Ce­cil Col­lege hosts an­nual Unity in the Com­mu­nity day

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JOE ANTOSHAK

jan­toshak@ ches­pub. com

— Ce­cil Col­lege held its an­nual Unity in the Com­mu­nity fes­ti­val on Satur­day, the 16th time it’s done so.

Or­ga­nized by the mul­ti­cul­tural stu­dent union at the col­lege and funded in part by a grant from the Ce­cil County Arts Coun­cil, the event fea­tured 13 en­ter­tain­ers, 10 ex­hibitors, food, raf­fle prizes and a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties for chil­dren, like face paint­ing and a moon bounce.

It set off around noon with a wel­come speech from Mary Way Bolt, Ce­cil Col­lege pres­i­dent, and then Rachel Acevedo sang a ren­di­tion of “The StarS­pan­gled Ban­ner.” Elk­ton Com­mis­sioner Earl Piner Sr. and Chris­tian ra­dio show host Mar­cos Merca-

NORTH EAST

Wil­bert McKin­ley II stands with his son, Will McKin­ley III, in front of a ban­ner for their Teach Fleet STEM pro­gram, which high­lights mi­nor­ity and fe­male in­no­va­tors in STEM fields.

do em­ceed the event.

The day was one of cul­tural celebration. As soon as the bass line for the Bea­tles clas­sic “Come To­gether” ( per­formed here by vo­cal­ist and ven­tril­o­quist James Ship­ley) started boom­ing from the speak­ers, C. Laney M. Hox­ter could be seen danc­ing by her­self near to the stage.

When asked for an in­ter­view, Hox­ter, who di­rects Ce­cil Col­lege’s mul­ti­cul­tural stu­dent ser vices, said through an en­er­getic smile, “Well, you can try.”

Hox­ter sat down at a nearby ta­ble and ex­plained the evo­lu­tion of the Unity in the Com­mu­nity fes­ti­val from when it be­gan as a

“pic­nic of ap­pre­ci­a­tion” in 1996. Ac­cord­ing to ma­te­ri­als pro­vided at the event, it now has 500 com­mu­nity part­ners, friends and fam­ily.

At its core, the event is de­signed to high­light and bring to­gether the com­mu­nity’s cul­tural dif­fer­ences. There were ta­bles set up for the Amer­i­can In­done­sian Or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Ce­cil County branch of the NAACP, as well as for His­panic and Na­tive Amer­i­can heritage at the col­lege, among oth­ers.

One ta­ble show­cased sev­eral pieces in Wil­bert McKin­ley’s “TEACH FLEET,” which is made up of Lego mar­itime ves­sels. Each one is tied to a mi- nor­ity or fe­male in­no­va­tor in the STEM fields.

For ex­am­ple, a red fire­fight­ing ship hon­ored Molly Wil­liams, a slave in the late 18th and early 19th cen­turies who con­vinced her New York holder to let her help ex­tin­guish fires. She’s con­sid­ered the first known fe­male fire­fighter in the United States.

“I mean, ev­ery­body learns some­thing,” McKin­ley said of his fleet, which he some­times show­cases in gyms and au­di­to­ri­ums, fill­ing the floor space. “I’m amazed at the things I’ve learned, like that a woman in­vented Kevlar. I al­ways fig­ured it was an old man.”

Unity in the Com­mu­nity had an area set up for food from Flo’s Cater­ing, and an­other for Rita’s Wa­ter Ice and Herr’s Snacks. Or­ga­niz­ers asked guests who ate to make a $ 5 do­na­tion, which would be put to­ward the Eva M. Muse Memo­rial Schol­ar­ship — gen­er­ally given to Ce­cil County res­i­dents study­ing ed­u­ca­tion.

Some there saw the event as an op­por­tu­nity to bridge the gap be­tween Ce­cil res­i­dents and the county’s only in­sti­tu­tion for higher ed­u­ca­tion.

“I think there’s an op­por­tu­nity to merge the com­mu­nity with stu­dents and with staff,” said Mer­cado, whose ra­dio show fo­cuses on mar­riage through a Bi­b­li­cal lens. “I feel like [ the col­lege] is a gold mine, but some­times peo­ple are a lit­tle in­tim­i­dated by it.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOE ANTOSHAK

Mem­bers of Bob­bie Ann’s Dance Troupe per­form a num­ber from the mu­si­cal “Hair­spray.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY JOE ANTOSHAK

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