NECC/Methuen Police Academy Graduates First Class

New part of college off to a good start with 45 graduates

Forty-five new police officers graduated from the first class of the Northern Essex Community College/Methuen Police Academy in a ceremony at the college on June 26.

Michael J. Havey, Jr. of Methuen, who has worked as a part-time police officer and a security guard at Northern Essex, has been hired by the Methuen Police Department, and he was planning to start his first shift that Sunday at 12:30 a.m.

“I loved this program,” he said. “It was very challenging and I learned a ton.”

Havey always wanted to be a police officer and he’s following in the footsteps of his father, Michael J. Havey, Sr., who has been with the Methuen Police Department for 30 years.

His father received his associate degree from Northern Essex.

The 46 graduates— a quarter of whom are veterans—have been hired by 16 different police departments in Massachusetts.

They completed an intensive 21-week program that covered constitutional law, prevention and intervention, community policing, domestic violence, elder abuse, victims’ rights, and other topics.

All training took place on the Haverhill Campus except for fire arms training and emergency driving techniques which were held at off-campus locations.

Observer Intro to Fall 2015 Semester

For more than 50 years, the Observer has been the forum for the very best of the journalism students here at NECC to showcase their talent and obtain real-world work experience.

Unlike that “real world,” the Observer begins each year with a large percentage of new staff members who need to learn the ropes.

This includes learning photo and design software that may be previously unfamiliar to them and cultivating new relationships with sources.  

Sometimes, this leads to a rocky start for the first few editions of the year and has made it difficult for our paper, and our website, to reach its full potential.  

In response to this, veteran members of the Observer staff have been on campus all summer following important news and changes.  

New staff has been hard at work training and a web editor has been added to ensure the most up to date content on our social media sites.  We are bringing back a Campus Life page and a page that is Just For Fun, and we look forward to running your cartoons, pictures, letters to the editor and story ideas.  This newspaper is for you.  Look for all of the changes and let us know what you think.   

I am honored to work with this talented team of journalists.


Legalization, Legislation and Love

The LGBT community reaches some pivotal milestones over the summer.

On June 26, the United States Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage a constitutional right with a 5-to-4 vote.

In his decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy stated, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”

Prof. Kristi Arford said she was sitting at her computer first thing in the morning when she read the headlines about the ruling. “That was a really important moment!” she said. Colby Patrie was getting ready for an anime convention when he heard the news. He said, “I ran into the living room to watch the news and watched President Obama’s speech.”

The trans community made some strides of their own, continuing to get more and more time in the spotlight. On a local scale, the Massachusetts Trans Political Coalition started a bill to give trans people protections not already promised to them. The bill includes protections against harassment in public places, discrimination in the workplace and protection in general of their well being. Mike Givens, public relations for the MTPC said that the bill met some difficulties town by town leading the Coalition to take it to the State House. On Sept. 17 the MTPC and supporters will hold their “Lobby Day” on the Grand Staircase of the Massachusetts State House.

“I Am Jazz,” a TLC show, debuted July 15. The reality show depicts the life of Jazz Jennings, a 14-year-old trans girl who came out to her parents at the age of 2 and to the rest of her community at her 5th birthday party when she made the bold decision to wear a one-piece rainbow bathing suit.

Jennings came out to the public back in 2007 and has since co-written a children’s book to help younger kids–and anyone else who cared to read it–understand what it means to be transgender. She has become a major spokesperson for the trans community doing panels, speaking at ceremonies and keeping up her own YouTube page.

Caitlyn Jenner created a media frenzy when she came out as trans during an April 25 interview on 20/20.

Arford admits to deleting some hometown acquitances and high school peers over their outrage towards Jenner’s decision to come out. “I don’t normally come in to contact with people in the real world who hold, and openly express, hostile attitudes toward LGBT people,” she said.

Patrie was “fortunate” not to delete anyone he said but did do his fair share of arguing.

“My response is always, get over it, this is big news and a part of history,” he said.

The fire was further fueled when she revealed herself post-operation on the cover of Vanity Fair’s July issue.

