WASHINGTON (AP) — US sales of new homes rise 1.6% in December following big November drop.
WASHINGTON (AP) — US sales of new homes rise 1.6% in December following big November drop.
CHICAGO (AP) — The groundbreaking for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago can proceed this year after a four-year federal review and other delays. Obama Foundation officials said Wednesday that construction could start as early as August. Former President Barack Obama chose a South Side lakefront park as the site for his presidential library in 2016, not far from where he began his political career and lived. But the planning hit numerous snags including a legal battle with park preservationists and protests from neighborhood activists who feared the planned $500 million center would displace Black residents.
From kindergarten graduation to the College’s Commencement, Saint Mary’s seniors Audrey Marrah and Carly O’Connor have been through the ups and the downs together.“We went to the same school since kindergarten and we’ve been like best friends since eighth grade. We both separately decided to come to Saint Mary’s but we’ve still remained friends,” Marrah said.Marrah and O’Connor have a lot in common. They share the same hometown of Kokomo, Ind., and they graduated from Northwestern High School together. Marrah and O’Connor achieved the same 4.0 GPA throughout their time at the College, and now, they have been both been awarded the honor of co-valedictorian for Commencement this May.“I was really excited,” Marrah said. “We had been hoping we would be able to share the honor together. My main concern when I found out was ‘oh, did Carly get it too?’ because it’s more fun if we can both share it together.”Marrah said she and O’Connor learned the news via e-mail a few weeks before Spring Break.“[The e-mail] said I was co-valedictorian but it didn’t say who else it was going to be,” O’Connor said. “So I was really hoping it would be Audrey because I knew that it was likely that she was going to be the valedictorian.”Because of their friendship and history together, both Marrah and O’Connor said they were excited to share the title of co-valedictorian with each other.“I’m so excited,” O’Connor said. “Having known her for so long, and we were roommates for three semesters and being good friends with her — it’s such an honor to share that with her, to share in her hard work and who she is. We get to really share that honor together and I think it’s a really special gift that we’ve been given.”Though the girls have attended school together since kindergarten, they will part ways post graduation. Marrah, a biology major, said she plans to participate in some international service work after graduation on May 15.“There’s a program in Guyana, South America that I’m looking at,” Marrah said. “There’s another one through the Holy Cross Brothers over at Notre Dame, and that program’s in Uganda.”O’Connor majored in English Literature and plans to attend graduate school at the John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C.“I’ll be getting a masters in theology focused on marriage and the family,” O’Connor said. “This summer I am working at my parish at home as an intern in Family Life Ministry.”Though they will have to say their goodbyes, both Marrah and O’Connor said they were grateful to share their valedictorian experiences together.“It’s been a wonderful gift and I’m very thankful for it,” O’Connor said. “I feel truly blessed.”
For junior Madison Zeiss, this summer revolved around only one event: the Maccabiah, an international competition for Jewish athletes around the world. Zeiss, a first-team All-American fencer, collected a gold medal in both the individual and team foil events in the open division for athletes of all ages. Despite her successful individual performance, Zeiss said she felt prouder to represent the United States in the Maccabiah, which is frequently hailed the “Jewish Olympics,” according to the games’ website. “I definitely felt like I was competing for the US; all of us [on the US team] did,” she said. “That’s what we were there for and it wasn’t about the individual medal. That was awesome but it was about the team.” Although the Maccabiah is a competition, Zeiss said learning more about Israel and Israeli culture filled much of her time abroad. “It was more about bringing awareness to Israel and showing us exactly what the country has to offer. … The times that we weren’t competing we were always just constantly touring and sightseeing around the country and meeting people.” Zeiss described a trip to an Israeli Defense Force base where she met adults her age completing their compulsory two- or three-year military service requirements. “It was so eye-opening to see that because it’s normal for us to go to college; this is just normal for them.” She also noted that despite the political turmoil in Israel, Palestine and neighboring Syria, she never believed she was in danger. “There wasn’t even one point that I felt uncomfortable,” Zeiss said. “To me the people were amazing.” Zeiss said her primary focus for