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While you may know the “Nutcracker of Middle Georgia” as a show full of mesmerizing dances and beautifully crafted sets, its start from scratch was quite different. The dream of a woman named Jean Evans Weaver, founder and artistic director emeritus, to localize Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Ballet was just the beginning of a show that would be seen by over 100,000 people.
The “Nutcracker of Middle Georgia” is performed every year at the Grand Opera House, located on Mulberry Street in downtown Macon, Ga. In its 33 seasons, there have been several volunteers who are dedicated to putting on a great show.
Founded in 1985, the local production started with few resources. As the years went by, the production grew bigger and bigger with more volunteers each year to put on the show.
“Although our Nutcracker will always be a ‘work in progress,’ I know that it is one of the finest showpieces of this ballet presented in any city the size of Macon that does not have a professional company,” said Weaver, according to the show’s website.
While working with local school systems and other civic organizations to promote greater interest in the performing arts, the “Nutcracker of Middle Georgia” is performed by over 100 amateur performers, along with six professional dancers.
Auditions for parts in the Nutcracker were held in early September at Wesleyan College’s Porter Auditorium. After auditions, dance rehearsals are held at Wesleyan College in the Mathews Athletic Center’s dance studio. Wesleyan partnered with the “Nutcracker of Middle Georgia” this year and has, “been very gracious in supporting our organization,” according to the show’s website.
The holiday event is showcased at the beginning of December starting the night of the 5th at 7:00 p.m. and continues each night at the same time through Friday, Dec. 7. On Saturday, the show will take place at 2:30 p.m. as well as at 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
The “Nutcracker of Middle Georgia” is a non-profit tax exempt organization. The Grand Opera House puts on the show every year and if you are looking to buy tickets you can do so online at TheGrandMacon.com or over the phone by calling (478) 301-5470. The Grand is located at 651 Mulberry St., Macon, Ga.
This year Macon’s own Ocmulgee National Monument will be kicking off its 27th Ocmulgee Indian Celebration for two days on Sept. 15 and 16. This historic celebration presents traditional Native American dances, crafts, stories and music. Every fall large crowds gather to celebrate the rich history of Native Americans from all around the Southeast.
Mercer students are encouraged to get involved in Macon events and sometimes given extra credit for attending the Ocmulgee Indian Celebration. Mercer senior Rachel Copeland is from Macon and went to the event as a child.
“My family tried to take me every year when I was growing up,” Copeland said. “I think it shows a lot of the heritage of Macon and it also exposes you to the culture that was here and is still here.”
At this year’s celebration, there will be arts and crafts such as pottery, arrowhead and jewelry making. Half hour shows of dancing, live drumming and flute playing will be presented as well.
Park Ranger Angela Bates said, “it’s important for everyone, no matter their age, to experience different cultures first hand.”
Storytelling is a big part of the celebration. The history of the dances, music and crafts are shared, and stories of creation and legends are told every half hour.
Throughout the day there will be historic displays of animal furs and housing, showcasing how native people lived thousands of years ago. Live animals, such as horses, can be seen at the event. All trails will be open during the celebration, as well as the visitors center.
Hayley Harrod, a junior at Mercer, has attended the event several times and encourages college students to take a break from school to go to the celebration.
“To get to go out to one of those festivals where you can, instead of think about school, you can think about all the peoples that lived there so long ago,” Harrod said. “I would definitely suggest it.”
Every year Ocmulgee brings in a different group of Native Americans to showcase their culture. This means that each year is different and the event can be enjoyed multiple times. Along with the nature walks, Ocmulgee offers a real life look into the lives of Native Americans.
“It’s really really beautiful,” Harrod said. “You really get to experience their culture.”
The event is only $6 to attend for adults ages 13 and above, and $3 for military. The park itself opens at 9 a.m., however, the celebration starts at 10 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.
The park will also offer handicap shuttles from the health department parking lot located at 171 Emery Highway.
We are just a few short weeks away from the dreaded finals week which can be the most stressful time of the year for some college students. This time around, try to prepare yourself so that finals week can be easier or at least less stressful. There are many ways to do this, and in the following, you can find some helpful tips on how to relax in the weeks before finals.
