The Columns The Student News Site of Fairmont State University Thu, 12 Dec 2019 23:27:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 FSU Alumnus’s “Feast of the Seven Fishes” Thu, 12 Dec 2019 23:27:05 +0000 The holiday season is known as a time of tradition. In particular, a time to come together with loved ones, celebrate personal traditions and observe some well-known ceremonies.

This sense of history and celebration of community is highlighted in the newly released comedy “Feast of the Seven Fishes,” written and directed by Fairmont resident and Fairmont State University alumnus Robert Tinnell. Born and raised in West Virginia, Tinnell is well-known in the horror genre as both an author and a director, most notably for his 1996 film “Frankenstein and Me,” which featured actors Burt Reynolds and Ryan Gosling, and his work with horror movie legend George Romero.

Feast of the Seven Fishes is set in 1980s Fairmont, following the Oliverio family through young Tony Oliverio’s point of view as he navigates pre-holiday preparations, all while questioning his life and falling in love. Traditionally the Feast of the Seven Fishes — or La Vigilia, as it is called in Italy — is a Christmas Eve celebration involving an extensive seafood-based meal.

The Italian-American tradition is linked to a Catholic custom to abstain from eating meats and dairy products during the eve of many holidays. The number seven is used often in the Bible, from the number of sacraments to the days of creation.

Here in Marion County, this celebration has been a staple for generations in the surrounding regions. In an interview with The Columns, Tinnell said the film’s major theme is family and community, going back to a time when people connected in person. He said he drew on his own memories of trips into town in which families celebrated the holidays not through their screens. This was the inspiration behind the conception of the film, which genre-wise is a departure from his earlier works in horror and graphic novels.

“It kind of grew organically. I was very interested just in the fact that we did this as a family,” he said.

Tinnell also knew others would connect with the spirit of the movie; “I knew we had a built-in sort of constituency with Italian-Americans and people from the Mon-Valley, and I knew that people who like food were going to like it.”

However, he was surprised by critics’ positive response; “I did not foresee the critics liking it this much,” he said.

Ranking 88% on Rotten Tomatoes (and 91% on the audience score), the film has been praised by reviewers from the LA Times, to, to Variety, which praised its “jolly, well meshed ensemble.” It also won audience’s choice award at the Heartland International Film Festival.

Tinnell is just getting started. With the success of Feast still fresh, he is excited about projects to come. However, he knows better than to give away too many details too soon. “I don’t think I was really prepared for all these reviews and this sort of reaction, so I just want to be really careful with what I do next,” he said

“I do know that I have more stories that I want to tell that take place in West Virginia because I think we have a lot of interesting stories here that haven’t been told and I would like to sort of expand the way people view the state and the people of the state.”

Even though the times have changed, the strength of the Feast of the Seven Fishes tradition throughout Fairmont remains. This year’s festival will feature Tinnell as a guest. For more information, visit

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FSU student competes in the NATS Tournament Thu, 28 Nov 2019 17:44:46 +0000 Psychology Major and Music Minor at Fairmont State University, Anthony Hardy (junior) competed in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Chapter Tournament on November 16th in Slippery Rock, PA. His rendition of You’ll Be Back from the Broadway musical Hamilton earned him first place in the competition and a spot for the NATS Eastern Panhandle Regional Championship on March 20-22, 2020.


How long have you been involved in music?

For a very long time. I’ve been singing since I was super young. I started choir in the fourth grade which is where I really started learning about it.

What does choir and singing mean to you?

It means so much. I’ve always wanted to be a performer. I get on stage any time that I can. It calms me down when things are bad and I try to help others with it, as well. I write, sign, compose just about everything I can to express myself. So much emotion can be shown through music and I love that.

What goals do you have with singing?

I would love to be a professional singer. I actually tried for American Idol last year. I didn’t go anywhere with it, but I tried.

Was this your first time auditioning for NATS?

This was my first time even hearing of it.

How did you hear about NATS?

Spears invited me along. Usually it’s only for music majors, but he said it could be beneficial for me, so I went.

Do you have any comment regarding your competition?

They were all fantastic and I was happy to have such talented competition.

What was your reaction to placing first?

I was surprised I even made it to the finals, yet alone winning.

What does winning first place mean for your future in NATS?

