School year starts right

The Los Medanos College 2013 fall semester officially kicked off as faculty, teachers, staffers and students alike joined together in the Recital Hall for Opening Day, Thursday, Aug. 15 to celebrate success.

As attendees signed in, made a plate of some of the delicious spread laid outside the Recital Hall, and made their way into the theater, they were thrust into the new year. LMC President Bob Kratochvil offered a prompt welcoming saying “Every single one of you plays a key role in the success of our students, and our institution, and we are connected by that common thread.” Then, a group of staffers, headlined by the ribbon-waving Drama Department Chair Nick Garcia, danced to “Bust a Move” which riled the crowd up and had everyone laughing.

Afterwards, six students told stories about their success at LMC. Tiffany Patterson is an unemployed single mom, but was “welcomed with open arms” after being out of school for a while. She, thus far, has attained a Liberal Arts degree in Political Science, Psychology, and Sociology, and hopes to transfer in the Spring 2014 semester.

Jason Baker, 48, was at the top of his career at Shell Oil Company, but wanted to come back to school. Los Medanos was actually recommended to him by some of his colleagues at his work. He pointed out his three keys to success: making friends, asking questions, and the staff being very helpful and behind him every step of the way. When talking specifically about his first key, making friends, he jokingly said, “The guy that sits four desks behind you that looks like he should be on ‘America’s Most Wanted,’ he’s the guy that just calculated relativity on a napkin, you want him in your study group.”

Xavier Travis is an art major who initially wanted to go straight to art school, but went to Los Medanos due to cost. He thoroughly enjoyed his time on campus and hopes to transfer to California College of the Arts in Spring 2014, noting that getting to know the student ambassadors on campus was a large piece of his success.

Each of the six students, at the ends of their stories, said, “student success lives here.”

The next event on the docket was the honoring of milestone years of service at LMC for several employees. They ranged from Police Officer Ryan Huddleston celebrating five years, to Philosophy professor Daniel Ramirez celebrating 20, to Behavioral Science professor Estelle Davi celebrating an amazing 40 years at LMC.

Chancellor Helen Benjamin then took the microphone and spoke about some of the issues at hand. She said that the district is updating a plan to increase enrollment, as it is down due to various factors such as the economy getting better and repeatability issues. She added, “District wide, of all the students who take our assessment, 80 percent tested below college level in English or math,” which was quite the staggering stat. She went on to address the fact that it is the obligation of every employee to do as much as they can to make all students successful.

As the events in the Recital Hall concluded, separate Habits of Mind activities groups broke out in different parts of the school. Habits of Mind essentially helps build the understanding of how intelligent behaviors supports all the faculties own work and their students’ thinking in the fields of areas such as decision making, problem solving, and goal setting.