- It’s time for Africa
| Valli Sridharan reporter |
The Pittsburg State African Student Association presented “Africa Culture Day” on Friday, April 24, in Grubbs Hall.
More than 20 students attended the program where they had the opportunity to learn about Africa’s many countries; the cuisine, fashion, languages and regional dances.
“It was nothing like other international gatherings I have been to,” said Nurila Suleimen, senior in law science. “They really made an effort to get the audience involved which was so cool!”
Association members provided several African dishes for the attendees to try. The cuisine included a variety of fried chicken recipes, rice-based dishes and steamed vegetables.
“The food was very unique,” said Mariah Hull, senior in sociology. “Wow, I didn’t know that Africa cuisine had shrimp in it.”
Africa’s diverse cultures were presented through slide-show presentations, dances and skits. A video was also shown depicting a marriage ceremony and the dances that accompany it.
“Africa might have a variety of cultures but looking right from the root, those cultures are very similar to each other,” said Patrick Foyet, international graduate student in engineering technology from Cameroon. “We might speak different languages but we are very similar.”
Many audience members say they enjoyed the program but they were not the only ones; African Student Association members say the event was fun for them as well.
“One of the best things about African culture day in my opinion is the part where we dress up,” Foyet said. “I always find African girls much more beautiful when they dress up traditionally.”
Audience members were invited up to the front of the room near the end of the program to learn some of the traditional dance moves. Those with the best moves were rewarded with prizes.
“It was fun to watch everybody trying to learn those funny moves and dance to a different genre of music,” Hull said. “They made the whole culture come alive.”
Foyet says the point of the presentations was to grab students’ attention to build more interest about African culture.
“I had an opportunity to work with many people in our university,” said Opeyemi Olomola, graduate student in International Business. “The whole thing was an adrenaline rush.”
- Dodging for a wish
| Charles A. Ault reporter |
It takes $8,000 on average to grant a wish of a child with a chronic or terminal disease.
With hopes of raising enough money to do just that, the Student Athlete Advisory Committee hosted a dodgeball tournament on Thursday, April 23, as part of the organization’s ongoing fundraiser to grant a child’s wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
“We are trying to gather some money and do positive things,” said Eric Brantley, senior in business management. “Hopefully, we get there and grant somebody’s wish by the end of the school year; that’s what’s most important to me.”
Five teams competed in the tournament, which raised $150 from registration fees.
L.A. Purnell, junior in therapeutic recreation, was a member of the “Tinder Matches” team.
“I got four of my teammates and two lady friends and they came out and joined us,” Purnell said. “This is a good time, everybody is out here having fun, trying to compete and win.”
Another team was an assemblage of co-workers from an area juvenile detention center in which Kiara Jones, alumnus, is a member.
“One of my co-workers found out about it and got us all together and said, ‘Hey, let’s put something together for the Make-A-Wish Foundation,’” Jones said.
Team “Balls of Fury” was composed of staff from BMO Harris. Though Balls of Fury didn’t have quite the fury its name implied, the team members say they enjoyed the tournament and the opportunity to raise money for charity.
“We played three games and we lost every single one of them with pride,” said Kim Nolan. “But we had fun and would do it again.”
Heidi Johnson, director of media relations and promotions for intercollegiate athletics, says all DII athletic departments are challenged to grant a wish for Make-A-Wish. She added reaching that goal has been an ongoing process for Pitt State’s athletic department.
“$8,000 is the average cost for a wish and once you raise it you get to grant a wish for a local kid,” Johnson said. “This is our first dodgeball tournament, but we also did several other things during the fall semester to raise money and we have another fundraiser coming in the Wichita area next week.”
Attendance at the tournament was less than Johnson and other organizers had expected but she says she hopes the tournament will grow in future years.
“I wish we had a better turnout but we hope to continue this and have more teams from the community and school each year,” Johnson said.
Advertising and scheduling issues may have contributed to the low turnout.