the summer was preparing for the Maccabiah. For that reason, she stayed in South Bend for the summer to continue training with Notre Dame fencing associate head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia. “I was here this summer, so I trained a lot really closely with my coach,” Zeiss said. “Probably every other day we’d go to the gym and train. So that definitely helped a lot. It was mainly just being here and being able to focus on getting ready.” Collegiate fencers tend to meet each other through competition, Zeiss said, so she knew many of her US teammates before competing with them at the Maccabiah. “We all know each other, but we obviously weren’t as close as we were when we left,” she said. “We immediately meshed as a team. … There was no conflict or anything.” According to the Maccabiah website, about 10,000 Jewish athletes come to Israel from across the globe to compete in the games, which are “the world’s largest Jewish athletic competition.” The Maccabiah offers competitions in Olympic sports like basketball, volleyball, soccer and cycling as well as other events such as bridge, chess, karate and bowling. The U.S. ranked second in the overall medal count for the open division. With 170 medals total, American athletes earned 56 gold, 53 silver and 61 bronze, far behind the 498 total medals won by Israeli athletes. Russia finished third in that division with 38 medals.
Like their music, the members of the Notre Dame Handbell Choir are a study in balance.The choir is a mix of members with prior experience playing handbells and others who had never played before coming to Notre Dame.Senior and president of the Handbell Choir Delaney Pfister said some members have 10 years or more of experience, like herself, while other members have never even seen a handbell before.“All anyone needs is a willingness to learn,” she said.The Notre Dame Handbell Choir is holding auditions in room 328 of the Coleman-Morse Center from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. tonight. Pfister said there will be another audition night on Thursday, September 4th.Karen Schneider-Kirner directs the Notre Dame Handbell Choir as well as other music ministries. The choir is comprised of Notre Dame undergraduate and graduate students who come from different academic and musical backgrounds, Pfister said. The handbell choir is primarily a liturgical choir and operates under Campus Ministry.The Notre Dame Handbell Choir performs about once every three weeks, said Pfister. During the 11:45 a.m. Sunday mass, the choir performs solo pieces as well as supplements to the mass parts. They also perform during vespers at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and at various locations in December for the holiday season.The Handbell Choir goes on domestic and international tours where they perform at various parishes to help raise money for the parishes’ underfunded music programs. In the last three years, they have been to Canada and Washington, D.C.Pfister said the choir currently has 15 members and is looking to add more. At the audition, musicians interested in joining jump right in and begin working on pieces while randomly dispersing throughout the choir. She said it is important to be able to read music proficiently, and it is even better if the auditionees are familiar with both the treble and bass clefs.“I have been a member of the handbell choir since I came to Notre Dame, so three years now,” Pfister said. “Being in the handbell choir has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. We all have so much fun in rehearsals learning the music.”The Handbell Choir will be present at Activities Night, and Pfister encourages everyone to speak with them at the fair.“My advice would be to give us a try if you are interested,” she said. “It can be difficult to determine which activities you want to be a part of on campus, so find things you are actually passionate about.”Tags: Handbell Choir, Music
This week, the Muslim Students Association of Notre Dame (MSA) is hosting Islam Awareness Week, featuring a series of events meant to increase understanding about the religion and its representations.Emily Danaher | The Observer MSA vice president and graduate student Fatemeh Elahi said the week’s events, whose co-sponsors include the Graduate Student Union and Multicultural Student Programs and Services and which include a panel discussion, a lecture and a film, focus on society’s perception of Islam and the role of the hijab, or head-covering veil, in the religion.“This is the most obvious appearance of a Muslim girl, that she is wearing a hijab,” Elahi said. “That’s also where it has been most misrepresented, that [people think] the hijab is a symbol of oppression. So we wanted to talk about how this is actually a misrepresentation, and how it actually means empowerment for girls.”To start the week, MSA held a panel discussion and Q&A Monday night about the importance of the hijab in the prayer life of Muslims. At the Fieldhouse Mall on Thursday, the group will also give out the garment, answer questions about the hijab and teach people how to wear it. Elahi said the goal is for Muslims and non-Muslims alike to understand why many Muslim women wear a hijab.