March 9, 2016


Volume 2, Issue 11 – March 9, 2015




Have a Happy Spring Break!

I hope everyone is having great spring break and comes back nice and refreshed, and ready to do a great job to end the semester.  If anyone is really doing something fabulous for the break, let me know about them, or send some pictures of what you did!  I’ll put the best ones in a future From the Pouch.



Winning the Challenge

By now, many first and second year students will have received an email about having won a challenge coin, and to come to my office to get it.

For those who don’t know, we began issuing challenge coins last year to congratulate new students who have gotten off to a good start in their classes.  The idea comes from the military, where when they want to celebrate a particular accomplishment, they will sometimes issue a challenge coin. Whenever a new student successfully completes the fall semester with a 2.0 GPA or higher and is in good social standing, they earn a challenge coin, as pictured below.

coin-2  coin

This year, we’re adding a 2nd year challenge coin for those students who started last year and have continued to excel, having earned at least 36 credits at SUNY Canton and having at least a 2.33 GPA.  Next year, we’ll issue a 3rd year challenge coin for 3rd year students (with at least 60 credits and a 2.67 GPA), and finally, the year after, we’ll issue a 4th year challenge coin for fourth year students (with at least 84 credits and a 3.00 GPA).  What if you earn a complete set?  There will be a nice surprise, so be sure to win them all!



Women’s Hockey

Congratulations to our Women’s Hockey team for making the CHC Quarter-finals.  Jill and I attended the big game against Becker College (which is the first college Jill attended–small world!).  We got there a little early, but so did everyone else, and I was actually the last person to get a commemorative t-shirt.

It was one heck of a game, with the Roos making shot after shot, and the Becker goalie playing a tremendous defensive game, stopping 43 shots.  The score was still 0-0 with eight minutes to go in the third period, when the Roos were hit with a 5-minute penalty that essentially gave Becker the game–they scored on the power play just before the penalty period ended.  The final score was 1-0 against us.




Arabian Nights Dance

On Sunday, February 21, my wife Jill and I attended the Arabian Nights dance down at the Best Western.  It was “officially” supposed to start at 7:00 PM, so we decided to be fashionably late by showing up at 7:30.  This only proves I was totally unaware of the current party zeitgeist, because when we arrived, we were the only ones there!  Still, the ballroom was clearly set up for an event, the staff were setting up the food, and the photographer was beginning to set up.  We decided to wait, and a little past 8:00, some of the student activities staff arrived, as did a few students helping run the dance.

By 8:30, about 35 students had come, and the band, Cover Drive, began to play.  Cover Drive is a reggae-pop band from Barbados, and we enjoyed their music thoroughly—so much so that I ordered their debut album, Bajan Style, which includes several singles that reached the top 10 in England.  The lead singer, Amanda Reifer, was really excellent, and the other three band members, Barry Hill, Jamar Harding, and T-Ray Armstrong, supported her very well.  It’s not surprising that singer Rihanna chose them as her opening act during her recent Loud tour.


We left at about 9:30, since my son Mark was getting impatient for having his ice cream order delivered, but I decided to return, hoping that Cover Drive would play a second set.  They didn’t, because DJ JP had set up and was playing some contemporary vibes.  More students were continuing to come in, and by 10:30 when I called it a night, quite a crowd was there, all elegantly dressed for the occasion.  I’m told that a good time was had by all after that, and that the party began to break up around midnight, since there were classes Monday morning after all.  Jill and I had a very nice time, but we’ll arrive somewhat later next time!



 Canton Idol

Speaking of good music, Jill and I also attended the Canton Idol competition last Thursday.  We had gone to last year’s event and enjoyed it a lot, so naturally we were looking forward to it again this year.  There was a decent crowd of about 125 in the Student Center Theatre, and this time we had gotten there at just the right time—the competition began about 10 minutes later.  There were five competing acts, each of which delivered two songs.

