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.
Zion Hodgkin Contributing Writer
Amidst the flashing strobe lights and roaring jams of the last two years, you could almost forget you were standing in a school cafeteria.
Every year, on the last Saturday before Halloween, UMF’s Association for Campus Entertainment (ACE) club transforms the Student Center into a spooky celebration. The Halloween dance has been one of the most anticipated annual events held at the school for the last few years. “A bunch of people show up,” said Madison Vigeant, one of the members of the ACE club putting the event together, “we usually have like 400 to 500 people every year.”
Sarah Szantyr, another member, chimed in saying, “And that includes students at the school, and also guests. I think we usually have about 100 to 150 guests each year.”
Inside the dance, it’s clear which of these students had been there before, as they immediately made their way to the front of the room, right before the stage, and started dancing, their costumes and accessories swinging around them.
“The dance has been going on for quite a long time,” Vigeant said, “at least five years, I would say, [but] probably ten.”
Szantyr nodded slightly. “It’s been going on since we’ve been here. This will be our third year putting it on.”
A student walked up to the table by the entrance to the dance, where Vigeant sat, and investigated the baskets brimming with items at the end of the table. “They’re the prizes for the costume contest,” Vigeant said with a kind smile. “We have a few different categories that you can enter for.” She leaned down, as if re-checking the contents of the baskets and continued, “We have scariest costume, a free one [where you can enter with any costume], funniest, couple, another couple, and most creative.”
Alexis Ramee sporting her makeup, which won scariest costume. (Photo courtesy of Alexis Ramee)
Nodding excitedly, the student grabbed an entry form and began to fill it out.
“The costume contest has been happening for awhile too,” said Vigeant. “Last year was the first year we did it where I was involved. But if I were going to guess, the costume contest started a few years after the dance did. Maybe once the dance did well for a couple years.”
The costume contest has since become an iconic part of the Halloween dance, with most students signing up as they enter the event, and the night ending with the announcement winners. “We close the contest at midnight, and they stop the music for the announcement at 12:15 to 12:30,” Vigeant says, “and if the winner isn’t here, they’ll get an email, and can come pick up their prizes next week.”
Winner of scariest costume, junior visual arts major Alexis Ramee, left the dance before the winners were announced and woke up a week later to an email indicating that she won. “It made me really happy,” she said. “It made my morning.”
With a talent for special effects makeup and a preferred horror aesthetic, Ramee used liquid latex and polymorph plastic to create the illusion that her face had been split down a central seam and opening around her mouth. The look was meant to symbolize the importance of speaking a truth, even if it means tearing your mouth open to speak. “Generally I had pretty good reactions [to my costume], there were a couple of people that were slightly scared but I never, like, terrified anyone,” she said.
Even the campus police officers monitoring the entrance were taken aback by Ramee’s makeup. “Oh, they loved it,” Ramee said. “Even Brian Ufford was like, ‘Good makeup!’” While she said that she hadn’t seen anyone with makeup to compete with hers, she enjoyed the comedy of seeing two students dressed as bananas accompanying another dressed as a gorilla, as well as two Waldo’s. “It was just a really fun night to get away from all the school work.”
Darby Murnane in Medusa paint. (Photo courtesy of Darby Murnane)
As a dance full of partying college students naturally earns a reputation for crazy sights and stories, Szantyr and Vigeant reflect on what they’ve witnessed in years passed. “We don’t have any personal funny stories from the dances we’ve been around for,” Szantyr said, “but we were told on our first year of putting on the dance, that there would be a lot of people that were not fully aware of our surroundings,” she smiles a bit slyly and turns to look at Vigeant before continuing, “if you know what I mean.”
Vigeant shot back a smirk in response, as though she knew exactly what Szantyr meant, then added “Oh, also, one year an ACE member saw a girl beat up a pumpkin right outside of the dance.”
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.