“Hijab basically means modesty, and modesty is one of the biggest teachings of Islam for both men and women, so it’s very important that we internalize this, that our prayers are about modesty,” Elahi said. “… We can learn so much by understanding the concept of hijab.”Thursday evening, Islamic studies professor Ebrahim Moosa will give a lecture in the Hesburgh Center Auditorium about representations and misrepresentations of Muslims in the media, MSA president and senior Liyana Muhamad said.“People want to talk about this, so we want to provide a platform so people can talk about this and stop blaming each other for things that none of us are accountable for,” Muhamad said. “That’s pretty much the idea, watching out for each other. The whole idea of wars and things like that are very much motivated by the media, and not by our innate role.”The week will end with a screening of “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football,” a documentary that explores the impact of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on a Muslim community through the eyes of a predominantly Arab-American football team. Elahi said MSA chose the film because it was relevant to the lives of Muslims in the United States today.“After 9/11, their lives changed,” Elahi said. “It wasn’t because of something they had done … it was just, the media was painting the whole group with a broad brush and they were suffering for that. We just realized it was a good movie because people can connect with it, and it’s very educational.”Tags: islam awareness week, Muslim Students Association of Notre Dame
In a lecture at Saint Mary’s Wednesday, Brother Joel Giallanza spoke on embracing and continuing the mission of a Holy Cross education, and how Saint Mary’s helps to do just that.The lecture focused on the mission of Holy Cross education and how it should be applied to modern schools. Giallanza, theassociate director of the Holy Cross Institute at St. Edward’s University, said the purpose of a Holy Cross education is to help prepare students for the world after school and the supply them with the necessary tools to be active and ethical citizens. Giallanza said it is important to consider how the current education system will affect the future.“For the College to offer what it says it offers, what do we as faculty, as staff, need to be,” he said. “What kind of persons do we needs to be? Because it will not happen by itself — otherwise we’d be running a factory.”Giallanza explained the history of Holy Cross education, starting in 1835 when Fr. Basil Moreau decided to start a boarding school. “The [school] would become a place of promise,” Giallanza said. “Those who gathered there and committed themselves to that mission would dare to look at France and the absolute devastation following the French Revolution … with eyes of hope and conviction about the future. The heritage would become a source of passion, life and especially educational life.”Giallanza said the boarding school was designed solely for the benefit of the students. He said the plan was to design a curriculum that would help the students learn not only the subject matter being taught, but also how to form values and how to implement those values into their lives after school.Moreau was extremely influential in helping private schools gain accreditation, Giallanza said. Schools during that time were only accredited if they were government schools, but Giallanza said Moreau worked for years to help make private schools equal to government schools. Giallanza said there were three principles a Holy Cross education needed to have to be successful: information, formation and transformation. According to Giallanza, information means academic excellence, while formation means putting the information into use. He said transformation is defined as a student’s use of his or her education after graduation. When considering modern Holy Cross institutions, Giallanza said there are additional points beyond the three principles that schools need to meet. He said he believes Saint Mary’s meets all of these principles. “First, Holy Cross education is concerned primarily with leading students to understand and to live the Gospel,” Giallanza said. “Second, Holy Cross education enables students to become informed and active citizens. Holy Cross education nurtures an environment of collaboration and cooperation, supported by a sense of community, which touches and includes everyone associated with the college.”Giallanza said the principles fostered by a Holy Cross education will help teach students important values, which will help students in many different aspects of their lives.“Holy Cross education teaches respect: personal, social, racial, political, cultural, religious, gender included in this diversity,” he said. “Holy Cross education fosters participation in the life of a living community and promotes dialogue between faith and knowledge, faith and daily life, faith and culture. “Holy Cross education of course maintains standards of excellence established by local, state, federal, diocesan, whatever accreditation you seek,” he said.“Holy Cross education maintains a global perspective. It’s one of the riches of Holy Cross education. We’re in 20 countries on six continents. It’s good to remind ourselves of that every now and then.”Tags: Basil Moreau, holy cross education, Joel Giallanza, saint mary’s
