Thursday, October 17, 2013

Celebrating Dia De Los Muertos- Orlando style

By Melissa B. Merkler

It was a fun night in downtown Orlando at the 4th Annual Dia de los Muertos & Monster Factory Exhibit & Block Party. Smiling faces painted morbidly to resemble a human skull lined a section of Pine Street in downtown Orlando to celebrate and remember lost loved ones.

The purpose of my adventure was to interview an art student for a cover story. Being part of the sugar skull celebration was a welcomed byproduct of the evening that led to meeting some fun and interesting people. 

Theresa Becker helped organize in the past but this year she is "just having fun."
Ms. Ferrante with Blue Betty vintage travellin' style.

Jaime Torraco, owner of Kittens of Industry said this was her first time to the Monster Factory event.
She sells pen and ink original art
A friend "hanging out" with Jaime from Kittens of Industries.
Performers on stage bringing giant puppets to life.
A scene from the live performance by Phantasmagoria.

Natasha Schaidt and Tre at NV Art Bar
Read Natasha's interview with The Seminole Scribe here.

And just to prove how much I really love Dia De Los Muertos, check out my blog and see my costume from 2011. 

Until next time,

Melissa B. Merkler

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

College Night at Seminole State College

By Melissa B. Merkler

Everyone knows the first rule of Fight Club is you do no talk about Fight Club.

Well, my first rules for journalism is don’t just write one story. Get out there and cover as much as possible.

Practice makes perfect.

Slacking gets you bad grades and a lack of respect from your peers.

Tonight at the last minute I loaded up the truck with my two-year-old daughter , threw in my voice recorder, notebook, some Seminole Scribe newspapers, camera and stroller and headed to Seminole State College's College Night.

Seminole State opened its doors to 100 colleges and universities to local high school students so they could meet and greet with future educational choices.

The parking lot was full of cars and the gym was full of excited teenagers on the hunt for free stuff and college pamphlets.

I don't know who was more nervous, the kids or their parents walking sheepishly behind them. The kids probably saw a good time and the parents saw dollar signs.

It was a fun night. I'm glad I went. My daughter and I made some new friends and learned about schools I had never heard of before.

Interviews to follow.

Andrew Wang, student at Lake Mary Preparatory School, visited College Night to weigh his university options.
Photo by Melissa B. Merkler 

Building blocks to an educational future: College nights

College Nights
By Melissa B. Merkler
This is a follow up to my original college nights blog posted in October

Building blocks to an educational future: College nights

The the soon-to-be remodeled gymnasium had one last noisy night of excited high school students fluttering around searching for free stuff and brochures. 
“I’m just browsing the selection to see what the big vending machine of life has to offer me for the right price,” Adult High School student Adam Avellan, said at the 2013 College Night hosted by Seminole State College.

The parents however, looked less amused but instead slightly anxious, probably only seeing dollar signs and babies leaving the nest.
Tables covered in mascot colors formed aisles of information allowing passersby to grab candy, pencils, stress balls and ask questions about what a particular school had to offer.

At International Academy, for instance, three main core programs are offered: massage therapy, cosmetology and barbering, which all involve one-on-one human contact. 
“We can come to a fair like this and feel confident because every person has a different need,” Susan Pirolo, Event Planner at International Academy, said. 
Some may look down upon technical colleges but Ms. Pirolo said “on average” graduating students can make $25 to $30 an hour before tips. 
For other students, International Academy is a stepping-stone, Ms. Pirolo said.
“Some people get a massage therapy certificate and go on to become physical therapists,” she said. “We teach people skills not just technical ability.” 
The importance of human interaction, Ms. Pirolo said, is increasing since the millennium generation is growing up with “i-devices.” 
“We have lost some of our social skills as a result, so it is really important to teach people how to engage with other human beings, and that’s something they are forced to do when they go through our programs,“ she said. 
International Academy also offers discounted services to other students. Just bring a current student ID. 
Seminole State College sits in the backyard of many future and current students.

Gabriella Nicholas, a paid tour guide and full-time Seminole State student, said she chose to go state because it has a “stronger student life.”

Some high school students have no idea where they want to go or what they want to do. So attending College Night was a first step in making that decision for Lake Mary Preparatory student Andrew Wang, which had Florida Polytechnic and University of Central Florida pamphlets in hand.

There’s no doubt about it, whether going to Seminole State or another college, pursuing higher education is definitely a goal most local high school students have.