Chris Blanton wins FCSAA award

Chris Blanton, Sophomore Catcher from Timber Creek HS, has been awarded the prestigious Bill Tuten Baseball Scholar-Athlete from the FCSAA Baseball Committee.

Professor Ziesemer helps students find and thrive in new careers

Professor Ziesemer has been connecting students at LSSC with jobs since 2000.

When it comes to questions the Learning Center is there

Students take advantage of tutors and updated technology in the Learning Center.

Recycling allows students to help environment and move up in SGA

Blue bins with pyramid-shaped tops can be found all over Lake-Sumter State College’s Leesburg campus, encouraging students to recycle their empty soda cans and bottles.

Castle of Blood coming to stage in October

LSSC's Theater Arts Society prepares for a Halloween-themed production.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Time traveler

Comic by: Katie McKay

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cindy Lackey receives Bob Graham Distinguished Service award

Story by: Katie McKay, Editor-in-Chief
Photos by: Katie McKay

Cindy Lackey is well-known around campus for her helpfulness and dedication.
Cindy Lackey, the assistant director of Student Life and SGA advisor, can be seen at just about every Lake-Sumter State College function. Even when she’s not in the crowd, she is working behind the scenes to make things run smoothly, and has been doing so for the past five years.

This year, she was nominated for and received the Bob Graham Distinguished Service Award, given by the Florida College System Student Government Association. There are several categories for this award, including community supporter, community college student, community college employee, and SGA advisor. Any of 28 different colleges in the FCSSGA can nominate people for these awards. A selection committee then reviews each nomination and makes a choice.

“I’m very honored that our students here at Lake-Sumter nominated me,” Lackey says. “I feel like I just do my job every day, but I’m happy they think that I do a good job of that, enough to nominate me for an award like this. It’s very… humbling, I guess, is a good word for it.”

The plaque reads, “The Bob Graham Distinguished Service Award is presented to Cindy Lackey in honor and recognition of the outstanding dedication and service you have rendered to your community college. Through your extra efforts, the lives of those you have interacted with have been enriched. For this reason you have been selected from nominees throughout the state as an individual who truly typifies the community college spirit.”

Lackey states that receiving such a prestigious award is an honor and a humbling experience.
Though this was a prestigious award, it had a few eye-catching details that the SGA members couldn’t ignore. Namely, that the word “distinguished” was spelled “distinquished,” and “interacted” became “ineracted.”

Lackey didn’t seem too upset. “I got a good laugh in the van on the way home,” she said. “Misspelled words tend to catch my attention. Plus, the period is missing, so the whole sentence kind of reads weird, but it was still an honor to get the award. It’s just that the plaque is funny. That in no way belittles the award.” She says that she didn't want it remade; its quirks will stay with her forever.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

STEM club to conduct live experiments on LSSC campuses

Story by: Kristen Binning, Staff Writer
Photos by: Kristen Binning

Officials Jackie Spradley, Sara Corvil, Kristin Smith and Jeffrey Rivera talk science at a meeting.
The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) club is asking students to submit ideas for science experiments, which will be conducted in the quad on the Leesburg and South-Lake campuses once a month. These experiments can be related to science, technology, engineering or mathematics, and will be performed for entertainment and education. An officers' meeting was held Thursday Sept 4 when officials discussed the parameters of its live experiments.

The STEM club has to do with meta-majors, which are something new this year. These are broad focuses of study that allow students to explore several majors in a particular field while staying on track for their degrees, according to the Florida College Access Network. Lake-Sumter State College recently received a grant from the National Science Foundation to create a STEM program designed as an academic resource for students with meta-majors in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The STEM club’s mission statement reflects this, stating that their goal is to “foster excitement, confidence and literacy by enabling the student body and community to engage in an exploratory learning environment that advances knowledge, application and nurtures success.”

Officials of the STEM club are currently preparing for Connections Week, an academic showcase for the clubs and programs on campus which will be held on Sept 10 and 11. Members Jacqueline Spradley, Adviser Sara Corvil, Secretary Kristin Smith, and Student Government Association Representative Jeffrey Rivera have discussed topics for experiment ideas that would gain interest of those who attend LSSC.

The STEM club will be hosting its first official meeting  on Sept 18 at 5 p.m in the Student Center, Room 108, and it will be open to anyone interested. They will discuss be future plans of the club and the benefits that STEM offers to students.