Jenner fielded a lot of hate during this time. When she was awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPYS on July 15, many took to social media to voice their displeasure. Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with criticism that called for a reevaluation of the meaning of courage.

Different memes on the internet juxtaposed Chris Kyle with Jenner with the caption, “Hero. Not a hero.” Some memes went as far as to slander people for judging Michael Jackson for his plastic surgery and praising Jenner for hers.

In contrast, some Internet users fought against hateful language with loving messages, creating memes positioning pictures of Jenner back in her Olympian days and her Vanity Fair cover with the caption, “American hero.”

Patrie a second-year art student, reached a milestone of his own this summer.

“I spent my whole life wondering why I had to wear these stupid dresses … It wasn’t until years later when I learned what transgender was and everything fell right into place,” said Patrie who came out publicly as trans on July 29. He names Jenner as his biggest influence. “She was once known as the manliest man you could ever be, tough, strong, an olympian. For her to come out was the bravest thing she could have ever done. and you see the difference in photos. (Bruce was) always frowning, covering their face, you could see there was pain.”

NECC’s own LGBT presence is known as the Gay-Straight Alliance and is overseen by Arford. Arford has been teaching at the school for seven years in the areas of anthropology, world religions, sociology and sex and gender. Three or four years ago she took on the role of GSA faculty adviser.

Growing up, Arford said she didn’t know any trans kids but, as previously mentioned, she teaches a course on sex and gender and uses her knowledge to try and explain the taboo still surrounding transgender people, “Our culture’s ideas of sex and gender are based on an ‘essentialist’ binary, with roots in religion.  If you believe that God created males and females, and only males and females, with very distinct characteristics and ‘natural’ roles to play, then you most likely believe a person cannot choose to change that, and that one’s assigned sex cannot be wrong. One problem with this thinking is that it doesn’t recognize the difference between sex and gender, and does not acknowledge gender roles as social constructs that vary widely across time and place.”

Patrie adds, “People are afraid of what they don’t know, and start thinking the worst.”

As the world continues to turn and change, Arford said, “People are becoming more aware, and more people are challenging the gender binary. I guess that’ll probably be the next big cultural shift we’ll see, a move away from the binary understanding of gender, toward more fluidity and variance in gender expression.”

Those readers looking for a safe place on campus for LGBT folks and allies alike can contact Kristi Arford at for information on upcoming GSA meetings.


Students Hold Summer Music Festival

Young musicians show off their new skills


The harmonious sounds of the 5th Annual Summer Music Festival, directed by Christina Dietrick, permeated TC103 in the Hartleb Technology Center on August 14.

Dulcet melodies drifted into the hallways as parents proudly watched their children demonstrate their musical talents.

The festival this year was held from Aug. 9 to Aug. 15. The artists presented their hard work after a grueling but enlightening week of musical camp.

What started as just a fun program for aspiring musicians to hone their talents has turned into an annual music festival event.

Director Christina Dietrick became a part of NECC through Michael Kramer, a previous faculty member of NECC who performed as a guest pianist for the festival. He brought Dietrick to NECC after a change of direction in his path, by becoming a mathematics teacher. Leaving his piano class expertise, he chose Dietrick as his replacement.

“I wanted my class piano course to go to somebody who I knew was very competent, and I graduated with Christine from Boston University,” he said.

We both did our master’s and doctorate’s there at the same time,” said Dietrick.

Dietrick has been the piano teacher at NECC since 1994, as well as the music faculty at Mount Wachusett Community College, Indian Hill Music, and is the founder/director of the Chopin Conservatory of Music on the North Shore.

Her other notable accomplishments include her performances both in the United States and Europe as a soloist in concert, as well as with orchestras performing on a plethora of stages including Jordan Hall, Alice Tulley Hall at Lincoln Center.

He regularly performs at the New York Public Library and Chopin Society of New England.

The Annual Summer Music Festival began 5 years ago when Dietrick received the opportunity to organize a music festival from chairman Kenneth Langer.

