The Retirement of a Great President

May is an exciting time for many students as they head towards graduation and prepare for the next steps in their lives. But this year it’s not just the graduating class of 2022 that will be leaving behind the walls of FRCC and starting a new chapter. President Andy Dorsey, who has been a staff member at FRCC for 29 years is retiring this year. As he heads towards his last few weeks of holding the title of president at the school, I was lucky enough to talk with him and reflect on his time here at Front Range. 

When asked what led Dorsey to become president, he discussed how it was a bit of an accident, explaining that he took over a part-time teaching position as a psychology professor for a friend last minute and later found himself applying to become full-time faculty. He held many other titles and said that

“when (the presidency) came open, I felt like there were things that the college could do that it wasn’t doing and that maybe I could help get us there.” 

After asking Dorsey what some of his proudest accomplishments had been during his time as president, he shared that there were many but a few stuck out in his mind. The first is that he worked to start the Gateway to College program on the Westminster campus. This program helps struggling high school students complete their high school education while also attending college courses. Dorsey cited that the only reason the program was able to succeed was because of the “fantastic staff” at Front Range.

He also talked about how in the last twenty years Front Range had worked very hard to transform the physical appearance of the campus, working to make it more inviting and professional than it had been in the past. Another accomplishment was the improvement of student advising, making it so that each student has someone to connect with and help them during their time at FRCC. The last thing that Dorsey talked about was the many faculty development programs that have been put to use during his time at FRCC and the engagement in the educator’s use of those programs. 

It is nice to hear all the accomplishments and impacts that Dorsey has had on the school, but what about how the school and the students have impacted him? When asked this Dorsey discussed how there have been many people that have impacted him during his time at FRCC, but there were some memorable experiences that he had with students while teaching a Psychology class. He talked about how these students had been a bit frustrating for him as a teacher due to a lack of interest or involvement in the course, but then he learned things about what was going on in their lives that were causing the behaviors. 

“It reminded me not to assume anything about students,” Dorsey stated, “but learn more about where they had been and what was motivating them. It showed me the importance of being compassionate.” 

When asked what title had been his favorite during his time at FRCC, Dorsey said that it was a tie between being a teacher or being president, though he enjoyed all the other positions too. He talked about how being a teacher allowed him to have direct contact with students and he enjoyed the challenges that came with developing his teaching skills. As president though, he was proud that he got to represent FRCC and said that he, “enjoys the challenges and opportunities that make a difference” that the position allows.

 So, what does he hope to see from the person that fills his position? Dorsey discussed that FRCC is very close to being federally designated as a Hispanic serving institution, and he hopes that they are able to achieve that designation, as well as improve the outreach to the Latinx community. He also hopes to see further improvements made to student support services, especially as we return from the pandemic. 

I had asked a few questions about how Covid affected his time as president and Dorsey did say that it had been extremely challenging. When I inquired what his next steps are after he steps down one of the final things that he said was that he was, “looking forward to having time to step back and think about the next chapter”. He also added with a chuckle that he was looking forward to sleeping a little bit more, saying that the pandemic had made him lose a bit of sleep. Other than that, he is looking forward to spending time with family, traveling a bit, and taking some well-deserved rest. He talked about how he might continue to work and would like to do some teaching in the future but that is his current plan. 

As I wrapped up my talk with President Dorsey, I asked if he had any last notes or things to share. He said that he never intended to stay at FRCC this long but that he,

“feels lucky to have found a place that he is proud to work at.”

From the students and staff here at FRCC, we’d just like to thank you, President Dorsey, for all that you have done for this school and this community. We wish you the best in all that you do in the future and we feel lucky to have you be a part of the wolf pack!

Give Peace A Chance

Compiled by Seth Ciancio


52 years ago, the front page of The Community Free Wake, the predecessor to The Front Page, was covered in articles and images about the shooting at Kent State University. This is a transcription of that page.


VOLUME 1, NO. 20       Those Who Are About To Die, We Salute Thee. TUESDAY, MAY 12, 1970


GIVE PEACE A CHANCE

Kent State University students go to aid of wounded youth as a confrontation between students and Ohio National Guard troops erupted violently and left four students dead.


REQUIEM 


On May 4, during a demonstration at Kent University four college students were shot to death by the National Guard of their own country…National Guard troups[sic] who are sworn to defend the constitutional rights those four students were exercising. 

What is America coming to? What, when people such as the Guard, some of whom might have even had children in that crowd— are killing their own student population? What can it mean, when those who are appointed to protect life are playing “god” and taking it? 