To submit live experiment ideas, students can send an e-mail to

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Blood Bus gives students another opportunity to save lives

Story by: Katie McKay, Editor-in-Chief
Photos by: Katie McKay

The Big Red Bus comes to LSSC approximately every eight weeks, and is met with many loyal donors.
For Burnai Capron’s birthday, she decided to give a gift rather than receive one. She had always wanted to give blood, and finally found the courage on the day she turned 21. Capron is a full-time student at Lake-Sumter State College, and noted, “It’s nice to help other people if you can,” just before boarding the Big Red Bus to donate for the first time in her life.

She wasn’t the only one drawn by the desire to save lives, or in some cases, by the desire to cash in on the rewards of donating. The Big Red Bus saw lots of traffic on Aug. 27 as students came by to exchange life-saving blood for movie tickets, beach towels, gift cards and coupons.

Burnai Capron decided to save lives on her birthday, donating for the first time.
Though the next day wasn't as busy, the trip was still considered a success by Paul Evans, who is in charge of coordinating and recruiting. "All of our donors come out here to help us save lives. That's really what it's all about. We appreciate very much drives like this - where we come to the colleges and high schools - that give us a lot of blood for the community. A lot of our students here are very loyal donors."

Taylor Blackman is a part-time student as LSSC, and is included in the “loyal donor” crowd. His loyalty is inspired by a friend who made a habit of donating, as well as his friend's wife, who worked for a blood center. “It’s good to know that everything stays local; it’s very cool to help out your community locally. I like that part as well,” he says. To those thinking of donating, he adds, “It doesn’t take that long, and you know it goes to a good cause. Plus you get free stuff.”

Loyal donor Taylor Blackman shows off his bandage after donating double red blood cells on the ALYX machine.
The Big Red Buses supply blood for local hospitals, and it is distributed from there. All blood types are needed, though O+ and O- are especially valuable, due to their usefulness. Because of the great demand, the Blood Buses go out every day of the year except the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays. “Our staff work a lot,” notes Evans, who works full time with the Blood Buses.

The Blood Bus returns approximately every eight weeks, so students can prepare to donate again sometime at the end of October.

Lawana Young displays a recent donation on the Big Red Bus, where students and teachers alike help save lives.

Theater Arts Society’s Castle of Blood coming in October, still welcoming help

Story by: Charlotte Preston, Managing Editor
Photos by: Charlotte Preston

Auditioning for Castle of Blood are Matt Hyland, Josh Roberson, Lynne Beasley, and Jacob Kerner.
Auditions for the upcoming gothic-horror production of Castle of Blood have ended. However, it is not too late to lend a hand. The Theater Arts Society is still welcoming committed and dedicated participants who wish to help out either onstage or backstage.

Castle of Blood intertwines Edgar Allen Poe’s Masque of the Red Death, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. The production itself is based around the premise of all the stories occurring in the same castle centuries apart from each other.

The play will have its first preview show on Oct. 9 and a second on Oct. 10, both at 7:30 p.m. Opening night will be on Oct. 11 at 7:30 p.m. with shows running through Oct. 19 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets will be free to students and faculty of Lake-Sumter, and will be $5 for the general public. The Theater Arts Society is hoping for student support for this production, and aims to have everyone on the edge of their seats. For more information about Castle of Blood or the Theater arts Society, contact the Theater Arts Society’s director Gary Rogers at the Black Box Theater, or contact the Theater Arts Society’s president Chris Stevens.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ask Us Anything event welcomes hundreds of students

Story by: Katie McKay, Editor-in-Chief
Photos by: Glenda Libby

Students gather for information at the Ask-us-Anything tables on the first few days of school.
Fall classes have returned, and with them, hoards of first-time students at Lake-Sumter State College’s Leesburg campus. For the past seven years, LSSC faculty and staff have volunteered to combat the confusion through the Ask Us Anything event, which provides direction and advice to anyone who stops by. This year, says Professor Marion Kane, was the event’s best one yet.

She estimates that hundreds of students came by the Ask Us Anything tables, which were stationed near the Language Arts building. Most of the visitors were new students looking for their classes or specific campus buildings. Others came to get parking decals or browse the Buck-a-Book sale on an adjoining table.

