In Memoriam – Peter Bemis
Peter Bemis, a member of the Lakeland College Board of Trustees for more than three decades, former chairman of the board and a great friend and supporter of the college, passed away Thursday night. He was 66.
Peter, the president and CEO of the family-owned Bemis Manufacturing Company, became a Lakeland trustee in 1979, and served as board chairman from 1992 to 1998. He was a member and chairman of several board committees over the years, and at the time of his passing he was a member of the board's executive committee and the academic and student affairs committee.
"Our Lakeland College family has lost one of its most insightful and influential leaders," said Stephen Gould, Lakeland College president emeritus and president of Lakeland from 1998-2012. "Peter Bemis' enthusiasm for Lakeland's mission was infectious. During his 34 years of service as a trustee, he advised and counseled three of the college's presidents and played a decisive role in virtually all the initiatives that have made Lakeland College the vital and robust institution it is today."
Peter served on Lakeland's Decade 2000 Task Force, the college's Design for Tomorrow campaign and was a past chair of the community campaign for the annual fund.
Peter and his wife, Susan, were significant financial supporters of the college. In 2008, he funded the construction of a school in Malawi, Africa, to benefit Lakeland's Malawi Teacher Education Program. He was also instrumental in creating the F.K. "Pete" Bemis Senior Endowed Professorship in Business Administration, which honors his father. The position is currently held by Abe Qastin.
The family has close ties to the college. His son, Peter, is a 2012 Lakeland graduate; his daughter-in-law, Nena Jakovac, earned a bachelor's degree in 2006 and a master of arts in counseling in 2009; and his step-daughter, Aleah Altman, is a 2013 graduate.
Interim President Dan Eck said, "On behalf of the college, I extend our thoughts and prayers to the Bemis family. We mourn Peter's passing, but will always be grateful for everything he did for the college."
Fall choir concert to feature challenging pieces
The Lakeland College fall choir concert will offer a variety of music that will not only challenge the singers, but will also entertain the audience. The concert is set for Tuesday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Bradley Theatre on Lakeland's main campus.
Admission is free and open to the public.
The concert will mark Lani Knutson's first concert as the visiting instructor of music and director of choral activities. She joined the college last year as an adjunct director, and stayed on this year after the retirement of Professor Janet Herrick. Knutson came to Lakeland after serving as music director for the Milwaukee Montessori School and music director of the Cantare Chorale in South Milwaukee.
The concert will include performances from three Lakeland College choir groups: the Frauenchor (women's chorus), the Concert Choir and the Lakeland Singers.
The Frauenchor will open the concert performing a mix of folk songs, a Renaissance piece and a new work, "I Started Out Signing," by composer Jocelyn Hagen.
This will be the first time the Lakeland Singers, a group that generally performs at churches in the region, is part of the fall concert. They will perform one of the pieces that is part of their church repertoire, as well as an old jazz standard, "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off."
The concert choir will perform a fast-paced piece by Brazilian composer Ernani Aguiar, two choral standards – "Cantique de Jean Racine" and "Musicks Empire" – a King Singer's arrangement of "You Are the New Day," a minstrel song adapted by Aaron Copland and a song in Swahili entitled "Amani."
Knutson said she the program provides a wide range of music for concert-goers, and some changes for audience members familiar with Lakeland's program. Katie Christensen, a sophomore from Sheboygan, will accompany the Concert Choir, as Knutson wanted to award this spot to a student. The Frauenchor will be accompanied by Associate Professor of Music Arthur Johnson.
Lakeland senior wins teaching scholarship
Aimee Thrune, a Lakeland College senior from Prairie du Sac, Wis., is one of 46 winners nationally of a $5,000 Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA) STEM Teachers for America’s Future Scholarship. Thrune is majoring in math, Spanish and education at Lakeland.
The AFCEA Educational Foundation offers scholarships of $5,000 to students actively pursuing a degree for the purpose of teaching STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) subjects at a U.S. middle or secondary school.
“Aimee is an excellent student and a very bright mathematician,” said Heather Molle, Lakeland College assistant professor of mathematics. “She is quick to answer questions I pose to the class, and can also explain her answer to other students. I believe she will be an amazing math teacher. She has a passion for both mathematics and learning.”
Thrune is a standout performer in the classroom, and an active leader and participant in a number of campus activities.
As a junior, Thrune was named the college’s Mathematics Student of the Year and received Who's Who of American Colleges honors. This past June, she studied abroad in Columbia, and taught basketball to a group of Columbian students in their gym class. She also tutors area high school students.
She is a three-year letterwinner on the Lakeland women’s basketball team, and this year is serving as a team captain. She is also on the golf team. She is president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, president of Math Club, treasurer of the Spanish Club and a member of the Lakeland College-Community Activities Board and Student Association.
