Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Saint Mary’s Gifts for Winona grateful for Winona’s generosity

You’ll never see the little girl tightly clutching what she knows — even through the wrapping paper — is her new Barbie.

And you’ll never feel the quick, heartfelt hug from the woman who is so thankful for a package from a stranger.

Yet, without even knowing those you are helping, you graciously shared your blessings this holiday season. We are overwhelmed and gratefully humbled by your anonymous generosity.

The Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona program, in its ninth year, was once again able to provide gifts for our less fortunate neighbors because of you.

More than 1,400 packages were caringly wrapped this year.

Though you never heard the thank-yous, I hope you know how much your new boots, grocery cards, and toys mean to these families.

Because of you, these families have been given presents for their trees and hope in their hearts. For the ninth year in a row, our community has made sure that no one goes home empty handed.

As we count our blessings for the past and upcoming years, we should also remember those less fortunate whose material blessings are just a little harder to come by this year. We hope and pray that 2011 will have many wonderful things in store for these families.

The Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona volunteers will say an extra special thanks to all of you, including:

• the program’s additional partners, Winona Radio, Winona Post and Winona Volunteer Services;
• the many shoppers, wrappers, data-entry volunteers, sorters and organizers, who put in long hours without complaint;
• the many sponsoring businesses, schools, churches and organizations who helped groups of 10 or more;

• every individual who took a tag off of a tree or donated money;
• Walmart for its generous donation; and our friends at Cars & Credit who always make sure there are no tags left.
• the Winona Public Library, Walmart, Scrapper’s Haven, the three Severson-Sinclair stations, the Winona Post and Security State Bank for sponsoring giving trees;
• referral agencies who provided support;
• the staff and patrons of the Valéncia Arts Center for allowing us to take over the building for one of the gift distributions, and Frances at the Resource Center in St. Charles for helping to distribute gifts;
• and the area media for helping spread the word about this program and how to help.

We continue to be very blessed to be part of such a caring community.

Deb Nahrgang, on behalf of the Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona program

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

SMU students make blankets for Gifts for Winona program

WINONA, Minn. — Students in a First-Year Seminar class at Saint Mary’s University, taught by Dr. Janet Heukeshoven, made more than 20 children’s tie blankets as their Lasallian community service project. The class, the Saint Teresa Leadership and Service Institute for Women section, donated the blankets to families with young children who asked for help through the Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona program. These blankets will help make many children’s holidays warmer and happier.

Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts announces registration open house January 6

WINONA, Minn. — The Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts will host its semester II registration open house Thursday, Jan. 6, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Valéncia Arts Center, 1164 West 10th.

Registration for the Winona Area Youth Singers (WAYS) choir, private music lessons, and semester II dance classes will be accepted at the open house. Tours of the facility will be available, refreshments will be served, and students will have the opportunity to meet new and returning faculty and staff.

Additionally, students can be fitted for all their dance attire needs at the open house. MCA’s dance attire boutique offers quality basics including leotards, tights, ballet slippers, jazz shoes and tap shoes.

Dance class offerings, beginning Jan. 10, are available for children ages 3 to adults and include beginning through advanced levels in classical ballet, tap, jazz, creative movement and modern, hip hop, and a special tuition-free boys and men program. This year’s tuition-free dance program for boys and young men offers workshops with guest artist Tony Smith April 4-8. This activity is made possible in part by a grant from the Sewell Family Foundation.

Semester II also provides programming specifically for beginning teens and adults by offering classes in partnership with Winona County Community Education including: Clogging I, Clogging II, Dance Fitness, Power Piyo, and Teen and Adult Ballet. Academic credit is available through Cotter High School and Saint Mary’s University for a variety of MCA dance classes. Intermediate and advanced dancers ages 13 to 25 are encouraged to audition for MCA’s Dance Repertory Company contemporary spring concert. Auditions are 6 p.m. Jan. 16 at the Valéncia Arts Center.