Some people have gone so far an to say that those four students got “what they deserved.” wonder how different those reactions would be if one of those four students bad been their son or daughter or neighbor next door. Which reminds me of an old “hitting people phrase about where it hurts” -its a shame that Americans are so apathetic and lack so much in human compassion that they won’t even stop for a brief instant and just think about why four students died. 

They died at the time of their lives when they were just beginning to realize their potential. the plan for a future. They died at the time of their lives when they really enjoyed living and being alive. And yet, when all of that was happening to each or them as individuals, they took time to look at the world around them and take notice 01 what was happening there. ney, instead ai selfishly saying “what a shame” then going about their business, decided Ibey wanted to do something to instigate change.

 Those four students died living and defending an America they could see for the future. They died every bit as patriotic as every GI that has ever died on any foreign battlefield. 

Let’s see to it that those students did not die in vein[sic], let’s continue to light for that dream or a new tomorrow, that’s what they would have wanted. R.I.P. – Another face in the crowd.


War Crisis Day


The sun was just beginning to burn its way through the early mornings haze as the first real signs of activity started in the court yead[sic] between the buildings. 

The Planning Committee for the May 6 War Crisis Day, appeared on the scene, setting up tables, chairs and a public address system on the west side of the east building. Inside, last minute “button-holing” was taking place, as a student organized marshall corps was making last minute adjustments and donning red arm bands.

 Slowly, at first, people began to make their way to the grassy area. filling the center section first and then, as more people in larger groups arrived, spilling over into the two side areas. Some preferred standing or kneeling on the sidewalks, and did so, carefully leaving space open for free flow of traffic between the buildings. 

At about 10:15. Phil Elliot, moderator for War Crisis Day discussions, announced that the speakers who were coming in from Boulder would be a little late. He urged students and the faculty members present to round up their friends, make themselves comfortable on the lawn, and feel free to take advantage of free coffee and donuts.

 The atmosphere, though at first was one of guarded curiosity, was of a friendly affair, completely lacking in any feeling of hostility, bul certainly not lacking in serious contemplation. 

After about ten minutes Phil returned to the speaker’s table and announced the first speaker, Neil Sale. 

And so the official speech making began. John Hillson, the assistant editor of the C.U. DAILY, received a warm welcome and roused interest in the crowd. Dr. Roger Paget, after giving some interesting background information on Vietnam was interogated[sic] on his action beliefs by a member of the crowd.

The last official speaker of the day was Richard Gebhardt. He delivered his speech with the finesse of an expert. One remark overheard in the crowd was: “If you have a whole series of speakers and don’t tell the audience anything about them, they can always pick out someone who has worked for or with a Kennedy.” Probably the statement is right, for Mr. Gebhardt worked with Bobby Kennedy — his speech had that same thrilling. rhythmic explosion of sound and emotion so typical of the Kennedy magic. 

Of course while some students were Sitting in a quiet respectful manner, listening to experts and politicians tell their story — other things were happening. Inside the guileing[sic] the student center was not quite as full as usual, but then that could have been attributed to the fact that classes were canceled for two hours. A conversation heard in the halls consisted mostly of a man (about 40ish) repeatedly telling a woman that the students “Don’t know what’s going on.” 

That statement brings out the most important point possible in regard to May 6 at CCD. The students-themselves, by calling in speakers to give information and facts instead of only opinions, were the first to admit that they didn’t know everything about what’s going on. (For that matter, does anyone, really?) The next best question to answer is What brought it about? Why did 15 to 20 students gather together four well- informed speakers and run-off stencils and bring together about 150 students (in a transient type of group?) Perhaps the best answer to that question is answered by the answer to another question: What did it accomplish? 

The answer sounds like this: If with all the talk and questioning, one person, just ONE, did some honest thinking for himself, it was worth it all. Because that’s what its all about; about people who become involved, no matter what side they’re on; people who think (or themselves and stand up for what they believe to be right; about people who see apathy for what it is — a sickness which spreading in epidemic proportions across America — and must controlled and cured before it kills us.


(poem) A Face In The Crowd


It’s a dark and pleasently warm night. The sun just set and the sky is like a huge skyrocket, burst and fading in a canopy of gold and pink over the mountains. A small breeze just blew in an open window and restled a couple of un-read papers on the desk, calling my attention to the headlines proclaiming in two inch print that the president is sending troops to Cambodia and four students have been shot to death in Ohio. 

It’s a sadly ominous feeling that dwells in my mind as I sit here writing this tonight. A feeling, a helpless feeling that my time is drawing near. 