Truth be told, I’ve been to similar events on several campuses, and they can be hit-or-miss affairs.  Not Canton Idol, though—every competitor was really good, and I’m glad I wasn’t a judge since it would have been very hard for me to put the five in any kind of order.  Everyone I talked to did agree with the judges’ choice for top prize.  The winner, Rebecca, was unbelievably good.  Her final number was a nicely retro song by Solange Knowles (Beyonce’s younger sister) called Sandcastle Disco.  I had never heard this song before, but I was blown away by Rebecca’s version of it—I may be biased here, but I think it was better than the original.  Here’s a link to Solange’s version:

Other fine entrants included Imani Smith, who did a knockout version of the great Etta James song “At Last”, Mahera Josaphat (3rd place—also a fine singer), Michael Horth (2nd place—and how all the ladies in the audience were cheering for him!), and a very enthusiastic guitar and drum duo, Daniel and Nathan (I don’t have their last names).


L-R:  Nathan, Daniel, Imani Smith, me, Michael Horth, Rebecca Jean Baptiste, Mahera Josaphat. 

(Sorry, but I’m not sure of the names of the two students on the right–let me know and I’ll add them to the caption.)

Canton Idol was tremendous fun, and everyone should make every effort to see it when it comes around next year.



Excellence in Leadership Lecture, Mark Dzwonczyk

The latest in SUNY Canton’s Excellence in Leadership Lecture Series featured entrepreneur Mark Dzwonczyk, the President and CEO of Nicholville Telephone Company, who titled his talk From Silicon Valley to St. Lawrence County.   Similar to the classic start-up story of Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, the creators of Apple, Dzwonczyk started his company in his garage. He expanded the company into a leading VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) product design business with operations in both the U.S. and China.


In 2011, he moved to the North County to join the Board of Nicholville Telephone Company and became its CEO later that year.  His leadership led to a cultural change in the traditional rural phone company, enabling an increase in subscriptions and repositioning the company to also be a leading regional provider of broadband, through its subsidiary Slic Network Solutions. The company has been heralded for providing high-speed Internet access to rural communities where it previously was not available.

Dzwonczyk described his path from his garage to becoming CEO in an entertaining way to an appreciative audience of almost 100 students, faculty, and shareholder employees of the company.  His main advice was for students to “Follow Their Bliss”, a line from Joseph Campbell on how to achieve success.  When you do that, he said, you’ll be amazed at what doors open up for you.



Engineering Week

Last week was also the 2nd annual celebration of Engineering Week by our Canino School of Engineering Technology.  Lots of events were scheduled including speakers and an employment fair.  Perhaps the highlight was the open house event, bringing in more than 200 children from around the North Country, to see a variety of engineering exhibits including an industrial lumber processor, 3-D technology experiments, water testing, and many others.

Some 60 students participated in the bridge-building contest, where the object was to build a span out of pipe cleaners, straws, and plastic lacing to span a plastic bin, and see how much it would deflect under a 2 kg weight.  Younger winners included Naomi Crowell (Canton) and Grace Sawyko (Pierrepont), winning matching Lego Mindstorms kits used to build and program a robot.

In the senior division, Aaron Clark and Jacy Thompson (Saranac Lake) won a $1300 scholarship to SUNY Canton.


Congratulations to the many faculty and students who participated in Engineering Week—it was a great event.



Dining Out

On February 20, the students in ROTC had their annual Dining Out ceremony.  Last year, I attended the Air Force ROTC event, so to show no favoritism, this year I went to the Army’s event.  It’s interesting how the two events were the same, and how they were different.  In both cases, the students were dressed to the teeth—the ROTC students in their dress uniforms and their dates in formal dresses or nice suits.  Unlike last year at the Air Force dinner, the parents could come to the Army event and many were present.  The program began with the Presenting of the Colors and an Invocation, which led to the Grog Ceremony.

At the Air Force dinner, the grog was made from ingredients that weren’t all disclosed, mixed in a “ceremonial” toilet.  Only the new inductees had to drink it.  At the Army event, the grog’s ingredients were given in the program, it was mixed in a glass punchbowl, and everyone had a sample to toast with.  Since the ROTC has members from all four North Country colleges, the grog has in it apple juice for the gold of the Clarkson Golden Knights, cranberry juice for the scarlet of the St. Lawrence Saints, grape juice for the maroon of the Potsdam Bears and blueberry juice for the blue of the Canton Kangaroos.  Other ingredients include ice, coffee grounds, MRE juice mix, rock candy, chocolate pudding, and butter.  Yum!

