SFA University

October 29, 2015 - Dr. Mary Olle, human sciences professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, has created a new experiential learning farm-to-table lab for students majoring in hospitality and food, dietetics and nutrition. Recently, dozens of students from two of Olle’s production meal management courses visited Appleby Community Farm for a tour of the property, and to gain insight into managing and marketing a local organic community garden.

From left, are Stephen F. Austin State University freshman Mallory Jurena, who is majoring in hospitality administration with a focus in restaurant management, and freshman food, nutrition and dietetics major Hollin Jordan prepared a mozzarella pesto bruschetta with ingredients from Appleby Community Farm in Nacogdoches. This meal was part of a new farm-to-table lab created by Dr. Mary Olle, human sciences professor at SFA.This lab took place during a two-week period as the students visited the farm and then prepared meals based on the fresh produce at Appleby Community Farm. During the first week of the lab, farm owner and farmer Bryan Pruett walked the students around the grounds while pointing out different crops and describing farming techniques.

Pruett and his wife Cindy opened the farm in 2009. Pruett said they currently have three-and-a-half acres under cultivation but will expand as needed.

Students toured Pruett’s citrus greenhouse, where he grows a variety of produce including lemon trees. Also, students viewed the starter greenhouse and other sections of the farm where the Pruetts grow varieties of peppers, tomatoes, peaches, collard greens, flowers, and more.

The lab required students to create a meal under a specific budget and to use ingredients grown at Appleby Community Farm. Students built their recipes around produce available at the farm and returned to reap the harvest last week.

“Farm-to-table is not just a trend anymore, it’s mainstream,” Olle said. “This lab is a great opportunity for our students to see home-grown production since many of our students have never experienced farm life.”

Students worked in groups and some were tasked with cooking an appetizer, while others created entrees and side dishes. SFA faculty and staff members were invited to sample the meal.

Students prepared dishes such as mozzarella pesto bruschetta, arugula salad, strawberry basil bruschetta, stuffed eggplant, grilled rainbow peppers with herb cream cheese, baked eggplant with penne pasta, Santa Fe skillet, potato gratin with chives, and bacon-wrapped jalapeño peppers.

“This lab was a great addition to the curriculum, and it showed the students a different side to meal preparation,” Olle said.

Olle was pleased with the lab results and is looking forward to future semesters.

“The experience connected student learning with the community and industry. It also allowed the students to demonstrate their creativity by incorporating the fresh produce into the recipes they prepared,” Olle said. “This was the first time for this class to actually utilize the farm-to-table concept, and I hope to continue in the future.”

Face painting is a popular activity each year at the Día de los Muertos Fiesta, which is slated this year for 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, at The Cole Art Center @ The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.  (Photo) The Chikawa Aztec Dancers will return to Nacogdoches for the third annual Día de los Muertos Fiesta Saturday night, Nov. 7, in downtown Nacogdoches.October 28, 2015 - The Chikawa Aztec Dancers will return to Nacogdoches for the third annual Día de los Muertos Fiesta set for 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, November 7, at The Cole Art Center at The Old Opera House in downtown Nacogdoches.

Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead observance, is considered a cheerful celebration of life, honoring the souls of the deceased. Día de los Muertos is a Mexican term derived from the Roman Catholic All Saints’ and All Souls’ days, traditionally observed Nov. 1 and 2. An array of activities, ranging from decorating graves to creating home altars, typically highlight the celebration that can last for days.

For the past two years, hundreds of East Texas residents have attended the Nacogdoches festival, and this year’s event is drawing more entertainment, more booths and greater interest as the festival gains popularity, according to Lisa Steed, events coordinator for Stephen F. Austin State University Art Galleries.

“We have multiple food booths, including Shelley's Bakery Cafe, Merci's World Cuisine, TacoMex, Friends of the Visual Arts and others,” Steed said. “We have a lot more SFA club participation this year, as well.”

Among the other featured booths are Nacogdoches High School floral shop, NHS Art Club, SFA Art Alliance, SFA Metals Club, SFA School of Theatre’s face painting, SFA Asian Culture Club, SFA Knights of Columbus, SFA Organization of Latin Americans, Angelina Spanish Club, and more.

