tribute to the legacy of Nelson Mandela, whom the group has been closely connected with.
The choir will be coming to Bethel on March 28. The concert will be this year’s “main event” and final event of this years Hesston-Bethel Performing Arts (HBPA) series.
The choir has requested an incredible amount of technical equipment which will make it the first presentation where HBPA has hired an outside technical production company.
“This will be a spectacular show, with top notch professional sound and lighting,” said Director of HBPA, Matt Schloneger.
“Bethel is also incredibly fortunate to have two technical production experts in Tim Buller and Adam Akers,” added Schloneger. “They always do a great job to ensure that HBPA productions meet the highest standards. If there’s one show you come see this year, this should definitely be it.”
HBPA will be renting quite a bit of technical equipment in order to meet the group’s technical requirements.
“These demands aren’t unreasonable - this is a professional touring group,” said Dale Schrag, director of church relations and campus pastor at Bethel College, who is a member of the HBPA steering committee.
The Soweto Gospel Choir has a fine repertoire of music to take full advantage of this technical equipment. The choir blends African Gospel, African-American Spirituals, Reggae and American popular music styles.
“The choir draws on the best talent from the many churches in and around Soweto, South Africa and is dedicated to sharing the joy of faith through music and dance with audiences around the world,” said Schloneger.
It is going to be a cross-cultural experience for students, and Schrag also noted that “it will be cross-cultural exposure in terms of musical style.”
In addition to the cross-cultural aspect of the choir, both Schloneger and Schrag mentioned they are especially looking forward to hearing them the same year as Nelson Mendela’s death.
“The Soweto Gospel Choir has always been closely connected to Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s anti-apartheid revolutionary and first black president, who passed away this year,” said Schloneger. “These performances will offer a wonderful tribute to the legacy of this great man, and I’m so honored that we can be a part of that here in North Newton,”
The Choir has performed with U2 at the 2010 World Cup and are Emmy Award winners for ESPN’s 2010 FIFA World Cup music promos. They are two-time Grammy winners, both for albums in the “Best Traditional World Music” category. They have performed for former South African President Nelson Mandela and were invited guests on NBC’s “Today Show” as well as on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” and also made a guest appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”
The funding for this show comes from a variety of places. About half of the HBPA budget is covered through annual ticket sales. The remainder is then raised through generous gifts and grants from organizations and individuals who want to support the performing arts.
“Hesston College and Bethel College combine to cover the small amount of funding that remains to make the series happen each year. This has averaged about $1,500 per year in direct funding from each college over the last seven years,” said Schloneger, “And of course those dollars subsidize the free student tickets that all Bethel and Hesston students enjoy.”
Something that will make the event even more special for college students, and that every college student desires: free tickets. The event is entirely free for Bethel and Hesston College students.
“The choir will be at KU and K-State this same weekend they are at Bethel, and those students will have to pay $12-$18 to see the group. Bethel students get in free. No Bethel students should miss this chance to hear one of the most exciting choirs in the world,” said Schloneger.
“You may only have one chance in your life to hear the Soweto Gospel Choir, and it’s free to students,” said Schrag.
You can hear the Soweto Gospel Choir at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Hall at Bethel College on March 28. Tickets for adults are $27, discounts are offered for senior citizens and the event is free for Bethel College students (with student I.D.).

