Month: February 2017

Simulation Center helps students learn by failing safely

by TYLER YORK // Online Editor

Students may not realize that the Reese Center campus of South Plains College is home to several artificial humans.

The Center for Clinical Excellence, located in Building 1, is known by its students and staff simply as the Simulation Center. It houses many resources for training students who are entering medical fields, including some of the most advanced high-fidelity patient simulators available today. Students from programs such as nursing, emergency medical services, and several other medical professions come to the Simulation Center to train with these technologies in the safest and most realistic environment possible, thanks to the authenticity of both the environment and simulators.

Tanya Ward, clinical simulation coordinator, oversees the daily operation of the Simulation Center. But even with all the responsibilities and technical knowledge required to keep such an advanced training program operating, Ward sees the position from a more gratifying perspective.

“I actually have the best job at South Plains College,” said Ward about her role in the program. “This is really a fun place.”

img_4020Part of that fun for Ward involves the operation of the patient simulators. They are complex, lifelike mannequins that have the ability to mimic a variety of responses, including breathing, bleeding, and even a pupillary light reflex. High-fidelity simulators such as these can be filled with fake blood to practice setting IVs, or fake urine to learn how to set a catheter.

The realism can be further augmented through the use of a technique called “moulage,” which is the term for crafting artificial wounds or injuries to teach students how to treat them. Ward explained the process of setting up the moulage for a lesson, using what the staff calls “the cookbook.” The cookbook, similar in some ways to those found in kitchens, contains recipes for creating various substances to allow the students to experience a convincing version of what Ward describes as “the sights and smells of nursing.”

The CCE is filled with state-of-the-art medical learning resources and skilled instructors, a privilege that is usually reserved for larger institutions such as Texas Tech University.

The simulators at the CCE are the same models as those used in training at TTU. But unlike the TTU labs, students utilizing the SPC Simulation Center have the benefit of not incurring any extra fees for the use of the facility.

img_4106Opening in 2009, the CCE operates as a training environment where students work without any intervention from instructors. This serves the idea that while getting it right in practice is always preferred, students tend to learn best from making mistakes and forming their own connections. Clothes are brought in to put in patient rooms, and rooms can be set up with couches to simulate the feeling of a home visit. In this way, the CCE allows students to receive instruction in near-reality medical treatment conditions, but without the enormous pressure of making a mistake that could harm a living person.

“We let them make mistakes, so that way they can see what happens,” explained Ward. “The instructors do not intervene. Then after the simulation is over with, we process that with them. What did you do well? What did you not do so well?”

This system of instruction and evaluation is designed to allow students to develop logical reasoning skills on the job. Ward describes it as vital to the success of the students once they leave the program.

“You can’t undo the mistakes you make out there,” Ward said. “Here, all I have to do is push a button and that patient comes back to life again.”

The CCE was funded years ago mostly by the Department of Labor’s Community-Based Job Training federal grant, which awarded $1.6 million for the facility to be established. Ward believes this was crucial to the success of the facility. She hopes the community can continue seeing its benefits for years to come.

“We want to make learning fun here,” said Ward. “And we don’t want to be a secret.”

Sexual assault victim recalls time spent as child prostitute

by MATT MOLINAR // Associate Editor

[Editor’s note: This story is the second part of the multipart series “Risque Business,” examining the dangers of prostitution that begins with Issue #7 and concludes in Issue #12. Several staff members took it upon themselves to interview, take photographs, and conduct research. The results of their combined efforts follow.]

[Be advised: Only the first name has been given in order to protect the identity of Emily.]

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As a sexually traumatized teen turns to drugs to cope, she soon realizes she has an easy payment option – her own body.

At first glance, Emily looks like any well put-together 20-year-old. She’s kind, confident and easy to look at. It seems almost impossible to assume she once sold her body to multiple men in exchange for money and drugs while she was still enrolled in high school.

According to, the average age a female becomes a prostitute is 14 years old. Many women who turn to prostitution at a young age are either forced into it or resort to it after living in an abusive home.

“There’s a whole background to this that stems from past trauma that altered me mentally,” explains Emily. “When I was 6 years old, I had an older cousin who was 15. At the time, he was having family issues, and my family took him into our home. After he had been living with us, over the span of about a year, he molested me, along with my two sisters.”

Emily says that she and her sisters ended up not telling anyone about the incident because their cousin threatened them. However, after he moved out, they spoke up.

“After he finally moved out, in April of 2004, we finally told on him,” Emily said. “My dad called the cops, who pretty much told us we had to move forward. But we were able to get a restraining order on him. We had to go through this whole experience where they literally looked at our bodies to make sure everything was OK and asked us to point out where we were touched. It was really uncomfortable for me, and I feel like I can still smell the room sometimes.”

Emily says that after making the claims, her father’s side of the family resented her and said that the accusations she made were false, making her feel rejected by the family.

“When I was 13 and a freshman in high school, this guy I was dating got what he wanted from me at a party, and never talked to me again,” she recalls. “And as a teenager who already had been traumatized, I started looking for drugs and basically lost my mind.”

img_0540Instead of getting a job as her peers were beginning to do, Emily resorted to using her body to pay for pills and pot from the men who originally introduced her to the drugs. She says it was normal for a dealer to drive her out to a supplier in order to get them to drop prices.

“Essentially, I traded sexual favors for either money or drugs,” Emily explained. “The last time I did it was when I was about 17. One time, I had a guy drive me out to some really rough projects in Lubbock when I was 15. I got out to make the purchase, my dealer said, ‘Give me the drugs, and you can keep her,’ and he basically traded me for some drugs from a group of men. But I knew that it was something I had done before, and I could do it again.”

Emily says her last “favor” was given when she was 17,  nearly 50 favors in the span of a little more than two years. She says she was able to complete the exchanges without any emotional attachment, something she developed after being raped and taken advantage of when she was younger.

“I was barely getting through high school,” Emily explained. “I would get home, go to sleep, and wait for everyone else to go to sleep. I would get out, and then get back home just before everyone was beginning to wake up, and go back to school the next morning. They knew I was hanging around the wrong people, but I did a very good job of keeping things hidden.”

Emily says she spent many moments in the principle’s office with her parents, who were trying to figure out what was going on. They were never able to pinpoint what was keeping their daughter so distracted. She says that her parents have no idea she had been using her body to buy drugs.

“When you think of prostitutes, people don’t think of someone like me,” she said. “They think of a crazy woman standing on the side of the street with no teeth. But that’s not reality. Anybody could be doing it.”

Emily says the turning point in her life was learning about the death of  a former lover who had overdosed on illegal drugs.

“We used to play golf together and lay around on the grass and drink,” Emily said. “He was awesome. He got heavily into drugs and got sent away by his parents. While I was working on straightening myself up, he came back and told me that sobering up wasn’t worth it.”

Emily says that her friend began dating another girl who was heavily addicted to drugs, preventing him from continuing with the help he had been receiving out of town.

“He was diabetic, and instead of buying insulin, he was buying her alcohol and drugs,” she said. “About a week after his parents began allowing him back into their home, he overdosed, and I was the third person to know.”

Three years later, Emily has plans of going through flight attendant training so she can have the opportunity to travel the world.

“I currently have a friend who is a flight attendant, and she’s trying to help me get a job with that,” Emily said. “The hours are insane, and traveling is something I have always wanted to do.”

According to, 40 percent of child prostitutes remain under the influence of a trafficker or pimp through adulthood. Emily says that unless these women are given a protection program, they will more than likely continue living as a prostitute.

“Honestly, I feel like there should be some kind of involuntary program where prostitutes are forced into protective custody,” Emily explained. “Because what people fail to realize is that, yeah, there are girls selling themselves out there, but there’s usually a person behind them that’s taking most of the money from it. When they get arrested and end up getting the charge, they go back on to the streets.”

[Photo illustration by TOVI OYERVIDEZ / PLAINSMAN PRESS]

Dining hall expands menu to better serve students, faculty

by HANNAH NELSON // Staff Writer


A variety of changes to the daily menus recently were implemented for Texan Hall.

These additions included four new menu options for both the lunch and dinner meal times.

Great Western Dining, a contract company, operates the cafeteria and snack bar on the Levelland campus.

