UR Celtic Steps into the Spotlight

“We mix traditional with modern.” That was how one member described the UR Celtic Irish Dance team’s mission. I sat down with Rachel Eskridge ‘15, Carly Rutherford ‘17, and Chrissie Rutherford ‘16, three leaders of Celtic, to discuss the recent happenings on the collegiate Irish Dance circuit and here at the U of R.

The group was founded by a championship dancer, and according to the Rutherford sisters, it has only evolved since then. One fact they stressed was how new the Irish Dancing collegiate circuit is. It was only founded two years ago and includes many schools which are very “culturally Irish,” such as Villanova, Dayton, Catholic U, and Boston University.  Even with many talented dancers to compete with at these larger schools, the members of UR Celtic have been able to hold their own in the past two years. The latest competition, the Intercollegiate Irish Dance Festival, held November 1st at Villanova University, saw UR Celtic take home bronze, moving into the money from their fourth place showing two years ago. Also noteworthy was Beverly Hamilton ’18, who took home silver in the solo dance category.

The Rutherford sisters come from a long line of Irish dancers.  Their grandfather came to America from Ireland and “revolutionized” the production of Irish Dancing shoes.  He went on to found Rutherford Products, the gold standard of traditional Irish Dance apparel. The Rutherfords also come from a legacy of champion dancers.  Another important influence on the Rutherford sisters was their father, who played the accordion at Irish Dance festivals.  “We have a three-time national champion in the family. Two of our cousins were on a dance show documentary on TLC called The Big Jig,” said Chrissie. “They’re unreal. One of them is training for The Lord of the Dance, one of the professional Irish dance productions. We’re on a bit lower level, but we still love them!” she said.  The sisters themselves, while not quite as famous, are still notable in their own right, earning much recognition at the regional and national levels.

UR Celtic is certainly fortunate to have the Rutherfords, who not only dance, but also serve the group as Co-Presidents and Business managers. In addition to being business manager, Carly serves as choreographer-in-chief. Chrissie said that the group’s best dance so far was a song that her sister choreographed.  When asked what inspires her, Carly jokingly replied, “Getting to mess with Chrissie!”  Having been around Irish Dancing so long, much of the choreography comes organically to the Rutherfords.

Celtic is divided into two smaller groups: one of beginner and intermediate-level dancers and another of more advanced members who perform and compete. Both groups practice twice a week. The girls stressed that UR Celtic is a group that is open to all, regardless of skill level. The beginner group just splits the cost of a certified dance instructor, which, according to Rachel, is a steal.

This has proven to be a year of victories for Celtic through their multiple chances to step into the spotlight. Last semester, on top of their success at Villanova, they also won first place at Delta Upsilon’s annual Dance for Charity, where they’ve been hoping to place for a long time. Stepping forward, Celtic hopes to hone their lines and formations for their St. Patrick’s Day show on Saturday, March 21st.

Ten Years of Pep Band: The Tradition Continues

By Joe Bailey
University Communications

Ten years ago, a bright-eyed young sophomore named Greg Savich and his roommate decided to revive the Pep Band at the University of Rochester. They had no idea their band would grow to more than 35 active members, and continue to play popular, peppy music a decade later.

From Adele to Lady Gaga, the pep band plays popular music of the day and prides itself of a level of musicianship uncommon in Division III athletic bands. Make no mistake, this attention to detail is not a result of talent imported from the nearby Eastman School of Music; in fact, only one band member is currently enrolled there. Indeed, this is the way it has been since the original band was formed under the tutelage of Frederick Fennell.

There have been at least three versions of the band before the current one was founded. Fennell’s band ended as the U.S. became involved in World War II and many band members enlisted, including Fennell himself. Following his return, the band was re-formed with a new director, Ward Woodbury. This second band lasted until the early 1980s, when its director retired. Attempts were made throughout the 1990s to get the band going again, but they lacked the strong leadership which past bands had relied on. Savich arrived on the scene to a University without a band, and sought to change that.

Munjanja 10th photoAnnabelle Taylor ’17, who was a member of her high school’s marching band, currently serves as equipment manager for the band. “I was drawn to the band when I heard ‘Don’t Stop Believin’’ in Park Lot, and decided, yes, these guys are for me!”

