January 11, 2012

Students beat winter blues

With such a long winter break, some Knox students have taken advantage of the free time to contribute to their passions and their pockets.

Senior Mark Farrell went straight for passion. Immediately after Thanksgiving, he was on his way to a two-week trip to New York City for his studio art major. The trip, which included 11 other Knox students, is a part of the Knox in New York course offered during fall term and taught by Associate Professors of Art Tony Gant and Lynette Lombard. The program allows students to examine the New York scene and take classes at the New York Studio School of Drawing, Painting and Sculpture.

“It’s usually a grad school program,” Farrell said, “so it’s some exposure to what life after Knox would be like if you went to school there.”

Farrell said the most interesting part of the trip was “gallery-hopping,” in which the class went about the city examining and discussing pieces of art.

“You get to see a lot of really contemporary art and what kind of art is happening now,” he said, “as well as just about anything you can imagine.”

Each of the two weeks ended with presentations by the students on an artist of their choice.

Senior Rita Mertens went another route with her time off. She spent much of her break making lunches, changing diapers and tending to bumped heads and skinned knees. For 25 hours out of her week, Mertens worked at a local home-run daycare center in her home city of Grinnell, Iowa. The job was the result of a personal connection with an old friend.

“Rita [the owner of the daycare] was actually the one who babysat me when I was a kid,” Mertens said. “She gave me a nice purse as a Christmas present, so there was even a bonus.”

When Mertens was not working with kids, she was either working as a lifeguard or for minimum wage at the Grinnell Athletic and Recreation Center as a ticket scanner. In her spare free time, she studied for the GRE, watched Netflix with her mom and enjoyed homemade beer on New Year’s Eve at a friend’s house.

Not too far from Mertens in Grinnell, senior Kate Donoghue was pursuing her love of acting and getting into the spirit of the season by participating in a live Radioplay version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Guided by director Samantha Newport ’11, Donoghue played 11 different characters in the production.

The role was important enough to Donoghue for her to make the commute all the way from Chicago, where she lives, to Grinnell each weekend to rehearse.

“It was a fun, corny Christmas play, but that was what it was supposed to be,” Donoghue said. In her free time, Donoghue spent time with friends and family.

While the break may have been long, it was far from uneventful for these Knox seniors. Whether it was making money or pursuing their passion, they all came back to campus with experiences to propel them into their last couple of terms and beyond.

Sam Brownson
Sam Brownson ’12 majored in philosophy and minored in anthropology and sociology. This is his second year copy editing for TKS; he is also currently a post-baccalaureate fellow in music and theater and will be composing the music for two productions as part of Knox’s Repertory Theatre Term. A self-described grammar Nazi, Sam worked as a TKS reporter and as a writer and editor for his high school newspaper before joining the TKS editorial staff. He also manages social media for Brownson Properties in Holland, Mich.

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