“We have actually been here for 20 years, and he felt like it was time for some changes,” said Mike Rodreick, the food service director for Great Western Dining. “And I agree. I think it’s time for some changes.”

Before these changes, a variety of options were added, including main meals, a salad bar, sandwich bar, and more. Among the changes to the service are new food stations. They now offer a pizza station, pasta station, comfort station, and smokehouse station that students and faculty can choose from.

The comfort station changes from lunch to dinner.

“Things we put together that we know students like,” Rodreick said.

There is a change every day between the afternoon and evening meals. But the smokehouse station is a consistent option for students and faculty. The smokehouse station offers two smoked meats, along with a variety of side dishes including pinto beans, Macaroni and cheese, and potatoes.

“We have a huge smoker out in the back, and we are proud to have it because we can produce a lot of meat,” said Rodreick.

The cafeteria cooks freshly smoked meat every morning.

The other options offered in the cafeteria are a pizza and pasta station. The purchase of a pizza maker was approved so that they make a variety of pizzas to serve. Included are dscn0258vegetarian pizzas to accommodate those who come into the cafeteria who may be vegetarian.

“We felt like that would be a good change for the students,” Rodreick said, “because that is what we are here for, to take care of the students. And, of course, faculty and staff.”

Two trucks arrive each week delivering fresh produce and meat.

“We have people here that check the produce,” Rodreick explained. “And if they do not like the looks of the produce, they send it back.”

Cafeteria employees come in at 5 a.m. to start on the food preparation and the breakfast menu. From 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., a different group of workers come in.

“We have quite a few students that we hire, and we also hire high school students that normally work at night time,” said Rodreick.

More changes are planned for the future, according to Rodreick. This includes changing the cafeteria layout to better accommodate the number of people coming through.

“We want to bring the soda machines and the coffee machines inside the cafeteria, maybe make less flow in the serving area,” Rodreick said.

Due to plumbing accommodations that will need to be made, these changes are planned for the summer.

“I am looking forward to some of the changes,” said Rodreick. “I think that Great Western Dining and the college has come to an agreement that we need some changes.”

Great Western Dining Company is glad to be a part of SPC and wants to receive input from the students.

“We are here to feed the students,” he added. “So we make menus for the students. We’ve grown a lot in 20 years…Great Western Dining and the people that work here are very honored to be here.”


Board of Regents discuss proposed concealed carry policy

by SARA MARSHALL // Editor-in-Chief


The “Concealed Carry of Handguns on Campus” policy, construction updates on the Lubbock Center and an update on the Texas State Legislative Session were among topics discussed during the February meeting of the South Plains College Board of Regents.

Cathy Mitchell, vice president for student affairs, presented a draft of a new Concealed Carry of Handguns on Campus policy for the Board to consider. Beginning on Aug. 1, SPC and other community colleges around the state will allow for the concealed carry of handguns on their campuses. But this statute also brings new challenges for the college to face.

“There’s not a whole lot of leeway on what the law says that we can or can’t do,” Mitchell said.

The “Concealed Carry of Handguns on Campus” policy was created by a task force, led by Dr. Robin Satterwhite, president of SPC. According to the new policy, it “establishes guidelines and procedures for the implementation of the state statute authorizing the concealed carry of handguns on the premises of SPC.” The Concealed Carry of Handguns on Campus policy lays out guidelines which all SPC faculty, staff and students must follow accordingly.

The policy states that one cannot have a concealed handgun without the proper license or secure storage for when it is not being carried, such as in a locked gun safe. Exclusionary zones will be designated where concealed handguns will be prohibited, such as the Natatorium, UIL events and buildings where the contest will be held. Other possible areas may include the Board of Regents meetings and locations where judicial and conduct hearings are being held.

“We have a very good team who’ve worked on this [policy],” Dr. Satterwhite said. “They have been very deliberate in going out and sharing and having public forums with all the faculty, staff and students who want to learn about this and sharing comments. So we’ve tried to make this an open and collaborative process as possible.”

Dr. Satterwhite asked all Board members to review the proposed policy and offer any recommendations. Dr. Satterwhite will present the final policy to the Board at its March meeting to be voted upon.

Dr. Satterwhite also discussed updates to the current construction work at the Lubbock Center. The architects have stayed on time and on budget for the construction process. They have completed all the taping, bedding and mudding on the structure of the building, and the painting has begun.

“We’re really trying to be very diligent on spending as little as we possibly can on that, knowing that at the end we might have some surprises,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “Those surprises are going to get less and less as we progress on.”

Because the building is no longer in the major construction mode, Dr. Satterwhite said he hopes to begin doing tours of the Lubbock Center very soon.

Updating the Board on the current legislation session, Dr. Satterwhite provided an overview of impending changes. According to Dr. Satterwhite, the college’s base year contact hours have declined by -3.6, which could mean a decrease in funding of $687,409 for the 2018- 2019 school year.

Possible increases in out-of-district tuition and housing costs are being discussed to supplement the loss in funding. Dr. Satterwhite will present a report to the Regents at the March meeting with regard to funding cuts and possible alternatives.

“In our case, we lost Frenship in our dual credit, and that made a significant change for us from last biennium to this biennium,” Dr. Satterwhite explained. “Although our enrollment has been pretty good this year, but our contact hours are down.”

In anticipation of state-wide budget cuts, the Texas Governor’s Office issued a hiring freeze to all state agencies, including community colleges. There are currently 10 positions that have been placed on hold until SPC administrators can determine the need basis of the positions. Some of these positions are a necessity to the daily operations of SPC, but some will stay on hold until the administration can scrutinize each position individually.

The administration also is analyzing all academic and operational areas to evaluate whether they are more of a cost to the college, or more of a revenue center.

“There are some areas, for example, English, that it does not matter if it costs you or not, you have to have it,” Dr. Satterwhite said. “There are some other programs we want to look at that we don’t necessarily have to have, that are costing us money. In other words, we’re losing money by offering them. And we may need to evaluate them.”

19th Annual Scholarship Gala set for Feb. 25

by BRANDI ORTIZ // News Editor

South Plains College plans to raise funds for student scholarships during the 19th Annual Scholarship Gala.

The event is set for Feb. 25 in the Physical Education Complex on the Levelland campus.

The Board of Regents of South Plains College and the directors of the South Plains College Foundation come together to bring in sponsors and donors to help fund scholarships for students.

According to Julie Gerstenberger, the director of development and alumni relations at SPC, more than 800 students are receiving scholarships from the SPC Foundation for the 2016-2107 academic year. The gala typically raises $100,000, but Gerstenberger hopes to raise twice that much before she leaves the Foundation.

“Proceeds are generated, in large part, through table and ticket sales,” says Gerstenberger.

There are different variations of sponsorships. There is the Underwriting Partner sponsorship which is $5,000; the Diamond level partnership is $2,000; a Platinum level sponsor is $1,000; the Gold level is $800; and individual benefactor tickets are $100 per person.

The Gala also features a live auction, silent auction, and a raffle of donated items in hopes of raising funds. The theme for this year’s event is “Unlocking Opportunities.”

The Foundation has asked some SPC students from the sound technology and video technology programs to use what they have learned in class by helping out with video, audio and visual effects for the night.

“If we really didn’t have [student volunteers], we wouldn’t have any success,” expressed Gerstenberger. “Students are really key, not only as the beneficiaries, but as the people who help make it work.”

The evening also will include a gourmet dinner, provided by Great Western Dining, and live entertainment provided by Dustin Garrett and his wife Kristi Thetford, who are both SPC alums.

The couple both toured with the Tommy Gallagher Band and the Taylor Hickey Band for four years after graduation.

Garrett was also in the top five in the national Kings of Blues Contest in Hollywood, Calif. Thetford was an original member of the Ranch Dance Fiddle Band.

During the Gala, the three 2017 Pacesetter Award recipients will be announced and honored.

“The event was created to bring in scholarship money,” Gerstenberger said. “We want to be sure that we are not just asking, we need to remember to thank and recognize.”

The Pacesetter is an award presented to a person or organization that has not only helped financially but also  has devoted time and energy to help raise funds.

This year, the Pacesetter Award recipients are: The Estate of Themla Hudson Murphy; the Hockley County Junior Livestock Show Association Board; and the SPC Lubbock Center Lead Partners (The Helen Jones Foundation, The CH Foundation, and the Lubbock Economic Development Alliance).