By doing this, you release dopamine, which is the happiness-inducing chemical your body produces. Exercise also makes you feel good because your body is moving and burning calories. I suggest walking for 30-40 minutes a day, not so that you’re training to become a marathon runner, but that you’re getting some time to release that stress your body is holding.
Make a schedule
Sitting down and writing out a study schedule can be helpful in many ways. By organizing what you have to do, you can take a load off of your shoulders. The schedule does not have to be minute by minute, in fact, it can be a very loose schedule if that’s what you prefer. If you are one of those people who like a tight schedule, make sure to add in 30 minute breaks every so often so that you don’t get too bogged down in studying.
Get more than 6 hours of sleep
College students are notorious for being busy and getting very little sleep. This can be a problem when you really have to focus. Try getting more than 6 hours of sleep 4-5 times a week at least so that your brain can rest. This can be hard for college students; however, if you make a sleep schedule two weeks before finals, it will give you a structure to follow.
Spend time outside
As finals approach so does spring. What better way to relax than to walk over to Tattnall Square Park and enjoy some fresh air. If you have a hammock, set it up somewhere on campus and grab a book to read. Doing your homework outside can also be beneficial because you’re not trapped in a 24-hour room or alone. Maybe invite friends on a picnic and take in the scenery together.
Change it up a bit
Make some changes in your routine, whether that be a new hairstyle or changing what you eat. Getting a new look can make you feel refreshed because it’s not the same old, same old you’re used to. Sitting down and planning out your meals can also help you organize and get ready for finals. Throw some brain food in your diet and drink more water.
Take a day
Sometimes, when all else fails, you just have to take a day off. Find a day in your schedule where you can put a pause on homework and relax by yourself. If you can’t spare a whole day, try to take a few hours out of your busy schedule to meditate or read a good book that’s not school related. Taking some time off is a good way to let your mind rest before taking a big test.
The biggest thing to remember during this upcoming month is that your health is more important than finals season. Your body can only push so hard before you begin to see the side effects of stress and lack of nutrition and sleep. Balancing yourself out in the next few weeks is important so that you are prepared for finals, but also for any job or internship you are working this summer.
Galentine’s Day, which falls on the day before Valentine’s Day, all started in a 2010 episode of “Parks and Recreation.” This holiday was made famous by Leslie Knope, the star character of the show. In the episode, also entitled Galentine’s Day, Knope describes the day as, “the best day of the year.”
It quickly grew into a popular holiday among women, even for those who had not seen the episode. Although it is not an official holiday, it gets recognition across the globe as women come together to celebrate their friendships.
“Galentine’s is the day to get all your girls together, have fun, share the love and reflect on your achievements, battles won, gains and additions to your life,” Maxine Poulter, personal trainer for MissFits Nutrition, explained to The Independent.
Along with the fun activities that girls can do together on this holiday, it is also a good time to treat yourself to something nice. According to the Huffington Post, research shows that treating yourself increases motivation, boosts happiness and improves your overall body image.
While Saturdays may be for the boys, Galentine’s Day is for the girls. In the words of Knope, “Uteruses before Duderuses. Ovaries before brovaries.”
Here are some ideas for celebrating Galentine’s day with your girlfriends:
Make an Inspiration Board
Gather your crafty friends and create your own inspiration board. This can be done by gathering newspaper or magazine clippings and pinning them onto a corkboard. Add cutouts of your favorite quotes or celebrity role models. This is a fun way to share inspiration with your friend group while also making a decorative piece for your room!
Like Leslie Knope would do, eat some waffles. Top it with peanut butter, pecans, chocolate chips, whip cream or just plain butter.
Home Cooked Meal
Prepare a home cooked meal together. Time in the kitchen with your friends can be a great way to bond and celebrate Galentine’s Day. If you can’t cook, try taking a cooking class and learn something new with your friends!
Go Out To Eat
Grab your pals and eat at a fancy restaurant. Then, go dancing or do karaoke. Go for a hike or walk around a park. Just get out and do something with your friends!
Give each other extremely extravagant makeovers. Do each other’s makeup, hair and nails, whether you have somewhere to go or not. As the saying goes, “If you look good, you feel good.”
Break out the board games, a deck of cards or even video games and have an all-day marathon. Order pizza, stay in your sweats and let the games begin!