12 Years a Slave captivating, is worth the time

Jacob Miller
Staff Writer

Directed by Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave” is based on a true story of one man fighting for freedom and survival from the bondages of slavery.
In 1841, at the start of the film, Solomon Northup, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, lives as a free black man in Saratoga, New York with his wife and two children, where he earns a living playing the violin. He is tricked, abducted and sold into slavery by two white men.
Facing unexpected kindnesses and cruelty, mainly from an evil slave owner, played by Michael Fassbender, Solomon struggles not only to stay alive, but to retain his dignity.
For twelve years he toils in the plantations and survives abusive treatment from his masters. He befriends fellow slave, Patsey (Lupita Nyong’o), until the day he encounters Canadian abolitionist Bass (Brad Pitt), who promises to send a letter to his family.
12 Years a Slave is easy to follow—it relies on repeating scenes and flashbacks to keep the storyline clear and interesting. Never during the film did I find myself asking people next to me what just happened.
It is one of those rare films that is both important in its message and well executed in its delivery. In my opinion, 12 Years a Slave trumps similar films, like Gone with the Wind to Django Unchained.
Simply put, the film is enthralling. I found myself constantly watching the screen, my eyes deadlocked on the tension between the slaves and slave owners, forgetting that I was in a movie theater. In short, the actors’ genuine despair, sorrow and suffering kept my interest.
Although it kept my attention, the film was hard to watch at the same time. Graphic rape, whipping and nude scenes are scattered throughout, making the film deserving of its ‘R’ rating.
The film’s documentary style aids the dominating realness—you cannot help but cringe every time there is racist injustice or violence, which is a majority of the time. It becomes almost impossible to tell yourself, “Oh, they are just actors; they aren’t actually feeling extreme pain.” Because in reality, every scene conveys some sad truth about America’s original sin.
Not too often do I cry during movies. But I was in tears for the last hour of the film, prompting an elderly couple to ask me if I was alright at the end. Of course I was, I had just seen a masterpiece.
I am not one to rave about a particular film, because all films seem to have flaws. But there is a reason 12 Years a Slave has topped the “best of” list of 25 major film critics and won the Golden Globe for Best Picture. It is a film worth investing time and money into, and it is definitely the most powerful film I have ever seen.

Tennis ready, but weather thinks otherwise

Trever Ford
Sports Editor

As the seasons begin to shift from winter to spring, so do the sports that are currently competing.
One sport in particular that begins in the spring is men’s and women’s tennis.
The tennis teams do compete a little in the fall, but it is only for one or two tournaments total. The fall competitions are solely to get the players out of the “summer mode” mind frame and ready for the upcoming year.
The spring season,  however, is tennis’ main season to compete and play for conference titles and national tournament appearances.
Starting off the 2014 season, the women’s team finds themselves once again ranked nationally, coming in as number 25 in the coaches’ pre-season poll.
With five returning starters from last year’s national tournament appearing team, the Threshers will look to continue their dominance and return to the tournament this year.
In doing so, the Threshers will also be looking to win their fifth consecutive regular season championship.
The women’s team has also had three of their current players fall into the top 20 ITA Central Regional rankings for singles, and one doubles team received a ranking as well.
Breanna Honer, sophomore from Newton, finds herself ranked as the fifth best singles player; Allie Hipp, junior from Claflin, is ranked eleventh in singles; Stephanie Shogren, senior form Hesston, is ranked fourteenth in singles; and the doubles team consisting of Honer and Shogren is ranked fourteenth.
 The men’s team on the other hand is entering the season as underdogs like many times before. McPherson College and Bethany College have finished in the top two positions for the last couple of years.
Regardless of the obstacles, the team is ready to prove everybody wrong.
With weather conditions not on the side of the tennis teams, many practices so far have been held inside or canceled altogether. With limited practices, the Threshers headed into their first match far from ready.
“Obviously it is hard to not to be worried for a match when you have little practice,” said Chris Soosalu, sophomore from Ottawa, CAN. “But you just have to think that you can win and get through it with just wanting it more. I think everyone on the team pulled through with the belief in themselves that they would be able to find a way to win.”
So far the lack of practices and poor weather conditions have not slowed the teams down, as both are off to good starts.
The men’s team is holding a 2-0 record having beat Baker University 8-1 on March 8 and then beating Southwestern Christian University 9-0 on March 25.
The women’s team has played one less match but is holding onto a 1-0 record defeating Baker University March 8, 7-2.
With there already being four matches postponed and one canceled this season, the tennis teams are hopeful for better weather as conference play creeps up.