Deadline for graduation applications approaches

by BRANDI ORTIZ // News Editor

If you are completing your degree requirements this semester, don’t forget to get your application for graduation in on time.

Applications for May graduation are currently available to students who have met all requirements. The deadline for applications is March 8.

Students who are not sure if they are eligible should contact their program advisor.

To be eligible to graduate, a student must have at least a 2.0 grade-point average or better, and have finished all degree requirements.

If a student is receiving a certificate and an associate’s degree, he or she must make sure to apply for each, separately.

Students who are completing an associate’s degree need to make sure that they are TSI compliant and have completed all of their course work. Once those requirements have been met, students can go online and fill out the free online graduation application.

To complete the application, students must sign in to their MySPC account, click on the ‘Students’ tab, and then ‘Admissions and Records.’ On the left- hand side, click on the ‘Forms and Tools’ link, and there will be a blue link with the graduation application attached.

When the application is turned in, administrators will put it under review after final grades are posted.

Students who are approved to graduate will participate in the spring graduation ceremony that will be held on May 12. If a student is not able to participate in the graduation ceremony, he or she has to be excused and given permission to graduate in absentia.

For help, students can contact their program advisor, or go to the Student Services Building and see Robin Coler, the graduation clerk, in the Admissions and Records Office.

Students encouraged to participate in Homecoming week festivities

by SARA MARSHALL // Editor-in-Chief

Students, faculty, staff and alumni are invited to join in this year’s annual Homecoming festivities.

“Showdown at the Dome” is the theme for this year’s event on March 2 at the Texan Dome on the Levelland campus. All SPC clubs, organizations and resident halls were asked to submit two nominees for the 2017 Homecoming King and Queen, and all students are encouraged to vote.

To qualify, every nominee must be a full-time student from any of the SPC locations.

The Homecoming election will be held on Feb. 22 and Feb. 23 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both the Levelland and the Reese Center campuses.  On the Levelland campus, the voting will be held in the mall area in front of the Bookstore. Voting at the Reese Center campus will be held in Room 807 in Building 8.  To vote, students must present a current SPC ID card.

The winners will be announced during half time of the Lady Texan and Texan basketball games on March 2.

Student Life encourages all students, faculty and organizations to participate in the Homecoming activities throughout the week. On Feb. 27, students can wear pajamas to class to “Put WTC to Sleep.” On Feb. 28, all of SPC can wear hats to “Throw Some Shade at WTC.” On March 1, everyone can wear cowboy boots to “Boot Out WTC.” And lastly, everyone can dress up in all their Texan gear for game day on March 2.

Student Life also will be hosting a door decorating contest throughout the week for faculty and staff members, as well as a Homecoming dance for students after the game in the Sundown Room of the Student Center on the Levelland Campus.

“Homecoming is a time to show your school spirit, get the basketball team amped up for an upcoming victory and gives students something to do on campus,” said Ann Epps, director of student life at SPC. “My projections for this year’s homecoming activities is to have a great turn out, with everyone coming out to show school spirit and support SPC and make it a great night for everyone.”

BackTalk: Differences between sexes generates debate

Emotional intuition gives women sizeable advantage

by HANNAH NELSON // Staff Writer

There is a constant battle between the sexes. Boys and girls are always going to be compared to one another.

There are things that boys and girls do very different. However, there are a few things that females are prone to be better at than guys.

One of the first things that girls are known to be better at than guys is asking for help. It is a classic example  that guys will never stop to ask for directions. However, in general, females are better at asking for help when needed. Women are more likely to understand that, in some circumstances, help is necessary. Men tend to see asking for help as admitting that they are inferior to someone else, or that asking for directions makes men ignorant.

This is not the case when it comes to women, typically. Asking for help, for example asking for directions, is not a sign of weakness or ignorance. It is a way to overcome obstacles that are in the way. Asking for help also allows you to get things done the right way. Allowing someone with the knowledge you are seeking to help will keep you from doing something the wrong way or getting the wrong information. Girls see this better than guys, and, therefore, are better at getting help. This could indicate that women gets things done the right way more than men do, since we accept help from others.

Another thing that most women are better at than men is compassion. This could be due to the fact that females have an instinctive motherly nature. We are more susceptible to aspects of emotion. This is why compassion, empathy, and many other types of emotional characteristics come through in women more than men. As part of the motherly insight, women tend to recognize the emotions of others. With these insights, females generally have the initiative to try to help the person who is dealing with a specific feeling. Genetically, women are going to use their motherly instincts to aid their compassion. Males, on the other hand, do not have the genetic incentive.

Lastly, females tend to live longer lives than males. Overall, females have a longer life expectancy than males. This could be caused by a variety of things. Females are living healthier lives than males, having a lower level of stress, or tending to make smarter life decisions with their health. There is a larger population of older females in the world than there are men in the United States. Everybody wants to live a long life, and, statistically, woman have a better chance at it than men do.  This is a very big factor that makes women better than men.

Despite the differences in gender, girls and boys are both equal, and not every person is the same. However, these are just a few examples of things girls typically are better at than guys. Women get things done better, are more compassionate, and live longer lives. These are a few things that make females the better sex.

Men interact, resolve conflict more easily

by DOMINICK PUENTE // Editorial Assistant

The great debate of which gender is better, simpler, and overall less complicated is an ongoing conversation that has been talked about for years.

However, the males are easily the most simplistic gender of the two.

For males, we make things simple not only for the benefit of ourselves, but the benefit of everyone around us.

If asked a question, I do not take 30 minutes debating and then leave the topic for other suggestions. It can be as simple as choosing a place to eat or a place to go.

Every time I ask a female where she would like to go or where to do something, the response is always, “I don’t know,” or “I always choose, you pick,” when in truth, the guy has always chosen what to do.

Guys do not have problems making the decision, but the rules of a gentleman always call for the man to ask for suggestions or preferences. But getting complicated answers, or being answered with another question, gets old and frustrating.

Therefore, males get a point for being better, because being simple and straight to the point usually ends better for both parties.

Females have that assumption that every guy is out to sleep with their best friend, or is always keeping girls around behind the scenes.

My understanding is not all guys are the same. If a male stumbles across a girl who cannot be loyal or is not fully committed, he has a pretty clear idea of who to avoid so as not to encounter the same problem again.

Girls constantly post pictures or rants talking about how they cannot find the right guy who will not do things behind their backs or will treat them right. You would think that the girl would do some self-evaluating to find similarities within the wrong guys she has been in relationships with to avoid a reoccurring problem.

But that is never the case. The posts keep flooding everyone’s feeds, and eventually everyone concludes that she simply has horrible taste in relationships.

No guy ever goes to social media and his friends to say all girls are the same. If that is the case, something is legitimately wrong with the guy. I have never met a male who constantly rants that females are the same and he cannot find anyone who is different. If you get that reply, you are not looking hard enough.

In the male’s favor is the ability to stay calm and not flip a switch and become crazy in an argument or “heated discussion.”

A guy has no problem confronting a female about problems between each other, talking through it and being civil.

I have encountered countless confrontations with a female when I would like to talk about things between the female and I and it ends with her screaming, being dramatic, crying, or all the above, with the occasional 50 questions toward, me because she wants to know why I did this to her, though I have no clue what I did exactly.

Guys are willing to discuss a lot of things to improve a relationship with a female.

But if she engages the male and he has a compelling response to the discussion, he might have ended everything between them.

Females love to make lists of things that are wrong, but will not listen to reason or an explanation about the topic. Again, points for males due to being able to reason, and being able to listen to it.

Males are more friendly and approachable with their own gender as well. A guy can approach another guy and just start talking and being friendly about anything. However, a female usually is not up to just talking to another girl, unless she is bored. Females will not leave their circle of friends unless forced to, or accidentally stumble upon another girl with similar interests.

Along with that, if two males have problems and think fighting is the solution, both males can continue being friends after the confrontation. Giving each other space and time will eventually solve the previous problems, and both males will carry on being friends or at least remain acquaintances.

With females, if a problem arises between two girls, neither of them will talk to the other for the rest of their lives unless it is necessary. Even then, words might be exchanged, or fists will be swinging.

Ruining a relationship between two women will never be resolved after the first argument or fight. Even after the argument or fight, both girls would rather jump off a bridge than try to become friends again or cross each other’s paths.