“We changed the date a couple of times and people didn’t know exactly when it was,” said Haylee Gregory, senior in graphic communications. “If we had sent out something like a month early, I think we would’ve gotten more people out here.”
Johnson too wishes there had been a better turnout.
“We did not have a specific goal for the tournament but we raised $1,120,” she said.
Despite the low turnout, many participants echoed Dylan Donley’s, senior in business marketing, statement: “Raising money for a good cause, that’s what it’s ultimately about at the end of the day.”
He added that whether teams did good or bad, it was nice to raise money for Make-A-Wish.
- Symphony, choir perform works of Handel, Verdi and Dvorak
| Gretchen Burns reporter |
The PSU Choirs and Southeast Kansas (SEK) Symphony performed works from Handel and Dvorak at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts on Sunday, April 26.
Nikki Stone, senior in communication, says ending her college career with the concert was a perfect way to go out.
“This music couldn’t have been better to end on,” she said. “It was such a challenge to sing some of the notes and it felt so good to be able to know that we truly mastered the two pieces. My favorite part was probably the pieces where we got really intense with the symphony and soloists. It’s such an awesome sound and I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
Wyatt Smith, junior in music education who performed with the SEK Symphony, says he felt the experience of performing such pieces in the Linda and Lee Scott Performance Hall.
“The Baroque era pieces we performed were beautiful pieces of music written to praise God,” Smith said. “My favorite part of the performance was getting to collaborate with such great musicians and guest artists. Making music with others transcends any words that we can put to it.”
Justin Crossman agrees that the experience was one-of-a-kind for students.
“Playing the Oratorio was a fantastic opportunity for myself and the other performers on stage because it was a difficult piece of music that we performed well and we are able to perform it on a stage built for music production,” said Crossman, senior in music education.
Works performed by the choirs and the symphony included “Dettingen Te Deum, HWV 283” by George Frideric Handel and “Te Deum, Op. 103” by Antonin Dvorak.
Mara Knight adds she felt the pieces helped work the students’ minds, voices and talent in ways they were unaccustomed to.
“It is interesting to sing two difficult, complex and completely different settings of the same text; one in Latin and one in English,” said Knight, junior in music education. “I think it was amazing to sing in the new hall for these works because we could focus on the expression and beauty of the music, because the acoustics of the hall helped the projection and blending of the sound to take care of itself. We got to focus on telling a story and sounding as beautiful as possible while doing so rather than needing to over-project our voices.”
Guiseppe Verdi’s piece “La Forze del Destino Overture” was also performed during the concert.
“Performances like these are a feeling of being connected with so many people through music,” said David McTeer, junior in management. “In rehearsals every member of the choir and orchestra is connected and that’s a great experience.”
- Pitt Briefs
SAC executive positions
Student Activities Council is now accepting applications for the organization’s 2015-2016 executive board. Applications may be picked up in the Campus Activities Center in Hartman Hall room 203 and are due back by Friday, May 1.
Interviews will be held on Sunday, May 3.
For more information on the duties of each position, go to ww.facebook.com/PSUGAB?fref=ts.
Applicants should sign up for an interview when returning the completed application.
Axe Grind extends hours
The Axe Grind will have extended hours during Dead and Finals weeks and is now open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“Dead Week Deals” will also take place at both Axe Grind and the Gorilla Crossing both weeks, featuring up to 50 percent off certain items at certain times and reduced prices.
Must mention the “Dead Week Deal” to the cashier to obtain the discount.
Textbook rentals due
All textbook rentals from the Gorilla Bookstore are due by Friday, May 8. Replacement fees will be charged to the credit card on file on Wednesday, May 13.
Students are asked to not sell or return rentals to any other location if originally obtained from the Gorilla Bookstore as the Gorilla Bookstore is the only place to return them.
The Gorilla Bookstore is located on the main level of Overman Student Center.
