Students celebrate Chinese Spring Festival

The year of the monkey us upon us, but don't worry; it isn't “puppy monkey baby.” Missouri Western hosted its annual Chinese Spring Festival to help ring in the Chinese New Year on Monday Feb. 8. The Chinese Spring Festival celebrates the new year and is seven days long. Traditions include cleaning or sweeping the house, buying new clothes, children getting lucky money, and putting up decorations of gods meant to defeat evil spirits and protect the family. This is the fifth year that our campus has hosted and put on a celebration in honor of the festival. Missouri Western has an exchange program where a professor from China and a professor from Missouri Western exchange places for a year. This year Yiming Lui is the exchanged professor from China. As part of the exchange, it was Lui's turn to plan the Chinese Spring Festival event. Other campus organizations, such as the International Student Services and Student Affairs, help out with the event as well. Lui describes the festival as a fun and family oriented event. “It is like your Christmas; it's a family affair of union and thanksgiving,” Lui said.  The night started with an introduction from Lui explaining the Festival and then a Youtube video to further educate on the traditions. Vartabedian also gave an introductory speech welcoming everyone who attended. This event is just one of the many cultural events that is put on every year for students to learn from. Not only did students come to the festival, but a large portion of attendees were from the general public. Student Kyra Jones was very interested in learning about the culture. “I just love all the different cultures around the world, and being here you can see how different each culture is. Each culture is so beautiful," Jones said. Part of the goal of putting on cultural events is to show not only the differences between cultures, but also the similarities. Jones is very interested in the Chinese culture and was excited to draw similarities between American and Chinese instruments. “There's even an instrument that is similar to the flute, but it's not a flute. It's just really interesting because I play the flute and to hear a different kind of flute is really cool, different tones. It's just interesting to compare our culture because we're not as cool. Everyone has this cool stuff and we don't have as much,” Jones said. The entertainment for the evening was made up of dances, poetry reading, and music performances with Chinese instruments. Student Fred Weems performed a few traditional musical pieces on the guzheng, which is a 21 stringed instrument. He spent a year at a university in China as an exchange student and loved the culture. He decided that he wanted to learn how to play a Chinese instrument. “I wanted to learn how to play the guzheng because it was the most Chinese instrument, in my opinion," Weems said. Along with Weems, other students performed traditional musical pieces. The event concluded with a buffet of Chinese food. There was rice, chicken, dumplings, tea, desserts and many other delicious foods. This educational event was a huge success and had a big turn out.   

First Saturday exhibit displays MWSU student artwork

This weekend’s First Saturday in downtown St. Joseph took the community back to the 1970s with paintings and prints from Missouri Western alumni, recent graduates and current students. The exhibit was on display at The Olive Gallery and showcased a variety of different artwork including those of buildings that had been done almost 40 years ago. Assistant Professor of Art, Kathy Liao, selected several of the pieces of art that went on display and says the planning of the event took several months. “As I’m kind of going through all the stuff and moving things around, I found all these prints that were just left behind,” Liao said. “Some of them are absolutely beautiful and I feel like they need to be shown rather than sitting, gathering dust.” The gallery showcased artwork from past students as well as current students. Kelly Heinz, graphic design major, had two prints on display for the public. Heinz explains how her professors, like Liao, have helped her in working hard to get her work shown and available to be seen by the public. “I have professors who shove you, and they’re like you need to do this, and they encourage you, but not in a terrible way at all,” Heinz said. “They encourage you, and they kind of want you to go out there and have these experiences because they know how great as an artist it is for you.” Heinz explains that having your artwork on display for the community can be nerve-racking, but says the experience is a great way for the students to meet new people and see how others react to the work they create. “Getting people in the community to see my art and everyone else’s art and kind of look at it, because you don’t know how someone else is going to react to your work,” Heinz said. “ You don’t know if they’re going to be inspired to do something or if they’re going to love it or hate it, so I think that’s kind of exciting.” Owner of The Olive Gallery, Rosie Lammoglia, explains why having the exhibit is important to bridge the gap between Missouri Western and downtown St. Joseph. “I’ve always wanted to, somehow, bring Missouri Western across the highway, because it seems like such a separation from the city,” Lammoglia said. It’s not just Lammoglia who feels the separation of Missouri Western from the outside community. Liao says the exhibit is used as a way to show how Western alumni are still around and present in the community. “Missouri Western is part of the community,” Liao said. “One of the things, I really want to put this out, is I know that some of this work done by the students in the seventies, some of it is still around in the community.” The exhibit was a great way to bring Missouri Western’s painting and printmaking department out into the community. To find out more about MWSU’s art department, visit the website at

New Mozart Studio scholars attend intensive Western music camp

Four international students from the Nwe Mozart Studio  in  South Korea spent two weeks at an intensive Western music camp; attending recitals, participating in master classes and sharpening their language skills with intensive English classes.

Three pianists, a female vocalist and their instructor Ok Sok Choi participated in Westerns musical workshop.

The concert kicked off  at 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb 6, in the Kemper Recital Hall, with twelve-year-old Jeongwoo Byeon playing Sinfonia No. 15 in B flat  by Bach and Sonata No. 8 in A by Mozart; Byeon was followed by pianist Haejeong Kwon playing Sonata in C by L.v Beethoven and Etude in C# by Chopin. Vocal soloist Ye sol Shin then performed Quando M’en Vo by Puccini and the German love song, Rastlose Liebe by Schubert. The concert concluded with Dae Han Lee’s performance of Sonata Ot. 57  by Beethoven and Etude No. 9 by Rachmaninoff.

Interim Assistant Dean Melody Smith was excited to help bring the musicians to campus and to be a part of the students’ experience at Western.