The official youth choir of the Minnesota Conservatory for the Arts, WAYS, offers students in grades 4 through 8 additional educational and choral performance opportunities. Semester II of WAYS begins Jan. 24. Members will participate in weekly rehearsal sessions, community outreach events, and a spring concert.

Placement auditions for new choral students interested in becoming WAYS members will take place Thursday, Jan.13. Call WAYS director Lindsy O’Shea at (507) 453-5503 to arrange a specific audition time. WAYS is being offered tuition free for the 2010-2011 academic year. This tuition waiver is made possible in part by grant funding from the Young Singer’s Foundation.

MCA’s semester II offers private music lessons in: flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, French horn, trombone, tuba, euphonium, violin/fiddle, mandolin, piano and voice. Private music lessons are $75 for five 30-minute lessons or $140 for 10 lessons.

MCA Semester II music and dance programming provides 5-12 weeks of instruction, depending on the specific course/activity. Dance classes conclude with a demonstration week March 28-April 2. Dancers in the Dance Repertory Company will perform in the company’s annual spring concert April 28-30. WAYS will conclude the semester with the presentation of a spring concert on April 18. Tuition for MCA classes varies depending on course length and level. Discounts and scholarships are available.

For more information about MCA’s open house, dance classes, WAYS, private music lessons or future performances, visit, e-mail or call (507) 453-5500.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Saint Mary’s jazz combos to perform Dec. 19 at Acoustic Cafe

One Saint Mary’s University jazz combo performing Dec. 19 includes, from left, Marie Stier, Jessica Bouska, Jessica Giers and Kara White.

WINONA, Minn. — Two jazz workshop combos, directed by John Paulson and Eric Heukeshoven of the Saint Mary’s University Music Department, will present a free concert Sunday, Dec. 19, from 2-4 p.m. at the Acoustic Café, 77 Lafayette St.

This event will feature student musicians who have been playing together all semester, and it will serve as their “final exam.” They will be playing well-know jazz standards by composers like Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter and Miles Davis, as well as some unique hybrid arrangements of popular jazz tunes blended with familiar Christmas tunes by Heukeshoven. An added plus will be the “Smashing the Windows” folk trio, featuring SMU students Kara White, Marie Stier and Hugh Stier.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Saint Mary’s Gifts for Winona due Wednesday, Dec. 8

WINONA, Minn. — The deadline is fast approaching to return gifts to the Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona giving trees. Because the community distribution is early, gifts MUST be returned to giving trees by Wednesday, Dec. 8!

To ensure that the large number of gifts may be properly sorted and recorded, meeting the deadline is a priority.

Because of the overwhelming generosity of the Winona community, tags may no longer be available.

Those individuals who have already taken tags should return their wrapped packages (with tags securely fastened) to the tree where they got the tag. Trees are located at the Winona Public Library, Scrapper’s Haven, the three Severson-Sinclair locations, the Winona Post, Walmart and Security State Bank in Lewiston. Donors are asked to spend about $30 per person.

Tax-deductible contributions can also be made out to Saint Mary’s University Gifts for Winona and sent to 700 Terrace Heights #8, Winona, Minn., 55987. The Winona Post, Winona Radio and Winona Volunteer Services join Saint Mary’s University in helping to make this program a success.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Book signing with Kowles offered Wednesday at SMU

WINONA, Minn. — Dr. Richard Kowles, author of “The Wonder of Genetics: the Creepy, the Curious and the Commonplace,” will do a book signing 4 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8, at Saint Mary’s University’s Fitzgerald Library.

A Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in Biology at Saint Mary’s, Dr. Kowles drew upon his lifelong career in teaching (38 years at Saint Mary’s and 14 at the high school level) to make the complexities of genetics both humorous and understandable this new book.

Dr. Kowles, known internationally for his research in genetics, points out in his book that genetic twists can truly be found everywhere.

Dr. Kowles will make a few brief comments and answer questions, followed by a book signing. Refreshments will be served.