When I think about it, I guess I’m ready to accept death and if I have been chosen to die by cause of this absord parlour game we call war, it won’t be in some God-forsaken Asian country, it’ll be in my own backyard. I’ll die for my beliefs, my strong beliefs in the war against war. 

If I could but turn the clock back to that afternoon at Kent University. I would eagerly trade my life for those four students who never asked to lose theirs. IS PEACE REALLY A FOUR-LETTER WORD? 

– A Face In The Crowd


By Mary Lou Kelker


The sun shone bright and warm on the steps of the State Capital Building. A busy hum could be felt rather than heard. A small crowd of people were milling around waiting for the first signt of peace marchers. The day was Saturday, May 2, the march was the first in a week of protests and tragedies.

There was almost a holiday atmosphere, and I heard someone say “It’s a great day to be outdoors, even for no purpose at all.”

A group of middle aged, middle class people, who had originally planned to march, but decided they were too old to fit in with the younger group, stood basking in the sun.

One of the group came over and started rapping with me. “I’ve been called a Communist for many years, now because of the views I hold”, he told me, “but I have still have these”. He pulled out his Army Reserve card and American Legion membership card. “I’ve given many years to this country, and I love it, but I can’t sit back and watch it go to ruin.”

Someone in the crowd shouted, “Here they come!” There were nearly 100 men, women and children marching across the lawn shouting “Bring the troops home now!”

“I couldn’t help feeling a certain pride in those who dared defy the “establishment,” and an equal pride in a country which would permit them this action.

This feeling was dimmed, however, by the reports of an incident which occured when a man from the sidelines began manhandling one of the marchers. Suddenly every police officer in charge of guarding the supposedly “vicious mob of subversives” disappeared with the exception of one bike-bound bigot who suddenly lost his senses of sight and humanity. A young girl ran up to him, begging him to stop the hassle before it turned into a serious incident for which the marcher would be solely blamed. Even when the officer deigned to turn and look, he simply sat and watched.

When the crowd was seated, the speakers took over. THe sound equipment was sadly inadequate, and unfortunately, so were the majority of the speakers. The Cambodian invasion was spent in dredging up old, albeit valid, gripes about everything else including sideswipes at various factions of the peace movement itself.

I had the feeling that the point of the march had only partially hit the mark. By the time this issue is distributed, two more marches will have taken place. It is my sincere hope that they will be a fitting tribute to the students at Kent University, six at last count, who gave their lives tragically for a cause that seems hopeless.

Why is Frcc Closing its Brighton Center?

On June 30th, FRCC’s Brighton Campus is going to permanently close its doors. The announcement was made in March, with the administration saying that “Our lease on the center expires [this June] and our most recent center director recently resigned- which makes this a natural time to review the future of the center.” After analyzing the situation, the administration estimated that closing the center would save the college about $500,000 annually, and they don’t think that the students lost during the pandemic are going to come back.

“It’s definitely a shame,” said Jeff Tilma, operations coordinator at the Brighton Center. “It provides access to the community. There’s not a lot of opportunities here in Brighton for people to take classes. Obviously, we have the remote element, so they can be met that way.” However, he said, “With our enrollment as low as it was, I wasn’t shocked.”

Anna Fajardo, Coordinator for Testing and Welcome center at the Brighton Center, felt differently.  “We were shocked. We were very, very shocked,” Fajardo said. “[We had thought] ‘well it’s COVID, we’ll have some leeway,’ but I guess not.” As for whether or not the decision was made too soon, Fajardo said, “I don’t know if they jumped the gun on [the closure], but we weren’t showing the numbers we needed to.” 

Asked about the $500,000 the college would save by closing the campus, she asked an important question: “Is it worth it to this community?”

To put in perspective how much $500,000 is, Tricia Johnson, Vice President at FRCC’s Westminster Campus, put it in terms of a pay raise. “$500,000 a year would enable us to do about a 1% pay increase to every employee across the college,” Johnson said, “and these are really challenging times for our employees as the cost of living in our service area has gone up dramatically in the last couple of years, so that’s why we liken it to what it enables us to do with a pay increase so we can try to keep our good employees here at the college.” 