Softball to work on mental game going into conference

Erin Bradley
Editor-in-Chief

Coming off a loss against the University of Saint Mary’s, the softball team goes into their second conference game on Saturday against Tabor College.
Going into their third season in the KCAC, the team has high hopes despite their losing start.
“We want to have fun, relax and win games,” head coach Stacy Middleton said. “We are serious about being in the top of the conference this year and making the tournament in May.”
After the pre-conference games and their last game on Tuesday, there have been certain things the team has pinpointed as areas of improvement.
Technically the team needs to work on fielding and hitting. Batting averages are not where they would like them to be, so working on getting those to a better level is a goal.
Looking at the overall game, the getting ahead early and maintaining their lead is always a area the team feels they need to work on. Middleton also points out needing to get the mentality to work through this mental block.
“We are gaining maturity as a strength, the speed in our outfield is a strength and we are becoming better hitters,” Middleton said. “Our weakness is not being able to fight through some of the mental aspects of the game.  Softball is a game of failure and we are still working on becoming mentally tougher after something doesn’t go as planned.”
The team will move further into conference play in the coming weeks. They compete Saturday against Tabor in Hillsboro with games starting at 1 p.m.  

Golf team optimistic about season

Emma Bradley
Features Editor

The men’s golf team kicked off its spring season with the Ottawa University Invitational in Lawrence.
The team took eighth of eight. However, the team’s number one golfer, Matt Dewberry, sophomore from Blanchard, Okla., remains optimistic about the remainder of the season.
“It didn’t go the best, but it was the first tournament so there is a lot of room to get better throughout the rest of the season,” he said.
The team consists of only seven golfers, four of whom are freshmen.
“We are a young team with not much experience and that leads to inconsistency,” Head Coach Gregg Dick said.
According to Dick, the team’s greatest need is to gain consistency, which he suggested the team will gain as they get more experience.
The team’s only home tournament is this weekend, beginning Saturday at the Hesston Golf Course at 1 p.m. and continuing Sunday at Sand Creek Station in Newton at 9 a.m.
Jaden Schmidt, freshman from Moundridge, encourages students to come to the meet because it is the only chance to watch the golfers compete at home.
“Since we only have one home tournament, we do not have many people watch us, so it would be cool if we did,” he said. “It would help us play better knowing we have people that want us to succeed.”
According to Dewberry, the golfers hope to play well in each tournament and aim to place in at least the top five teams.
“We have a great group of guys who are working hard and get along very well,” Dick said.
Schmidt said he feels that the golfers have a lot of talent and do well with the basics of golf.
“The problem is that there are a lot of little things we do wrong. So we are all close to being really solid players, we just need to make a few minor adjustments that will completely turn our game around,” Schmidt said.
According to Schmidt, each golfer has his own areas with room for improvement.
“Some need to be able to drive better, some need to work on the mid-range game, some with chipping and some with putting,” he said. “No one on the team is good at all of these and some guys need to work on more than just one of these areas.”
The golf team competes at a total of five tournaments this spring, concluding with the conference tournament April 21 and 22. As with any sport, the team hopes to do well at each meet, but Schmidt suggested there are other ways the golfers can grow as a team.
“More importantly, I think we want to build some more team chemistry since we are so young so we can better succeed in the next couple of years,” he said.

Changes in residence halls may affect students’ decisions regarding future housing