She works as a resident assistant for Morland House and as a campus ambassador for the college’s admissions department, giving tours to prospective students and parents.
In addition to this scholarship, Thrune also receives the Kuehn Achievement Scholarship.
Band director makes debut with traditional Americana program
The Lakeland College band offered a traditional Americana program last Wednesday, Oct. 2 at the annual Fall Band Concert.
Under the new direction of director Christopher Werner, the program included John Philip Sousa's "Hands Across the Sea" march, William Schuman's "Chester" Overture, "October" by Eric Whitacre, Rover Jager's "Esprit de Corps" and the Lakeland College alma mater and fight song.
Werner said he wanted to bring together themes from his background and that each piece represented something significant.
Sousa, one of the early directors of the U.S. Marine Band, is known throughout America as "The March King," and his march, "Hands Across the Sea," is a not-often-heard gem in the band repertoire.
"This piece was in scripted with the subtitle: ‘A sudden thought strikes me; let us swear eternal friendship,' and from this I take a smile and acknowledgement of the new friends I've made here and their helpfulness in my transition to Lakeland," Werner said.
William Schuman's "Chester" is a full overture based on the Revolutionary War hymn by William Billings of the same name. Originally conceived for orchestra as a three-movement suite, the final movement, "Chester", got a band makeover in Wednesday night's version, which was a stable of the band repertoire.
Werner also had direct ties to Whitacre's "October." It was written for a group of high schools and universities in Nebraska just before he arrived there to work on his doctorate. Headed by Brian Anderson, the band director at Freemont High School, the work has become an instant classic in the world of concert band.
"To me, this piece tied in the entire program…friendship, education, time, sentiment," Werner said. "The title works chronologically, the themes work musically, it fit for homecoming and our band played the heck out of it."
Prior to coming to Lakeland, Werner spent eight years as instrumental music teacher and music department chair at la Crosse Central High School He was conductor of the Central Wind Ensemble, pep band, Grand Central Station Show Band, instructor of music theory, and he team-taught the Red Raider Marching Band.
He is president for the National Band Association-Wisconsin Chapter. He has twice been awarded the "Citation of Excellence" by the National Band Association-Wisconsin Chapter.
Werner holds a Doctor of Musical Arts in Wind Conducting from the University of Nebraska. He has the distinction of being the first University of Nebraska DMA recipient of the Wind Conduction degree and also the first Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts F. Pace Woods Scholar in Music. He also holds a bachelor's degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master of music degree in wind conduction from UW-Milwaukee.
Werner was active in commissioning new works for wind band. His Central bands participated in or organized consortiums with new music by several contemporary composers, and ensembles under his direction appeared at numerous state conventions in Wisconsin and Nebraska.
He is an accomplished clarinetist, serving as assistant principal clarinet for the La Crosse Concert Band, principal/assistant principal clarinet with UW-La Crosse Choral Union and substitute assistant principal clarinet with the La Crosse Symphony Orchestra.
Classroom on the dance floor
For three consecutive class periods on Wednesday morning, Lakeland College Spanish instructor Elizabeth Shumway's students convened on a makeshift dance floor – the school's basketball court.
Then they got their dance on. Paying homage to National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Shumway invited Milwaukee-based professional dancer and instructor Dennis Lopez to teach students in her beginning, intermediate and advanced Spanish classes. Lopez' hour-long sessions included popular dances such as Cha-Cha-Cha, Salsa and Bachata.
"Latin dance is an integral part of Hispanic culture," said Shumway. "Of course grammar and vocabulary are important, but this is a different form of communication and I wanted our students to experience this important piece of culture."
Lopez, who will perform with his band, Spanglish, during "Festive Fridays" on Friday night at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan, enthusiastically taught the dozens of Lakeland College Spanish students the basic footwork and movement of Latin dance. A native of Puerto Rico, Lopez smiled often as he explained how correct steps have the rhythm of a heartbeat. He said celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month through dance is a great way for people to understand the culture.
"This type of dancing literally changes people's lives," Lopez said. "It's not only a hobby; it's a passion. It's a way to exercise and a great social outlet. It's something different to do than going to a nightclub and getting drunk. This brings people together. I have stood up in weddings for people who met through this type of dance."
Lakeland junior Catherine Benzie, from Iron Mountain, Mich., said she really enjoyed the lessons. So much so, in fact, that she plans to ask some friends if they'd like to learn more of this type of dancing together. "It was very different, and I've never really experienced anything like it before," Benzie said. "It was a lot of fun and I'd encourage anyone to try it."
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