Her favorite part of Pep Band is playing at basketball games, especially at the 10th anniversary weekend, where alumni were invited back to play with the band.

The anniversary weekend had many members thinking about where the band will be in 2024. Current student director Jon Strumpf ’15 found himself wondering who will prepare the band in future seasons, given this year’s challenge. The band must fundraise to hire a permanent director, repair instruments, and buy new sheet music. According to one freshman, “Jon has big shoes to fill, but he is capable and talented, and will take the band far.”

Woodbury pep bandPep band members, new and old, with guest conductor Greg Savich, can be found cheering on men’s and women’s basketball teams at all the remaining home games. The band’s current membership is: Clarinet: Kathryn Strelevitz ’16, Bobbi Spiegel ’17, Joseph Bailey ’15, Michelle Currenti ’17; Flute: Ryan Challener ’14, Aubrie Sauer ’16, Kiera Crist ’15, Catherine Kong ’17, Aiyana Smith ’17; Tuba: Dan Macguigan ’14, Julia Morris ’15; Saxophone: Annabelle Taylor ’17, Danika Teverovsky ’16, Amanda Baker ’14, Ethan Senator ’15, Ray Tengan ’17, Aurek Ransom ’17, Eric Holmgren ’17; Mellophone: Nicholas Van Swol ’15, Christopher Cook ’17; Trombone: Douglas Bowlby ’17, Alexander Venuti ’14, Bennett Nidenberg ’16; Trumpets: Jon Strumpf ’15, Michael Meyers ’16, Ezekiel Starling ’16, Crystal Hans ’15, Morena Heyden’17; Percussion: Chelsea Hans ’14, Marz Saffore ’15, Mike Tamburrino ’16, Abigail Eaves ’17, Tyler Vasquez-Dorn ’17.

Top Photo: The Pep Band, together for their 10th anniversary weekend.

Middle Photo: The band plays the national anthem at Friday’s women’s basketball game (Photo Credit: Lloyd Munjanja)

Bottom Photo: The band was first founded over 50 years ago, and here’s a picture of the 1962 band to prove it! (Photo Credit: Melissa Mead, Rare Books & Special Collections)

The Campus Times Wins Big at the Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence Awards

By Blake Silberberg ’13
Univ. Communications

April 15, 2013 was a big day for the University of Rochester as students from the Campus Times took home two Society of Professional Journalists’ Mark of Excellence awards for the Northeast Region. The awards ceremony was part of a two-day conference that took place at Rutgers University in New Jersey. The entire 2012 Campus Times Staff (pictured right) won 3rd place for Best All-Around Non Daily Student Newspaper (at a medium-sized university) and former Editor-in-Chief Jason Silverstein ‘13 won 2nd place in Feature Writing for his article “Domestic Propaganda” that appeared in the Buffalo News in August 2012.

The awards are especially exciting as the University of Rochester’s region is extremely competitive and includes top-tier journalism schools such as Syracuse, Columbia, New York University, and Penn State. In the medium-sized university category, Rochester competes with Harvard University, Quinnipiac University, Hofstra University, and Villanova University.  While most of these schools have journalism majors and extremely competitive student papers, the University of Rochester does not have an official journalism major, making the success of the Campus Times and Silverstein all the more impressive.

The Campus Times staff is a diverse group of students, with a relatively equal mix of students who view journalism as a hobby and those who view it as a potential career. Not having a journalism major at the University changes the feel of the newspaper, welcoming students from all majors to contribute. 2012 Publisher Justin Fleming ‘13, for example, is a brain and cognitive sciences major. “Everyone loves journalism as a hobby, and are extremely dedicated to the paper,” says Fleming. The mix of interests and perspectives has helped shape the Campus Times into a unique institution, and the staff are extremely excited about being recognized for the work they put into the paper.