“First it started with just being a piano camp, but then I said, why don’t I make it chamber music? So I brought in two colleagues. First it was Alice Holstrom, then it was Caroline Reiner-Williams, and then her husband Angel Hernandez-Dominguez joined us 3 years ago,” Dietrick said.

Both Reiner-Williams and Hernandez-Dominguez performed alongside the students at the festival, adding even more life to the pieces. Both artists are of the highest caliber in their musical talents.

Reiner-Williams, who plays the violoncello, received her undergraduate degree in cello performance at age 19, and has gone one to complete her master’s degree in cello performance at the Longy School of Music.

Having toured Canada, England, France, Russia, Spain, and Portugal and being a member of the Boston Youth Symphony, she now spends her time as a faculty member at Brooks School in North Andover, Fay School, Indian Hill

Music Center, and Joy of the Music Program. Reiner-Williams also founded the Nashaway Trio with her husband Hernandez-Dominguez and pianist Roy Imperio.

Her husband Hernandez-Dominguez graced the stage with his exceptional talents on the violin and viola.

His accomplishments include his studies of violin at Manuel Saumell Conservatory in Havana. From there, he has been a part of the Aguascalientes Symphony Orchestra, the Queretaro Philharmonic, and performed as a soloist on many occasions.

He currently teaches violin and viola at Brooks School in North Andover, Cushings Academy, and the Shrewsbury MA Public schools. He also builds and repairs violins.

From Brahms to Mozart, the artists’ renditions of classical music transformed TC103 into a music hall. The performers varied from all ages, from 4 to 14.

“I put on (Disney’s) ‘Fantasia’ one of the days we had camp, and all the kids ran to the practice room because they were so eager to practice their skills,” said Dietrick.

For more information about the music department, contact Ken Langer at


Bentley ArtSpace Gets a New Name

A ceremony was held to dedicate this space


Over the summer, the ArtSpace located in a remote corner of the Bentley Library received a new name and some well deserved attention during a dedication ceremony on May 15.  So did Linda Hummel-Shea, for whom the space was renamed.  Hummel-Shea started at NECC as a part-time librarian 35 years ago and retired last June as the assistant dean of libraries.   Throughout the years, this space had been used for a variety of purposes, including a conference room and a place for hosting large events, but in 2009, after a unanimous vote, it was decided that the space would be recreated as “…a long desired and needed location for the students, faculty and community to display their work.” said Mike Hearn at the dedication ceremony.  Hearn is the college’s director of libraries and he emceed the dedication ceremony. “The artspace would not exist as it is today  had it not been for the vision and support and  tenacity of Linda Hummel-Shea.” said Hearn.

Several people spoke at the dedication, including NECC President Lane Glenn and Art Department Director, Marc Mannheimer, who shared anecdotes from their time working with Hummel-Shea.  Also speaking that day was Dr. William Heineman, vice president of academic affairs who recalled how much she cared about the college and community.

“Beyond anything she did for the library, Linda was a great citizen of this college,” he said. Speeches were given while standing at a podium situated just to the left of a digital screen which rotated images of some of the incredible artwork that has been shown at the gallery throughout the years.

Hummel-Shea was also recognized at the college’s commencement on May 16, when she was awarded emeritus status, which recognizes “sustained excellence in performance, character, and meritorious service to the college,” according to the school’s website.

According to Mannheimer, the dedication will not change the way the ArtSpace is used, but he hopes it can lead to increased recognition, grant money and signage for the gallery.  New work will be on display later this month by visiting artist,

“The fact that it’s being named for you makes perfect sense.” Mannheimer said to Hummel-Shea.  She responded with a “thank you” muffled by tears.

For more information about the artspace, contact Mike Hearn at


Amesbury Street Property Donated

Louise Haffner Fournier’s family make donation


The Louise Haffner Fournier Education Center on Amesbury Street on the Lawrence Campus has gone from a rented building to a building that is now owned by NECC through a donation from the EMLO Realty Trust, which is under the direction of Joanne Fournier and the Fournier Family.

