Friday, November 4, 2011

'Awake' marchers meet with Orlando occupiers

      The grassroots social media movement “Awake the State” recently marched in support of the “Occupy Orlando” protest based on voters ready to make a stand on shared goals and fears of political corruption.

     This march was planned for November because it’s nearly a year away from the 2012 election, with the prime theme being voter registration and sharing the information that is vital to the upcoming election.

     “A lot of the occupations flourish when they gain ground and they are able to start building an alternative community,” said Thomas Hellinger, a Valencia alumni and member of Orlando Food not Bombs activist group with members arrested for feeding the homeless over the Summer. “I was involved with an anti-war protest back in 2006 and a good rally back then was anything over 10 people.”

     Awake the State has a clear objective and clear supporters like the major unions in Florida such as police, firefighters, teachers and labor. They are unsatisfied with governor Rick Scott and the actions of the Florida State legislative branch. They want to let government officials know that if they continue to be unsatisfied, they will vote them out of office.

     “It’s just about voter awareness, engagement, rights, and protection,” said Amy Ritter, an Awake the State member. “We’re all out here upset over the budget, Rick Scott's anti-middle class job killing polices and a legislature carrying the water for the Governor.”

     "Occupy Orlando" and "Awake the State" are working together with this protest with a goal of bolstering numbers in support for each cause.

     “It’s just powerful seeing all of these diverse folks come out and show support for each other against a legislature that is passing law after law on the back of the middle class,” said Tymothy Murray, organizer and member of Occupy Orlando.

     It’s unclear of the numbers that will continue to support Occupy Orlando by staying in front of the Chamber of Commerce during the upcoming colder months.

     Because of recent protesters being arrested in Orlando, along with violent confrontations with “Occupy Oakland” in California, it’s unclear if this occupation escalates, ends peacefully, fails or succeeds.

     Next November the voice of the people we be clearly defined by the voter turnout and the results thereafter.

By James Tutten

(Published: Nov. 9, 2011 issue of "Valencia Voice" on page 5.)

(All photos by James Tutten)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Large donation marks start of 'Drowsy Chaperone'

     The Valencia College theater program opened showing of “The Drowsy Chaperone” on Friday Oct. 21, in the Performing Arts Center at Valencia's East Campus. This unconventional and fun-loving production thrilled the large audience with music, dance, romance and comedy. There was also a surprise donation of $1,000 to the Performing Arts program from members of the Valencia Alumni Association.

“The Valencia Alumni Association has always been incredibly generous in their awards and their time spent attending our productions, and we are so very grateful," said Julia Gagne, the plays director and theater professor at Valencia. "We also love the idea of our graduates joining the Alumni Association and giving back to the college with their time or talent.”

     The play; originally written for Broadway in New York, is an homage to the Jazz era in music and set in the post-war roaring 20s America. This is interwoven with a modern style from the help of an unconventional guide and narrator the character “Man in Chair.”

     The best way to describe “The Drowsy Chaperon” is unconventional. It's not the typical play you encounter with standard performing arts style. Rather than a set time-line of events, the play is broken up and starts and stops several time by the “Man in Chair” character. He works as the narrator and bridge between the performance and the audience.

     Outlandish elements of the show like spit takes and dancing monkeys are addressed by the “Man in Chair” who describes what the audience is thinking and just how ridiculous certain scenarios are. By poking fun it allows everyone to not just focus on the absurd and instead just enjoy the show for pure entertainment value.

     Musically the entire production is very impressive, with several upbeat and catchy tunes like “Toledo Surprise”, and “Wedding Bells” all accompanied by a talented nine member orchestra lead by Musical Director, Tim Hanes.

     The ensemble cast featured many great singers, and moments where certain performers shined in there vocal talents. 

     Evangeline Mateo who plays the drowsy chaperone gave a rousing solo performance about enjoying one life “As We Stumble Along.”

     Jillian Gizzi who plays the bride Janet van de Graaff, displayed all the talent needed to be a stand alone star on Broadway, who's also a conflicted lover, caught in the crossroad of unexpected revelations on her wedding day.

     Another strong element of this production is the high level of comedy featured throughout. A high point created by Paul Layton, who plays the over-the-top Latin Lothario Aldolpho. Layton thrilled and delighted the audience with his lovable yet blatantly stereotypical portrayal of one wild self-proclaimed ladies man.

     “Everyone did a phenomenal job, I watch plays all the time, and this really blew me away, it's a wonderful show,” said Derek McAtee, a former Valencia student.

     “I thought it was great it was a lot of fun, it made me smile, I caught myself smiling through and I thought it was very clever. said Patricia Anderson, who coordinates disability support services at East Campus. "There's a lot of talent up there with very good stagecraft that was really wonderful."