Beware of phone phishing
Pitt State’s IT Security warns all students, faculty and staff to beware of phone phishing scams. At least one PSU-affiliated person has received a scam call where the caller claimed to be from Validity Screening Solutions, the company that performs Pitt State’s background checks for employment. Phishing can happen in non-email related communication and all suspect calls should be reported to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Complaints may also be filed with the FTC at www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov/#crnt&panel1-1.
For more information, contact Amanda Williams at email@example.com.
Kansas Kids Fitness Day
Pittsburg State will host Kansas Kids Fitness Day from 10 a.m. to noon at Carnie Smith Stadium on Friday, May 1. About 1,000 third-grade pupils from 18 schools in Cherokee and Crawford counties will be on campus for a day of running, jumping, stretching and dancing.
About 40,000 students at 40 sites throughout the state will participate in this year’s Kansas Kids’ Fitness Day.
This will be Pitt State’s 24th year participating in the event.
Fundraiser for cancer group
The Pitt State Pre-Med club and Relay for Life of Crawford County will join forces to raise money for the American Cancer Society from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, April 30, in the Oval.
The Pre-Med Relay for Life team will host a “bra-pong” for breast cancer awareness along with raffles for a 42-inch riding lawn mower and a cancer ribbon quilted wall hanging.
Relay for Life will also be held from noon to midnight on Saturday, May 2, at Carnie Smith Stadium as well as the 5k Fun Glow Run/Walk starting at 10 p.m.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wood tech Educators of the Year
Pitt State’s wood technology faculty members Doug Hague and Charlie Phillips were named the Educators of the Year at the Wood Industry Conference.
The award is given by the Wood Machinery Industry Association from nominations supplied by woodworking technology companies and programs.
Hague and Phillips were nominated for the Boot Camp session held during the Wood Technology Industry Institute at the Kansas Technology Center earlier this year.
Powell named Outstanding Adviser
Brooke Powell, sexual assault advocate and adviser for Students for Violence Prevention, was named Outstanding Adviser at the BACCHUS Area 5 Meeting of the Mind conference.
The BACCHUS Network is a university and community-based organization focused on the promotion of comprehensive health and safety initiatives.
Cow Creek Review publication party
The Cow Creek Review, the student literary and arts magazine of Pitt State, will unveil the 2015 edition at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 30, in the Governors Room of the Overman Student Center.
The event is free and open to the public. Refreshments and free copies will also be available.
Awards and recognition of students whose works appear in this year’s magazine will start the event followed by excerpts.
Women’s Studies contest winners
The Women’s Studies Program announced the winners of its annual essay contest and creative writing awards. This year’s contest drew more students than all previous years.
Essay contest first place: Taylor Elliot
Second place: Christina Platt
Honorable mention: Megan Reed
Creative Writing first place: Valli Sridharan
Second place: Zoe Busey
Honorable mention: Olivia Ellison
- International students celebrate graduation
| Audrey Dighans copy editor |
International students graduating or finishing their exchange program this semester were given their special night on Thursday, April 16, at the Weede Athletic Complex.
The international graduation dinner was attended by Steve Scott, university president, staff members of the International Programs and Services office and more than 100 international students.
“This is a big day for all of you,” Scott said. “But it is also a big day for all of us because you remind us of the diversity you bring to our campus.”
Students from India, Kazhakstan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, China and other countries all say they will miss Pitt State.
“All of the faculty and students, and most important of all, the friends that I made here,” said Joy Liu, graduate student in communication. “Pitt State has so many internationals. We are all lonely souls here in the Midwest, and so when you put all of them here, they form some kind of a group that almost like a family.”
The dinner was not just in recognition of upcoming graduations, but an evening of awards as well. Mayuri Murali was one student to receive an award.
“I want my parents to know that their efforts to send me out and all those loans were not in vain,” said Murali, senior in developmental disabilities. “Of course my whole dream to succeed and become a millionaire did not fall far from this motivation.”