Among the entertainment will be the popular Chikawa Aztec Dancers, Martinez Mariachi Duo, Juan Carlos and Jenna Urena and the SFA Jacks of Steel. Based in Conroe, Chikawa Aztec Dancers with their colorful costumes are always a crowd pleaser, Steed said.

“We will also have the traditional Day of the Dead procession, and anyone can participate,” she said. “Costumes are highly encouraged, especially Day of the Dead themed costumes.”

The community altar returns this year in the window of Cole Art Center where remembrances or a photo of a loved one who has passed on can be included. Local artist Carol Eaton Walsh will also have an altar outside in the festival area.

The SFA School of Theatre will paint sugar skulls as a fundraiser, and there will be a free booth where children of all ages can color a paper mask. A silent art auction inside Cole Art Center will feature donated work by local artists and students. Although some booths charge a fee, the festival is free.

Fiesta sponsors are Main Street Nacogdoches, Hampton Inn & Suites Nacogdoches, 103 The Bull, R&K Distributing, University Rental, SFA Friends of the Visual Arts and SFA Sound Recording Technology program. The fiesta is organized by SFA Art Galleries.

The Cole Art Center is located at 329 E. Main St. For more information, call (936) 468-6557.

From left: Stephen F. Austin State University elementary education majors Brinisha Shaw and Holly Franz experience life as a teacher in the 1900s as they teach third graders a reading lesson in a one-room schoolhouse at Millard’s Crossing Historic Village. This activity was part of the annual Pioneer Days event coordinated by SFA, Millard’s Crossing and area schools.October 28, 2015 - Digging the plow into the textured soil, farmer Pete, played by Stephen F. Austin State University senior Michael Correll, teaches dozens of third grade students from Nacogdoches Independent School District about subsistence farming and life on a farm in rural East Texas in the early 1900s. As he carves out each row in his garden, Pete explains how chain grocery stores were nonexistent in his day and how families had to grow the food they wanted to eat.

For more than 20 years, SFA, area schools and Millard’s Crossing Historic Village have worked together to bring the past to life in an interactive field trip known as Pioneer Days. During this weeklong event, SFA elementary education students interact with third graders though a variety of experiential learning activities.

“By playing a character, it is more immersive for the kids and they seem to be more into the station,” Correll said. “By being farmer Pete, I was able to connect what life was like for me back then to the students today.”

Event coordinator and organizer Dr. Vicki Thomas, assistant professor at SFA, said in Texas, third graders learn about the past and how technologies and inventions changed the world.

“During Pioneer Days, children get to experience what a child’s life may have been like on a subsistence farm in rural East Texas about a century ago,” Thomas said. “The children explore artifacts that were used in the past and learn how inventions can make life easier. They also compare and contrast life in the past to their lives today.”

Some of the activities the children participated in included attending school in a one-room schoolhouse, hand washing clothes, playing pioneer games, plowing a garden, making toys out of corncobs and feathers, and more. At each station, SFA students were dressed in traditional pioneer clothing and discussed varied aspects of life in the early 1900s.

“It is so exciting to see the teacher candidates in full-out performances. They put so much heart and soul into their parts and work hard to engage students in the learning process. I can see them growing and mastering their craft each time they conduct their stations,” Thomas said.

In the Millard-Lee house, SFA students became historic characters as they engaged in a real-life wax museum.

“The children learn about important people in Texas during their wax museum tour. With the ringing of a bell, characters come to life to engage in conversations about their contributions to the city and state,” Thomas said. “For example, Lera Thomas, one of the characters, was a woman who showed great determination when she relocated historic landmarks in the ‘oldest town in Texas’ before they were destroyed due to expansion.”

October 27, 2015 - Nearly 410 years after it was written, William Shakespeare’s “Macbeth,” presented by the Stephen F. Austin State University School of Theatre, brings its story to Turner Auditorium in a way that will entertain and educate audiences in a big way.

Dr. Rick Jones, director of this production and professor in the School of Theatre, says that this is a play “with often beautiful language and psychologically complex characters, and a good story, with intrigue, sensuality, armed combat and a supernatural element,” which is sure to inspire audiences with themes of fate and leadership.