This was the NATS Chapter Tournament, which was West Virginia, Eastern Ohio, and Western Pennsylvania. Now I can advance to the Eastern Panhandle Regionals which is West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware, part of Quebec, and New Jersey.

What preparations will you be making for the next competition?

I have to have four new songs for it, so I need a couple new pieces for my repertoire. I already have You’ll Be Back down, as well as What Do I Need With Love? from the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Why not a major in music or music education?

I wanted to when I first came here, but I didn’t feel it was necessary. I didn’t particularly want to teach and I wasn’t sure if going to a smaller school for performing would be the best. Now I’ve debated changing to a double major, but music majors have to devote so much time that I don’t necessarily have.

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Arizona’s mysterious Pheonix Lights Sat, 23 Nov 2019 22:49:59 +0000 Welcome, Naruto-runners, to a Conspiracy Corner edition that is not of this earth. To some, the recent Area 51 Raid was a disappointing party in the desert that resulted in memes rather than an actual raid for government secrets. Although the “raid” lacked meaningful action, it sparked discussion about extraterrestrial activity. Specifically, it sparked discussion about a 1997 incident regarded as one of the largest UFO sightings in history. Coined “the mysterious Phoenix Lights,” the sighting baffled hundreds of witnesses.

On the evening of March 13, 1997, the first witness to report a sighting was an anonymous young man in Henderson, Nevada. The man claimed to have witnessed six bright lights traveling across the sky in a V-formation, creating the sound of “rushing wind” that traveled southeast toward Phoenix, Arizona.

After the first report, a retired police officer in Paulden, Arizona, claimed that five lights had been traveling the night sky. Interestingly, similar reports were made within two minutes of the retired officer’s Paulden report. Fifteen miles away, in the town of Preston, Arizona, other witnesses reported the five orbs of light, but of a different color. The orbs were white, according to the retired officer, but the Preston witnesses said one was red.

One witness, Tim Ley, described the orbs as producing no shine stating to USA Today, “They weren’t bulbs. They looked like gas. There was a distortion on the surface. Also, the light didn’t spill out or shine. I’ve never seen a light like that.”

Shortly after the reports in Preston, the lights hovered over Phoenix for hours and the police were flooded with hundreds of calls. The craft was caught on camera, traveling at up to 30 mph. Although the craft could not be entirely seen, footage of its silhouette led people to estimate that the length of the craft could be as close as a mile long. Before the orbs disappeared later that evening, radar towers attempted to track the them. Strangely, though, radar could not identify the lights just outside their window.

At first, city officials refused to investigate the matter. Eventually, public pressure pushed officials to further address the incident, and they said they were high-altitude flares.

Given the detailed reports, I believe this explanation falls short. Flares do not account for the distance the orbs traveled and the silhouette of the craft does not match that of earthly known air crafts. Even now, we lack a substantial explanation for the mysterious Phoenix Lights.

Without a substantial explanation, many have turned to the most obvious answer: extraterrestrials. However, what would motivate aliens to make such a public appearance? UFO sightings have increased over the course of the 20th century and spiked from the 1950s on. In the late 1940’s, the atomic bomb and the discovery of splitting atoms ushered us into an age of fear and technology. If technological milestones seized the attention of extraterrestrials, the Atomic Age was our moment in their spotlight.

Although speculation eases the unknown, the Phoenix Lights continue to baffle many. Perhaps future research will provide an answer to the question: “Are we alone?”

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Civil War Collection Exhibit with Porter Stiles Fri, 22 Nov 2019 19:43:12 +0000 Fairmont State University alumni recently shared their collection of Civil War artifacts with students, friends, and community members at the Frank & Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center.

Porter Stiles displayed a variety of artifacts and antiques that included photographs, flags, guns, sabers, medals and military uniforms. Stiles began the night by telling the audience a few stories, emphasizing the significance of the pieces themselves.

“It’s about my collection, not a history lesson,” he said.

Stiles was just 11 years old when he acquired his first war item in 1963. At the time, Stiles and his father had stopped in Petersburg, Virginia, to view a war exhibit and later went to a junk shop. In that shop, Stiles asked his father for a toy gun on display. Instead of buying the toy gun, his father purchased a war saber for $20. It was the first piece in a lifelong collection.