The dinner was a nice buffet with lots of choices, and the speaker was Stephen Sauer, an associate professor at Clarkson’s School of Business.  I met several of our SUNY Canton students who are part of ROTC, and they looked plenty snazzy in the dress uniforms.


Participating in ROTC is one of SUNY Canton’s ways of supporting our military.  Some recent successes in this area include:

  • We were awarded $500,000 by SUNY to begin an initiative called Transitioning Veterans from Boots and Book and Beyond with Jefferson Community College, to provide support services for former military members transitioning to a college environment.
  • The first graduating class from SUNY Canton’s Solar Ready Vets program graduated at Fort Drum. This program prepares transitioning soldiers for jobs in the burgeoning solar industry.
  • We’ve received various awards recognizing our support of veterans and their families, the latest from Military Times (naming us as on of the best technical colleges in the nation) and from G.I. Jobs (selecting us for their list of military-friendly schools).
  • We’ve recently been awarded a grant from Battle Buddies that will be used to enhance our veteran’s lounge.

All in all, SUNY Canton is a great place for our soldiers in uniform, our veterans, and their families.




Adirondack Winter Challenge

On Sunday, I attended the Governor’s Adirondack Winter Challenge, held in Lake Placid.  Each year Governor Cuomo hosts an Adirondack Challenge event in both the summer and the winter, highlighting activities taking advantage of the North Country’s resources and facilities, in order to draw more attention to them, thereby promoting tourism and business.


Participants had the choice of trying out downhill and cross-country skiing, ice hockey, hiking, tubing, bobsledding, ice-fishing, fat tire biking, and curling.  I opted for curling, having never tried that sport before.  I arrived at Lake Placid just before noon, signed in, and promptly ran into Barat Wolfe (a new faculty member in Psychology) who was on one of the local hockey teams playing, and President Esterberg from Potsdam, who had signed up for hiking.  After some lunch, a guide led the folks interested in curling to an ice rink set up for that—there were the stones and brooms used in the game, as well as devices to push off from as you release the stone.  The floor was marked off for the field, and the ice was ready—a less slippery form, different from than used for skating or hockey.  There are three “jobs” in curling—to call as to where you want the stone to go (called the skip), to release the stone, and to sweep in front of the stone to help the stone wind up in the target locations that are worth points.  I suspect that when you are playing against another team, part of the strategy is to put your stones in positions where they interfere with the other team’s shots, but we didn’t get into that.  It was a lot of fun to play, though it takes more effort than it looks and after about an hour of it, I was doing a lot of sweating, especially under the helmet.


A little later, our own Assembly member Addie Russell came with her husband and two children to try her hand at curling.  Though she had never done it before either, she was a natural and after a little training and a few practice releases, she had the stone going in to the money areas pretty much every time.  She even got one of the event awards for her prowess.  The two kids were having a ball on the ice as well.

After the curling, I went over to the hockey match between members of the Governor’s office and members of the legislature.  The game was quite good, with a number of the players obviously still very much active in the sport.  The final score was 7-0 with the Governor’s Office winning.


This was followed by a reception and then dinner, where several awards (some semi-humorous, some serious) were given.   The ride home was very pleasant—quiet roads through pretty country.



Last Week’s Trivia Contest

Last week’s contest dealt with state capitals.  There were no entries, so no one wins the prize.   Here are the correct answers:

  1. New York  Albany.
  2. Massachusetts  Boston.
  3. Texas   Austin.
  4. California  Sacramento.



This Week’s Trivia Challenge

This week’s challenge is about newspaper comic strips. The first with the right answer wins a $10 gift card, good anywhere on campus.  No looking up the answers now!  SEND ALL ENTRIES BY EMAIL TO since if you put them as a response on the BLOG, everyone will be able to see them!

  1. Sarcastic cat who’s always fighting with Odie.
  2. He always longed for the little red-haired girl, but never could talk to her.
  3. Hard-boiled police detective, Warren Beatty played in in the movie.
  4. He’s 5 1/2 years old, and drives Mr. Wilson crazy.


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