A unanimous vote from the board of Trustees brought the donation into reality.  

Kelsey Terry, a recent graduate of NECC and the Student Member of the Board of Trustees for the school year 2015-2016 said, “As I leave Northern Essex, I am glad that this happened while I was a Student Trustee. It is nice to have Northern Essex own the building that is worth so much.”

Joanne Fournier and her husband have been supporting NECC for many years. Fournier has been on the board of the Women of NECC since the group’s inception in 1996, said Jean Poth, the Vice President of Institutional Advancement.

Journalism major Christina Hillner said, “It shows that there are good people out there still. They care what is happening here at NECC, and they prove it with donations like the Fournier building.”

“The estimated value of the property is $1.45 million. The property includes three parcels of land totaling 39,444 square feet and two adjoined buildings totaling 24,008 square feet. It features a 1,500 square foot general science lab built in 2012, as well as classrooms, office and community spaces,” said Poth. “The two labs in the NECC/Fournier Educational Building are state-of-the-art and they were completed in the fall of 2013 and funded through the assistance of a grant and a private donor.”

Some students are excited to see Northern Essex expand in Lawrence. Alba Diaz, a longtime resident of Lawrence and a Business Transfer student, said, “I think this is a great thing, it helps to make Lawrence improve as a city.“

“There is a shining star showing in the city, and that is NECC. I could not be more proud to attend school here in my city and see the transformation that is taking shape,” said Diaz.

Theatre major Nate Miller said, “I was new to the Lawrence campus this semester and I also was an Orientation Leader, so I had to learn about all the building in Lawrence. It was nice to start saying it was our building due to a donation. It is a proud feeling.”

Jasmine Polanco, a Criminal Justice major, said, “I think its great because it shows the school wanting to expand more throughout the city.”

Polanco still had some questions that remain unanswered about how any future construction will affect school. She wondered if the classes that remain there are going to be the same.

The Louise Haffner Fournier Education Center became part of the Northern Essex community in 1999, when classes began to grow in Lawrence and the Dimitry Building was no longer big enough to house all classes. When the property first opened, it automatically allowed student growth in credited classes.


Opportunity Works has Moved In

Opportunity works its way to Northern Essex community

Northern Essex, as a community, has experienced hot weather, summer classes, and construction this past summer. The stairs for the main entrance at the Spurk Building are pearly white, classy, and ready for the upcoming semester. Adjacent to the Spurk Building is the newest addition to the NECC community: Opportunity Works.

In 1974, a group of Greater Newburyport-area residents began to discuss their concern about the lack of support services available to adults with developmental disabilities and their families.

According to their website, Opportunity Works began with “the vision of empowering people with disabilities to experience the freedom to live, work, and enjoy a valued role in society.”

Thirty nine years later, their vision is continued through dedicated workers like Melissa Merrow.

Melissa Merrow, Director of Program Operations, has been with Opportunity Works since 2009. She started off as the Day Habilitation Manager, then was promoted to Director of Specialized Day Services a year later.  Just this past June she was promoted again, this time to Director of Program Operations. She has a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Business Minor from Salem State University.

“We partner with many people in the greater Newburyport and Merrimack Valley area,” said Merrow. “For example, our individuals volunteer at various churches and food pantries in the area. Volunteering gives them a sense of giving back to the community and also the confidence they need to obtain jobs in the community versus the volunteering.”

“We also visit local nursing homes monthly as a ‘Random Act of Kindness’ day! We go over and play cards, talk, enjoy their company, fulfilling for both agencies! By our individuals getting out into the community more it also gives the public a better understanding of who Opportunity Works is and what we do. We ensure people are reaching their maximum independence through personal and professional interests.”

Their vision, according to the website, is to set “leading standards of excellence among individual service providers in supporting people with disabilities and their families, empower the people we serve to fully achieve personal growth and a valued role in society, promote a positive and supportive work environment for employees, realize planned growth of existing programs, while ensuring our commitment to our core values, engage the community in supporting Opportunity Works to achieve our mission.”