Those who organized the event say they enjoyed hosting as the students all seemed to enjoy their special night.
“This is the moment when you see how much the students have grown,” said Stephanie Gonzalez, international programming coordinator. “Personally, I feel proud to see them transform over the months into confident and motivated people.”
Friends of the international students also attended the dinner to celebrate their accomplishments.
“It was very sad knowing so many people dear to me are leaving so soon,” said Lauren Tan, senior in early childhood development. “But at the same time, it made me so glad and grateful for the opportunity to meet so many amazing people from far parts of the world.”
- Students attend Out of the Jungle
| Gretchen Burns reporter |
More than 100 graduating seniors attended the bi-annual “Out of the Jungle” Senior Send-off on Tuesday, April 21.
The event was hosted by the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations where they inform attending students about what PSU can offer them after graduation.
Richard Potts, senior in sociology, says he learned Pittsburg State could assist him in staying in touch after he graduates in May.
Stopping by the Alumni Center for the event, students were also able to obtain an official PSU Kansas or Missouri License plate and have the chance to win one of several prizes, from an iPad Mini to football tickets for the Rua Skybox for all 2015 home games.
“The money paid for the license plates can go to either the Legacy License Plate scholarship for freshmen or can go to the department or an area of one’s choice,” said Alex McCormick, freshman in elementary education. “The designated money could benefit the nursing department or wherever the donor saw fit.”
Students were also informed on how they can become involved with the County Champions or Alumni Association after graduation.
“The County Champions are individuals in our top population counties who help plan events and volunteer their time at those events,” said Jeremiah Reece, senior in marketing and international business. “The Alumni Association is a little more stringent and requires a voting process. There are 21 members who represent different geographical areas and help shape the events and activities of the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations.”
The panel of 21 offers ideas and advice for events like hosting people in the Rua Skybox, Gorilla Fest, A Taste of Pittsburg and Out of the Jungle.
Peter Polizzi, senior in wood technology, says he was unaware of the different ways one could donate to a specific program as an alumni.
“I think it’s cool that one can stay connected to the university,” Polizzi said. “There’s different exclusive offers and discounts that I didn’t know about.”
Students were also led through on how to stay connected to the Jungle in the digital world from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and of course, the Pitt State website.
Alumni can also sign up for a free newsletter to keep them up to date on what is happening at PSU.
“It’s a great way to stay connected with PSU and a great opportunity,” said Gregor Kalan, university marketing specialist.
Graduating students also learned about the benefits and services of the Awards Programs, which include awards alumni can be offered. There were also applications for the Pitt State Platinum VISA card, the only official split-face card on the market. The Alumni Association receives a percentage of every dollar spent to help with outreach programs and putting on more events for alumni throughout the year.
- Jazz concert offers rich history of PSU
| Tyler Koester reporter |
Guests were greeted with African tribal music as they filed into the Linda & Lee Scott Performance Hall at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts on Tuesday, April 21, during the Jazz and PSU Retrospective concert.
The event featured two PSU jazz ensembles and guest musicians. The musicians performed a selection of popular songs from a variety of jazz styles, all in time to a presentation of stories of Pitt State’s history. Todd Hastings and Robert Kehle, both professors of music, conducted the PSU ensembles. In between songs Karl Kunkel, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, narrated a chronological history of PSU since the university’s inception in 1903.
The historical presentation touched on milestones of the university such as the Russ Hall fire of 1914 and the completion of the Bicknell Center in 2014. Along with what was happening in the Jungle, Kunkel touched on what was occurring in the world of jazz music during each of these milestones.
Lem Sheppard had the honor of playing the first piece of the evening with his selections of “Crawdad Song” and “Trouble in Mind.” Sheppard, Kansas City Blues and folk musician, performed in a style reminiscent of Robert Johnson, with twangy acoustic guitar and bluesy vocal accompaniment.