Enjoy a spa day at home or pay a professional. Go to the store and stock up on spa products such as lotions, face masks and cucumbers. Or plan a trip to get massages with your friends and spend the day enjoying a stress-free environment.
Traditional Valentine’s Day
Buy flowers and chocolates for your friends. Make it a surprise and get something for your gals. Leslie Knope handmade her gifts but picking up your friend’s favorite candy or flowers is still a good way to show them how much they mean to you!
In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill making Martin Luther King Jr. Day an official holiday. MLK Day is celebrated on the third Monday in January annually close to Jan. 15, Dr. King’s birthday, to commemorate his life.
The holiday promotes equal rights and reflects King’s life by celebrating the activism he stood for. Americans honor King’s fight for equality with parades, community events and memorials.
MLK Day is only the third holiday that was created to recognize an individual. Reagan signed the bill 15 years after King’s assassination and it was first observed in 1986. Only in the year 2000 did all 50 states officially observe the holiday.
Shortly after King’s death, Congressman John Conyers Jr. proposed legislation to make King’s birthday a national holiday. Three years later, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference sent Congress a petition signed by over 3 million people in support.
The bill was in a state of conflict for about a decade until it eventually gained support under President Jimmy Carter, according to Time.com.
Coretta Scott King, King’s wife, was an advocate for the proposal to recognize King with a national holiday. She gathered nationwide support and testified before joint hearings of Congress. Even after the bill was defeated by five votes in Nov. 1979, she continued to rally support to send the bill to the Senate.
The bill saw more opposition in the Senate, however, when Senators John P. East and Jesse Helms took the floor with allegations of King’s involvement with communists. Nevertheless, the bill passed and was sent to Reagan to be signed.
Coretta Scott King said of the holiday that it was, “not merely a holiday, but a true holy day which honors the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Junior, in the best possible way.”
For Spring Break 2017, students involved with the Reformed University Fellowship went on a trip to Acapulco, Mexico with First Presbyterian Church of Macon. Fifteen Mercer students and four adult supervisors went to Casa Hogar del Niño de Alculpoca, an orphanage that is housed in Acapulco. This trip has been made in previous years often with returning Mercer students.
Students spent six days at the orphanage. While there, Mercer students worked on tearing down a building as well as getting to know the kids at the orphanage.
The foundation was the only thing left of the building that the team worked to tear down all week. With a smaller staff and a busy schedule, the efforts put forth by the team were helpful to the staff at the orphanage.
During the trip, a Vacation Bible School was held for the kids, plus time was given for play and sports. A devotion was led for the team everyday as they prepared to start their days.The team prepared themselves spiritually, emotionally and physically to work with the kids and staff.
As a mission team, the ability to go nonstop for the entirety of a trip is an important piece of the job. The Mercer students had a plan and executed it thoroughly throughout the week, getting the majority of the demolition finished and spending the appropriate amount of time with the kids.
The orphanage welcomes mission teams year round from First Presbyterian Church, so it is safe to say that the kids are used to the company of new people. This is particularly interesting because the kids are exposed to fresh faces and experiences all the time.
Each team is different and helps in an original way. The trip was successful at bringing Mercer’s RUF students closer to each other and to the kids. In many ways, this impacts the lives of the team and the children in a good way.
During one of the activities Rachel Copeland, a sophomore who went on the trip, was painting faces when one of the kids came up to her and pointed to Rachel’s face. Confused at first, Copeland asked what the young girl wanted. Finally Copeland realized that the child wanted to paint her face, so she let her.
These experiences were the ones that touched the team members the most. Many of the kids were passionate and involved with the Mercer students. This was the second trip to Acapulco for Copeland and she plans to go back.
By gaining experience out of the country, students faced the reality of what it would be like to travel and work under different conditions. This is especially useful for students who are looking to take more mission trips in the future.
The downside to mission trips such as this one is that the team is only there for six days. While they got a very large portion of the work done, the allotted time given was not enough. It is important to remember that any help received is appreciated; however, there is always more to be done.
Also, the connection made with the kids and the group of Mercer students is something that will always be remembered. Given such a short time to interact makes the relationship more casual.
The mission trip overall seemed to be beneficial for all who were involved. Mercer students reaching out to all corners of the world is not only good for their own experience, but it says a lot about the people who are being accepted into the university.