Kane notes a great turnout in terms of volunteers as well. 61 faculty and staff members from all over school signed up to help in one to two-hour shifts, and were joined at various times by members of the South Lake campus Student Government Association, the Student Ambassadors, the intramural sports teams, and the student body in general.

The Ask-Us-Anything crew was well-prepared this Fall with more documents and more ways to help, as well as a laptop so students could easily look up information. “It gets better every year because we learn,” says Kane. Some past problems, such as serving chocolate that melts in the heat, were easily avoided this year. Others, such as guiding students who signed up for a class on the wrong campus, are reoccurring issues, but each Fall brings another opportunity to adapt and make the first few days of school run a little bit smoother.

Friday, August 29, 2014

First things first

Comic by: Katie McKay

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Professor Brandy Ziesemer helps students find and thrive in new careers

Story by: Katie McKay, Staff Writer
Photos by: Katie McKay

LSSC alumni Teena McKay and Ana McGlohorn stand before Florida Hospital Waterman, where they both work thanks to the guidance of Brandy Ziesemer.

Beth Hudson started out waiting tables. She wanted to give her daughter “the life she deserved,” and worked hard to make it happen. Today she works at Florida Hospital Waterman, with July marking her eighth year there. She now helps physicians with documentation and timeliness, making sure their forms are filled out quickly and accurately. She also helps medical coders ask the doctors questions when needed. Hudson loves her job because it ends up helping the patients, and most importantly, her daughter has the life that Hudson wanted for her.

Teena McKay worked in a school kitchen for 13 years to put her daughters through school. While going through a divorce, she lived in a one-bedroom apartment with her two daughters, working full-time in the kitchen as well as taking classes at Lake-Sumter so she could support herself in the future. Today she works at Waterman along with Hudson as a medical coder, assigning codes to written diagnoses for billing by insurance companies. She now has the career of her dreams, and recently, a new home as well.

These women are just two of the many students who found their new beginning in Brandy Ziesemer’s classroom. Ziesemer was asked to help start Lake-Sumter’s Health Information Management (HIM) course, and saw it accredited in 2000. Since then, she has helped thirteen graduates get a job at Waterman, eight with the Central Florida Health Alliance and eight at South Lake Hospital.

Ziesemer has been helping HIM students at LSSC find careers since
the course began in 2000.
“We have almost 100% placement rate for our degree graduates and for our coding and billing graduates,” says Ziesemer. Besides the major hospitals, she has helped graduates secure health information management jobs with accountable care organizations, the Lake County Corrections Institute, the Orange County medical examiner, the county jail, Lifestream, nursing homes, individual small practices and more.

Jessica Yelvington, who has been at Waterman for nearly four years, was hired because of a practicum that Ziesemer arranged. “She picks cool places close to you,” says Yelvington. “Brandy was a really good teacher. She really knew her stuff and knew what to teach you.”

According to Susan Bump, the Health Information Services (HIS) Operations Coordinator, Ziesemer also instilled in her students a good work ethic for their future careers. “She emphasized that our participation in the course was kind of like a job. Our attendance was important; if she were to refer us to a job or recommend us or act as a reference, she could say what we did in school as far as attendance and performance.”

Ziesemer was the one who helped Bump get her first job coding job with Per-Se Technologies, before she moved to Waterman. Now, Bump returns the favor by overseeing those who Ziesemer sends in for practicums. “I want to always give back to Brandy because of what she’s done for me and for everybody. She’s a good advocate for the profession and for her students and former students, and she’s a friend.”

Susan Bump found her first job in HIM through Ziesemer. She has since become the
Heath Information Services Operations coordinator at Waterman.
Teena McKay is the most recent of Ziesemer’s students to find a career at Waterman, having just been hired September of last year. “[Brandy] was just there whenever I needed her; she was a great advocate for me, helping me to get a job, helping me to learn. She’s always made comments that just encourage me to keep going.” McKay calls Ziesemer a blessing from God, saying, “I thank God for putting me where I’m at right now. I asked him to give me favor with Brandy and with my new supervisor… and he did. I give him the glory.”

To Ziesemer, helping students succeed is like a hobby. She is constantly making connections in the health information field that allow her to find jobs for those in her classes. “I just try to keep my fingers in as many pots as possible, because it all winds up helping my students,” she says.