As for whether or not the administration was too early on the decision to close the center, Dr. Johnson doesn’t believe so, “In terms of waiting it out, I think it’s important to say that that’s what we’ve been trying to do for the last two years. In the first year [2020-2021], we recognized that nothing was normal that year. We were regularly having to quarantine, and [ask] ‘could we do classes in person?’ So we said, ‘ok we know that that year is not something we can base a decision solely on’ and so we thought: ‘ok, 2021-2022, we’ll be back in person.” … “We waited an entire additional year to see: ‘are we able to bring that enrollment back up?’, and in the first year, 2020-2021, we were at 41 FTE, so we knew ‘ok that’s not a great number’, but we knew it was pandemic impacted. This year, when we could bring all of our classes back in person, we only have 33 FTE.”

That may only be a decline of eight students, but because the number was so low, to begin with, that actually represents a drop of over 20 percent. Prior to the pandemic, the center had 90 FTE students enrolled, meaning that there was nearly a 60 percent decrease over just two years. It also demonstrates to the administration that the Brighton Center was not only not recovering, but it was actually continuing to decline.

That is compared to the rest of FRCC, which did not see a significant drop in enrollment across the same period – or at least, not beyond the drop that had already been taking place over the last ten years. That’s another important consideration: FRCC is not in the same position today as it was in 2009 when the Brighton Center opened. “When you look at the numbers for [all of] our campuses, we’ve been seeing some pretty steep declines [in enrollment] over the last ten years as a college,” Johnson said. “We’re averaging about a 6.5% drop [in enrollment per semester] across all our campuses.” 

With that in mind, it may not be financially responsible for FRCC to spend money to maintain a campus with such low enrollment. Although it’s important to note that all other FRCC campuses are able to cover their costs, Johnson stressed that there are no considerations whatsoever about closing any other locations.

So it’s worth asking if the Brighton Center can’t financially sustain itself, and the rest of FRCC isn’t in a position to spare the cash to maintain the center, would it be possible to use federal stimulus money to sustain Brighton Center? After all, much of the decline is COVID-related, isn’t it? The short answer: No. “There are really specific rules on what we’re allowed to do with each of the [stimulus packages],” Johnson said. “We had to be able to 100 percent show that they were used in response to COVID”…“when I think about where the savings are, the savings are in the rent that we pay for that building – it’s very hard to say that the rent was impacted by COVID – it’s in the operations of it, the utilities, and of course the employees that are at the center. It wasn’t really a case that I could make that we could use [stimulus money] because [it’s not] directly related to COVID.”

It also doesn’t help that enrollment was declining even before COVID, “Our best year [at Brighton], we were at about 110 full-time students,” Johnson said. “Even before the pandemic impacted our enrollment, our FTE students had dropped down to 90, almost a 20 percent drop.”

Why, though, did the Brighton Center have such low enrollment? Everyone seems to have their ideas. Fajardo cited COVID, power transitions, and low levels of awareness and outreach. “I think, with COVID, we lost a lot of students,”  she said. “There also wasn’t a lot of knowledge that we were even here. I live in the Brighton area, and every time I talk to someone they’re like: ‘Oh! There’s a campus in Brighton?’ But we’ve been at this building since 2009, and at the old judicial building since 1998…, and so I think our outreach was not as we had it before, and then [the director] quit, and then we got John [the most recent director], and then COVID hit…so I think it was a lot of things.”

Dr. Johnson suspected it might have something to do with the location, “That’s what we’ve been grappling with for years, is ‘why hasn’t it boomed?’ When you look at where the growth is within Brighton, that’s not where the [campus] is, so I do think that’s part of it.” However, she also expressed uncertainty about the true cause. “I wish I knew the answer,” Johnson said. “I wish I knew it was just because of outreach – because I know that the staff there, especially Cynthia Garcia and Anna Fajardo, they’ve been doing good outreach work, and I look at the College Now team, they connect really well will 27J, and the schools. So I think that, while they’re absolutely was transition in terms of the director at the Brighton Center, the folks who were right at the front working with students were continuing to do a lot of that outreach, so I’m not exactly sure what the challenge was there.”

As for whether or not FRCC will leave the Brighton area altogether, Dr. Johnson says they will not. “One of the things we are looking at … is the phlebotomy program,” she said. “It’s a one-semester program where students come in, prepare, and then get out there and go to work after that amount of time,”…“and we’ve had full classes [for that program], which is great! And not having the center doesn’t mean we can’t have that anymore. So we are actually in the midst of looking at what other partners within the community we might be able to rent a room [from] to offer that training, to keep phlebotomy training within the Brighton community. So I do envision us continuing to be in the community – it would just look different. So we’re looking at how we can do more partnerships like that to keep the services in the community.”

While no plans to re-open another center in Brighton exist today, FRCC has come back from far worse declines in enrollment before. So maybe one day, another campus will be opened in Brighton, but until then, the community will have to make do with FRCC’s other campuses, and the programs it runs in partnership with other organizations in the area.