Females tend to have a short fuse, with the ability to become hostile in a matter of seconds because of the smallest things.

These are just a few reasons why males are a better, simple, and more understanding gender than females.

Technology, changing social attitudes make dating challenging

by SHELBY MORGAN//Staff Writer

Smartphone dating app illustrationThe days of bumping into your soulmate in line at the grocery store, dating, falling in love, and living happily ever after are long gone.

We live in a world of social media where everyone is glued to the device in their hands, constantly refreshing their apps to see the latest update from friends. It’s more common to hear a couple say they met on Tinder than the stories we would beg our parents to tell about how they met.

Perhaps I just don’t understand it, or maybe the years I’ve spent watching “Hope Floats” or “Pretty Woman” have shaped the way I think it should happen. I’m no expert, but I feel that dating and falling in love has become so effortless and emotionless.

  Romance seems to be taking a turn for the worse. When did it become OK to make fate-altering decisions by swiping left or right on a very carefully chosen set of five pictures and a paragraph? When did manners go out the window? When did it become OK to message a complete stranger and say, “Hey! Send me pictures! ;)” What happened to getting to know someone, and then maybe having dinner? When did everything change? Has that always been a thing and I just wasn’t let in on this little secret?

  Times are changing. I grew up on the cusp of technology. I remember what it was like to not have cell phones. I remember getting my first cell phone and not being allowed to text because it was so expensive. What happened to talking on the phone? Pick up the phone and call me. Ask me about my day. Tell me about yours. Pick me up for dinner. Knock on the door to let me know you’re there, and then open the door for me (you get bonus points for this). Don’t, I repeat, do not, sit and play on your phone during dinner. What happened to sending flowers, just to say I’m thinking about you? I like old-school things such as handwritten letters, phone calls, late-night drives to nowhere, stargazing dates, and kisses goodnight.

  People don’t even date anymore, just talking, catching feelings, being too stubborn to admit it, hooking up, and ending up in situationships. There is no dating scene. It’s just a free-for all. Literally. Chivalry is dead. It died the minute girls started to settle for a text to “Netflix & Chill.”

  As if it isn’t hard enough to actually find someone to have dinner with and hold a conversation with throughout it, then comes the games. There are so many rules to dating in this technology-fueled world. Don’t text first or you look desperate. Don’t text back right away. Don’t you dare watch that Snapchat after 30 seconds of them sending it. Phone calls are a dying art, so if he calls you, he’s a keeper. Relationships are label free these days, with 99 percent of our generation “just talking.” Most importantly, the person who cares less has all the power. You don’t want to look like the one who is too desperate or too available. Keep them guessing.

  With everyone posting status updates of every moment of their day, as a society, we’re always looking for instant gratification. The grass always seems to be greener on the other side. We’re not growing old on the front porch together anymore, because once the going gets tough, we get going.

  Let’s all cut the nonsense. Are you interested, or not? Who cares if you text me back 12 seconds after I text you? Who cares if I text you first? And who cares if you catch feelings? Isn’t that the end game we’re all going for? Happily ever after?

If suddenly, you’re not interested, so be it. Call it a loss and move on. We’re all getting too old for playground games.

Before we know it, we’re all going to find ourselves on at 43, still single, older, and a lot more desperate. I think enough is enough. This isn’t the SIMS, so let’s quit acting like it.

Sexual orientation spurs unjustifiable degradation

by BRITTNY STEGALL//Opinion Editor


Living in the world today, if someone is a homosexual, he or she gets treated as if they are infected with a disease that is going to spread to whoever they come in contact with.

Being homosexual is not an infectious disease. Whether someone is gay or lesbian, they are normal people, just like everyone else. Why do we treat them differently? They get called “fags” or “queers,” and the list goes on. Parents turn their kids away from them as they walk by. They get bullied physically and mentally, and that does not just go away overnight. It is continuous. No matter how many laws are passed or views are changed, there will still be somebody out there to throw vile words into their faces.

Being gay or lesbian is something you are either born with or not, because nobody in his or her right mind would choose to go through their lives being bullied until the day they die. Why is it that people torment others if they are not like them?

I have a brother and multiple friends who are openly gay. I even have a few friends who are not open about it, because they fear how their friends and family are going to look at them once they come out. Every single one of them has said, “how it was something I was born with, I never chose to do this.” One even prayed that it would go away. Nobody can tell me that someone who would pray for it to go away would ask for it to happen.

They are homosexual, but that does not mean they have HIV or AIDS. It does not mean that they cannot raise a proper family because there is not a mother or a father in the picture. It is not a free pass to call them names and mentally and physically harm them. It isn’t something that should be treated like a disease. It is not a sin that out-weighs other sins.

We should love them equally as we would love a straight person. It is a chance for two same sex-people to be happy raising a child together in their home. It means their blood is not infected with a “gay” disease. It means we call them by their names, not by any other godforsaken name you can think up. It means we treat them with the same respect you would treat your mother. God loves every one equally. Just because someone is homosexual does not mean He is going to banish them to hell or make that sin worth more than others.

Being homosexual is not a life choice that one can decide overnight. It is a gut feeling one has when he or she is younger and realizes “I might not be like other boys and girls my age.” Young boys and girls who might be lesbian or gay are growing up in a world where they see homosexuals being bashed and harmed, not loved like they might be now.

So how can it be OK to look at a grown person and call him or her names and hate them when you would never think about doing that to a child? You are supposed to raise children so they want to be themselves and be proud of who they are. So, if we keep mentally and physically harming homosexuals, how can we be raising our kids to grow up to be proud of themselves if they are homosexual? People are raising them to hide who they are and to fear who they are without even realizing they are doing it. We need to allow them to BE who they are, not who they are TOLD they are.

Take a step back and think of the world you want your children, friends and family to live in. Do you want a world where it’s OK to call them hateful names, or do you want a world in which we can all be loved? The next time you use some insult that you think is OK to say, think about if you would want your son or daughter being called that.

Mother draws inspiration from child to pursue higher education

by SHELBY MORGAN//Staff Writer


Parenting while going to college is not an easy thing to do. Throw in working a full-time job, and to some, it seems impossible.

I was in my first year of college when I found out that I was pregnant. All of a sudden I had a new life to care for and all of my dreams were put on hold. I worked, took care of a home, and was raising a baby, all while I was still just a baby myself. The desire to finish my degree was always in my mind, but seemed so unattainable at the time.

  Fast forward a few years, and the goals I thought were so impossible seemed reachable. I read a quote one day that inspired me tremendously to not let life pass me by. The days are going to pass, regardless of what I have planned for them.

Joyce Maynard once said, “It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. As much as we watch to see what our children do with their lives, they are watching us to see what we do with ours. I can’t tell my children to reach for the sun. All I can do is reach for it myself.”

  How did I expect to encourage my son to chase his dreams, when I was settling for the life that I was living? I wanted more. I deserved more. The decision to go back to school is not one that I took lightly. I weighed my odds, and being a spiritual person, I prayed. As if I didn’t already have enough on my plate, I registered for classes at South Plains College.

  I’m not the first to do it, and I certainly won’t be the last. But it may be a little easier if there was a handbook on the do’s and don’ts. I’m still learning how to juggle it all. I plan my life in 15-minute increments, and how much I can get done before I have to move on to the next task. I am up at 5 a.m, and most nights I don’t go to bed until 1 a.m.

I constantly feel like a chicken running around with its head cut off. Going to school while working and raising a child means doing two sets of homework. It means there is no free time to sit on the couch and watch Netflix. Every moment spent awake is doing something productive, whether it is homework, studying, dishes, or laundry. It means you’re the only one playing all of the roles: mom, dad, chauffer, teacher, cheerleader, shoulder to cry on, maid, and so many others.

It also means setting an example for your kids. Teach them discipline, dedication, time-management, and that anything that you set your mind to is possible. At all times, there are two eyes on you watching your every move, and learning by the standard you are showing him or her. Show them to reach for the stars. Encourage them to chase their dreams, and be there to cheer them on every step of the way. Should they fall, be there to pick them up.