Ziesemer worked as a middle manager for a managed care organization in New Jersey and northern California before moving to Florida in 1993 to help with a personal business. She went from working 60 hours per week to 20 after the move, and to fill in the extra time she asked to teach a continuing education coding course at what was then Lake County Area Vocational Technical Center. When Lake-Sumter Community College asked her to teach shortly after, Ziesemer had all the experience but none of the accreditations needed to formally teach. So, within eight months she completed the entire HIM course and took the National Certification Exam so she could teach. In 2003 she earned a coding certificate just to make the program more credible.

Now she is a Registered Health Information Administrator, a Certified Coding Specialist and an American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) – approved trainer for ICD-10 coding. She has a Masters in English, as well as 18 Masters-level graduate credit hours in healthcare informatics. She has also published a textbook – Medical Office Management and Technology: An Applied Approach – and co-authored and contributed to several others.

Besides being well-qualified, Bump says that Ziesemer also keeps the information she teaches up to date. “It’s a really, really good course,” she says, and adds that she would recommend the program to anyone due to its value in the career field.

According to Hudson, one of the best features of the HIM field is the great variety of possible jobs and the opportunities to branch out. She originally wanted to become a coder, but found that she liked working with the physicians most because it ultimately helps the patients. This fact gave her work a purpose, so that for her it is more than just a job.

Beth Hudson found a career she loves by branching out in the field of HIM.
Yelvington handles birth certificates, which she says “are always fun.” One of the highlights of her job is getting to see all the interesting and strange names that come through. For McKay, a Certified Coding Specialist, her work is “kind of like solving mysteries every day.” She takes a written record from a doctor, finds diagnoses in it and assigns a code to each one so that insurance companies can be properly billed.

“I love the job I have just because of the people I work with and the professional atmosphere there,” she adds. This was a sentiment expressed by several others in her department, including Bump, Yelvington, and Ana McGlohorn, who codes ER records as well as auditing others’ work. She has been with Waterman for nine years so far, and says, “It’s been a great place to work.”

All it takes for a student to get a career in Health Information Management is a few courses at LSSC, and the HIM workers at Waterman have some advice for the journey. McKay’s counsel is to “Buckle down, take advantage of all the help Brandy has to offer, be diligent, don’t let up. Stick to it. Focus. If a student in Brandy’s classes works hard, and shows her that they’re working hard and they’re really trying, she will advocate for them every way possible.”

Hudson’s advice is to be flexible, and not to expect to learn everything at once. There is lots of information in the HIM course, and it changes often. She also reminds students that they may have to work their way up to the job that they want. Hudson initially spent two years answering phones before advancing, and has since played many roles as she moved up through the ranks.

Yelvington counsels students to pay attention to the rules of the medical information field, and Bump stresses that those in the HIM course should “definitely take [the] credentialing exams. Do it soon after you graduate. It’s something you’ll have forever. Brandy always impressed that upon us.”

Jessica Yelvington became acquainted with Waterman through a practicum that Ziesemer arranged. Now, she works with birth certificates there.
The course may seem daunting, but many of Ziesemer’s students made note of the help she gave them. “Brandy helped me the most in that she never let me give up,” says Hudson, who was going through a divorce and raising children while in Ziesemer’s class. She says Ziesemer makes sure that her students know she understands them and cares about them. Even before and after class, “if you ever needed help, she was there,” McGlohorn remembers. McKay sums it up by saying, “If you’re working hard and you’re really trying, she’ll be there for you.”

This goes back to the almost 100% placement rate that the HIM course has achieved. According to Ziesemer, the rare few who don’t immediately get jobs are those who simply don’t interview well. “It has nothing to do with the technical part of the job,” she says. Lacking skills such as communication, a good work ethic, confidence and critical thinking, rather than a failure to learn, is what most often prevents a student from finding employment. If a student works hard and makes a good impression during their practicum, they are almost guaranteed a job at the end of the course.