The Twisted History of the Twisted Apple.

We are no strangers to the new flavor fad. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a day where we don’t see some form of new flavored Oreo, ice cream, or coffee creamer. soda companies are the kings of this, with the constant expansion of their flavor lines to see what stays and what goes. Some flavors are good, but some are nothing to write home about, until today.

In 2012, the Pepsi company decided to roll out a new flavor, which was described as “Classic Mtn Dew with green apple attitude.” So proud and excited was the Pepsi company about this new flavor that they decided to create a poll titled “Dub the Dew.” The poll was created with the intent of reaching out to the internet and its consumer base to gather options and have the public vote on the most popular choices to name this upcoming flavor. What the Pepsi company received was not expected.

The promotion was met with a hearty amount of criticism and mockery from various internet communities, such as Reddit; however, some internet groups were proactive in their trolling. The community of 4Chan took it upon itself to attack the poll in force, after only a few days choices such as “Hitler did nothing wrong,” Gushing Grannies” and “Diabeetus” topped the poll, gathering thousands of votes for the shocking choices. To add insult to injury, hackers also attacked the site to add a banner that read “Mtn Dew salutes the Israeli Mossad for demolishing 3 towers on 9/11!” Thus adding to the car wreck of the promotion.

Like all scandals associated with a large company they buried it, so much so that they sat on the flavor itself for ten years until they felt that it was time to roll it out, that time is now. This time, however, there will be no polls, no public opinion, or feedback whatsoever. Instead, they kept quiet about it and rebranded it “Twisted Apple,” but those of us who do remember the train wreck that was “Hitler didn’t do anything wrong” will only smile and shake our heads, allowing some companies to quietly learn from their mistakes. 

Lighting A Fire In Women

“Gaslighting” is a term that I think few of us have been able to avoid in the last couple of years. It is popping up on news channels, social media outlets, and mental health awareness information all over the world. The definition on Google is simple, “manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.” But how many of us know about medical gaslighting?

Let me paint you a picture: you are a woman walking into a doctor’s office because you have been feeling unwell for some time and know that there is something deeper going on medically. You sit and have the doctor listen to your symptoms which could be anything but especially concerning emotions, weight gain, or pain. The doctor tells you it’s nothing to be concerned about and when you try to push and say that it’s not normal for you to feel this way, they dismiss your feelings yet again. Maybe in this case this is the first doctor you are seeing for this problem; maybe it’s your twelfth. But you still feel as though you are screaming at them while they are wearing noise-canceling headphones. 

This is something that most women experience in their life. Don’t believe me? Take it from someone who has had it happen to her for over 6 years now. I have chronic migraines, which means that I have a headache every single day from start to finish. I have gone to see specialist after specialist, even traveling across the country to try and get a cure or explanation. Most of these doctors have told me that my symptoms are because of my “womanly hormones,” birth control, I was “being too sensitive,” and so on. At one point one doctor even told me that it was because I was overweight and that if I just lost weight all my problems would go away. That particular doctor told me this at the age of seventeen after I told him repeatedly that I had rapidly gained weight without any change in my pretty healthy lifestyle, and couldn’t shed any pounds despite diet and exercise. His response was a bit of a laugh and throwing at me some pills, that had a side effect of weight loss but no other relation to my symptoms. This included mental lagging which meant that my already struggling grades in school due to my health became worse because I was unable to form sentences due to forgetting words or would forget information for testing even if I had studied for hours and hours. 

Here I am six years later writing an article about medical gaslighting after seeing the term pop up across multiple news outlets in the last few months. These stories told of women that had cancer go undiagnosed because their doctors were unwilling to listen to them or run further testing. This new term of “medical gaslighting” and reading these articles made me feel validated and like I had allies. Writing that down feels a bit sad thinking about it. Why is it that for me to feel like I’m not crazy or don’t need to question what I am feeling, do I have to know that others are going through the same thing? And that those people had to go through cancer, strokes, or chronic illness for me to know I’m not alone?