Merrow also mentioned how Opportunity Works has many volunteer sites. These include things like the new “Special Stars” dance program this month. There’s also an annual International Week, where each program room is a different country, allowing members to “travel the world,” and a Holiday Bazaar, where donations received help the individuals make crafts and buy gifts for their families for the holiday season.

“We offer the Project Search program, there are only two in the state of Massachusetts. We are now offering college classes at NECC for our individuals,” says Merrow. Opportunity Works has two locations, in Newburyport and Haverhill. The Newburyport location is at 10 Opportunity Way, Newburyport, and the Haverhill location is located at 671 Kenoza Street, Haverhill.


Tarah MacGregor, a face of NECC

Tarah MacGregor. an honors student with a definite voice



23-year-old Tarah MacGregor has been a student at Northern Essex for five years. Her ready smile has made her popular among the students and faculty, and you can often hear her laughing in the hallways as she goes about her many projects.

McGregor has taken her college experience to a higher level by getting involved in activities that she is passionate about.

Home-schooled until age 13, MacGregor loves science and travel. The latter passion drew her to Italy, Belize and Ecuador with the study abroad program, which is directed by professor Marcy Yeager.

“I’ve been on more trips with Marcy than any other student,” MacGregor laughed.

Besides annual international trips, MacGregor supplements her NECC education as the student ambassador for the honors experience.

As such, she works closely with Honors Coordinator Ginger Hurajt, as well as all the other honors students, to help facilitate the most rewarding experience for everyone involved. McGregor has the outgoing personality needed to fill this role as the honors committee representative, and she infects those around her with positive energy.

The Honors Experience is designed to boost a student’s academic standing by allowing any class to be designated as an honors class with the completion of an additional project related to that subject.

The project is self-directed, but must be approved by Hurajt and the class professor.

MacGregor stressed that while the project has to relate to the subject, there is a lot of freedom for a student to choose whatever might be interesting to them and relate it to the class material.

The student works closely with the professor throughout the semester to develop a research paper and project that will be presented at the end of the semester to both the class and the honors board. The class then appears on the student’s transcript as an honors class. Along with two honors classes, the honor student will participate in a poster session, an honors colloquium and a service learning project.

MacGregor is very familiar with what it takes to successfully complete the program. She said that the requirements are not really overwhelming, but she recommends that people fulfill only one requirement per semester and spread it out over three semesters.

She said, “I always tell people to work a couple of hours a week writing or researching, since they have the whole semester, and they will be fine.”

As an honors experience student herself, MacGregor has taken some of the honors colloquium classes. These are mixed-discipline classes, some of which repeat and others that are offered for only one semester, depending on student interest. MacGregor said that the classes that focus on composition and the sciences tend to be well attended, including Women and Mythical Literature, taught by Hurajt. Other classes which heavily examine issues of philosophy and psychology — such as The Pursuit of Happiness and Searching for Euphoria — may only draw a handful of students and run for one semester only.

“It’s important for new students to find out about (the Honors Experience) right away,” said MacGregor. “Some will only be here for four semesters, and they need three of them to complete this.”

The completion rate for students taking two or more honors requirements in the same semester are significantly lower. “Maybe only about 40 percent,” MacGregor said.

Scholarships are among the benefits of completing the program, as is guaranteed acceptance into the honors program at any Massachusetts university when transferring.

Honor scholars have their own lounge on campus with a computer and printer and they receive special recognition at graduation.

More information about the Honors Experience can be found at, or you can visit their Facebook page at Northern Essex Community College: Honors Experience. Messages left on that page will be directed to Hurajt or MacGregor.

For more information about the study abroad program, go to or contact Marcy Yeager,


Please Don’t Feed the Geese

Geese are creating a nuisance for the groundskeepers


Traffic comes to a stop on Kenoza Street more and more often these days to let the geese cross the road.

“There’s a good amount of geese. I think there’s two main groups,” says Steve Shepard, who works for the NECC Grounds Department on the Haverhill campus. Shepard thinks that the problem has gotten worse this year.