“Macbeth” is arguably Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, and it is also a personal favorite of Jones. So, why do this show now?

Although some students may consider Shakespeare to be boring and out-of-date, this could not be less true for this production, Jones explained. In fact, this play could almost never be more applicable than now.

“This is a play about political machination as we head into primary season for the next presidential election,” Jones said. “It’s a play that speaks to the belief that we all have from time to time – that we’re not really in control of our own fates.”

That is a belief with which many students can sympathize. This production will also be an educational opportunity, as “Macbeth” holds some important historical significance that many may not recognize, Jones explained.

“It’s one of the most significant of Shakespeare’s plays in historical terms because it so clearly demonstrates Shakespeare’s transition from plays designed to appeal to Queen Elizabeth to those designed to appeal to King James,” he said.

This production of “Macbeth” employs a two-world concept, where the witch characters exist in a modern 21st century world, manipulating the events of the play, while the mortal characters exist in a pre-Norman Britain, which is the time of the real historical Macbeth, several hundred years before Shakespeare’s time, according to Jones.

This production is a true collaboration between SFA School of Theatre faculty and students, featuring faculty designers Tara Houston (scenery), CC Conn (sound), Angela Bacarisse (costumes), and faculty fight choreographer Slade Billew, along with student designers Troy Carrico (lights), Kate Shirley (choreographer), Shelby Gilliland (dramaturg) and Taylor Dobbs (properties).

The School of Theatre will present “Macbeth” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Nov. 17 through 21, as well as a matinee performance at 10 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 19, in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7.50 for students. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit theatre.sfasu.edu.

The Mainstage Series is sponsored in part by Tipton Ford Lincoln

October 26, 2015 - The following students received degrees from Stephen F. Austin State University during August commencement exercises:

Center, TX

Perla Araiza, degree in Master of Science with a major in School Psychology
Jorge Figueroa, degree in Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Accounting
Ralph Godsey, degree in Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Finance

Joaquin, TX

Jeremy Bigger, degree in Master of Science with a major in Mathematical Sciences

October 19, 2015 - The Texas 12th Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments concerning three cases beginning at 9 a.m. Thursday, October 22, in the McGee Building Room 133 on the campus of Stephen F. Austin State University. The event will provide an opportunity for educators, students and state residents to witness a judicial process not often observed.

This will be the second time the court has heard cases on the SFA campus. Sponsored by SFA’s College of Liberal and Applied Arts, the event is free and open to the public. The session is expected to last until noon, however, individuals may come and go in a non-distracting manner.

The Texas 12th Court of Appeals is based in Tyler and covers 17 counties in East Texas, including Nacogdoches County. The court is responsible for hearing the initial appeals in civil and criminal matters.

As an appellate court, the members of the 12th Court of Appeals (three justices) review decisions by lower courts and determine if there was procedural error in the trial. The court does not try cases, hear witnesses or have jurors. The justices will review the cases and consider the attorneys’ arguments from both sides of each case.

There will be a security check prior to admission to the court, and attendees are forbidden to use cellphones or recording devices.

For information about the event, contact Dixie Groll at grollda@sfasu.edu or at (936) 468-2385.

October 14, 2015 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Stephen F. Austin State University’s SFA Gardens, in partnership with the SFA student chapter of the National Association for Interpretation, will host Nacogdoches Naturally Outdoor Adventures Day from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, October 17, at the Pineywoods Native Plant Center, located at 2900 Raguet St. in Nacogdoches.

The family-friendly event is designed to engage participants in the outdoors, and it includes a range of outdoor activities for SFA students and community members of all ages. Activities include outdoor cooking demonstrations, nature and tree identification hikes led by SFA graduate students, geocaching, and much more.

The outdoor event is free and open to the public.

For more information, call (936) 468-5586 or email Kerry Lemon, SFA Gardens’ assistant education coordinator and Nacogdoches Naturally project director, at lemonkb@sfasu.edu.

September 30, 2015 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Theatre majors at Stephen F. Austin State University bring a wealth of talent to every Mainstage production.

From acting and stage managing, to lighting, sound, costume and scenic design, SFA theatre students quickly become well versed in the dynamics of producing a successful play.