The future is here, and Saint Mary’s is rising to meet it. Working in conjunction with student body president and senior Madeleine Corcoran and vice president and senior Kathy Ogden, the administration is reviewing and rethinking the College’s mission statement. The project will examine what the mission statement does well, what it is missing and how accurately it portrays Saint Mary’s, Corcoran said in an email.“We are currently in the revision process, which means we are collecting feedback from students, faculty, staff, Sisters of the Holy Cross, administration, alumnae and parents regarding our current mission statement … and what they would like to see in a future mission statement,” Corcoran said.According to the Saint Mary’s website, the current mission statement reads: “Founded by the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1844, Saint Mary’s College promotes a life of intellectual vigor, aesthetic appreciation, religious sensibility and social responsibility. Saint Mary’s is a Catholic, residential women’s college in the liberal arts tradition offering undergraduate degrees and co-educational graduate programs.“A pioneer in the education of women, the College is an academic community where students develop their talents and prepare to make a difference in the world. All members of the College remain faithful to this mission and continually assess their response to the complex needs and challenges of the contemporary world.”The Mission Council is comprised of Saint Mary’s faculty, staff and student representatives who assess if the goals and values of the College are both known and demonstrated in the community. As an advisor to the vice president for mission, the group helps implement the College’s mission statement.“Last year, there was a slight revision [approved] to add the ‘coeducational graduate programs,’ which reflects the addition of our graduate programs as well as the admission of men into those programs,” she said. “I was blessed to be a part of that process as the co-chair last year.”Corcoran said this project is an effort to keep the mission statement loyal to the character of Saint Mary’s while adjusting to changes in the community.“It is important to continually evaluate the mission statement in order for it to be both accurate and a true reflection of the College,” she said. “The mission statement helps direct all major decisions and initiatives of the College, so it is really important for it to be current.”The process has been long and thorough, Corcoran said, with many moving parts involved in the review.“We are currently in a data collection phase,” she said. “This means many groups are giving their input, which is then collected and evaluated. Following this [phase], the strongest components will be brought to the writing process.”The group expects a very positive reaction overall, Corcoran said.“Students seem engaged and interested about how [the new mission statement] plays a role in the College’s future,” she said.Tags: Division for Mission, division for mission council, mission statement, SMC Mission Statement
For nearly 30 years, the Notre Dame Chorale has ushered in the holiday season with their performance of George Frideric Handel’s “Messiah,” a wildly popular Baroque masterpiece that tells the story of Christianity in three parts. Music professor Alexander Blachly, director of the Chorale, described the piece as “indestructible.”“That’s the word that people usually use about it,” Blachly said. “It means no matter how you perform, it is going to sound great. But I think it sounds a lot more great when it’s performed with this sense of style.” Courtesy of Alexander Blachly The Notre Dame Chorale performs Handel’s “Messiah,” a Christmas tradition at the University, in Leighton Concert Hall.When Blachly arrived at Notre Dame in 1993, the Chorale had significantly fewer members and performed “Messiah” with a full orchestra. For the past several years, however, the Chorale, which now has around 70 members, has performed with a small orchestra composed of 15 Baroque instruments. The distinctive sound of the Baroque orchestra, Blachly said, contributes to the “style” of the work.“It’s clearer, it has a different kind of articulation, the notes speak in a different way,” Blachly said. “The sound of the orchestra is really quite light and the whole piece then has an agility to it. Many movements in Messiah are dances. It’s very hard to get a modern orchestra to dance. It sounds very heavy. … Just by nature, the Baroque instruments have this quality of a kind of dance-like agility. It just makes the piece move so much faster and so much, much, much more interesting.”Handel loved “Messiah” and directed it many times during his years in London, usually as a fundraiser for a charity or hospital. The passion, variety and drama of the piece, Blachly said, points to Handel’s inspiration.