Posts by Stephanie

Creativity and Creativity Come to Life in Contemporary Poetry Course

Here, Jane Hilberry’s Contemporary Poetry class gathered for an intuitive art session, finding creativity and a sense of self in unfiltered expression. Photo by Skye Schelz ’21

By Sarah Senese ’23

Jane Hilberry, professor of creativity and innovation, led the second-ever block of her Contemporary Poetry: Investigation and Innovation class in Block 3. Hilberry, who has been a professor of English specializing in poetry and creative writing  at CC, has turned her expertise to a different but, as she would put it, equally important department — Creativity & Innovation.

Hilberry sought to join the two things she loves and believes in most: poetry and creativity. Upon their arrival to class, 18 students were all given a brand new, shiny sketchbook, courtesy of the Creativity & Innovation at CC, and told that they were encouraged to sketch, collage, draw, paint, and express what they felt during class whenever they wanted. The back of the classroom was lined with every art supply one could think of, and the students were eager to begin.

Jane Hilberry’s approach is to show students that there’s more than one way to analyze poetry other than analytically. Poetry, like all other forms of art, is one that can be manipulated and viewed through a number of lenses. Hilberry wants to instill in her students that, even though they’ve always been taught to respond analytically to writing, they can respond in any creative way that speaks to them, resonates with them, and inspires them.

When asked what she hoped her students would take from the class, Hilberry conveys the importance of leading students “to a more embodied multi-dimensional knowledge of what they were studying.”

Students Alonso Rios ’23 and Mariel Zech ’23 are full of gratitude towards Hilberry when reflecting on their Block 3 experience. “She helped us realize that poetry can be more engaging than just when responded to with more writing. She taught us so much about poetry in a way we never could have imagined, and we’re so grateful to her.”

Hilberry and her 18 poetry students learned not only about contemporary poets and their importance in the world of creative writing, but about their own creative processes and approaches to understanding art. Although it may not have been her immediate intention, Hilberry inspires her students to dig deeper — not just to understand poetry, but also to understand themselves.

You can find Jane Hilberry in the innovation space at 232 E. Cache La Poudre St. during Creative Mondays, 3-5 p.m., making art and responding to poetry.

Qi Gong Deepens Connection with Chinese Courses

By Sarah Senese ’23

In Professor Tamara Bentley’s Block 4 Art of China class, physical art isn’t the only aspect of the culture students explore. Bentley invites Mauro Saachi, who’s trained in the art of qi gong (movement meditation), to teach workshops to students each fall.

Qi gong, a traditional Chinese movement exercise and spiritual practice, allows for students to both better their understanding of the cultures they study and also interact directly with their learning. Bentley, who usually partners with Professor Hong Jiang in these workshops, says that qi gong workshops help their students “not only academically, but in kinesthetic ways.” Here, Bentley’s class, Jiang’s class, and Professor Christian Sorace’s political science class “Power and Everyday Life” converged in the Cossitt dance space to learn the Chinese art of Qigong.

In Bentley’s Art of China class, there’s a lot to learn about qi, which is often portrayed in visual art, the primary focus of students’ studies, through flowing lines. In Jiang’s Chinese language class, culture is also taught to give students a background on the language, connecting her class as well to the ancient physical practice of qi gong.

Students Zoey Zhou ’20 and Carter Norfleet ’22, who participated in the session with Saachi, share how the experience translated to the class and their general knowledge of qi gong and the Chinese culture surrounding it. “It was a very relaxing and mindful experience. I found qi gong very meditative in terms of its emphasis on the connection to earth and air around us. It is rare for us to pay such close attention to nature as we live in such a fast-moving world,” says Zhou. Norfleet notes that over the course of the block, he found it “interesting to compare lessons from ancient China with this qi gong experience.”

Bentley and Jiang take pride in the benefits qi gong practices have instilled in their students each fall. “[Qi gong] helps our students nurture the energy in their bodies even when they are under a lot of work or school pressure,” says Bentley, who hopes that Saachi’s workshops continue for students in blocks to come.

Students of All Ages Connect at Creative Mondays

Creative Mondays

By Emma Brossman ’20

Creative Mondays at CC’s innovation space is a creative escape from the fast-paced days on the Block Plan.

Jane Hilberry, professor of creativity and innovation, says, “We wanted to give the students a break from the scheduled days and expectations, and give them a space where they could be creative.”

The concept, which has been happening for about a year, was inspired by the class The Moving Line. The class looks to create a space to nourish the creative spirit. CC’s program, Creativity & Innovation at CC, has been working to create new spaces inside and outside the classroom that break away from the educational norm.