Randalin Ward, sophomore in music, was the next solo performer. He played a new take on Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer,” to showcase ragtime jazz.
After Ward’s performance, the saints literally marched in as Doug Whitten, Joanne Britz, James Clanton and Wyatt Smith entered the auditorium single file playing “When the Saints Go Marching In” on their way to the stage. The performance of this popular gospel hymn paid homage to Louis Armstrong and his orchestra, who originally recorded this song in 1938.
The concert picked up when Britz performed “Sing, Sing, Sing” on clarinet with Clanton on percussion and Kehle’s jazz ensemble as accompaniment. Swaying and rocking back and forth, Britz really seemed to get into the upbeat mood of the piece partially created by Clanton’s tribal drumbeat and the jazz ensemble’s big-band sound.
The upbeat tempo of the evening continued with guest singers Stella Hastings, Lisa Gerstenkorn and Madison Youngberg-King rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrews Sisters. The guest singers worked to impersonate the Andrews Sisters and along with the accompaniment of a blaring trumpet solo by Jacob Caffrey, the audience seemed to approve.
Another hit of the evening was Patrick Howle’s vocal performance of “Fly Me to the Moon,” written by Bart Howard. For this piece, Howle worked to reincarnate Frank Sinatra and his timeless era of jazz.
“I feel like I’m in the mood now,” Kehle said to the audience right before his ensemble broke into the finale, a work entitled “In the Mood” by Joe Garland.
The audience clapped along to the beat and cheered, perhaps stating their love of the finale choice. One audience member was even heard saying to a friend “I just love jazz.”
- Pride week draws crowd
| Gretchen Burns reporter |
High kicks, splits, turns, intricate footwork. The Dellinger Underground pulsated with music and lights as the fourth annual GSA Pride Week Drag show started on Wednesday night, April 15.
The Drag Show is the middle event in a greater week-long event supported by the Pitt State Gay-Straight Alliance for its “Pride Week” to celebrate the LGBTQ community.
Ila Phelps squealed as she sat waiting for the show to begin.
“I’ve literally been waiting for this all week,” said Phelps, freshman in communication.
The popular show “RuPaul’s Drag Race” has brought more attention to the art of drag and has helped increase popularity and support.
Five performers worked the stage to the cheers, whistles and applause of the more than 100 students in attendance. Dollar bills were creatively passed to the performers in appreciation of what they did.
The co-hosts, Roxanne Kennedy and Jaidyn Campbell, kept the audience laughing with jokes, banter and lip-sync performances. Campbell’s attempt at high kicks that ended up with her landing in the splits also generated many cheers from the audience.
“It’s a new experience to have the younger generation here cheering us on and supporting us,” said Campbell. “Usually we’re just in bars and it’s a whole different crowd. It’s really nice to be supported by these kids who will be able to support us later and they love what we’re doing.”
Grace Fritz’ jaw dropped as she watched the performances.
“I’ve watched RuPaul before but I’ve only seen one drag queen perform in Kansas City,” said Fritz, senior in sustainability. “This is the first actual show that I’ve been to and it was really awesome.”
Zach Wiltz, sophomore in business and management, says he had also never been to a drag show, but his cheers were some of the loudest when the performers did an intricate twirl or “twerked” in a good way.
“It’s just so cool that all of these people are here to support these amazing performers and accept them for who they are, what they do, and what they enjoy,” Wiltz said. “I’ve never been to anything like this before but you can bet that I won’t miss one after this. It’s too amazing to pass up.”
Opposite of Wiltz, Lexi Odell has been to drag shows before. Odell, freshman in communication, says the Pitt State show was a closer connection.
“I think the fact that they came here to us and brought their talent to share with us is pretty amazing in itself,” Odell said. “I wish that we could see them every week. I’d pay to come to these shows because they give you your money’s worth.”
One of the performers, Savannah Twist, says she loves bringing the show to campus to share with her friends as well as other small-town students.