Before opening the floor for questions, Stiles revealed a few more facts about himself and his work. During his college career at Fairmont State, Stiles participated in Civil War reenactments and appeared in a few Civil War -themed movies such as “Gods and Generals.”

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SGA debates Senior Campaign ideas Tue, 19 Nov 2019 19:23:29 +0000 In the most recent SGA meeting, the members discussed this year’s Senior Campaign and fundraising. After Advisor Joel Dugan informed the assembly about the Senior Campaign efforts to bring relaxation to the Fairmont State University campus, the assembly discussed planning.

For this Senior Campaign, SGA debated having hammocks on the quad or gliders on the balcony of the Falcon Center. The gliders received the most votes, but some members were concerned that the balcony would conceal the gliders. Advisor Dugan noted the concerns for further consideration.

Secretary Raychel Fitzwater tended to Treasurer Becky Luketic’s report of ceasing the process of fundraiser requests until the spring semester.

For more information about the Senior Campaign and fundraising, attend the Thursday SGA meetings at 12:30 in Hardway Hall 128 or email and

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SGA Pushes Ahead Fri, 15 Nov 2019 02:55:08 +0000 SGA lent a helping hand to two organizations. Treasurer Becky Luketic informed the assembly that two fundraising requests had been made. The American Institute of Technology asked for $400 to help with their trip to Canada and Sigma Amiga Beta asked for the same amount of money for their organization’s alumni gathering.

Treasurer Luketic also notified the assembly that the deadline for fundraiser requests was November 6th.

After discussing fundraising, SGA spoke of having a Toys for Children event around the holidays. With this, it was announced that more information about the plans would be available at the next meeting.

As for the Charleston, WV competition, the BB&T Christmas tree lighting applications opened on Friday, November 1 and will also be available on December 3. Transportation to the Charleston, WV award ceremony will be provided for the winning organization on December 10. After Christmas the organization will return to Charleston, WV to aid the clean-up.

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Falcons W/PRIDE Halloween Wed, 06 Nov 2019 17:46:12 +0000

Shaylena Hess

 Falcons W/PRIDE schedules one meeting per month to discuss upcoming events, but Director Lars Lehmann and the Assistant Director Zettie Bowling scheduled a second meeting on October 29, 2019 to announce more information. During this meeting Panel members were announced, past events were addressed, and movies were voted on. 

 It was discussed that in the month of October, the bell had been painted multiple times for National Coming Out Day and pictures of the painted bell were shared with attendees. 

At the meeting, attendees were reminded that the Halloween movie night would be on October 31, 2019 from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. in the MMB room of the library and that movie voting would take place. The movie options included Misery, Scary Movie 2, BeetleJuice, Goosebumps 2, Happy Death Day, Caroline, Jigsaw, Scream, Scream 2, and the Rocky Horror Picture Show. After the votes had been counted, the top three movies were announced as BeetleJuice, Rocky Horror Picture Show, and Coraline. 

It was also announced that an invitation to Falcons W/PRIDE was received from WV Wesleyan’s PRISM organization to attend a conference that they will be holding from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 

If you are interested in attending future Falcons W/PRIDE meetingsevents or would like more information about the student organization, search Falcons w/PRIDE on GroupMe, @falconswp on the Remind App, or email the Director at to join the official email list for the organization. 

“Life Is Too Short to Ignore the Love” 

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The Women’s Lyceum with Ilene Evans as Miss Memphis Tue, 05 Nov 2019 04:07:51 +0000 On Monday, October 28, 2019 Ilene Evans portrayed the historical character Memphis Tennessee Garrison at the Frank and Jane Gabor West Virginia Folklife Center. The event was about an hour in length and began at 7 p.m.

For those unfamiliar with the name, Memphis Tennessee Garrison was an education and civil rights pioneer in West Virginia. Garrison was involved in the Civil Rights movement, the development of new learning strategies for children with learning disabilities, Social Welfare and setting a strong example for women in leadership positions. As a teacher that worked with many families and children Garrison helped organize the first southern West Virginia NAACP branch in 1921.

Marisa Meyer












Professor at Fairmont State University, Ilene Evans is a “Foundation of Freedom Award” recipient and a “Chautauqua” Scholar for her work in developing presentations about women in history who contributed to African American Culture. In addition to teaching, Evans is a storyteller and performer who uses music, poetry, drama, and dance as part of her presentations.