To answer some of the questions that you may have about medical gaslighting and why it is especially a problem for women I would point you to a book that I discovered because of an article that I read on the topic. This book titled, The Invisible Kingdom by author Meghan O’Rourke was very much eye-opening to me. Though I will warn you, reading the chapter titled “The Woman Problem” will leave most people baffled and ready to smash the patriarchy. Even knowing that “Until recently, most medical research was performed almost exclusively on cisgender men and male animals” according to O’ Rourke. Her book also cites women’s health research associate director, Dr. Janine Austin Clayton, who states, “we literally know less about every aspect of female biology compared to male biology.” This alone begins to frustrate me, but as I continued reading I learned that in emergency rooms women are 13-25 percent less likely to receive opioid painkillers as well as having to wait fifteen minutes longer to be seen than men in those emergency facilities. I’ll also point out that O’Rourke says, “When a female patient complains of pain or discomfort, her testimony is viewed as a gendered expression of a subjective emotional issue rather than a reflection of a “hard” objective physiological reality.” 

This is hard to read for me as a woman, knowing that because of my gender a doctor is already not going to take me seriously is like walking into battle already defeated. But I actually have it better than some, because for women of color the statistics are even worse, so though I am screwed for having ovaries I still have a certain privilege for being a white person with ovaries that I must recognize. 

Even still, as someone that does have a serious medical condition that has gone undiagnosed because of doctors who would not listen to me, I know how frustrating it can be. I know the mental toll that it takes on a person to have the medical field, an institution that we are told from a young age will protect us and heal us, tell me that what I’m feeling is in my head and not real. For most people that experience gaslighting, I think we all know what it’s like to question whether we are right in what we feel or we really are crazy. 

I’ve gone through months of doubt because of what doctors say, or insurance companies denying coverage of procedures because I’m “too young and too healthy” to have the condition I do. Making me jump through more hoops to prove myself to them. I’ve had powerful moments of telling my primary care doctor that I’m not asking him to run a test anymore, I’m telling him that he is putting in the order for blood work whether he wants to or not because he invalidated me so long that it put my health at risk. I’m willing to talk about my struggles with others so that no one, especially no other young woman has to go through what I have in order to be heard. At the same time that I am writing this article, this week alone I have had two doctors shut me down and tell me that what I am experiencing is not happening according to their tests. 

So I can’t finish this article with a happy ending, I’m on the other side and taking you with me, point of view. I can tell you what I do know though to try and help anyone reading this in the future if they experience medical gaslighting. Although my message is directed at women, I also hope that men learn something to help themselves too. My tip is to stay convicted; know that you and your health are worth fighting for answers, and if a doctor truly will not listen when you push back, get a new doctor. Period. The fact is that there will be someone out there that will believe you. Wasting your time, energy, and emotional investment on a doctor that is unwilling to assist you is not worth it. I hope that this advice is something that helps someone get the answers and treatment they deserve and feel validated, as I did, if only to avoid being on the bad side of the statistics in the future. 

2022 Spring Poetry Contest First Place Winner.

Sunlight

by

Courtney Danis

A flower cannot grow without sunlight,

It must bathe in its glow.

Its petals cannot bloom without sunshine,

Or of its beauty, it will never know.

It might have water, and its roots in soil,

It will embrace all the rain.

But if you deprive it of the sunlight,

It will only grow in pain.

If all the days are cloudy,

Not even a spec of sun will break through.

The flower will whimper as it dies,

And the blame must go to you.

You chose to get a flower,

To raise it from its seed.

Yet you never let it bud,

You only “protect” it from the weeds.

You provide it what is obligated,

Some water and space where it’s been planted.

But you refuse to let it see outside,

And even in protection, it feels abandoned.

No light is ever shown,

And now only thornes grow in the pot.

It never learns of its power or beauty,

It thinks it’s everything it’s not.

Growing will be hard,

It has to fight for its place in the shine.

But all the pain and lack of love,

Will be worth it to find the light.

2022 Spring Poetry Contest Second Place Winner.

A Vixen of the Sea

By Alexandra Berghelm

She is a vixen of the sea

Revealed to those of bravery.

With eyes like emeralds she gazes

And nothing in the world her fazes.

She is a siren and she knows 

Her charms are spreading as she goes.

Her singing’s filled with many tunes

As sweet as Sunday afternoons.

The waves are yielding her the way,

Sea-horses are pages for the day,

And she would dare anyone

Who challenged her, the tempest one.

The humble ones she patronizes

Courageous souls get precious prizes,

But when the arrogant ones come

Her rage is hot like blazing sun.

She is a vixen of the sea

Revealed to those of bravery.

She is a daughter of Neptune

And carries powers of the moon.

She shows the way to sailor ships

When lighting strikes and moon eclipse.

She gives asylum to the needy

And teases those who are most greedy.

The play of dolphins her amuses

Her softer laugh is warm, she muses.

Her hair sparkles in the sun

Sea grass turns pearls when she is gone.