Hayley Morrical
Staff Writer

As this school year comes to a close, housing information for next year becomes more of a concern for current students. Much of the housing information and regulations will stay the same, but a few minor changes are being made for the 2014-2015 school year.
In Haury Hall, there will be maintenance work done on the north side of the first floor. This will include carpeting work and minor work to the showers. Living quarters, based on the floors, may change for next year.
“There is some talk over moving women to the third floor, but it’s harder because we usually have more men than women and the third floor is larger,” said Aaron Austin, Vice President for Student Life. “When we get a better picture of our numbers we may change that, but we are shooting for a full building. Our ideal would be women on third, but space may cause to rethink that.”
In addition to these changes, the price of living in Haury has risen from $1,850 to $1,970 for a double room. Haury will remain a locked building and a freshman dorm.
Voth Hall will essentially stay the same as this year. There will be some minor work to the showers to try to figure out how to stop the leakage problem, but this may not be completed over the summer. Also, a new TV monitor will be added to the lobby in Voth to play slides, like the monitors in the cafeteria and the Haury Hall lobby.
The biggest change affecting Voth is the current Resident Director (RD), Amber Chalashtari, leaving. A search for a new RD is in the works, but no one has been hired as of press time. The price to live in Voth has also risen from $2,140 to $2,210 for a double room.
The residence hall with the most change for next year is Warkentin Court. There will be renovations in stacks two through nine that will be completed by the beginning of the 2014 school year. These renovations include new paint, new carpet, and bathroom work done to the stall dividers, vanities, and faucets. Due to the time constraint, the one stack will be shut down in order to complete renovations for the 2015-2016 school year.
A showroom in the nine stack will be available before this semester ends to show what renovations will look like. According to Austin, there is no final word yet for when the showroom will be available for students to see.
Student Life is confident the renovations will be fully completed in time for students to move in on-schedule for the Fall 2014 semester. The price of Warkentin also will rise from $2,155 to $2,200 for a double room.
Students wanting to live in Warkentin will have to enter into the “mod lottery” in order to choose a mod to live in. The mod lottery works by assigning students points based on grade levels, with the students with more credits getting more points. The group with the most points picks first, and then it continues down the list.
Overall, the biggest change relating to student life and the housing will be the change of the Resident Assistant (RA) position. RAs will now be called Community Assistants, or CAs. As the RAs were added into Warkentin Court last year, Austin says that lessons have been learned and the position has been refined.
“I think the initial issue was there was a little bit of ‘why is this happening,’ but now people know what’s going on. We hope the people will not see the CA to be the police and bust someone, but someone to give assistance. I think we will continue to refine the CA position. We want it to be a real leadership position on campus. I think that will be a benefit. I would like to do some things differently with student activities. It’s going to be continued development to see we are meeting the needs of all our residents,” said Austin.
If you have any questions on housing contact a member of student life.

Service trips lead Dirksen to passion, mission

Mallory Black
Staff Writer

If you have had the opportunity to meet Sierra Dirksen, senior from Goessel, then you know she is a nice person, who has a heart of gold. What you may not know is Sierra has a heart for missions as well.
Sierra found her passion for helping refugees while attending Kansas State University (KSU). It started by taking a chance on a mission project in Kenya with the leadership program at KSU.
“The opportunity for Kenya came up after my freshman year, and I had been thinking about doing some service, and I also wanted new experiences,” she said.
While in Kenya, Sierra felt her eyes were opened to a new world, which she knew little about. However, she not only wanted to help but needed to help.
“In Kenya, we went to this center and we thought we were going to be teachers teaching English. When we got there, we found out that they had enough teachers, and so we started what is called a drop-in center, where youth who are still living on the streets were able to come during the day, and we taught life skills and job skills courses,” Sierra said. “We spent our mornings doing agricultural work for crops for them to sell for an income.”
During Christmas Break in 2012, Sierra had another opportunity to go to Kenya. This time she helped set up a program for the youth enrolled in the program to find sponsors so they could have a chance at an education.
Her love for refugees is not a passing thought, it is a mission. Case in point, Sierra has also done a similar mission project with refugees in Sri Lanka.
Sierra’s love for refugees didn’t stop when she transferred to Bethel her junior year. In fact, Sierra has made refugee work a part of her senior seminar. Earlier this year, however, she had a disappointment and a minor set back.
“I was going to be working with refugees in Wichita, but that population has moved on so that’s not happening anymore,” she said. “Now I am trying to figure out if I am going to continue with the same project or go another direction.”
However, she remains optimistic and looks forward to her future of working on her seminar.  To help with her seminar, she will be spending time at the Chicago Institute.
“I wanted an opportunity to do my placement in an area that had a bigger population. Wichita has some refugees, but not enough to get a good feel for it. Chicago has two agencies that I have been looking at, both in refugee resettlement.”
With the two agencies in Chicago, Sierra has a lot of opportunities and some big decisions to make.
“I’m not sure if I am going to try and find new people, or do a completely different seminar and start from scratch when I get to Chicago. But I do want to work with refugees in a resettlement,” Sierra said.
Sierra mentioned that she was not sure what started her passion for helping refugees. In fact, she started her time at KSU as an interior design major.
“I realized that interior design and interior decorating were two different things,” she said. “Interior design was not something I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
Now, however, Sierra is a social work major, and she hopes to get many opportunities to help others who need it the most. Her passion for helping and her heart for missions have no end in sight.
“Once I had been overseas and had my eyes opened to different cultures and some of the social injustices of the world. I knew I wanted to take a different direction and career path,” she said. “More of a helping profession to those who needed my help.”

 

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