On a recent Monday, the space – a remodeled house on Weber Street – was full of students chatting and focusing on creating with a vast array of supplies. Many of the students come weekly, often bringing friends to experience creativity as a break from their busy lives.

This space is open to all, including the preschoolers from the on-campus Schlessman Bennett Children’s Center. It was a happy accident that the young children started to attend Creative Mondays; initially, they were drawn over by a snow cone truck at a Creativity & Innovation open house event; they have been attending ever since. This offers an opportunity for CC students to work with some of the most creative people: young kids.

The Creative Mondays program plans to continue allowing students to have a space to be creative and connect over the arts. The innovation program continues to integrate creativity into other classes such as creative writing, and also brings in faculty who contribute a focus on creativity in the classroom. Creative Mondays, open to anyone on campus, is a space where everyone can feel creative without judgement or assignment, and maybe start to feel creative, just like being a kid again.

CC Students Join Local Institutions in One-of-a-Kind Partnership

Quad Innovation Partnership

By Miriam Brown ’21

Twice a week for two hours, Andre Dufresne ’21, Caroline James ’20, Mia Altenau ’21, and Associate Professor of Psychology Tricia Waters can be found in the basement below Loyal Coffee in downtown Colorado Springs.

There, they met seven other students from the U.S. Air Force Academy, Pikes Peak Community College, and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. The group is brought together by the Quad Innovation Partnership, which connects students and faculty from the four institutions to work on strategic projects with real clients, aiming for hands-on solutions. QIP is the only higher education partnership in the United States that combines a community college, private liberal arts college, state university, and a service academy.

QIP has several project groups assigned to work for different clients. The group including Dufresne, James, and Altenau has spent the semester working for Partners for Children’s Mental Health, a new center developed by Children’s Hospital Colorado and the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Colorado. Their assignment? To create a portfolio of suicide prevention programs to implement in Colorado elementary and middle schools, James says, as well as a feasibility index of how to implement them.

As a senior psychology major interested in child development, the project with QIP has helped James think about what kind of work she wants to do after graduating.

“I’m applying for jobs and I can advocate for myself more because I’ve done important work and here’s what I have to show for it,” James said. “So I think it’s helping me going into that to be more confident in my skills.”

Together, the students have given a few presentations on their work to PCMH and presented at a “demonstration day” for the broader Colorado Springs community. A typical week required six to eight hours of work outside of the biweekly meetings, Dufresne says, and right now, they’re working on a end-of-semester report for PCMH that he expects to be about 60 pages.

But for Dufresne, the work was never stressful.

“You’re doing something important that has real implications, so it doesn’t always feel like work,” Dufresne says. “It’s exciting work, and you can always find the energy to do it. … I think it’s definitely worth it if any student is considering doing it.”

Learn more about upcoming Quad Innovation Partnership programs and opportunities.

CC Students Place First in Annual Japanese Speech Contest

Japanese Speaking Award

Miriam Brown ’21

Rujun Gillian Xu ’22 and Sherry Xu ’21 took the stage on Nov. 9 for the 33rd annual Colorado/Wyoming Japanese Speech Contest. They each walked away with first place in their respective divisions.

Joan Ericson, professor of Japanese, says when the two were presenting, the crowd was completely silent.

“It was pretty amazing to listen to these two students because the whole audience … everybody was just quiet and listening,” Ericson says. “Not a sound — because they were so impressed.”

This is the third year that Colorado College students have participated in the speech contest. The competition is held in Denver, with other participants hailing from the University of Colorado at Boulder, University of Northern Colorado, Colorado State University, Metropolitan State University of Denver, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and Japanese Academy of the Rockies. Students’ speeches must be about three minutes long and written by the students, with only minimal editing help from professors. At the contest, they are then scored by a panel of judges for content, language, and presentation.

In Sherry Xu’s speech, she spoke about a haiku by Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa that she studied in a Buddhism class at CC, linking its message with a personal story of dealing with death and grief. In Rujun Gillian Xu’s speech, she connected a message about competitive stress in her high school to a motto from a popular Japanese TV show.

“I’m very proud of them,” Ericson says. “I was impressed by the fact that they chose topics that were both personal but everyone could relate to.”

Hiromi Onishi, lecturer in the German, Russian and East Asian Languages Department, says when she heard the speeches, she almost cried. Onishi and Ericson hope CC students’ engagement with the foreign languages departments inside and outside of the classroom continues to grow.