“The one thing I love about Pitt State the most is that it’s like performing for family,” Twist said. “There are so many good people here who help support what we love to do. I love bringing something like this to such a small town because it’s a way to share with my friends, classmates and other community members what I do.”
GSA’s Pride Week began on Monday evening, April 13, with a panel of LGBTQ students answering questions about their lives, including the biggest struggle when they came out. The panel defined some of the different forms of sexuality and others pulled questions written in by the audience from a bowl.
Tuesday, April 14, GSA members offered passing students to decorate a cupcake in honor of Pride Week in the program “Gay Cakes.”
Thursday, April 16, those who walk through the Oval will have a chance to win candy while learning statistics about the LGBTQ community with “Sweet Knowledge.” The event is scheduled to take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Pride Week will top it off with the annual “Pride Prom” at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 17, in the Dellinger Underground.
- Rain or shine, Greeks have a blast
| Gretchen Burns reporter |
This past week, rain wasn’t the only thing to flood the campus of PSU.
Greek Week 2015 began with its annual kickoff last Friday, April 10, with an all-Greek photo in front of Russ Hall and viewing of banners in the Oval.
Greek members were also able to earn points in advance for attending the Tunnel of Oppression, held last week in the Dellinger Underground.
This year’s theme for Greek Week is “America.”
“Rylie and I were up really late finishing our banner,” said Molly McVey, junior in art and member of Alpha Gamma Delta. “We wanted to do something that was going to really stand out and be different.”
McVey and fellow sister Rylie Miller, junior in graphic design and Spanish, helped create a banner that channeled “Schoolhouse Rock’s” Election episode. The Alpha Gamma Delta banner shows the Bill sitting on Capitol Hill.
Other banners feature the Statue of Liberty, fireworks, the American flag and other iconic, patriotic, American items.
On Saturday, April 11, many of Pitt State’s 600-plus Greeks joined the 900 volunteers for the Big Event community-wide service project.
“I really enjoy the Big Event,” Miller said. “It’s always enjoyable when you get to meet the person you are helping and really see how much they appreciate the gesture.”
This past Monday, April 13, each Greek chapter brought breakfast and thank-you notes to PSU’s academic departments in honor of Faculty Appreciation Day.
On Tuesday, April 14, the competition was turned up during the annual Greek Games as sisters and brothers raced, hopped and tugged for first place.
After falling over his partner as they leapt toward the finish line together during the three-legged race, Justin Stone said that thoughts of stretching might have gotten them farther.
“I think I pulled my hamstring,” said Stone, junior in marketing and member of Phi Sigma Kappa. “It just really proved that stretching can go a long way.”
Phi Sigma Kappa won against the other fraternities in the relay of carrying an egg on a spoon via four different members. Alpha Gamma Delta won on the sorority side of the competition.
Other games were a balloon toss, potato sack race and a canoe race on the University Lake.
Wednesday, April 15, the Greeks tried to see if they had those “wings” Redbull is always talking about in the Redbull Chariot Race.
This year the chariot race was held in the Weede and Irene Bradley School of Nursing parking lot.
Three members of each chapter competed in the race, two pulling their hand-made chariots and one riding. Though the goal was to make it around the hay bale loop, some teams took a more straight-on approach.
Taylor Blackburn was panting after she and the Alpha Gamma Delta team finished the first round of the races.
“It was a lot of fun to do this,” said Blackburn, sophomore in exercise science. “However, we should have run around in circles to practice. We didn’t prepare for the exercise party hardly at all.”
Alpha Gamma Delta won the top sorority award as well as the Greek Spirit Team and Creativity Award along with free Red Bull energy drinks for each member for two semesters.
The Archimedes Design Award was awarded to Sigma Phi Epsilon. Each crew member for the chariot race won a $20 Chatters gift card. Sigma Chi won the overall award.
Tonight, Thursday, April 16, the Pitt State Greeks will compete in the annual Airband & Greek God/Goddess competition.
