by Ciera Miller, Staff Writer
Audience members watching Spilecki Spaloosa behind Merrill Hall. (Photo courtesy of Ciera Miller)
On Oct. 10, the National Theatre Honors Society (NTHS) and Alpha Psi Omega (APO) at UMF hosted their first Spilecki Spaloosa in the Emery Courtyard behind Merrill Hall.
APO consists of students who were specially chosen due to their avid participation in theatre on campus. They live and breathe in the theatre world, and they plan events to share that love with others.
Matty Bernard, president of APO, said, “The Spilecki Spaloosa was written in part by former UMF APO members many years ago, but was never performed until now.” Although the idea had been kicking around for so long, the current APO members still needed a little push to make it into an actual event. “The Spaloosa is named after Stan Spilecki, the technical director at UMF, because of his involvement and encouragement towards APO to do this. He had done a similar event in the past where it was treated like a competition,” Bernard said.
This year’s Spilecki Spaloosa wasn’t a competition, but it was simple in practice; any interested UMF student could participate, and they chose whether they wanted to act or to watch. If students wanted to act, their name went into a pink pumpkin head. From this pumpkin head, Bernard chose random names for a random 10 minute scene that one of the APO members was going to direct. Both the director and actors had never seen the script before, making the challenge even harder.
“You don’t know what you’re doing,” said Sam Wood, one of the APO members, who was directing the scene. “You just skip the scenes you don’t like―or you try to.” Although she didn’t like some of the content she was staging, Wood wasn’t completely upset with the directing process. “It was fun! You get to work with people you don’t usually get to work with,” she said. Eli Mowry, APO member and president of Student Theatre UMF (STUMF), voiced similar sentiments.
The impromptu actors were excited about the performances. They were given ten minutes to rehearse their scenes before going in front of a live audience. Emalyn Remington, secretary of STUMF, called it a magical and fulfilling experience. “It was hard trying not to laugh,” Remington said, in response to her fellow actor making chimpanzee noises in the middle of their scene. Another actor, Paul Riddell, put it more simply: “In a word―fun.” Riddell also discussed having this event in the COVID-19 era. “The two main challenging things during COVID-19 are projecting [your voice] through the mask and keeping six feet apart,” Riddell said.
Both APO and STUMF have been trying to keep up with COVID-19 regulations while still having theatre events on campus. They’re trying their best to enforce the six feet apart rule, having everyone wear their masks, and being safe while performing. “Theatre has been very difficult in the current climate, so it’s just good for us to be here,” Mowry said. “I’m glad that people are here at STUMF meetings, at APO events, doing the Spaloosa.”
While being socially distanced can make things harder, the Spilecki Spaloosa was fun for everyone involved―directors, actors, and audience members. Elly Bernard, part of the audience, said she thought it was very creative and very entertaining. The scenes were performed wonderfully despite their short rehearsal time, laughs echoed throughout the night, and everyone left with smiles on their faces. They all agreed that it had been an enjoyable night. “And that’s what theatre’s about,” Mowry said. “Having fun.”
“I think that the event could be done in the future,” Matty Bernard said about more spaloosas. “We can normally open the event up to the entire UMF community, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, we were not able to do so [this time].”
So if you missed the Spilecki Spaloosa this time around, keep your eyes peeled for future spaloosas and theatre events hosted by APO. If you want to join a theatre club, Student Theatre UMF (STUMF) meets every Friday at 5:10 PM in the Emery Courtyard behind the Merrill Center and invites anyone interested in theatre to join.
Kathleen Perry Contributing Writer
Students looking for community service opportunities and a touch of college Greek life can look no further than Alpha Phi Omega (APO) which strives to create a community focusing on their main principles: “leadership, friendship, and service.” APO, UMF’s co-ed community service organization, is looking to accept new members into their fraternity, and are on the lookout for students who want to meet new people and serve the campus and Farmington area.
They are a wide-reaching and well respected national organization, that has chapters on many campuses throughout the country including the University of New Hampshire, University of Vermont, and Maine Maritime Academy. APO was established 1991 and has around 500,000 members.
APO Members Kaden Pendleton, Emily Thibodeau, Piper Alexander (Photo courtesy of Madison Vigeant)
APO President Madison Vigeant and APO Vice President Haley Knowlton, both juniors at UMF, agree that the personal connections they have made through the organization go beyond just doing community service, and they feel as though the group has become like a family. To achieve these bonds, once a week the club holds “fellowship,” for the members to spend quality time together through low pressure activities, such as paint nights, movie nights, or, more recently, a snow tubing trip.