Her touch is cool like a fresh source,

She gives herself with no remorse.

Her energy runs through the creatures

Revitalizing their features.

But it’s not easy to reach her

She only comes when pleases her.

Invisible all other times

Or resting in her chamber vines.

And Jupiter brings out her magic

Her beauty—mystic of old legend.

She is a vixen of the sea

Are you the one of bravery?

2022 Spring Poetry Contest Third Place Winner: Sarah Lee “Disability’s Power.”

Their condescending tone is the root of the problem 

they don’t understand 

they don’t get eye fatigue from reading tedium 

grow cold as they wait hours for their bus ride home 

scatter possessions trying to find bus tickets 

They can work a fast food joint 

$9/hour 

without familiar panic surfacing 

worrying they’ll make it wrong 

can’t find 

the carrots 

can’t keep up 

not fast enough 

can’t remember 

ingredient measurements 

can’t read 

the signs for a reminder 

can’t locate 

a manager to ask 

can’t trust 

the managers anyway 

register buttons blur 

seek respite in the quiet breakroom 

only dare to take two minutes 

lest they discover 

—“you aren’t getting paid just to stand there”– 

—“alright, you really need to work on speed”– 

can’t discern the exit 

can’t hit escape 

can’t quell anxiety 

too expensive to keep 

not worth staying 

can’t argue 

energy sapped 

panic 

persists– 

After work in the late August sunshine, I crouch, exhausted. I wait for my ride home. 

I can feel the cold cement below me. 

I can smell juniper. 

I can taste the pickle, pepperjack, chicken and bun flavors playing on my tongue. 

I can hear cicadas singing in the trees, far above the red roof. 

I love that sound.

How FRCC Lost its Solar Panels

FRCC’s Westminster campus began construction in 1975. Originally a new location for Community College of Denver’s (CCD) North Campus, it was built at the height of the oil crisis, when energy efficiency and fossil fuel consumption were at the top of everyone’s mind. As a result, the Westminster Campus was built with energy efficiency as a top priority. According to an article published in CCD’s student newspaper, The Solar Times in 1977, the whole building was designed around energy. It was set into the side of a hill to take advantage of the insulative properties of the earth and was built with a (for the time) state of the art energy recovery system, which brought fresh air into the building while retaining 60% of the heat of the exhausted air. Most impressive of all, the Westminster campus was originally built with a massive system of solar-thermal panels, designed to keep the building warm in the winter and cool in the summer. At the time of its construction, it was the largest such system in the entire world, and the only one in the world to be installed in an educational institution.

If you look for it, you’ll find surviving hints to the existence of this system all over the campus. For example, the old logo for FRCC, which is still in place on the front gates and some of the back entrances, shows a sun in the top left corner, shining above the mountains.

The angled glass windows by entrance 3 always looked a bit strange to me, so it’s no wonder that they were originally intended to look like a continuation of the angled solar panels on the roof directly above them. In fact, the panels themselves are actually still there, but they’re covered by metal sheets. Many of the corners on the front of the building have strange angled walls coming off of them. Those angled walls made a lot more sense when they matched the angle of the solar panels on the roof above them. This is also why the building is so long – it was necessary to have enough exposed area for the solar panels. So important were the solar panels to the school’s identity, that it was often referred to as “The Solar Campus,” and before the creation of The Front Page in 1989, the school’s student newspaper was called The Solar Times.

The system worked by pumping a 60:40 mixture of glycol and water through panels that were designed to capture the heat of the sun, and then further heating the fluid through the use of boilers. That heated fluid was used to warm the building in the winter, and it powered absorption coolers which cooled the building in the summer. When it was built, it was projected to save the college nearly $200,000 a year in energy costs. However, according to Andy Dorsey, president of FRCC, while the system may have saved the college some money while it was installed, by the mid-1990s, the system was degraded. The pipes that carried the heating fluid were leaking at their joints, and they were difficult to repair because they were (and still are) three stories up on the ceiling of the college, above the various open-plan seating areas.

And it wasn’t just the panels. By 1996, the entire building’s HVAC system was wildly outdated. According to the March 1996 issue of The Front Page, problems with the HVAC system included, but were not limited to: incorrect zoning, resulting in some rooms being too hot, and others being too cold, increased load from new office equipment, and added rooms that the existing system couldn’t cope with, original pneumatic control systems that were reaching the end of their life, and air from the swimming pool, which recirculated throughout the building, causing the air in certain classrooms to smell like chlorine. That’s right, along with the largest solar-thermal system in the world, we also used to have a heated swimming pool.