Health Information Management is a solid career choice for any student. Though pursuing it takes some work, caring and enthusiastic teachers like Ziesemer bring it within reach. When “you know your teacher appreciates or notices what you’re doing, it encourages you to work harder,” says McKay. “If it hadn’t been for Brandy, I wouldn’t be working where I’m at now.” One person can sometimes make all the difference in a student’s career, and for many at Waterman and other hospitals all over Florida and beyond, that one person has been Brandy Ziesemer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Meet Dr. Mary Ann Searle, the new Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs

Story by: Katie McKay, Editor-in-Chief
Photo by: Katie McKay

"Everybody needs a home here," says Dr. Searle, who
overseers many of the programs that benefit students.
Dr. Mary Ann Searle joined Lake-Sumter State College last January 2014, and has since been steadily working to make the college a better place. As someone who is enthusiastic about her job and encouraging to those around her, Dr. Searle is one administrator that students will want to make sure they meet.

Though new to our school, Dr. Searle is no novice in terms of her career. She has been working in higher education administration for more than 20 years in at least six universities, which include one public college, two state colleges, and three private Christian universities. She has also worked hard for her knowledge, with three degrees to show for it. From the University of Wisconsin she earned her Bachelor of Science in Marketing Education; from the University of Tennessee, her Master of Science in Adult Education and College Student Personnel; and from Indiana University, her Doctor of Education in Higher Education Administration.

Though she attended larger colleges, Dr. Searle has always preferred small towns. She grew up in Tennessee and Wisconsin before moving to Florida and staying for 12 years. Now, after three years in Kentucky, she is back in the Sunshine State. “It’s good to be home,” she says. Part of the reason she joined LSSC was her desire to return to Florida, where she can be closer to her parents, brother and sister-in-law.

LSSC was also appealing to her because of its size. “I like small college environments. I like to know the students,” she says. “I like to know the faculty and the staff. When you’re in a big school, everybody’s a number.” The overall aim of the school was appealing to her as well. “I believe in the mission of the state college system, where students have access to education. And we’re really the most affordable education students can receive, so I believe in that mission.”

Another draw was the challenge. She aims to reverse LSSC’s recent decline in enrollment (which is a problem she has had success solving at other schools), improve the rates of retention and graduation, and get students more involved in their school. Connections, she says, are top priority. “Everybody needs to have a home here – everybody needs to have a connection,” whether it is through clubs, sports or some other activity.

In reality, helping students is the whole purpose of her job. As the Vice President of Enrollment and Student Affairs, she oversees the departments that directly benefit students: Student Development (which includes student life, disabilities services, advising, etc.), Youth Outreach Programs, Student Affairs for Sumter and South Lake campuses, Admissions, and the Registrar.

Her work days are filled with meetings that help the college make decisions about policies, procedures, budgeting, mentoring, training staff, hiring, and more. Her administration position also means that there is “unfortunately, not as much contact with students as I would like.” As an avid people-person, she attends as many school functions as possible to get to know the students better.

In her free time, she takes full advantage of what Florida has to offer. She loves boating and going to the pool, as well as visiting the Historic State Theatre and cultural festivals. Shopping, entertaining guests, and playing with her three Shih Tzus are also activities she enjoys.

Most spectacular about her free time, however, is her travel record. “I’ve been very fortunate,” she says, that her parents instilled in her a love for travel by taking her on family trips every summer while she was a child. After college, she visited Europe for the first time. Today Dr. Searle has visited all 50 states, and about the same number of countries. Not many “small town” people can say the same.

Overall, Dr. Searle is an outgoing and highly-involved addition to the Lake-Sumter family. Students might consider her position to be “behind-the-scenes,” but her work enriches the college as a whole and helps futures soar even higher.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Catcher Blanton wins prestigious FCSAA Award

By: Patrick Endicott, Leesburg Campus
Photo By: Patrick Endicott 
Sophmore Chris Blanton showing determination at bat, just like he does in the classroom.
Photo By: P.Endicott
Chris Blanton, Sophomore Catcher from Timber Creek HS, has been awarded the prestigious Bill Tuten Baseball Scholar-Athlete from the FCSAA Baseball Committee. The Bill Tuten Baseball Scholar-Athlete Award was createc to honor an FCSAA baseball player who combines academic success with citizenship and athletics. The award is named after Bill Tuten who served as the FCSAA Athletic Commissioner and NJCAA Region Director for twenty-four years. A member of the FCSAA Hall of Fame, Bill Tuten’s high regard for the importance of a quality education along with athletic opportunities for student-athletes has been a driving force for academic excellence in Florida.