This year marks the first award for the Campus Times print edition since the 1990s (The Campus Times did win an award for their website in 2011), and it comes on the heels of a complete re-design effort undertaken in the spring of 2012. Former editor-in-chief and current Publisher Melissa Goldin described the previous layout as a “mish-mosh” of different formats, with different sections being given different formats as they changed locations and were added to the paper. The 2012 staff worked extensively to build a new format from the ground up, with the goal of creating a cleaner and more consistent design. The staff started with a number of different templates and collaborated to decide which ones to proceed with. “We didn’t move forward with a new design until the entire staff was behind the idea,” says Fleming. The staff then held focus groups over the summer to obtain feedback and refine the new format. The first issue with the new format launched in the fall of 2012 (take a look at the new format here). The paper also made a number of business changes in recent years, hiring a new ad agency and changing printing companies to save costs on the increased color printing required for the new format. The staff also benefited from an alumni feedback group for the paper that had been established a few years earlier, which allows former Campus Times members to offer comments on the paper via email.

Jason Silverstein ‘13, an English and Anthropology double major, started writing for the Campus Times after becoming interested in professional criticism freelance writing for the Buffalo News in high school. Silverstein started writing music reviews for the Campus Times, but eventually moved to an editing position. Silverstein became editor-in-chief in 2011, a position he described as “almost a full time job, I would work 35 to 40 hours a week on top of classes.” Silverstein went on to hold a reporting internship at the Buffalo News in summer 2012. Starting with music and film criticism, Silverstein had the opportunity to attend press screenings around Buffalo.

IMG_7747As the internship progressed, his role expanded to feature writing. While working on an assignment to cover cemetary tours being offered at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Buffalo, Silverstein discovered that the president of Forest Lawn, Joseph P. Dispenza,  had previously been a musical comedy star in New York City. Curious about what might cause such a drastic career change, Silverstein pitched the story to his editor and returned to Forest Lawn to write a full profile on Dispenza. The article, Forest Lawn’s president relies on his theater background, is an extremely interesting look at Dispenza’s acting history, and how it is more related to the cemetery business than one might think.  Silverstein’s award-winning piece “Domestic Propaganda” profiled Despina Stratigakos, an architecture professor at the University of Buffalo who will be traveling to Germany for two years to write a book titled Hitler at Home. Silverstein’s piece was written over a two week period, and he conducted multiple interviews with Stratigakos. The article discusses Stratigakos’ research and goals and the book’s analysis of Hitler’s domestic life and how images of his home life that appeared in household magazines affected society’s perceptions of him. Silverstein submitted the article to the Society of Professional Journalists in January, and was “absolutely amazed” when it won 2nd place in the contest, ahead of a student from Harvard University. “Being editor-in-chief of the Campus Times was enormously beneficial,” SIlverstein says. “It gave me a chance to gain a lot of independent work experience and the chance to work under pressure without fear of severe consequences. It was absolutely important in preparing me for working in the field of journalism outside of the University.” Silverstein plans to return to the Buffalo News in the summer to undertake a paid reporting internship, before heading to Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism this fall.

 The Campus Times is always interested in new contributors, and welcomes all interested students to contact the group through email: editor@campustimes.org.

2012 Staff:

Melissa Goldin (editor-in-chief)

Leah Buletti and Casey Gould (news editors)

Antoinette Esce (features editor)

Kevin Scantlen (opinions editor)

Erika Howard (arts and entertainment editor)

Cuyler Gauthier (sports editor)

Kara Ng (comics editor)

Julia Sklar (presentation editor)

Jenny Hansler (online editor)

Junne Park and Drue Sokol (photo editors)

Alex Kurland (staff illustrator)

Amanda Decker, Abigail Fagan, Michaela Kerem (copy editors)

Justin Fleming (publisher)

2013 Staff:

Antoinette Esce (editor-in-chief)

Casey Gould (managing editor)

Angela Remus and Jared Smith (news editors)

Doug Brady and Matt Lerner (features editors)

Francis Hinson (opinions editor)

Jonah Jeng and Rachael Sanguinetti (arts and entertainment editors)

Elizabeth Kilbridge (sports editor)

Melody Kahou (presentation editor)

Alyssa Arre and Aaron Schaffer (photo editors)

Alex Kurland (staff illustrator)

Sarah Teitelman and Jenny Yoon (copy editors)

Michaela Kerem (Online Editor)

Melissa Goldin (publisher)