“It sort of runs the gamut of what’s possible to make an interesting performance,” Blachly said. “… The piece is just full of these great contrasts and that’s part of what makes it such a great piece. You don’t get bored because so many different things happen one after the other. It’s a very colorful conception that Handel had and he wrote it in this blind white heat. He wrote this whole piece in three weeks.”The movements range from exuberant to gentle to powerful, Blachly noted, making for an interesting experience for the Chorale members as well. Senior Caiti Crahan, president of the Chorale, emphasized the unity of the work despite the differences in tone.“Some of [the songs] are very serious and loud and some of them are more bouncy and some of them are very slow,” Crahan said. “So there [are] variations but it’s all him.”In order to represent the full range of Handel’s expression, Blachly said the Chorale approaches the work “rhetorically.”“We try to think what it was in the words that inspired Handel to write the music that particular way because in every case, he’s illustrating the words in one way or another,” Blachly said. “So once you’re aware of that, then you try to figure out ‘what is it in his mind, what is he thinking of, what do those words suggest to him’ and then what is going on in the music that would correspond to the words.”Blachly offered the interaction between the angels announcing Jesus’ birth and the shepherds on Christmas night as an example of Handel’s grasp on his composition.“What happens with Handel is he’s got this incredible burst of sound with trumpets, when the angels first sing Glory to God,” Blachly said. “And then you can actually hear them going back up to heaven. You can hear them disappearing. The music is softer and softer and softer and softer … and then they’re gone. You can literally hear the angels moving through the sky.”Tapping into Handel’s mind in such a way gives the performance a richness that is not often seen, Blachly said.“I think some performances are not particularly aware of these things and they really miss out on an opportunity to make the music more interesting because of that,” he said.For Crahan, the Messiah tradition is one of the highlights of Chorale.“The soloists are really talented. It’s kind of inspiring to see them perform,” Crahan said. “I think the part that I like best is that we do it every year so it feels like a very Christmas-y tradition and gets us all [in] the holiday mood. … You can kind of hear yourself improving over the four years that you sing it, which is also really fun.”“Messiah” is Chorale’s most popular performance of the year, Blachly said. Crahan described how the adrenaline of performing is heightened by having a larger audience than a typical Chorale performance.“We have so much more energy and so much more fun when you can see an audience is engaged,” Crahan said. “When we sing the Hallelujah chorus, which is the last piece and the most famous one, obviously, everybody stands up which is so cool to see every year.”Blachly pointed to the Chorale members’ talents and the adjustable acoustics of Leighton Concert Hall as major improvements to the tradition. The acoustics, Blachly said, allow the less powerful, but more “colorful” Baroque instruments to stand out.“This is really satisfying because the choir is so good and the hall is so good and the orchestra so good,” Blachly said. “It’s just a great treat to do it. It’s really fun to do it and we can do it on very short notice; that’s the other thing that’s kind of incredible. When I started here, it was very slow going … now the learning curve is so fast. It’s just extraordinary.”Tags: chorale, christmas, Handel, Messiah, Orchestra
Image by Darren McGee / Office of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.ALBANY — New York Governor Andrew is calling for $61 billion in federal aid to help with costs associated with the Coronavirus pandemic.On Tuesday, the Governor asked for more money from Congress to fund schools, local governments, and hospitals.Otherwise, he says they could see a 20 percent cut in spending.“To get this economy back up and running. we’re going to need an intelligent stimulus bill from Washington,” said Governor Cuomo Tuesday. The Governor said the bill in Congress should not include so-called “political pork.” He also said he hopes this will be a time for the federal government to “re-imagine America.”“The investment in public infrastructure is long overdue. They’ve talked about this for years. There are dozens and dozens of reports that will talk about the bad shape of our roads and our bridges and how bad our airports are compared to international airports,” he said.Last month the National Governor’s Association asked federal lawmakers for $500 billion to help fund states. Share:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)