Blanton is one of the most highly regarded student-athletes in the programs history. His breadth of academic excellence can be seen in the classroom and on his transcript as he has achieved a 4.0 GPA and been named to the President’s list every semester at LSSC. Blanton has been on the FCSAA and Mid-Florida Conference All-Academic teams in the past and is slated to achieve these honors again this year as well as NJCAA Academic All-American honors this year. Blanton was also selected by the LSSC Student Government Association to attend the Florida Model United Nations Program, last fall at Santa Fe College. Blanton was recognized at this program as a “leader, having a good sense of humor and strong professionalism”, by his peers. Blanton has also served on the LSSC Student Life budget committee for two years and has been a representative on the College Wide Student Government Association advocating for his fellow teammates on the Lakehawks Baseball team as well as students within the college overall.

Photo Courtesy of LSSC Athletics
In addition to Blanton being a leader in Academics, he was the starting catcher for the team for the past two seasons. Blanton only committed three errors during his career with LSSC boasting a .994 fielding percentage and has thrown out 44 percent of all baserunners. Blanton played in 73 games during his collegiate career, starting in 65 of those. In the 2013 season Blanton was credited with 12 RBI's and 27 total bases, he followed that in the 2014 season with 33 total bases and one home run.

Blanton has also found time to be involved in community service activities serving as a elementary school mentor, reading to students as a part of the “Read Across America” reading program, “buddy” for the North Lake County Miracle league, volunteer at local little league clinics and also assisted with the Habitat for Humanity projects in our local community. Blanton having now completed his Associates Degree at Lake-Sumter is moving on to attend the University of Central Florida in the fall.

Friday, April 25, 2014

The final apocalypse

Comic by: Katie McKay

Students look back at the semester and at what lies ahead

By: Kevin Trinidad, South Lake
Photo By: Kevin Trinidad

Rebecca Nour looking at textbooks for future courses.
With mid-terms vastly coming to an end, students tend to forget all of the hard work they have put into school throughout these past four months. At the end of this spring semester, some students will be graduating from LSSC and moving on to bigger and better things, others will be reaching the half-way mark toward their AA degree, and others will proud to say they have survived their first semester in college. The common denominator within all of the students at LSSC is the drive to continue studying and pursue higher level education.

Jack Moynihan is a student at Lake-Sumter and can be commonly seen in the Learning Center focusing on homework. This semester is crucial for Moynihan because once the fall begins, he will no longer be a LSSC student; Moynihan will be enrolled in our partner in education school, the University of Central Florida. Moynihan feels “relieved” that graduation is only days away and is optimistic for the future, “I’ll be studying Sports & Exercise Science and can’t wait to be at UCF.”

Amanda Media was in the library, rapidly typing away on her laptop and wearing earphones to cancel out any noise that could possibly distract her. Media is finishing up her second semester and it “feels good.” Though Direct Connect is high on everyone’s plan for schooling after Lake-Sumter, Media is keeping her options open and is considering other Colleges and Universities in Florida to attend. Aside from studying for finals, Media is also preparing for summer courses.

Lovens Lauvore has completed his first year of college and is grateful for what it has taught him, “You get a good understanding of what is expected from you, and what school is like in larger, more dynamic University.” And though Lauvore had a successful year, his ambitions to transfer to Santa Barbara City College will be met in the fall, for the start of a new school year.

Rebecca Nour works in the Cooper Memorial Library, which is conveniently located on the LSSC South Lake campus. In between checking out guest with their books, Nour tells me of an eight page paper she has to finish and a five minute presentation she has to prepare. Nour has always been a hard worker and that is part of the reason why she is dual-enrolled, attending East Ridge High School when she is not at Lake-Sumter. Nour says she likes attending both schools, “I am able to advance in my educational career and get college credit while still be in high school,” and now she is contemplating which classes to take next term.

When asked what they would have changed or done differently about this semester, universally the answer was “try harder.” In any situation, all you can do is try your best, and by the looks of it, these students are on to even more achievements that what they have already accomplished. Congratulations to everyone on another successful semester, and may prosperity follow for the summer and fall term.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

LSSC Math Emporium is coming to LSSC

By: Kevin Trinidad, South Lake  
Photo By: Kevin Trinidad 

Patricia Velez standing in the soon-to-be math emporium.
In 2015, not only will Lithuania adopt the Euro currency and Queen Elizabeth II exceed Queen Victoria as the longest-reigning monarch, but the much anticipated South Lake Math Emporium will unveil. It will open in Jan. and act as an embarkation for the New Year and new semester. The target audience is any student enrolled in Developmental Mathematics I, Developmental Mathematics II, Intermediate Algebra, and College Algebra.