“They arrived on the 24th [of January] and began classes on the 25th.  They have studied English for three hours in the morning, and had private lessons in the afternoons; rehearsals in the evening, and even went bowling with the international group. They have worked very, very hard,” Smith said.

Although the 2016 music camp was established through the professional relationship between Ok Sok Choi, Director of the Mozart Studio for performing arts in South Korea, and Western professor of keyboard studies Matthew Edwards; Edwards has declined to comment on the impact of the international students’ visit. 

Western has had two previous international camps, in both 2009 and 2013 with the program expected to continue in the 2016-2017 academic year.

A super Saturday for science

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Whose dream it’s always been to watch a live explosion, touch a giant snake or announce the weather in front of a green screen was able to do exactly that last Saturday.

“Super Science Saturday,” an annual event held by St. Joseph Museums and Missouri Western, sets out to introduce children in the various sciences. But also the ones young at heart had their fair share of fun.

“The skulls downstairs were my favorite,” said Perry Dalrymple, who visitied the event with his wife Tanya and daughter Emily, 10, whose favorite were “the airplanes.” Her mother teaches science in the district so  “the whole family is pretty interested in science,” said Tanya Dalrymple.

Athena Davis, a biology major with an emphasis in zoology, helped out with some of the animals the department had out to show the audience. This included a black rattlesnake, a rough green snake and an alligator snapping turtle - species that might seem intimidating at first.

“Snakes in particular a lot of kids think it’s creepy or dangerous but I see we have several species out here that are really, really sweet,” Davis said.

Other sciences interested minds could learn about besides biology included chemistry, forensic science, physics, psychology, mathematics, computer science, electronics, meteorology, geology, paleontology - a big variety of sciences. With 1555 participants this year’s Super Science Saturday has been the biggest so far according to Dr. Shauna Hiley. The event is co-hosted by St. Joseph Museums and MWSU on the last Saturday in January. The booths and shows are provided by science teachers and student groups from Missouri Western and several high schools, including Central, Benton, South Holt, St. Joseph Christian, and Union Star.  From campus, Tri-Beta Biology Honor Society, The Wildlife Society, American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and Alchemist Club all ran hands-on booths for participants this year. St. Joseph Museums started the event in 2001 at the Wyeth-Tootle Mansion where it ran for several years, Hiley explained. When the event became to big for the space in 2011, Super Science Saturday moved to Remington Hall. The event is specifically aimed toward children. Hiley explains that the job opportunities in science fields are growing, for example “improvements in energy production, health care, transportation, construction, food production, or forensic investigation.”

“We as a society will need people to bring their talents to these fields.  Where better to start recruiting than with inquisitive young  minds?  We want to spark that imagination and get them to see themselves as future scientists,” Hiley said.

If children show an interest in science, it is important to support their child’s newly found fascination.

“There are many computer games or apps that can feed their curiosity, as well as “heroes” like Bill Nye the Science Guy and Neil Degrasse Tyson to inspire. Take advantage of events like ours, or summer camp programs in science, or getting involved with that science fair project at school. Believe me, when I told my parents in high school that I wanted to be a chemist...well it wouldn’t have been their first choice, but they were very supportive. That made all the difference for my confidence when the subject got tougher and more challenging,” Hiley recommended parents.

Maddie & Tae to headline Spring Concert

The Western Activities Council announced which artists will be following in Ludacris’ footsteps headlining the 2016 spring concert. Country duo Maddie and Tae is set to take the stage April 16 at the St. Joseph Civic Arena. The group has released one album titled ‘Start Here’, and has three singles released, including ‘Girl in a Country Song’. Although Maddie and Tae is beginning to gain noteriety, WAC Chair of Concert Dylan Barnes says the duo wasn’t their first choice as headliner for the show. “We looked at Sam Hunt as an option, who actually went up in price unfortunately, Easton Corbin, Dan and Shay and Parmalee, but for everyone either the contract didn’t go through, they went up in money or they just said no,” Barnes said. Each year a certain amount of money is selected and set aside in the WAC budget to use when booking a headliner for the concert. “The budget, we mainly set up the largest fund that we can to begin with for the spring concert just to keep our options open,” Barnes said. “ So this semester we left a hundred thousand of what we had, I believe.” In an effort to boost attendance for this year’s concert, meet and greet passes have been added as ticket options for students and faculty. These passes come with a meet and greet and green room experience. WAC also announced that they will be giving out a free meet and greet pass, or golden ticket, to a student every month until the show. The council explains why country was chosen as the genre for the spring concert after they received negative feedback last semester for booking a Rap and R&B artist. “Every semester you’re going to get good and bad reviews,” Barnes said. “Last semester we had people coming up to me saying 'oh what happened to country, we’ve had hip hop and R&B for the past four years, where’s our other options'?” Although country seemed to be the most popular music genre choice for the concert, some students seem to be upset by the decision. The Griffon News ran a Twitter poll after the choice for spring concert headliner was announced. The poll, with 91 votes, resulted in 47 percent of the voters saying they don’t know who Maddie and Tae is. Twenty-three percent of the voters announced they thought the choice was super cool, and the remaining 30 percent said they would have preferred someone else. Other students, like senior and elementary education major, Alex Steilen, are excited to see Maddie and Tae headlining the show. “I love country music and Maddie and Tae have great songs,” Steilen said. “I'm really excited we got country artists who have been on the radio, and I know most of their songs and most of the words to them.” MWSU freshman and nursing major Emma Martinez says she doesn’t know who Maddie and Tae is, but is looking forward to going to the concert anyways. “I think it will be a cool experience, I mean concerts are always fun,” Martinez said. Opening for Maddie and Tae is country duo Brothers Osborne. Tickets are on sale now for five dollars until February 29, and go up to seven dollars until the day of the show. For more information on the concert or how to get tickets, contact Dylan Barnes at