The School of Theatre takes pride in providing the kind of curriculum and hands-on experience that gives each student a diverse skill-set. The school also cultivates internships and international programs to enhance what the students learn at SFA.

Three theatre students will put the knowledge and experience they acquired while studying in different programs in Europe to work in the upcoming production of Mary Zimmerman’s “The Arabian Nights.” Amanda Warren, Molly Dyer and Josh Wallace spent last year in Europe participating in various programs that are part of the SFA-Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance international exchange initiative.

Warren, a Nacogdoches senior, is lighting designer for “The Arabian Nights,” and she is planning “some interesting things to bring color and sculptural shape to the show,” said Scott Shattuck, director of the School of Theatre and of the play. “We’re getting her some innovative, state-of-the-art equipment with which to do it,” he added.

Warren’s year abroad was spent learning computer programming for performance lighting in Rose Bruford’s Creative Lighting Control program.

A Central Heights High School graduate, Warren is completing her final semesters at SFA and is “doing the work of a professional designer,” Shattuck said. Her overall goal in designing lighting for “The Arabian Nights” is for the audience to “experience a clear separation between the stories and reality,” she said.

In the play, the murderous king Shahryar is gradually humanized by the storytelling of one of his intended victims, the legendary Scheherazade, who becomes his wife.

“I want to show the stark contrast between Shahryar's colorless, shapeless world and the worlds that Scheherazade breathes life, dimension and color into,” Warren said. “Throughout the journey, the world of reality will become more colorful as Shahryar falls into the stories.”

In order to create the contrast of worlds, Warren said she gathered inspiration from oil paintings of the Middle East.

“When the stories are being told, the goal is to make the audience feel as if they are looking inside a painting and seeing the actors bring it to life,” she explained. “With the use of dance lighting techniques, I plan to sculpt the actors, giving them more dimension, which will act almost as a pop up painting.”

Through her work on the upcoming SFA production, Warren said she hopes to sharpen her analytical skills as a designer.

“This is the first production in a very long time where I've had a clear design concept,” she said. “My time at Bruford helped sharpen my skills as a designer, and I am happy to put those skills into practice.”

Dyer, Copperas Cove senior, who will assume the role of Scheherazade in “The Arabian Nights,” described her year abroad as “the most challenging of my entire academic career.”

Her studies in the European Theatre Arts program took place in three parts, the first of which was spent in London, learning about Greek and Spanish culture and how those cultures were expressed in individual modes of performance.

Dyer then spent three months in Tallinn, Estonia, where she was immersed in voice classes and stage movement classes, an intense gymnastics class, and an in-depth acting class in the Stanislavsky technique. Her last term was spent back in England where her focus was entirely on directing and designing a single scene from a play originally written in a foreign language.

“This proved to be the toughest term of them all, as we not only were expected to direct the scene but further manipulate the source material with other influences so as to create an original production,” she said. “This secondary source material was then used in the portion of the semester when we designed an entire production concept – lights, sound, costume, everything down to the specific theatre space we wanted to use.”

Dyer’s year at Rose Bruford was spent primarily “devising” work, or using text as a starting point and creating an original work from it.

“I wouldn't go as far as saying that I have become conditioned to that mode of theatre,” she said, “rather, I’m now comfortable with it. I've been in a handful of Mainstage productions, but I’ve never really had a speaking role before. This will be a huge jump for me!”

Dyer said she quickly came to realize that Shattuck’s intention with the play was to “create a cast of storytellers, and that’s when everything came together for me.” She said she plans look to her work in Estonia the most when considering the script and the character of Scheherazade.

“There, I was taught to understand the value of the humanity in a character, and finding their 'truth' as a person rather than an idea or a metaphor,” Dyer said. “When I first looked at this script, it came across as a jumbled mess of nondescript characters and tangled tales. But the more time I spent with it, reading it over and over and analyzing all of the inter-relationships, I came to a realization: all of these characters that Scheherazade introduces are actually extensions of herself. They’re beautiful, vivid, and creative wonders that come to life to entertain and enchant.”

“The play then, I find, takes on a whole other dimension of meaning,” she said, “not only for me but for each person, including the cast and crew and audience. It’s something very special.”