The organization also attends conferences out of state. “We’ve gone to Texas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and at the end of this year we are going to Arizona,” says Elizabeth Leclerc, senior and general member of APO.
One of APO’s most successful events was a bake sale through the United Way in order to benefit victims of the LEAP building explosion in Sept. 2019, taking the life of Captain Michael Bell and affecting the Farmington community. Knowlton said customers would “buy a brownie for fifty cents and hand you a twenty [dollar bill].”
With many community members pitching in to help, the fundraiser made almost $800.
Members of APO join for many reasons. For Vigeant, community service has been a constant in her life for years. “In high school, I was really into community service,” she said. For others, they join to gain skills that will help them in the future.
“APO has helped me to expand my horizons in leadership roles, learn more about community service, and has helped me with organization skills,” says Leclerc.
If students want to get involved with a group that helps out the community, while making lifelong friends, they should attend the first new members meeting on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. in Ricker Addition 217. While being sworn into the group, each new participant will be paired with a mentor based off of a compatibility test. Throughout each person’s time in the club, they must meet up with their mentor at least once a week in order to keep the connection, and to discuss the community service they are doing, of which APO requires 15 hours per semester.
Vigeant and Knowlton say that if someone is considering joining, they can go to the first meeting and if they don’t like it, they don’t have to stay. “We are very open and friendly and we like meeting new people” says Vigeant.
Jocea Jordan Contributing Writer
UMF and the Farmington community will be coming together soon for trick-or-treating through the residence halls, as well as a wide variety of additional activities. Children and families are encouraged to join in on the trick or treating event which is hosted by Alpha Phi Omega (APO), dress up and connect with the students and campus community.
APO is a co-ed service fraternity that hosts community service and friendship events catered towards the members of the club and the community. The main goal of the club is to “provide service to the university, community, and nation, as well as foster fellowship and leadership among the brothers and members,” according to the APO page on the University’s website.
Madison Vigeant, a junior psychology major and vice president of APO, has been helping to organize and plan the trick-or-treating event and activities that are going to be taking place. “It’s just really fun to see how much of a community we can get together for this one event,” said Madison, “seeing how many people turn out is really amazing.”
Kaden Pendleton, a junior elementary education major, is a member of APO as well as a mentor community assistant (MCA) for the Scott residence halls. The MCA’s role is to assist other community assistants with any questions or concerns they may have as well as working closely with the Area Coordinator.
“I think it’s a way for people in the community to feel connected to the campus. This event kind of dissolves [campus] from being this big scary place that’s in their town and makes us more a part of their town. I think it’s good for them to feel included in what we do here,” said Pendleton.
“All of the residents that want to participate can open their doors and give out candy to the kids as they’re walking by,” Pendleton said, “or they can just put a bowl outside of their door with candy that says take one.”
Pendleton said he also enjoys seeing all of the professors and staff members from campus come to the event with their children because “you get to see the professors in a different role from when you normally do.”
“It’s not just trick or treating in the halls. In the Ed Center there are all kinds of activities. Families and kids can play games and get a whole bunch of candy and then the kids can walk around the dorms and get even more candy,” Pendleton said.
“APO usually does activities like face painting or musical chairs,” said Vigeant “just fun social activities to help the children to interact and get to know each other.”
Making sure everyone is accommodated is important to APO. Pendleton said, “We really try hard to ensure that everyone is accommodated and can feel included.” he also likes being involved in the MCA role and said “It’s fun to get the dorms ready, we encourage residents to decorate their doors… so that the kids are all excited when they walk through the halls.”
Mariah Langton, a junior early childhood major, who is also a community assistant for the Dakin residence hall, said in an email interview, “I’m excited because I love both Halloween and children, hence why I’m an early childhood major. Seeing the children excited and all dressed up is the best part of Halloween.” Langton also feels at ease knowing that the children “are doing something fun and safe in the community.”
Sydney Goodridge, a sophomore elementary education with a concentration in English major, said, “ I love seeing the kids’ costumes and giving out the candy. “I loved trick or treating when I was younger and enjoy being on the other side of it now in college.” Goodridge also looks forward to “seeing how creative the kids will be with costume designs. Also I can’t wait for leftover candy.”
Trick or treating through the halls will happen on October 27 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and children and their families can meet in the Theodora J. Kalikow Education Center for various activities. For any questions or concerns contact Madison Vigeant via email at Madison.Vigeant@maine.edu.