“The Wonder of Genetics” — Dr. Kowles’ fourth book— was published on Oct. 29. It is available by contacting Prometheus Books, 800-421-0351; on; at Barnes & Noble or Borders bookstores; and at other local bookstores and online retailers.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Saint Mary’s jazz, percussion groups to perform Dec. 10

WINONA, Minn. — The 18-piece Saint Mary’s University Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Combo I and World Drum Ensemble will combine for an evening of hot jazz to melt away the chill of the season 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10, in SMU’s Page Theatre.

Both jazz groups are directed by professor of music Dr. John Paulson, and the World Drum Ensemble is directed by SMU alumnus and adjunct music instructor Denny McGuire. The featured guest soloist for the concert will be guitarist Chris White from Appleton, Wis. The big band will play a swing-oriented set and a Latin set, along with players from the World Drum Ensemble.

The first set will include the great standard “Old Devil Moon,” arranged by Dave Wolpe; Jerome Richardson’s “Groove Merchant,” featuring the sax section; “Passion Flower” by Billy Strayhorn, with Tommy Quinn of Cannon Falls featured on alto sax; and “Blues ’n More” by Mike Steinel, which includes a small combo within the big band playing some super fast bebop blues. Also planned for the first set is a world premiere of a new arrangement by Paulson, which is a medley of three previous compositions “Cloud Theory,” “Sum Blues,” and “Cafe Renoir.”

Highlights from the Latin set will include John Coltrane’s “Naima,” arranged by Craig Skeffington, done in a Latin style; Dizzy Gillespie’s hit “Manteca;” a new chart by Mike Carubia called “Hablemos;” “Maputo,” a smooth jazz-groove tune by Marcus Miller; and the well-know hit from Woodstock by Carlos Santana “Soul Sacrifice,” arranged by Michael Phillip Mossman which will showcase the skills of White on guitar and combine the jazz ensemble with support from the World Drum Ensemble.

The jazz ensemble will also be selling their first CD release “Staycation” at the performance.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and are available by calling the SMU Box Office, (507) 457-1715, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at For more information, contact Dr. John Paulson at (507) 457-1596 or

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

High School Challenge participants compete for consolation championship

WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary's University High School Challenge preliminary season finished Saturday, Nov. 20, with Round 1C. High School Challenge is the longest-running, locally produced television program showcasing Eastern Minnesota, Western Wisconsin, and Northeast Iowa high school students in an educational forum.

The following schools competed in October and November and are moving onto the Consolation Championship on Dec. 4: Cotter Blue, Cotter White, West Salem III, Bangor Black, Logan White, Regis White, Onalaska and Regis White. Moving onto the Super Challenge in spring are: Logan Red, LaCrescent, Lewiston-Altura, Osseo-Fairchild, Regis Green, Winona Senior High, Holmen I and Holmen III.

During the first rounds of competition, teams that win their afternoon game return for the Consolation Championship games. Teams that win their morning and afternoon games return for the Super Challenge Championship in spring. The final eight games of the tournament are taped at SMU and televised on Fox 25 La Crosse and Fox 48 Eau Claire.

The participating high schools receive $2,000 scholarships to Saint Mary’s for participating in High School Challenge. These scholarships are for any member of the senior class with a B or above average.

For more information, contact Nicole Witt Gerdes, High School Challenge coordinator, at (507) 457-1761 or

Saint Mary’s University choirs to present ‘Lessons & Carols’

WINONA, Minn. — The Saint Mary’s University Concert Choir, Chamber Singers and Women’s Choir will present their annual holiday tribute, “Lessons and Carols,” at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11. The concert will also feature the Saint Mary's Chamber Orchestra.

The performance — a celebration of Advent and the Nativity through song and spoken word — will be held at Chapel of Saint Mary of the Angels, located at Wabasha and Vila streets.

Music will include familiar carols, as well as selections by a variety of composers from Renaissance to the present.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students and seniors and are available by calling the SMU Box Office, (507) 457-1715, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, or online at