  The journey is a difficult one, but it will pay off in the end. It’s long nights, no sleep, and juggling 37 things at the same time. There are tears, and there are smiles. But the biggest ones happen when you hear your 6 year old say “I’m proud of you.” It’s the most fulfilling thing to know that you aren’t just doing this for yourself.

Fidgeting could make students more productive

by TYLER YORK//Online Editor


I am always fidgeting.

I twitch, bounce a leg, click a pen, or otherwise repeat some sort of tiny, thoughtless action hundreds of times a day. I used to think this was just an unfortunate quirk of my physiology, that my body was building up this nervous energy caused by boredom, anxiety, excitement or some other unknown process and it was simply being expressed in this annoying, sometimes explosively irritating, way. I didn’t necessarily think I was alone in this unconscious behavior, but I never would have considered any of it beneficial.

Then the Fidget Cube opened my eyes. Now I think we should all make an effort to fidget more.

The term “fidgeting” has recently come to prominence as a catchall for these tiny, nervous behaviors. It’s only in the past few years that both psychologists and the public have started grouping these actions into a single category. Before that, it was all just considered random, bothersome tics, or, in some extreme cases, a side effect of ADHD. So, in general terms, fidgeting is exactly what it sounds like: absentmindedly playing with something.

When I first heard about the concept of fidgeting as something other than an act that annoyed everyone in my immediate vicinity, I was dubious. I had stumbled across an article talking about something upcoming on the crowdfunding website Kickstarter called the Fidget Cube—a tiny pocket-sized plastic cube, with every face ornamented with different fiddly knobs and buttons and twisty things. It was strangely adorable in its simplicity, and I knew I wanted to learn more.

I ended up backing the Fidget Cube on Kickstarter, and what followed is now one of the top 10 most-funded projects in all of Kickstarter history—with more than $6 million contributed by more than 150,000 backers. I’ve had mine for about a week at the time of writing, and while it hasn’t been “life-changing” by any means, I feel like I’m well on my way to rising through the fidgeting ranks.

A number of other fidget toys and devices have cropped up in the wake of the Fidget Cube’s massive popularity. One of the more popular categories of toys is something called a fidget spinner—commonly a two-or-three-ended plastic toy a few inches long with a skateboard bearing in the middle, allowing the fidget-cubeperson handling it to satisfyingly spin it rapidly between their fingers. These toys have also become pretty popular in the 3d printing community, due to their customizable nature.

So the obvious question is: why would anybody want one of these things, especially if the only purpose they serve is to get on the nerves of one’s neighbors? It turns out fidgeting may be much more than just childish, hyperactive movement.

According to a 2016 article published in the American Physiological Journal, researchers found fidgeting can actually prevent damage to blood vessels caused by long-term sitting, which is becoming more common in a world where people sit in front of computers all day for work. Another study in the Journal of At-Risk Issues showed that middle-schoolers given stress balls were able to focus more easily on learning when they had something to fiddle with.

Obviously, these are just a few pieces of research, and can’t speak to everyone’s learning styles or health needs. But it seems to me there’s definitely something to this fidgeting craze that’s on the upswing. Ever since I got my cube, I’m now a big fan of not only passive fidgeting, but actively picking it up to keep my hands busy while reading, or brainstorming.

It could just be the excitement of having a new toy, but it seems to be helping quite a bit. Or, at the very least, I’m having fun playing with it, and that in itself should count for something.

So I say the next time you’re in class and the person next to you is bouncing a leg or clicking a pen, try not to get annoyed. Maybe they’re just trying to pay better attention.

Dog ownership requires preparation, dedication

by SERGIO MADRID//Editorial Assistant


Dogs are simple creatures. They eat, sleep, poop, and love you. And if you allow them to do all those things, they are perfectly content.

Sometimes a dog will draw a bad hand, and they wind up with a difficult owner who just doesn’t seem to understand them.

It’s an odd thought, that dog owners are the ones who don’t understand the dog. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? No, and I’ll tell you why.

Back when people did their own work, built their own homes, and farmed their own land, to make these jobs easier for them, they bred dogs for specific jobs. Dogs were given a purpose, instead of scavenging off our waste.

This idea was expanded on, and people began to genetically modify dogs for certain looks and sizes, a practice known as eugenics.

A century later, or longer, most people have no idea what they’re getting into when they get a new dog. They see a cute Border Collie, but they have no idea that dog probably out smarts them. They get their kid a Dalmatian because he loves the Disney movie, but they are unaware Dalmatians can have bad tempers and are extremely independent, as they were once used to fight in wars and guard stagecoaches.

Maybe the owner is the one with a bad temper. And they get a small dog, such as a Chihuahua or a Pomeranian, they require a lot of attention and have tendencies to bark and whine a lot.

You wouldn’t sign a contract without reading it first. So why would you get a dog you know nothing about? If you are interested in getting a certain breed of dog, it’s in the best interest of you and the dog to do a little research to find out whether that’s the right dog for you.

Some places will even help you find the perfect dog to fit your lifestyle. If you’re lazy and like to hang out in your apartment playing video games all day, don’t get a Labrador. It is going to destroy your apartment, due to boredom. Get yourself a Pug or an English Bulldog, a breed that’s just as lazy as you are.

If you like to go on long hikes and play sports, then, yes, get yourself a Labrador or another herding dog that will enjoy the exercise.

If you’re a first-time dog owner, don’t be discouraged from getting a mutt because you think you don’t know what you’re getting into. Most of the time, mixed breeds are more flexible to their owners than so-called “purebreds.”

That’s the first step. But now that you actually have the dog, you need to begin to learn your dog. Though it may be a Rottweiler, it is still its own person.

Yes, like people, dogs have their own personalities. Though they may share traits, they are all unique. It’s that uniqueness you need to be on the lookout for.

Is your dog more dominant than others? Does it get along with other dogs or strangers? What toys do they react to? What sort of food do they like more? Are they clingy, or do they enjoy their space? Which positive methods of training work best for them? (always exclude negative training methods, such as shock collars).

It can be tough, especially for a first-time owner. But try not to become frustrated, as these tasks take time, practice, and patience.

If done early and often, eventually you and your dog will develop good chemistry with one another. And your life together will be much more enjoyable, with hardly any headaches.

Convenience of electronic media creates communication boundary

by VANESSA DELGADO//Staff Writer


With all the convenience that technology provides, it also portrays a false sense of community.

From a business perspective, it has opened a new door. It is faster and easier than ever to reach a company’s consumers. It is more convenient for consumers to shop and review businesses. Customers can now buy products from almost anywhere. Cell phones provide speedy internet access on the go. While you’re waiting in line at the grocery store, you could easily go on a shopping spree for items in other countries and receive them the same week.

But, technology may be all too convenient. Children are no longer playing outside for hours at a time and asking mom for “five more minutes.” Mothers no longer yell that “dinner is ready!” Instead, with the quick download of an app and several clicks later, dinner is ordered.

Over the noise of their video games, the children hear the knock of the pizza delivery boy, bringing them their cheesy meal. Parents now work long hours and have busy nights. The benefit of technology is alluring to exhausted mothers and fathers.

Another popular trend among our current generation is social media. With family and friends only a click away, it can make anyone feel that they can replace face-to-face communication. Even if someone has 1,000 friends on Facebook, he or she can still feel isolated from the world.

Our communication lacks emotion and empathy when ineracting through technology. It can also be interpreted in a different way than the writer intended. When people communicate through technology, it can hinder their speaking skills and make a face-to-face encounter even seem awkward.

Most jobs require people to interact with face-to-face communication frequently. When in a job interview, the interviewee can no longer hide behind a device. Eye contact is crucial and may be a foreign concept to those who talk to people in person infrequently.

Today’s younger generation now stays inside, focusing on a small screen more often than they are performing an actual activity outside.  I remember that when I was younger, the best part of the day was those couple of hours I could play outside before dinner. Nowadays, it is a struggle just to get kids off of their video games and go outside for 30 minutes.

Spending quality time with people is essential to everyone’s well being. It helps to strengthen relationships between family and friends. Liking someone’s Facebook status might provide a short moment of instant gratification, but it does not produce life-long friendships. The stuff that true bonds are made of is experiences and memories that still make you laugh until you cry years later.

Everyone needs to put down his or her devices and experience the world. There are many adventures waiting to be taken. All you need is initiative to go and do them.

The world survived before without technology. There’s no reason that we need to solely rely on it now. The world is your playground. Go and have fun.