The School of Theatre will present “The Arabian Nights” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, Oct. 6 through 10, in W.M. Turner Auditorium on the SFA campus. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors and $7.50 for students. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit theatre.sfasu.edu.

The Mainstage Series is sponsored in part by Tipton Ford Lincoln.

September 29, 2015 - NACOGDOCHES, Texas – Stephen F. Austin State University is connecting counselors, teachers and administrators by hosting the Counselor Summit from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 29, in the Education Annex, Room 127, on SFA’s campus.

This free event is open to high school counselors, career and technical education teachers, and principals and superintendents in the region. Space is limited, and the first 55 participants to register online will receive reserved seats and a lunch in the Culinary Café. To register visit http://tinyurl.com/p8dh3ey. Door prizes will be awarded.

Three years ago, Dr. Nancy Shepherd, program coordinator for family and consumer sciences at SFA, recognized the important connection counselors and teachers have to students who need up-to-date information about college and career opportunities. This realization helped her conceptualize the Counselor Summit.

“Providing seamless connection from secondary to postsecondary education is possible with educated counselors and teachers who can match student skills and aptitudes with opportunities,” Shepherd said.

This year’s summit will begin with a greeting from Dr. Judy Abbott, dean of SFA’s James I. Perkins College of Education, and Dr. Lynda Martin, the director of the School of Human Sciences. The summit’s keynote speaker is Mick Normington, a business specialist with the Texas Workforce Commission. He will discuss Working Texas Style: The Changing Jobs Market of Texas and Deep East Texas from 9:15-10:15 a.m.

Additionally, the summit will feature a panel discussion with regional employers to help participants gain a local perspective on the job market and what employers are looking for in employees. Shepherd is looking forward to the valuable insights this panel will offer summit attendees.

“Preparing our students to be successful in the workforce is vital to their career success and a community’s strength and vitality,” Shepherd said.

At noon, students in SFA’s hospitality program will serve participants lunch in the Culinary Café. Dr. Steve Bullard, SFA’s interim provost, and other COE program coordinators will speak during lunch.

Another program highlight will showcase COE faculty members and students discussing programs in the college to help recruit students. Dr. Karen Alexander of Achieve Texas, the college and career initiative in Texas, also will present updates concerning House Bill 5 and PrePac, a credential for high school students.

For more information, contact Shepherd at shepherdn@sfasu.edu or (936) 468-1413.

September 29, 2015 - The Swingin’ Axes and Swingin’s Aces jazz bands at Stephen F. Austin State University will perform classic swing music at their next concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 9, in Cole Concert Hall on the SFA campus.

The performance will feature the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Henry Mancini and other great jazz composers.

Directed by Dr. Gary Wurtz, professor of trumpet and jazz studies at SFA, the Swingin’ Axes’ program will include Ellington’s classic “Take the A-Train” and Buddy Rich’s “Basically Blues.”

“Tom Kubis’ roaring rendition of ‘Bill Bailey’ and a beautiful arrangement of Branislau Kaper’s haunting tune ‘Invitation’ are also on the program,” Wurtz said.

The Aces, under the direction of Dr. Deb Scott, professor of trombone at SFA, will perform Joe Garland’s “In the Mood,” made popular by the Glenn Miller jazz orchestra, and “Autumn Leaves” by Joseph Kosma, arranged by former SFA School of Music professor the late Darrell Holt. The arrangement will feature music student Rene Luna, Dallas senior, on alto sax.

The Aces will also perform “Mack the Knife,” composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Bertolt Brecht.

“This was originally composed for their well-known music drama, ‘Three Penny Opera,’” Scott said. “Sung by Bobby Darin, it became a No. 1 hit in the United States and Great Britain in 1959.” Overton sophomore Barry Martin will sing the piece with the Swingin’ Aces.

A performance of “Dreamsville” by famous American composer Mancini, which became a hit in 1960 when it was sung by Andy Williams, will feature Martin on the piano. Basie’s “Jumpin’ at the Woodside” will also be performed.

The concert is a joint presentation of the SFA College of Fine Arts and School of Music. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $3 for students and youth. For tickets or more information, call the SFA Fine Arts Box Office at (936) 468-6407 or visit www.finearts.sfasu.edu.