“Learning a language is not just learning a skill. It transforms who you are,” Onishi says. “It transforms what you think and how you think. My hope is that we will have more students who realize the benefits of learning a foreign language.”

Sharing Perspective at ‘Food for Economic Thought’ Talks

By Emma Holinko-Brossman ’20

Food for Economic Thought talks are hosted by the Department of Economics and range in topics from the interesting lives of CC alumni to insights from visiting professors to  relevant economic news. Assistant Professor of Economics Jessica Hoel presented a recent talk titled “Who Won the Nobel Prize and Why?” This year, the Nobel Prize in Economics was won by Michael Kremer, Abhijit Banerjee, and Esther Duflo for their work in poverty alleviation. Hoel discussed the economists’ award-winning research, and how she had herself worked with Kremer in Kenya where they researched clean water and water access. There, Hoel was also able to work with many governmental, local, and international entities.

A solid turnout of students and faculty participated at Hoel’s FEET talk. She shared an interactive presentation looking at the randomized controlled experiments for deworming students to increase school attendance rates. Hoel humanized some of the highest levels of economic research into an accessible topic for the audience. The discussion turned to students asking about the ethical implications of the research along with other external factors. And, Hoel is teaching a Block 4 class — Economics of Poverty — in conjunction with Associate Professor of Economics Kristina Acri, which may extend the exploration of the topics raised.

FEET talks range in topic, but there is always an interesting discussion of current events explored through the lens of economics. Anybody at CC is invited to join these talks to bring new perspectives and learn about some of the cutting edge-research of alumni and faculty in the field of economics. The FEET talk series is one of the hidden jewels of CC; small groups are able to gather and conduct discussions that bring together people from all backgrounds and disciplines outside the classroom.


Reaching for a Sense of Community with Women Wednesdays

By Sarah Senese ’23

On Wednesdays at the Ritt Kellogg Climbing Gym, you can find female-identifying students enjoying women-only climbing from 4-6 p.m. Women’s Wednesdays, which began only a couple of years ago, encourages women to get involved and excited about climbing while providing a space for those who may be new to climbing or dislike the usual crowded evenings at the gym.

Many students who are new to climbing, including Mariel Zech ’23, find Women’s Wednesdays a comfortable space to try out new routes and techniques in the gym without the pressure of those who may be more experienced. Zech shares, during Women’s Wednesday, that she finds it “really cool to have an opportunity to climb in a relaxed atmosphere, especially because Women’s Wednesday generally isn’t as crowded as some other times — not to mention that the staff are fun and helpful.”

Women’s Wednesdays origins stem from the rising popularity of recreational climbing. When climbing became a more and more popular and accessible, the staff and students who help run the Ritt Kellogg Gym decided to create a space where female-identifying students — whether they be seasoned climbers or first-timers — can try new skills and enjoy the gym in the company of other like-minded people.

The energy in the climbing gym on Wednesdays radiates community and comfort. No matter the year or the skill level, every student is willing and ready to give helpful advice and welcome new climbers into the space that belongs to them. Even the monitors, who do enjoy working during crowded gym hours to help climbers with their skills and to assist in belaying, love to work on Women’s Wednesdays. The space is calm and positive, and you can see the monitors’ love for helping new climbers and being a part of what has become such a special CC climbing tradition.

“I don’t know if I’d be able to climb so often if Women’s Wednesdays didn’t exist,” says Zech. “I’m new to climbing, and it’s sometimes hard to get into it when there are so many other skilled climbers in the gym. Women’s Wednesdays is probably my favorite activity on campus so far.” You can find Zech and other women and female-identifying students in the Ritt Kellogg Climbing Gym from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesdays.


Ben Blackmore ’23 To Represent U.S. at Panamerican Championship

By Miriam Brown ’21

 For Ben Blackmore ’23, an exhilarating climbing career started with a party.

 One of his friends was celebrating his birthday at a local climbing gym, so he attended and has been climbing ever since. From Nov. 11-17, Blackmore will be representing the United States as he competes in the Panamerican Championship for sport climbing and bouldering in Ibarra, Ecuador.

 “I really enjoyed, and still enjoy, how it isn’t a sport which is competitive against other people,” Blackmore said. “It’s really only competing against yourself. To be a good climber, you just have to work hard and achieve your own personal goals.”

 At Colorado College, Blackmore is a member of the club climbing team, and he says he appreciates how “supportive” and “friendly” the climbing community has been. He admits that climbing and school are both “huge” time commitments, but he says the flexibility of the Block Plan makes balancing the two easier.