Haines credits Baptist Student Ministry for creating career path

by SARA MARSHALL//Editor-in-Chief

Justin Haines has been musically inclined from a young age.student_justin-haines

The commercial music major was born in New London, Conn., but was raised in Lubbock, graduating from Monterey High School. Haines didn’t grow up in a musical family, but he said he found music to be the coolest thing in the world.

“My favorite day, if you want to go back to elementary, was Fridays, because it was music class and she would always bring a different instrument, and I was fascinated by the violin,” Haines said. “I had a neighbor who took notice of how I loved music, and she tried to give me piano lessons. But that lasted a month, just because I wasn’t Bach or Beethoven yet.”

Haines quickly moved up to the viola in junior high and the violin in high school.  After graduation, Haines said he knew right away that he was going to become a music major.

Our school really advertised about South Plains College a lot, and I always kind of viewed SPC as not that big of a deal, since it is a junior college,” Haines said. “But it ended up being the best thing for me. That’s when things started getting interesting.”

Haines started out with a major in Music Education, but switched to Music Therapy during his second semester. By his third semester, Haines switched his major to Commercial Music, which offered a wider range of music genres.

“I was taught throughout the schools how to do classical music, but eventually it was more work,” Haines said. “Whereas guitar and voice came more naturally to me. I honestly found myself doing way better my first semester in Commercial Music, versus my whole year of trying to do classical music.”

Expecting to graduate in May, Haines realized just prior to the start of the Spring 2017 semester he had already graduated in December.

“It’s kind of a weird thing,” Haines said. “I had applied for graduation thinking I was going to graduate in May, and then I signed up for classes. But [SPC] dropped them because apparently they went through a degree audit and they were able to sub classes out that didn’t count previously in my college, but count now.”

Being an extremely extroverted individual, Haines sought ways to stay involved in campus life.

“I think it was orientation when I first heard about Baptist Student Ministry,” Haines said. “They had a booth up, and they were advertising their lunches and stuff. I kind of just blew it off. I really thought just like ‘OK, just another student activity.’”

The students and directors of the BSM soon began inviting Haines to their lunches and other events, such as Bible studies.

“Once I showed up, I just never really left,” Haines said. “Right now, I’m the assistant director, and Jennifer is the director of the BSM. I’m doing that up until May.”

Haines suggests that other students follow his lead and find a community they feel confident in. He said he believes a student’s social health is vital to educational success. So many students cram school and work into their days, leaving no time to be a college kid.

“I think it’s helpful to have community, to have time to breathe, to have time to just be loose,” Haines said. “I feel like if a person is confident in who they are, then they’re going to be confident in what they’re studying. I’m not going to say it’s like easy street from then on, but it will be a lot better than banging your head against the wall trying to cram every night trying to figure out everything all at once. And the BSM is definitely a place where I found some awesome, positive community that’s helped me get through classes.”

Haines plans to continue his education further than SPC, pursuing a bachelor’s degree and even possibly a master’s degree in time.

“I have a heart for student ministry, and I want to eventually, someday, be a college director or minister,” Haines said. “I’m already pretty much there, but like I want that degree to sort of secure it and be in a director’s position eventually.”

Haines still will continue to pursue music as he furthers his education after SPC. He currently serves as the director of a music ministry which caters to several youth groups, churches and youth camps. This summer, Haines and his music ministry have back-to-back youth camps.

“It’s crazy exciting and scary all at the same time, because it’s a lot of work,” Haines said. “But it’s something I love and I believe in it completely. It’s really exciting, what I’m doing with music, and I have a teacher’s heart. That’s for sure.”

On any week day, and sometimes even on the weekends, Haines can usually be found hanging out in the BSM. Haines and the other leaders of the BSM host weekly lunches, made by local churches, every Monday and Thursday for 50 cents.

Another way to be involved in the organization is by participating in on-campus worships every Wednesday in the Sundown Room of the Student Center, featuring a worship band after dinner time. Also, they drive to Texas Tech every Thursday to attend a joint Bible study, where they have a band and speaker.

Spring Break will also be a busy time for Haines and the BSM, as they go on their annual BeachReach, assisting spring break goers in need at South Padre Island. Being the second most popular Spring Break spot in the world, South Padre Island receives visitors from many countries throughout the week.

“What’s sad is you know, people go with the intent to party, but really they self-destruct,” Haines said. “They’re destroying their bodies with drugs, alcohol. Before I went on BeachReach, I had a strong hatred for fraternities and sororities. But it was really humbling for me, because I saw that they were as much people as I am. And we all make mistakes. And here I am on a mission trip trying to share love and grace to people, yet I have stuff in the closet. So it was really humbling for me. Now it’s like I have a heart for them, no matter what. Because you know, there’s always something.”


Americana band becomes fun outlet for professor

by SHELBY MORGAN//Staff Writer


By day, Dr. Morri Hartgraves teaches Anatomy and Physiology, and by night he is a flea market troubadour.

The band, Flea Market Pickers, came to fruition when an old friend of his, who he played in a grunge band with in Los Angeles, showed up at his doorstep in Levelland after driving in a weathered, old, mobile recording studio truck that he purchased in Taos, New Mexico. He referred to this friend as “Porter,” because he wore rockmount shirts, and looks like Porter Wagoner. After learning that Dr. Hartgraves has been teaching at South Plains College, and playing occasionally at flea markets, he wanted to record him.

“I quickly write a dozen songs or so with a whole West Texas flea market vibe to them,” Dr. Hartgraves said. “I guess kind of a flea market Americana or Texana thing, but kind of Lubbock and West Texas centric. So, I start out doing this kind of hokey, bare bones thing. You know, the whole “Daddy’s boots on the porch,” and “the cotton field sprinklers,” kind of stuff. Then, I grab some flawed individuals hanging around the flea market and make a band. They are sketchy individuals, but actually pretty good musicians. I named us the Flea Market Pickers.”


Their music can be described as easy listening and has an Americana sound. Songs such as “West Texas Summer,” “Big Bend Texas,” and “I Found Myself In Austin” will give you that front porch feeling, as if you were sitting in a rocking chair with a glass of sweet tea enjoying the sunshine. It can be found on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify, as well as on the band’s website,

“I like South Plains College and Levelland,” said Dr. Hartgraves. “It’s got a good vibe. One of my songs is about the old Mean Woman Grill, when it was in Levelland.”

He is no newcomer to the music scene, even having played at the South By Southwest Music Festival in Austin in 1988, before it was the Indie-Hipster festival that it is today, according to Dr. Hargraves. He has been teaching at SPC for the past 15 years, and can be found performing with his trade-day oddballs in front of an old tarp and mis-matched Christmas lights at various flea markets across the country.

“I love the flea market scene,” said Dr. Hartgraves. “It’s easy going and not pretentious.”

The band’s publicist, another junkyard wanderer who volunteers for the band, submitted some of their music to the City of Lubbock for an album that is sponsored by United Supermarkets, and has an annual CD release party at The Blue Light Live.   

The Lubbock Music Now album is a compilation of the best music that Lubbock has to offer. It is an album that comes out yearly, and is made up entirely of locally-produced music. All tracks that are submitted are narrowed down, and final selections are chosen by current and former members of the Texas branch of The Recording Academy (Texas Grammy Board).

“Well over 60 bands tried out for it,” explained Dr. Hartgraves “And low and behold, our band made the top 10. Some people were cranky that we made it. Because we’re just this rag tag bunch of edgy outcasts who entertain at the flea markets and tianguis. It turns out that the contest was judged by some members of the Grammys.”

The Lubbock Music NOW 2016 CD features the song “As The Drifting Rain Encircles,” and can be purchased at all Lubbock United Supermarkets, including Market Street and Amigo’s, as well as the Buddy Holly Center and Ralph’s Records in Lubbock.

[Photo courtesy of Dr. Morri Hartgraves]

Valentine’s Day receives bloody makeover by Nightmare on 19th

by DESIREE MENDEZ//Staff Writer


It is a quiet night, until you hear screams coming from inside the houses.

If you listen carefully, you can hear doors slamming. You may even encounter Twisty or Patches the clown, or even Cupid, outside as you wait.