At the Women’s Lyceum, Ilene Evans began her portrayal of Memphis Tennessee Garrison by having the audience sing the “Black National Anthem” with her. After the “Black National Anthem,” Evans told stories and sang songs, giving a brief overview of Garrison’s life. Before stepping out of character and ending the presentation, Evans allowed the audience to ask “Ms. Memphis” questions.

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Saudi National Day Event Sun, 03 Nov 2019 16:16:48 +0000 On October 30, 2019, students from Saudi Arabia celebrated Saudi National Day on Falcon Center Main Street. Food dishes normally enjoyed by the Saudi students in their native country were provided and free to the public. The menu featured al kabsa, a rice and chicken dish; stuffed grape leaves; fattoush, a type of salad; humus; baklava, a pasty made with filo dough; saffron and milk cake; and falafel, a popular snack made from chickpea flour.  Hot sugared tea and coffee flavored with cardamom, safflower, and other spices were also available and described as the preferred way to drink these beverages in Saudi Arabia. 

On display were photos of previous Saudi Arabian kings and it was explained that they are direct descendants of King Abdulaziz, who established his rein in 1902. In addition, there were books about Saudi Arabia and photos of major cities, mosques, and ancient sites showcased. The public could also have their name written in Arabic.  

For more information about the cultural outreach sponsored by Saudi Arabia, visit the Sauci Arabian Cultural Mission at 

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Fairmont State University and HOPE hold Candlelight Vigil Wed, 30 Oct 2019 00:23:27 +0000 Hope is an optimistic feeling one has for the future. It represents the idea that either things can be better, or they will be better. Unfortunately, hope can be difficult for all to hold and a heavy burden to bear. It can seem like an empty promise and be out of reach. When hope ironically begins to feel like a hopeless endeavor, it is most important for our survival.

Hope, Inc. aims to embody the moment that hope no longer feels impossible. They fight for the light at the end of the tunnel and are available to guide those suffering from domestic abuse to the safe side.

Candlelight vigil

Laine Edelman

October is a month that represents celebration and awareness. Many celebrate Halloween and Hispanic Heritage Month, advocate by observing Breast Cancer Awareness and Suicide Prevention Day or reflect during Domestic Abuse Awareness Month.

Some believe domestic abuse is easily defined, but this is far from true. Domestic abuse comes in many forms and can be considered a “taboo” or “uncomfortable” topic. This misunderstanding and relative silence on the issue leaves many victims feeling unjustified, confused and alone.

HOPE, Inc. is a domestic abuse awareness and advocacy agency of Marion and surrounding counties. The agency runs outreach and informational events within the area including at Fairmont State University. This year, HOPE provided an informational table in the Falcon Center and at the candlelight vigil to raise awareness, offering a safe haven to those who have or are currently suffering from domestic abuse. At the candlelight vigil, President of Fairmont State University Dr. Mirta Martin, HOPE’s Children’s Case Manager Ms. Angelica Felvus, and President of SPSA Ms. Abigail Short spoke to help raise awareness, and guest speakers Reverend Jordan Trumble and Ms. Emily Lasko shared their personal journeys of they and their loved ones surviving domestic abuse. At the event, the Fahey Award was presented to First Energy by HOPE’s Board President Mr. Zach Wallen for their contributions to HOPE, Inc. and the community of Fairmont, WV.

Candlelight vigil

Laine Edelman


When asked what she would like to express with those who may be experiencing a harmful situation and are in need of assistance, but fear the repercussions of coming forward, Director of HOPE in Fairmont Ms. Michelle McCord shared “They don’t have to do it alone. There’s hope out there and whatever situation they’re in, they don’t deserve it. They deserve to be able to live without violence and abuse in their lives and there’s help to do that.”




HOPE works to destigmatize domestic abuse and give aid to victims who otherwise have nowhere to turn in the communities of Marion, Lewis, Doddridge, Gilmer and Harrison, WV. The agency is a part of the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS) organization and works alongside many outreach branches throughout the state of West Virginia. HOPE also offers a multitude of services to those in need such as providing clothing, food, shelter and counseling services. All of HOPE, Inc.’s services are confidential, and their website can be reached by following The site includes the phone numbers for each branch location, but the number for the Fairmont location is 304-367-1100. For immediate assistance, please call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 (HOPE).

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