 “The Block Plan has been amazing for climbing,” Blackmore said, “as block breaks allow me to spend time just dedicated to climbing, and having afternoons free lets me better manage my time for both academics and climbing.”

 He says he’s also grateful for the support of his professors here, such as his professor who is allowing him to miss two days of class for the Panamerican Championship. He hopes to medal at the competition, but if he doesn’t, he says he won’t be too heartbroken.

 “I’ve never competed internationally before, so I am so excited to see what it is like to represent the U.S.,” Blackmore said. “It would be very nice to medal at the comp (top 10), although I’ll be very happy if I can just have a good time experiencing the competition and seeing Ecuador.”

Latest ‘In Short’ Series Features CC Student Work 

In Short Series

The third season of “In Short,” is composed of short films that are solicited, curated, and programmed entirely by CC students. Ten half-hour episodes will air Mondays on Rocky Mountain PBS at 10:30 p.m., now through Nov. 25. It’s an ongoing partnership between CC’s Film and Media Studies Program and RMPBS. In addition to programming the shows, the students and staff edit the 10 episodes, assemble all legal and promotional materials, and deliver the completed shows to the network. Season three is executive produced by Julie Speer Jackson, Kate Perdoni, and Dylan Nelson; supervising producer is Lila Schmitz ’18; staff Claire Barber ’22, Kai Cintorino ’19, Meg DeMarsh ’19, Lily Green ’19, Ella Grossman ’20, Quin Hricik ’22, Audrey Mack-Westby ’19Story Schwantes ’19, Will Stockton ’19, Fengyi Xu ’19, Meron Afutu ’19Griffin Mansi ’19Jesse Metzger ’19. Production of “In Short,” Season 4 is actively underway, helmed by supervising producer Kai Cintorino ’19.

Día de los Muertos: Bringing the Community Alive

Dia de los Muertos
Madi Stuart

Madi Stuart ’13, MAT ’14 is a Spanish teacher at Manitou Middle School where she incorporated the life and artwork of local artist Charles Rockey to teach her students lessons on the cultural significance of Day of the Dead. Students visited Rockey’s studio and studied his art to create an afendra alter in his honor. The afendra will be set up at the Colorado Fine Arts Center along with alters created by other schools and invited artists.

By Emma Holinko-Brossman ’20

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College has created a unique interpretation of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) through a celebratory exhibit Nov. 1-2. The museum’s permanent collection includes Southwestern art from artist Jerry Vigil and prints created by José Guadalupe Posada, both of which use themes from Día de los Muertos, a holiday celebrated in the U.S. and Mexico to honor deceased loved ones and keep their memory alive.

Polly Nordstrand, curator of Southwest art at the FAC, Kris Stanec, director of museum education, and countless others collaborated to create a community celebration, working with local schools and artists. Stanec sums up the experience saying, “It’s funny how these things spiral around each other, a generation of depth from all of the inter-connections.” She points out how the FAC has connected culture, community, and the CC alumni network in a creative display highlighting these beautiful relationships.

Madi Stuart ’13, MAT ’14, who majored in Spanish and also received her Master’s in Teaching, works at Manitou Springs Middle School. She and her students are creating an ofrenda that will celebrate the life and memory of Charles Rockey, an iconic local artist who passed away over the summer. Rockey captured impressionist depictions of the unique nature of Manitou Springs, nestled at the base of Pikes Peak. He spent 25 years teaching art at local schools and sharing his talent and joy with future generations of creative minds. Stuart’s students’ ofrenda, an offering or collection of objects, will be on display during the FAC’s Día de los Muertos celebration,

Students at Wilson Elementary School in Colorado Springs are also participating through its English language learning program. The school currently has 134 students enrolled in ELL, and many are still in the early stages of learning English. The FAC, through generous donations, has been able to provide transportation for all 134 students to come to the FAC on Friday, Nov. 1, to see their art come to life.

This holiday provides the catalyst for a connection between culture and perspective, exploring how to respect the traditions of Indigenous cultures over time. Maruca Salazar, a prominent artist located in Denver, will be creating a traditional Aztec altar for the FAC as part of this special exhibit, celebrating the power of tradition, community, and art.

The free community event Nov. 1-2, features a traditional Aztec altar by Salazar, ofrendas by area school groups, free art making activities, and more. Check out the altar building at the FAC Friday, Nov. 1, beginning at 11 a.m. Learn more about festivities and performances.