A group of geese is actually called a gaggle.  According to the Mass Wildlife website, gaggles of geese have been passing through for centuries along their natural migration route.  Throughout the ’60s and ’70s, a relocation project was begun to move the geese further inland, apparently for hunting purposes.

Since then, the availability of secondary food sources and changes in weather patterns have caused a change in the behavior of the geese.  While some groups still fly south for the winter, many geese have found that is no longer necessary and have become year-round residents of many of the nesting grounds that they populate.  

Since each full grown goose can produce as much as a pound of droppings each day, sanitation problems can develop in areas where the population is particularly large or bold, and once geese become established in an area, they are reluctant to give it up.

“The geese have been causing trouble with (the athletic fields), too,” said Shepard. “They seem to be getting used to our tactics.  Like, even the decoys don’t work, they just walk right by them sometimes.”

Evidence of this can be seen in the form of droppings all along the athletic track, just mere feet from where a styrofoam coyote watches on. “We’re trying everything, everything short of air horns,” said Shepard.

When asked about how they prepare the athletic field before a game, Shepard said that they use leaf blowers for both the grass and the sidewalks, but sometimes they have to resort to shovels to clear the mess.

The geese make their home at the Haverhill reservoir just across Kenoza Street but they have found abundant grazing available on the NECC grounds. “It’s between here and around where the reservoir is.  I believe they have some sort of sound cannon that they can use to push them, and then they usually come back here… so it’s kind of us sending them back and forth to each other.” Shepard laughed.

Shepard said that he thinks the school will have to do some research to find out what other people are doing.  “We definitely have to change our tactics. They’re getting used to everything,” he said. “We don’t want to hurt them, but we don’t want them in places where they cause a problem, or traffic, too.”

Currently, there is only one chemical treatment on the market approved to deter geese.  One company in Everett provides a dog handler and a border collie to patrol the grounds and chase the geese away for a starting rate of $10,000.  

The hope is that with the beginning of the school year bringing an increase in human activity around campus, the geese will be more reluctant to spend their days here.  Shepard asks that you please do not feed them.

Shepard said, “I’ve been here two years now and I didn’t think we were going to be at war with geese.  That wasn’t in the job description.”

For more information about geese, visit the MassWildlife website at


Knights Win Region XXI Again


Is it time to call Jeff Mejia’s Knights team a dynasty?

bserver came out earlier this past May, the NECC Knights had just finished the regular season with a 25-2 record, winning 16 straight to round up the season. The team qualified for the number 1 seed in the in the Region XXI tournament, where they crushed the competition and won the tournament.

On the first day of the competition they defeated Massasoit, 9-1, in a game that would only make it to the 7th inning before the mercy rule was called because the Knights were clobbering Warriors.

The next day the Knights kept rolling, beating Holyoke 10-4, and then the day after in the championship game of the tournament they went on to win against Holyoke again with a final score of 17-7. The Knights made it to the NJCAA DIII World Series for the 4th straight year, 3 of those coming under Coach Jeff Mejia.

“It is a new location this year and it should be interesting. I’m really looking forward to getting to North Carolina. We know the routine now and that should definitely help us,” said Coach Mejia.

“It’s been a great run. These kids always step up. They are a group of baseball players, that the tighter the game is the better they play.” Unfortunately, the Knights winning season would not transfer to NC.

They lost the 2 games they played, leading to an early exit. The 1st game they lost to Tyler Junior College, 5-1, and then they lost in the elimination game the next day against Century College, 10-7.

Their losses in the World Series did not take away from their amazing season.

The NECC Knights won many individual awards including, Coach Mejia winning Coach of the Year, and MacDaniel Singleton, Keith Linnane, Ryley Warnock, and Jake Rayner all winning Gold Glove Players of the Year awards. 7 players made it on the Division III All-New England team as well.

All the sophomores from the team have transferred to 4 year colleges which is no easy task.

The NECC Knights are looking forward to their fall practice season, where they will get ready for the regular season in the spring and look to dominate on the field once again.