Along with the disastrous state of the HVAC system, FRCC itself was in a bit of a desperate shake in the 1990s. Tom Gonzales, president of FRCC at the time, referred to the school as a “dying college” in 1997, when the school was standing in the face of a nearly two million dollar deficit and a 17 percent drop in enrollment. So, when the college got state funding to hire a contractor to fix the HVAC system in 1996, and that contractor recommended replacing the panels with a central boiler, the college wasn’t exactly in a position to negotiate. 

Of the 1,400 panels that were on the roof, only 303 were kept in service after the 1996 renovation. They were used to heat the swimming pool and provide hot water to the school’s taps. Eventually, though, they were all deactivated. Today, the few panels which remain on the front of the school are covered with metal sheets, the swimming pool has been filled in (it’s now the fitness center), and the building is heated and cooled with a traditional natural gas boiler.

So, what kind of impact did this have on the college’s budget and carbon footprint? Not much, or so Dorsey told me. As it turns out, the old solar panels were never really that great. On cold winter days, most of the heat was generated by the auxiliary boiler anyways and whenever it snowed, the panels were basically useless. Because the water-glycol mixture always flowed through a boiler before going to heat the campus, it was pretty much always burning some natural gas. So, with the new more efficient boiler system, Dorsey suspects that we might actually be using less natural gas than we used to be. Of course, that may not be the case for the solar-powered absorption cooling system, which likely worked better in the summer than the heating system did in the winter. Unfortunately, exact data on this is not available.

Even understanding the reasons why they were removed and covered, it really seems a shame that we lost the solar panels (and the pool, but that’s a separate discussion). Unfortunately, functional solar thermal panels are unlikely to ever return to the roof of FRCC Westminster. If solar panels are to return, they’ll take the form of solar photovoltaics, Dorsey told me. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t want solar back, though. About ten years ago, the college did an analysis on the prospect of installing solar-PV cells. It wasn’t worth it financially at the time, but with the drop in the cost of solar panels over time, Dorsey says it may be time for another analysis. So it is possible that one day, the sun will rise once again on the Solar Campus.

Welcome to the Final Warning

I don’t think anyone living in Colorado would have expected the events that happened the day before New Year 2021. No one knew the destruction that was coming to the communities on the Front Range that can’t seem to catch a break anymore. They definitely did not expect that three months later the same tragic events could happen again. But this time fire rescue teams were prepared. And as many residents of Boulder relived the trauma that they were still swimming through, we all watched the news waiting to see how many more homes would be lost and waiting for the rolling evacuation orders. 

The NCAR fire was less devastating but still as important as the Marshall Fire. As residents of Colorado, we have become used to fire season being in the summer with some of the largest fires in the history of Colorado happening this past summer. According to the website of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control, four out of the five largest wildfires in the history of the state have occurred in the three years between 2018 and 2020. Now it seems as though winter is just as much of a danger. Watching the news in the last few months since the Marshall Fire, it seems like any warm, windy day is a day with a new fire. Few are as catastrophic as December 30, 2021. On that day over 1,000 homes were lost with a total of over 6,000 acres burned. The NCAR fire burned around 200 acres and luckily no homes or structures. I think it’s a wake-up call that we all need to take very seriously. 

Though I am overjoyed to see how much the state of Colorado has come together to help the victims of the fire, I am also a bit saddened by what actions are not being taken. At no point in the conversations about what caused the fires, or how first responders could have done more to save homes and communities, has anyone ever said, “But what about how we prevent this in the future?” Or “How did we get here?” By this, I mean no one is talking about how Colorado is sadly not the only place in the world where dry conditions are sparking fires at levels previously unseen in the last few years. In 2020, we saw Australia deal with a mega-fire that burned approximately 60 million to 84 million acres of land. Places such as Alaska have also been hit hard by fires in recent years. According to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry, there were a total of 389 fires in 2021. These fires burned 254,500 acres of land. To put that into perspective, the Cameron Peak fire here in Colorado burned 208,913 acres and is the current largest wildfire in the state’s history. 

I put current in italics because I don’t need to be a psychic to see what the future holds for Colorado in the coming years. With hotter summers and less precipitation, it’s not hard to see what’s coming. If we as a state now, collectively, hold our breaths on windy days in the winter, what can we expect for the summer? I don’t think I need to dance around the term “global warming,” considering the information that has been put forth. And what the solution is to the current problems facing our state, our country, our world, I don’t have the answers to that. But I think that it’s getting more and more difficult to ignore the literal smoke signals that mother nature is laying in our path.