The event will be at 9 p.m. in the Weede Gymnasium. Patriotism welcome.
Greek Week will conclude on Friday, April 17, with the Order of Omega Awards Ceremony where the Greek Week winners, one sorority and one fraternity, will be announced.
Order of Omega will begin at 6 p.m. at the Bicknell Family Center for the Arts.
- Gorilla Games brings in record number students
| Michael Bauer Sports Editor |
On Tuesday April 7, high school students from the Four State Area flocked to Pittsburg State to participate in the Great Gorilla Games.
The event took place throughout the day as students competed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics-or STEM, for short- competitions at John Lance Arena.
The event’s purpose was to promote STEM-oriented curricula, collaboration, teamwork and the practical application of STEM concepts to real world scenarios and problems.
Mike Neden, associate professor of technology and workforce learning, said this year’s games were an improvement over the past years.
“I feel like we’ve had a great response,” Neden said. “We’ve had a lot more students and a lot more events. It’s been a good response. Some of the new events have been pretty good and the others need some work. We’ll see how that comes out next year.”
The event was put on by the Technology and Engineering Education Program and the College of Technology at Pittsburg State.
The Great Gorilla Games included a variety of challenges and competitions for all STEM students to participate in. the events included rubber band dragster race cars, rubber band powered airplanes, a Titanic tubular bridge and a LEGO dream house challenge. In all, there were 40 events.
This was the fourth year of the Great Gorilla Games and while the activities were helpful for high school students, there were plenty of benefits for the university.
“It brings 500 to 600 students from high schools that are prime time candidates to be recruited to Pittsburg State and we think it’s a win for them and for our students,” Neden said.
But while monitoring how many high school kids have chosen PSU over other schools because of the event remains to be seen, Neden says they will be observing that in the future.
“We haven’t really tracked that as well as we should but we are this year,” Neden said. “We’re trying to follow up with kids who have been here and see how that works out.”
Some of the participants had already made up their minds of where they will attend college. Mitchell White, senior from Pittsburg High School will be one of those.
“I think it’s a blast,” White said. You get to come from different schools and compete with different people and have a fun time.”
White will be majoring in construction engineering with a minor in architecture. This was the first year he competed at the Great Gorilla Games.
Other PSU students say they would have profited from participating in the event but never had the opportunity.
“I would’ve benefited from this experience if I was in high school,” said Ross Riggs, senior tech education major from Olathe and one of the volunteer workers. “This is my second year doing the Gorilla Games since I changed majors.”
Riggs, who ran the quadcopters challenge, said a few high school kids got a little disgruntled during the event.
“All the kids had a lot of fun. Some of them kind of got frustrated,” Riggs said. “It’s pretty difficult to fly the helicopters but they still had fun.”
White, who participated in five events, said one of the benefits of the day was the variety of different competitions offered.
“You get to expand your mind to literally anything. You have the space portions, the aero portion. It opens your mind into different things,” White said.
There were about 540 participants from close to 21 high schools. According to Neden, those numbers represent an improvement from last year’s Great Gorilla Games.
“It’s about 100 more than last year,” he said.
There were about 90 volunteers, most of whom are PSU students.
“My students are highly involved in the planning and developing with the different challenges of the competition,” Neden said. We try to build that into the curriculum and I think that’s a great way for them to learn to use math and science and technology in a fun way.”
But it wasn’t only PSU students who volunteered.
“We have quite a few from the university but we also have quite a contingent from the Home Depot, PITSCO, the U.S. Army,” Neden said. “We have quite a bit of support from those folks.”
The first year of the event saw approximately 100 students while the second year brought in close to 200. Last year and this year’s figures have trumped those numbers and the university will continue to look at ways to expand the number of high school students.
“We’re going to take a look and see if the idea is to have more or to have better,” Neden said. I think we’re going to reach out to schools and services in this area and see if we can increase the number. We may look at structurally how we plan and handle the whole operation.”