     If you missed the first run of shows you only have a few chances left, with three shows Oct. 27 – Oct. 29 starting at 7:30 p.m., and a final matinee performance on Sunday Oct. 30 at 2:00 p.m. 
     There is also a special deal for Valencia students with a discounted admission of $5 for Thursday night's show. Tickets can be bought at the Performing Arts Center's box office at East Campus or online at

By James Tutten

(Published: Oct. 26, 2011 issue of "ValenciaVoice" on page 20.)

(All photos by Kevin Abel)

Evangeline Mateo who plays the drowsy chaperone sings her heart out.

Supreme Court will decide fate of 'Obamacare'

     The Supreme Court is set to address the constitutionally of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, a case that will not only strongly affect his re-election prospects, but also the future of the health-care industry in America.

     One issue that is addressed through the reform act is the requirement of health insurance through an individual mandate, which will require nearly all citizens without health insurance to purchase it by the year 2014 or pay a penalty.

     “People that don’t qualify for Medicaid, or covered by their employers is a big issue with our students, the college doesn't offer any discounts and we have students at Valencia with no health insurance,” said Anita Kovalsky assistant nursing program director at Valencia.

     The fundamental question for this issue being does the constitution give congress the right to require individuals to purchase a product such as health insurance, and punish them if they do not.

     If the Supreme Court does rule that this mandate is unconstitutional, this would inevitably end the entire debate, because the individual mandate is a major component of the entire health care reform act.

     Allowing people with pre-existing medical conditions is another primary condition of Obamacare. Individuals that cannot afford insurance, have pre-existing health problems, or classified as ‘free-riders’ are some of the current problems seen in our health case system. 

     Though Obamacare addresses the problems, some consider this an over-reach of government, by being the first time the United States has ever required an individual to purchase something through a congressional act.

     With the majority of our national budget going toward the health care industry, addressing these problems and fixing the health services in America is critical to the stabilization of our economic future, and the quality of health care services provided to everyone now and in the future.

     On Capital Hill and around the nation this has turned into a strong partisan political issue, fundamentally what is a stake can very well be the fate of America as a whole. Through our prolonged economic stability or lack thereof.

By James Tutten

(Published: Oct. 19, 2011 issue of "ValenciaVoice" on page 8.)

'College Night' brings future students to Valencia

     Both Valencia’s Osceola and East campuses hosted “College Night 2011” events last week with more than 120 University's from around the nation sending representatives to speak with students at each perspective campus. Valencia was the main host site for Central Florida which attracted the attention of thousands of high school and college students from around the area.

     The purpose of College night is to offer any student looking for information about colleges they are interested in attending and speak face to face with individuals representing that institution.
Many high school students from around the area are attracted by teams Valencia sends out into the community and talk to student about what the college offers.

     “This event definitely helps students to check out different schools, find out weather they qualify, and what the steps are to apply and hopefully get enrolled,” said Jessica Morales, director of Transitions and Enrollment for Valencia College.

     Attracting potential student to attend Valencia is another primary goal of this event. Not only are students invited to walk around the campus and see what is offered, but they are also informed about extra on campus groups, scholarship opportunities and general campus information if requested.

     Florida’s colleges and many other stand-out university from around the nation were featured like UCF, UF, Cornell, Yale and more totaling over 120 different institutions. Tables and rooms were provide to allow representatives from the campus to answer questions and provide information to potential students.

     “I’m here sharing my own personal experiences, trying to give some advice and guidance and letting students know what Yale is looking for,” said Michael Brodsky, president of the Yale Alumni Association of Central Florida.

     There are also special focused programs like the duel language for Hispanic students offered at the University of Tampa. “We offer bachelors and masters degrees that are taught in 50 percent English and 50 percent Spanish, for any student seeking this type of specialized degree,” said Luis Martinez, a volunteer from UT.

     Many of the high school students interested in larger University featured at college night still want to start their education at Valencia. “Valencia is a really nice college, and I want to study sociology, and travel the world one day comparing different countries like India and America,” said Danny Blake, a local high school senior.

     Current Valencia students set to transfer after graduation were also looking at the variety of featured campus. “I’m looking for a local college and my top two picks would have to be Rollins College and Stetson University, I’m buying a house so I need to stay in the area,” said Jeff Morris, executive vice president of Pi Theta Kappa on Valencia's East Campus.

     Campus groups like Pi Theta Kappa at Valencia were also featured during college night. Other groups like student government, Club 3:16, African American Cultural Society, and more were speaking to potential student looking to increase future membership.

     Actually visiting the schools that end up on your final list will help you get a better idea of what they are like and really know if it’s the best fit for you or not. Informational events like college night can be a strong step for students planing their educational future. For more information of what Valencia offers go to

By James Tutten

(Published: Oct. 12, 2011 issue of "ValenciaVoice" on page 1 and 2.)

(Above photo courtesy of Brittney Rose / Valencia Voice)

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