The Community Room located on the second floor of building one that has been home to many events in the past, most recently with the spring Welcome Back bash, will now host the Math Emporium. Once students enter the double doors leading into the emporium, they will be welcomed by a large, highly technologically advanced laboratory style room with touch-screen computers and tables waiting to seat students ready to learn math.

The unofficial mantra of the emporium would be something along the lines of “math is the way of life.” Mrs. Sybil Brown, Assistant Professor of Mathematics at LSSC and Math Redesign Coordinator, indicates that “students [will be] engaged in working on their math homework, watching instructional videos, getting one-on-one assistance, taking tests and feeling a sense of accomplishment as they are given personalized, individual attention.” The emporium is strictly a math zone, so generally it would be the math way or the highway, except there is no highway, and that is why there will be a vast amount of assistance.

LSSC faculty members will have the opportunity to recommend students in higher level math courses that will serve as Peer Assistants. Students who have taken higher level math courses with the addition of an AA degree or higher will fill the role of Instructional Assistants. LSSC’s own current full-time and adjunct members will be Math instructors. Math Emporium Coordinators will be full-time employees who have the task of overseeing the daily functions operating the emporium and spare mathematics and technical assistance to students in need.

Part of what will make this a success, and has already on the Leesburg campus, is the notion of interaction and how heavily stressed it is. An interactive environment combined with an atmosphere that caters to any kind of student will allow them to prosper in mathematics: students who have an easier understanding of math will be given the opportunity to advance ahead and even take tests earlier than usual to finish the course before the end of the semester; students who have a harder time comprehending math will have the opportunity to receive individual help in order to finish the course on time.

Mr. Thom Kieft, Mathematics Department Chair at LSSC, feels strongly about the emporium, and though the idea is innovative, Kieft says it will still contain conventional classroom methods, "The Emporium courses will also include a traditional classroom component (about 1 hour per week) in which students connect in a group setting with their instructor." And for students who struggle with similar issues Kieft says forming groups will be key, "There will be an opportunity for a small group of students to receive small group assistance if they have similar needs."

S.A.F.I.R.E. holds its first official card game day

By: Mark Valentino, Features Writer
Photos by: Mark Valentino

players learning the ropes from Matt Byrd,
the magic instructor for the table.
On April 8 the students of SAFIRE hosted their first TCG card tournament. There was a modern format Magic the Gathering Tournament, as well as a tutorial table new players could register their names to accrue points on a world wide scale, and also to learn how to play the most popular trading card strategy game on the market.

The sealed pre-constructed decks that were available for students to learn from were provided by Breakpoint Games of Mt. Dora. The modern format tournament also had a prize payout. With a very high dollar card and five booster packs of the current standard format sets. Second place received two Theros booster packs and two born of the Gods boosters. While third walked away with a respective 2 boosters of born of the gods and one booster of Theros. While wandering about during the tournament there was also a learning table for students and faculty to learn the fundamentals of the game. Each student who attended the learning seminars were gifted a deck to learn with containing one of the primary five colors of Magic the Gathering. Everyone would then learn how to play the game with someone else all under the watchful eye of Matthew Byrd, who was the main instructor for the table. " I just enjoy helping newbies learn how to play one of the best games out there" he explained while teaching Faith Gadson how to cast her creature spell.

Joe Hamby stopped by to check out what the tournament was all about, "Heck man if I knew they were going to be playing magic over here today I would have brought my deck". He chuckled as he walked by and checked out the hottest new cards in the standard format. Luckily the author brought his own deck.

                        Players going all out against one another for a shot of the prizes.

The booster packs and the decks were provided by Breakpoint games of Mount Dora, Dave Hemsath, the owner of breakpoint was on hand to help with the event. " I look forward to becoming active with the SAFIRE and would also welcome everyone to stop by the shop, whether you are a experienced gamer or just looking for a new pastime, We hold demos of new games all the time."

