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Saint Mary’s announces next Page Series season

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 5:57pm

WINONA, Minn. — The Performance Center at Saint Mary’s University is pleased to announce its 2015-2016 Page Series. From the forests of Québec to down-home Texas gospel, the 29th season of the Page Series will present music, theatre, dance, and family programming from around the continent.

The season begins Oct. 14 with TIMBER!, a production of Québec’s Cirque Alfonse, and continues with performances by chamber ensemble eighth blackbird; theatre/dance duo Sossy Mechanics in Trick Boxing; Irish-American folk band Solas; and Texas gospel group The Jones Family Singers. The season also includes three performances geared toward family and school audiences: Enchantment Theatre Company’s Peter Rabbit™ Tales; The Okee Dokee Brothers; and Theatre IV’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

In addition to performances, the Performance Center will present educational and community activities throughout the 2015-2016 season, including Off the Page performances, Gatherings at the Public Library, Page in History events at the Winona County Historical Society, and school matinee performances.

Information about the 2015-2016 performances, artists, and tickets is available at Subscription packages of three or more shows go on sale May 12 and may be purchased online at; by telephone at 507-457-1715; or in person at the box office, 700 Terrace Heights, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets to individual performances will be available beginning Aug. 18.

The 2015-2016 Page Series


A production of Cirque Alfonse

Acrobats gone lumberjack

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14; tickets: $30/$27

Direct from the forests of Québec, Cirque Alfonse will bring traditional music and acrobatics with a lumberjack sensibility to the Page Theatre. From jigsaw juggling to high wire stunts, the acrobats of TIMBER! delight and enchant with feats of agility and strength. Like Cirque du Soleil with a healthy dose of flannel and pine, TIMBER! brings a festive look at the world of lumberjacks, loggers, and French-Canadian farm life.

Established in 2005, Cirque Alfonse is a young circus company from Saint-Alphonse-Rodriguez in the province of Québec. Its founding members have all worked with some of the most renowned “nouveau cirque” companies around the world. The company is comprised of professional acrobats graduated from the École Nationale de Cirque de Montréal, as well as a professional dancer, an ex-skiing champion, and three talented and versatile musicians who blend the arts and techniques of the circus with the most picturesque facets of traditional Québec folklore.


eighth blackbird

Cutting-edge contemporary chamber music

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28; tickets: $27/$24

Chicago-based musical sextet eighth blackbird is an ensemble at the forefront of contemporary chamber music in America. The three-time Grammy Award-winning group endeavors to take on the most interesting music of our time. Transcending traditional chamber music, eighth blackbird combines flute, clarinet, strings, piano, and percussion in irreverent, dynamic, and engaging performances. For their Page Series concert, these “super musicians” (Los Angeles Times) perform “Hand Eye,” a work recently commissioned for the ensemble and composed by the collective Sleeping Giant.


Enchantment Theatre Company presents

Peter Rabbit™ Tales

Beatrix Potter’s childhood classics

6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 10; tickets: $14/$6

Meet Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, Beatrix Potter’s beloved characters, as they escape from Mr. McGregor, outfox Mr. Tod, and rescue the Flopsy Bunnies from the disagreeable badger, Tommy Brock. When Benjamin Bunny’s children disappear, he goes to his cousin, Peter Rabbit, to help him find the bunnies. But Peter thinks he’s had quite enough of adventure, remembering his youthful escapades in Mr. McGregor’s garden. As the cousins reminisce about their past adventures, their friends gather to encourage Peter on this one last quest. Using fantastic masks, whimsical puppets, gorgeous scenery, and original music, Enchantment Theatre Company brings the magical, marvelous world of Peter Rabbit to life on stage.

Enchantment Theatre Company has been guided by a mission to create original theatre for young audiences and families for more than 35 years. The company’s style of performance, which incorporates expressive masks, life-sized puppets, magical illusion, music, movement, and pantomime, is accessible to all children and encourages everyone—regardless of age and language barriers—to explore creative worlds, awaken imaginations, and engage with others in the joy of a live theatrical production.


The Okee Dokee Brothers

Fun family folk

6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 14, 2016; tickets: $14/$6

Parents’ Choice- and Grammy Award-winning duo The Okee Dokee Brothers have written hours of family-friendly Americana music inspired by their canoe trip along the Mississippi River and their adventures hiking the Appalachian Trail. As childhood friends growing up in Denver, Colo., Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing were always exploring the outdoors. Now, as The Okee Dokee Brothers, they record and perform family music with a goal to inspire children and their parents to get outside and get creative. From river to mountain and bears to bugs, parents and children alike will gain a new appreciation of the outdoors after an hour with this engaging and lighthearted duo.


Trick Boxing

A Romance. A bout. A dance.

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2016; tickets: $27/$24

This clever romantic comedy brings 1930s boxing and ballroom dance head to head in a match made in heaven. Minneapolis-based duo Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan are a two-person tour de force of rapid-fire dialogue, high-energy dances and ridiculous puppetry in Trick Boxing, a rags-to-riches story of an immigrant apple seller tricked into becoming a boxer and a dance hall dame with a score to settle who takes him under her wing. Together, they swing their way to the championship with “incredible dance numbers to rival a Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire musical” (Winnipeg Free Press).