On Feb. 10 and Feb. 11, Nightmare on 19th Street presented My Bloody Valentine. They have Valentine’s Day themed decorations all around. You may see some bloody hearts inside the houses. They set up photo booths just for Valentines that couples could take their picture in. Some have hearts and giant killer spiders and the other one is a Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein photo booth.

This is the second year that they have offered My Bloody Valentine as an alternative date night. This is the second year that they have presented My Bloody Valentine.  It is Nightmare with a twist.

Owners Corey Trahan and Wes Nessman decided last February to offer the My Bloody Valentine event to see how it would work. They wanted to see if the fans would come out, since it was not Halloween.

Trahan’s inspiration for Nightmare is his love for the creative dark arts.

“Blood Moon Manor is the undead beating heart of Nightmare on 19th Street, always,” Trahan said.    

Nightmare is located on the spooky side of the Lone Star Amphitheater in Lubbock.

“The area underneath the amphitheater had been a “haunt” before, and we thought we would reinvent that space,” said Nessman, “but it was condemned. So we went above ground in the pavilion and the areas around there for two years, then moved to the back.”

There is an interesting background story that ties all the houses together.

“There is a tree where evil and witchery took place,” explained Nessman. “The roots of the tree started to grow underneath these various areas (where the houses are), infecting them all with the madness.”


“We say enter at your own risk, because you could turn an ankle or something from all the walking,” adds Nessmen. “But we’ve put a lot into making sure that folks can’t be seriously injured or trapped. We are also wheelchair accessible.”

They have had some people who have lost control of their bodily functions because they are too scared.

Then there are some that scream, then laugh, then scream again. It all depends on the person. Some people can handle it, and some cannot. Some are OK with the chainsaws and blood, and some are terrified of the clowns.

Nightmare has anywhere from 80 to 120 actors who volunteer, depending on the weekday or weekends. Some of the actors have school and work, so that plays a big part in how many are out there. There are about 10 of the original actors who started out in 2006.

The Nightmare team consists of make-up crew, costume crew, actor coordinators for each house and the actors and crew that help build and make sure everything is running smoothly for the My Bloody Valentine event.

Jessie, a 10-year nightmare veteran, started out acting and doing her own make up, before Pops had asked her to help in the make-up trailer. She is a self-taught make-up artist who loves to create zombies. She doesn’t have to use latex to make them look real, as she can do it all with just make up. Jessie has been doing theatrical make-up for 15 years.

“Creating monsters out of people, making them look totally different from themselves and making others second guess if they know them or not, is what I love to do,” explained Jessie.

Sara Ward, another make-up artist for Nightmare, has been with Nightmare for seven years but took a break to go to school at Tom’s Community School for Special FX, returning to Nightmare when she was finished.

Kali Thomas is an upcoming make-up artist at Nightmare who also started out as an actor. Her husband also is an actor for Nightmare, playing Toothpick, a chainsaw-wielding character in the Wastelands. Kali loves special FX make-up and got the chance to do her own make up to prove to the artists that she has what it takes to do make-up for the other actors as well.

Rene, a nine-year make-up artist veteran, said, “I love when an actor brings their own ideas of what they want their character to look like, as well as a back-story to develop the character. We all have our actor that we have worked with since the beginning. It is always awesome to collaborate and work with them.”

Bailey Palmer is the costume coordinator, with help from her assistant Bri. Palmer started acting at Nightmare in 2006 and became the coordinator in 2011. Bri started acting in 2009. Their jobs in the costume trailer are to make sure all the costumes are organized, clean, and in good condition. They also buy or make costumes that are needed.

Each of the houses has an actor coordinator who helps keep the actors together and helps prepare them for the My Bloody Valentine event.


Stephen Kelley started at Nightmare after the 2011 season and was an actor in Kellick (now the Wasteland) for two seasons. Kelley then became the coordinator for the Lost City for one season and ClownTown for one season.  It wasn’t until after last year’s My Bloody Valentine event that he became the actor coordinator, all while acting and working on the build crew during the off season.

“It’s the most thrilling experience in the world, from the building to eating pizza at the end of the night and everything in between,” said Kelley. “I love hearing everyone’s stories of how bad they scared people and watching everyone grow up and mature. When we call each other family, we mean it. I am so happy and honored to be a part of a place that gives everyone a place to feel welcome and loved.”   

John Vega has been with Nightmare for almost six-years. He started by building and then acting and building. Vega has also helped with make-up and has done a lot of set design and aging as well. Vega has been actor coordinator of The Wastelands for one season and is now starting to make masks. He will be doing a lot of the prosthetics for the actors and make-up artists. Next season, Vega will be the newest make-up artist for Nightmare when they start back up in October.

“I especially love the fact that nightmare has been able to bring so many different people together,” Vega added. “All of the so-called weirdos, loners, misfits and outcasts all have a very beautiful place in this wonderful world of horror that we have all created together.”

Robin Burkett started at Nightmare in 2010, during the summer, helping with some light decorating and building. Burkett helped mostly in Badger Hollow (which is now The Wastelands).

“When the season started, I did make-up on the side and some acting on the bus,” Burkett said. “It was in much better shape back then.”

  In 2011, Burkett became the actor coordinator and was placed in charge of the Manor. She is now the coordinator for the Lost City.

“The main thing I love about Nightmare is the people,” Burkett said.  “I love the diversity of stories of our family, and I always come back because of the kids. My hope is that I will have a positive impact on their lives, and that I can be there for them if they need me. We have had homeless teens, bullied kids, kids who didn’t feel like their family cared about them, kids who felt like they couldn’t be themselves at home  (because of their sexual identity or some other reason). I just love the kids. I’ve watched them grow and become amazing young adults, and I’d like to think Nightmare has a tiny bit of something to do with that.”

Blood is a new actor who has come out to Nightmare. His first visit to Nightmare was packed with a sense of danger and real human monsters, not like any other haunted house that he had been to before.

“I’ve been to a lot of haunted houses in a lot of cities over the years,” Blood said. “But my first reaction to Nightmare on 19th was that this place had something that I’d never seen anywhere else.”

When Blood first came to Nightmare, the Nightmare family immediately embraced him.

“Nightmare feels densely packed with danger and real human monsters,” said Blood.  “ It feels like it’s teaming with life. There are actors everywhere, enough to swarm you in places, which made me feel a different kind of fear than I’d encountered in more traditionally-staffed haunted attractions. The people, and the “realness” of the danger in Nightmare, has always stood out as something unique and very special, even nationally.”

The actor coordinators gather their actors and do their special house chant as a pep talk before they head out to scare. Things like this is what makes Nightmare a big family.

Newcomer Jessica Wagner joined the Bloody Valentine actors that weekend of Feb.11. It was her first time acting.

“I love haunted houses and dislike Valentines, so I figured I would come out here and have some fun,” said Wagner.

The Nightmare actors are always in character. Some of the actors like to sneak up on the fans who are waiting in lines.  You can see the clowns running around and giving roses to fans who were waiting for the attractions.img_0095

One actor seen on the Nightmare tees is Patches the Clown. Patches is always in character, no matter what. Patches has been a member of the Nightmare family for more than 10 years.

Patches expressed in his creepy clown voice, “I love scaring the pee and poop out of people. It is one of my favorite things,” adding manic laughter.

Sally Boudreaux, another long-time member of the Nightmare family, said   “Clowntown is not only awesome, but it has a mass variety of characters. In Nightmare tradition, you have to earn your clown name. I love that mine is Grooves, aka “Mama Sally” and Uncle Nasty. But we don’t just scare. We have fun just trying to show our patrons a good time and downright awesome entertainment and experience, to make them want to come back again and again. Plus, I love the part you can let your imagination set free a place where misfits, loners and weirdoes are home, and nobody is judged!”

The actors in Clowntown are one big family and are always there for each other and willing to help each other out.

Zoë Huntsman, an actor from Blood Moon explained, “Blood Moon Manor is my home. It’s what has built my self-confidence, my character, and simply me. I’ve made lifelong friends at Nightmare, and specifically in Manor. Becoming Bloody Mary each night builds my confidence, in costume and out.

“I began Nightmare at a tough time in my life,” Huntsman added.  “Yet it has helped me grow and understand that diversity at its best. Blood Moon Manor has become my home, and will forever be held in a special place in my heart.”