For more information on attending any of the tournaments held by SAFIRE or want information on breakpoint games contact Mrs. Rachel Gump in the library or just look in the student services building on the Leesburg Campus, there are always SAFIRE students there playing a video game in the student lounge area.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Selling long locks could be an unconventional answer to tuition

Story by: Katie McKay, Staff Writer
Photos by: Erin McKay

Blonde hair fetches some of the highest prices per inch. Selling it can be a quick fix for a big bill.
Remember that scene from Les Miserables where Ann Hathaway cuts her hair off? It might not be such a bad idea, especially when human hair can sell for more than the price of a semester’s worth of classes.

A woman in Indiana sold 31” of her hair for $4,000. Another in Utah sold hers for the same amount, and a man in New York got $600 for 27” of his. Average prices are around $500, but exceptional hair can go for much, much higher. On, a girl named Cheyenne from North Carolina is currently asking $5000 for 35” of light blonde locks so she can pay for college, and she’ll probably get it. A quick scan around a hair-selling website will reveal that the idea isn’t so rare or strange after all; sellers and buyers from all over the world regularly meet up to trade tresses for cash.

Almost any kind of hair over ten inches can sell, but certain types will garner higher prices. First of all, buyers like hair to be “virgin,” meaning it hasn’t been dyed, treated, blow-dried, permed, or straightened. Hair from a non-smoking environment is preferred, as are locks that haven’t been washed every day or cleaned with harsh shampoos. A healthy diet and exercise are both desirable as well, since these factors can affect hair quality. Prices also increase dramatically with length.

These are all factors that sellers can control; others are up to the genetic luck of the draw. Naturally blonde hair will fetch more than brown of the same length, and hair of European descent is worth more than the same amount of Indian or Asian hair, since selling hair is a more common practice in those places. A ponytail with a circumference of four inches or greater is more valuable, and when it comes to texture, completely straight is the rarest and thus the most expensive. All types of hair can sell for a good price, but someone with two feet or more of virgin, thick, straight, light blonde will be looking at a payout in the thousands.

Several websites specialize in this business. was one of, if not the first to connect individual sellers with buyers. More sophisticated sites such as have since been created. These sites charge various fees to host hair ads, but it is a small investment compared to the reward. Ebay and Craigslist offer free ads if the seller doesn’t mind that prices there are usually lower and fewer responses come in than from a dedicated website. Hair-selling websites also bring the benefit of providing information about common scams to avoid and tips for writing a successful advertisement.

Sellers are advised to keep an open mind. While many buyers will purchase a ponytail to use for wigs, extensions, doll hair, or art, others may have more radical requests. Some will pay to have the seller model a certain haircut. Others will ask to cut the hair themselves, or to give the seller a makeover. Sellers will have to decide what they are comfortable with, and at what price.

The longer the better in this business. The author's hair had multiple offers for $1,700.
Who would do such a weird thing? Well, for $1,700 I decided I was comfortable with going bald. After seeing my ad, a company called Magic-Makeover contacted me through, which I used after another site called didn’t turn up any results. The makeover website initially looked suspicious, but after extensive research and lots of phone calls with the buyer, I deemed them legitimate and accepted the offer.

For $1,700 plus the cost of travel and lodging and three complimentary wigs, the hairdressers at magic-makeover will have the freedom to give me any number and style of cuts that they please, ending with a bald head. That kind of money will pay for quite a bit of college, and it’s not like selling a kidney on the black market: selling hair is generally safe, and it will grow back.

There are a few scams out there that potential sellers need to be aware of. Generally, only PayPal should be used for transactions, and hair should only be cut and sent after full payment is confirmed as received. One scam involves buyers sending a fake check or money orders for more than they offered and then requesting the extra portion back. Another involves getting sellers to send their hair while a PayPal transaction is pending, before the payment is rejected as a fake credit card.

Most serious sellers will ask for additional pictures of the hair they want to buy, but some will ask for an inordinate amount simply so they can have the photos. Sellers should also be wary of snipping off hair samples, as it can invalidate legitimate offers and reduce the hair’s worth.

Selling one’s hair for money may seem radical at first, but it can be a good way to pay for classes, bills, or a fun vacation. Besides, summer is coming. A cooler hairstyle and a few hundred bucks could go hand in hand.