Sossy Mechanics is a theater and dance company that combines the “energetic and charismatic” forces of Sostek and McClellan, two seasoned creators and performers. Their whimsical sensibilities, exacting standards, and cinematic aesthetic have earned them an award-winning reputation for creating “clear, brilliant storytelling.”


Theatre IV presents

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

A thrilling underwater adventure

6:30 p.m. Feb. 16, 2016; tickets: $14/$6
Join Captain Nemo, Professor Elaine Aronnax, and harpooner Ned Land aboard the Nautilus as they explore the undersea world in this electrifying adaptation of Jules Verne’s 19th-century classic. With lavish sets and costumes, lively music, and stunning deep ocean videography, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea brings to life world geography and aquatic life from coral reefs to the Arctic Circle.

Theatre IV, a division of Virginia Repertory Theatre, provides educational entertainment and innovative instructional programs designed to enrich the nation’s schools. The company performs live before over half a million children, teens, parents, and teachers across America every year.



Irish-American folk

7:30 p.m. Feb. 18, 2016; tickets: 27/$24

Hailed as “Irish-America’s most influential band” by NPR’s Thistle & Shamrock, Solas has been entertaining audiences since 1996. Through fresh and unexpected arrangements of age-old tunes, compelling and topical originals and covers, and unparalleled musicianship, Solas continues to define the path for the Celtic music world and drive the genre forward. The group’s 20th anniversary tour celebrates their remarkable past while demonstrating why they continue to be one of the most popular, influential, and exciting bands to emerge over the past two decades.


The Jones Family Singers

Soulful, funk-infused Texas gospel

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 22, 2016; tickets: $27/$24

The Jones Family Singers, consisting in part of five sisters, two brothers and their father, have been tearing up churches and festivals alike for over two decades. This Texas-based gospel group “infuse[s] their joyful and reverent songs with vintage soul, funk, and R&B” (The Wall Street Journal), appealing to both spiritual audiences and fans of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. Their high energy, dynamic, and compelling performances have brought them to festivals, clubs, concert series, and community celebrations worldwide, including Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and SXSW.

Saint Mary’s commencement ceremony scheduled for May 9

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 5:38pm

WINONA, Minn. — On Saturday, May 9, the Winona Campus of Saint Mary’s University will host a joint commencement ceremony for both Winona undergraduate and graduate students, beginning at 11 a.m. in the gymnasium.

Undergraduate student reflections will be offered by this year’s Outstanding Male and Female Seniors Lauren Salonek, daughter of Joel and Tammy Salonek of Watertown, Minn., and Joseph Budin, son of Bruce and Colleen Budin of Le Center, Minn.

Representing Saint Mary’s Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs, Tara Van Eperen-Waldorf, a Master of Arts in Literacy graduate, will also give a reflection. Amanda Martin, Master of Arts in Human Development, and Tracey-Ann Myers, Master of Education in Teaching and Learning, will be presented with Outstanding Graduate Final Paper Awards.

A reception on the plaza will follow the ceremony. In case of inclement weather, the reception will be held in Gostomski Fieldhouse.

Prior to the ceremony, a Baccalaureate Mass will take place in Saint Thomas More Chapel at 8 a.m.

Limited parking will be available. More information is posted at

A live broadcast of the ceremony will be streamed over the internet and may be accessed at the following link:

Using education to make an impact

Tue, 04/28/2015 - 12:55am

Jamal Akubar wasn’t sure he’d be able to juggle everything if he went back to school.

He was working two jobs and was newly married. But once he began pursuing his bachelor’s degree completion program in accounting at Saint Mary’s, he realized work and school could coexist, and the two benefit one another. Almost immediately, Akubar found he could apply what he was learning in class at work.

“At the Abubakar As-Sadique Islamic Center, we run a great Islamic school where kids come in on the weekend and learn. But it goes through a lot of change, and every couple years they change the program director. Taking the Organizational Change course at Saint Mary’s helped me deal with leadership change,” Akubar said, “and it helped me adapt to new leaders and new ways of managing work flow.”

His Saint Mary’s education was directly applicable at Akubar’s other job at the Hennepin County Library System as well. He enjoyed helping library patrons learn how to better use the features of the computer systems, such as the job search function. The communication and ethics courses at Saint Mary’s, along with his bilingual skills, helped Akubar become the de facto bridge between the library and the Somalian refugees who needed help using the computers.

“Library systems in Africa and the United States are not the same,” Akubar said. “This country offers a lot more. We don’t have any large public libraries in Somalia, and people didn’t use the few libraries we had. The Hennepin County Library offers more programs and support beyond the traditional book system, like help with résumé building, homework, and small business development.”

Akubar relates to the refugees whom he was helping. He came to the United States from Africa in 1997 to avoid war and turmoil in his homeland. His experience with three different educational systems—in Somalia, Kenya, and the United States—has helped him develop a strong appreciation for the individualized attention that Saint Mary’s provides. He realized how powerful the close interaction between student and faculty was when he visited the Twin Cities Campus for the first time.