If it is Halloween or a mini scare session for Valentine’s Day, Nightmare on 19th Street is the place to be.

Check out Nightmare on 19th Street at and on               Facebook.  Keep an eye out for a special event on May 27 called “Mayhem.”

Trahan hopes that Nightmare will become an entertainment spectacle for people to come from all over to see.

“Valentine, Valentine, it’s time for a bloody valentine. Cut off their heads, slice their throats, it’s time for a bloody valentine” -Blood Moon Valentine chant.


Burton discusses importance of storytelling during recent Lubbock appearance

by RILEY GOLDEN//Entertainment Editor



LeVar Burton has been all over the galaxy as Commander Geordi La Forge, experienced the history of slavery as Kunta Kinte, and taught children the importance of reading.

Burton’s breakout role was playing African American slave, Kunta Kinte, in 1977, before hosting “Reading Rainbow” from 1983 to 2006 and began working with Gene Roddenberry on the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” television series in 1986.

On Feb. 7, LeVar Burton visited the Allen Theater of Texas Tech University in Lubbock to lecture for Texas Tech’s Black History Month lecture series.

Burton began with a standard, “good evening,” but got such a mild response from the crowd that it needed a follow up.

“I am here to speak, this evening, about my mother Erma Jean Christian, and among the many things I learned from my mother, Erma Jean, is that it is always appropriate to speak when spoken to.”

“And so, I’ll say again, good evening,” said Burton. “Good evening,” the crowd bellowed back.

“I want to begin this evening with a question,” said Burton. “And my question is, how many of you are familiar with the term, ‘raisin in the oatmeal’?”

Burton explained that ‘raisin in the oatmeal’ is a euphemism for “the only black person in a situation surrounded by white people.”

“Well, that’s my childhood in a nutshell,” he explained. “Growing up, I was generally the only black kid, if not the only one of very few black children in any and every social situation I encountered.”

Burton explained that in school, in Boy Scouts, or at summer camp, he was always bringing, “the flavor to the otherwise vanilla-nature of the oatmeal that was my ordinary life.”

“And I am not ashamed to say that it was not necessarily, always a comfortable fit, either,” he added.

Burton went on to explain that he was an army brat, which meant that he moved around a lot. He specifically spoke about a time that his family moved to Sacramento, Calif., and how all the students and coaches at his new school wanted him to play on the baseball team without having any idea of his skills.


Burton is a self-proclaimed bookworm, not an athlete, and it wasn’t until after his first game of baseball that his coach asked him why he didn’t tell anyone that he couldn’t play.

“With the sense that I had let everyone down, I replied, “no one ever asked me,” said Burton. “You see, everyone on the team, adults and children alike, had assumed that simply because I was Black, that I had naturally possessed athletic prowess. The raisin in the oatmeal.”

Burton says that this instance was an early lesson on racial politics in America, then started talking about his mother, reading, and his childhood.

“In my childhood, it was my mother who first introduced me to the magical properties of storytelling,” he said. “It is from her that I have inherited my passion for stories and storytelling, because, you see, my mother is and always has been a voracious reader. She generally reads two or three books at a time, sometimes more. So, in addition to reading to me as a child, I always saw my mother reading. She always had a book in her hand, and so my childhood was steeped in the understanding that reading is as important to the survival of the human being as breathing.”

Burton is so grateful for his mother that he says, “Whenever I have the opportunity to speak my mother’s name in public, I do. Erma Gene Christian, that is my mother’s name. You see, because I believe that I am the man I am because she is the woman she is.”

It is from his mother that Burton says he inherited his love for literature. He said he believes he easily could have ended up another statistic if it wasn’t for her.

Burton moved on to talk about how rare it was to see Black people in the pictures of his sci-fi books and on television in the 1980s, citing how important it was for him to see Nichelle Nichols on the bridge of the Enterprise while he was growing up. “Star Trek” showed Burton that there was a place for him in the future.

“I cannot impress upon you enough just how important it is for us to see ourselves represented in the popular culture in order for us to develop a healthy self-image,” said Burton. “That’s why I believe that last year’s Oscars controversy is so important for us all to consider, because absent exposure to the healthy reflections of one’s self in culture, a child is sent a powerful message, a message that says you are not important, you do not matter.”

Burton continued to talk about his love and appreciation for science fiction, believing that it gives humans the ability to contemplate the “what if?” According to Burton, this is the question that gives way to all of the advancements that the human race has made, citing Captain Kirk’s communicator as one of the earliest concepts of a flip cellphone.

“See, the link between what we imagine, and what we create, is inextricable,” said Burton. “We carried iPads around on the Enterprise before they were even invented!”

Burton believes storytelling is ingrained in human beings and has the ability to connect us to not only the future, but the past as well.

“Forty years ago, [Alex] Haley’s family story told through the eyes of his ancestors literally shifted the consciousness of this nation,” said Burton. “Over eight consecutive nightly installments, it served to reset our national frame of reference around slavery in America. “Roots” gave us the unvarnished truth about the inhumane cruelty of our slave-holding past, and the irreparable damage that was systematically inflicted on an entire ethnicity.”

From a child watching “Star Trek” and reading science-fiction, to portraying a young slave, and exploring the galaxy aboard the Enterprise, Burton attributes much of his success to his mother, Erma Gene, and the importance of reading and storytelling that she instilled in him.


Gonzales continues to pursue agriculture career despite tragedy

by MATT MOLINAR//Associate Editor

[Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing project in conjunction with the South Plains College Alumni Association. The project highlights former SPC students and their achievements.]img_1396

Less than one year after graduating from South Plains College, Nancy Gonzales was faced with the biggest challenge of her life – losing the one she loves.

Gonzales graduated from SPC in May 2016 with an Associate of Arts degree in agriculture communications. During her time at SPC, she was able to develop lasting relationships with professors who were willing to sit down and work with her.

“I chose SPC because while going to Meadow High School, which is a small community, I did the Texas Tech Upward Bound program,” Gonzales explained. “Doing that made me consider the transition. Going from 17 kids in a class to a mighty 300, I don’t think I could’ve done it. Going to SPC allowed me to meet with teachers more easily available to help me out.”

Gonzales says she recalls her fondest memories at SPC were with Charles Ehrenfeld, chairman of the Communications Department. During the span of three years she spent at SPC, she was able to make memories she will never forget.

“He cares,” Gonzales said of Ehrenfeld. “He really cares. He cared about your success, and if you had a problem with anything, he made the time to actually help you. He encourages you to be successful. Because he has had so much experience, he can easily answer any question you have in his classes.”

Currently, Gonzales works at the Lamesa Medical Arts Hospital as an insurance patient biller. She says she’s currently working on getting the experience needed to pursue the jobs she is interested in.

“I really want to work at the Texas Ag Union, or just any state agriculture business,” Gonzales said. “Ag is something I grew up around and have always known. Most Ag businesses are small town, and something I want to do is expand my career and work for bigger ag producers.”

On Thanksgiving Day, Gonzales’ boyfriend was involved in a motorcycle accident that ended his life. They had been dating “on and off” for eight and a half years. Dealing with tragedy wasn’t easy for Gonzales, but she says her work in agriculture helped keep her distracted from the thought of losing her loved one.

“It was very hard,” Gonzales said. “The way I actually coped with it was by keeping myself busy with work. I’m the president of the Meadow Livestock Association, and around that time we were trying to get things ready for stock shows.”

Gonzales is also a youth leader at her church in Levelland and says that there were many activities that needed to be planned during her time of mourning. This also kept her busy and distracted from the loss, she says.

“Staying busy prevented lots of thinking from happening,” Gonzales said. “I wasn’t really able to sit down and process the whole thing until after work. It was that and a lot – a lot of prayer that helped get me through it.”

Gonzales says that she was able to develop friendships during the time she was mourning. She says she was able to realize who was truly supporting her.

“My best friend, my sister, and more family kept constant communication with me,” she said. “That’s one of the biggest things that got me through it.”

Gonzales advises current SPC students to never give up while pursuing a dream. She says not to let anything get in the way of your goals, explaining that you get out of life what you put into it.

“It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to finish,” she said. “It’s your dream that you’re going after and your work that you are putting in. Ask questions, and don’t let anybody tell you that you cannot be something. There are programs on campus that can help you succeed. Go prove them wrong.”