“After my admission meeting, I met with Melanie Torborg, the program director. She reviewed my transcript and told me which classes would transfer,” he said. “That’s when it hit me—I had a moment where I knew I was going to do this. The one-on-one touch was really important for me, because the teachers and staff know you on a personal basis; you’re not just a number. They know you by name, and it’s special. That was really important for me.”

As Akubar has progressed through the program, he’s also valued the rigorous and quality education that he receives from Saint Mary’s faculty members who are industry experts. He’s especially enjoyed class with a particular teacher whose life path was not unlike his.

“One of my favorite classes was with the late professor Gerry Ellis,” Akubar said. “He went back to school at a later age and went through the same things that we’re going through as adult students. He earned his master’s and then his Ph.D. while working, and he was a model to me, someone to look up to. If I did things right, I knew what I could accomplish.”

As he’s nearing the end of his bachelor’s degree coursework, Akubar has landed a job in his field—joining the Child Support Enforcement Section of the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. It’s a job that Akubar is proud of, because after his experience at the library, he realized he wanted to make an impact in the community that he loves. He also plans to continue his education and start in the Saint Mary’s M.S. in Accountancy program in the fall.

“Since I have skills in two languages, I can help the Somali community find ways to live better in this land,” he said. “But it’s not just about the Somali community; it’s about the entire community that I live in.

“Saint Mary’s definitely has prepared me to undertake my new responsibility. I feel like I’m ready for any challenges that are headed my way. Every 1,000-mile journey starts with a single step.”

Saint Mary’s ‘jazz final’ is Sunday on campus

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 3:10pm

WINONA, Minn. — Spend part of a splendid spring afternoon with an end-of-semester tradition known as the “Jazz Final” at Saint Mary’s University. The performance will take place on Sunday, May 3, beginning at 2 p.m. in the outdoor amphitheater, located on the Saint Mary’s Plaza.

The concert will feature the Jazz Combo 1 and the entire Saint Mary’s Jazz Ensemble. A wide variety of jazz favorites, from classic big band to contemporary small group arrangements, will set the stage for an enjoyable afternoon in a casual, comfortable outdoor setting. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, the performance will be moved inside to the Cardinal Club, located in the Toner Student Center.

Bring your blankets or lawn chairs and enjoy afternoon filled with great jazz. The concert is free, and the public is invited to attend.

For more information, contact A. Eric Heukeshoven at 507-457-7292 or

Saint Mary’s presents Student Life awards to students, faculty, staff

Mon, 04/27/2015 - 2:52pm

Morgan Fournier receives the Saint Benilde Award from Eric Styles of Campus Ministry


WINONA, Minn. — Saint Mary’s University recognized outstanding students, faculty and staff April 23 at the Student Life Awards Ceremony. Individuals who have exhibited outstanding leadership and service through co-curricular activities at Saint Mary’s were recognized.

Awards included:

Brother Finbar McMullen Award (presented to a Saint Mary’s community member who demonstrates him/herself to be an individual who unselfishly meets the needs of the undergraduate students of Saint Mary’s) — Andrew McLees, administrative assistant in the Office of Student Life

Charlene “Char” Tjaden Outstanding Resident Assistant Award — Bryan Lampkin, son of William and Karen Lampkin of Weston, Wis.

Intramural Official of the Year — Brigette Audette, daughter of Kenny and Jodie Audette of Big Lake, Minn.

Club/Organization of the Year — Student Activities Committee (accepted by Abbie Zuzek, daughter of Mark and Janet Zuzek of Hastings, Minn.)

Outstanding Student Senator of the Year Award — Alexander Zuzek, son of Mark and Janet Zuzek of Hastings, Minn.

Club and Organization Adviser of the Year — Michael Ratajczyk, Business Department assistant professor and adviser to the analytics and wealth management clubs

Winona Community Service Award — Haley Childers, daughter of Patrick Childers of Burnsville, Minn.

Saint Benilde Award (presented to students who reach out to new members of the university community, are inclusive and inspiring, and lead by being hospitable, open and accepting) — Morgan Fournier, daughter of Ricci and Diane Fournier of Maple Lake, Minn.

Brother James Miller Award (presented to a student who has dedicated his/her college experience to promoting the legacy of Brother James Miller, spreading the compassion of God and continually serving the community) — Patrick Sweet, son of David and Clare Sweet of Aurora, Ill.

Brother Charlie Burke Award (presented to a faculty or staff member who has made significant contributions to the entire Student Life Department. This individual has promoted the growth of the whole student through their exemplary standard of ethical service, dedication to creating developmental relationships, and their desire to promote lifelong learning) — Dr. Scott Sorvaag, dean of education

Student Service Award — Janie Makie, daughter of Peter and Trina Maki of Roseville, Minn.

To see all photos from this event, go to

PHOTO CAPTION: Patrick Sweet receives the Brother James Miller Award from Stephen McGlaun, dean of Campus Ministry.