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Bradley Hilltopics

Spring 2010 • Volume 16, Issue 2  



Tutors reach out to community

Bradley students provide free tutoring to local children through the America Reads program. Shown, ROBIN RASMUSSEN ’13 tutors Bryant McDowell while LAYODESI DeKEZEL ’10, now a supervisor in the program, observes. Photo by Duane Zehr.

By Nancy Ridgeway

LAYODESI DeKEZEL ’10 is committed to making a difference in the life of a child, and her work in the America Reads tutoring program is leading her toward that goal.

America Reads was established in 1997 to help fight illiteracy by providing free tutoring to children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Since that time, Bradley students have provided more than 72,000 hours of tutoring, with an average of 300 children participating in the program each year. During the 2008–09 academic year, 299 children were tutored, which involved 74 Bradley students working 5,235 tutoring hours. Funds from the Federal Work-Study Program pay their wages.

This school year, DeKezel, an early childhood education major, is serving in a supervisory role with the program. She has been involved in America Reads since her freshman year and has tutored six children at Whittier Primary School and a couple more at Bradley’s Smith Career Center (SCC). Bradley students tutor during the school day at Whittier, Lincoln Middle School, St. Mark’s Catholic School, and Common Place, a social service agency. Children come to campus for an evening program. Each tutor works with one to three children during 45-minute sessions that involve helping with reading homework, comprehension, grammar, and phonics. Children are enrolled for one or two sessions per week.

Dawn Koeltzow, assistant director of the Springer Center for Excellence in Internships at the SCC, says no assessment tests or income restrictions are involved. Parents are encouraged to enroll their children if they believe they would benefit.

While many tutors are education majors, that is not a requirement. Business major ROBIN RASMUSSEN ’13 comments, “I just love being able to interact with the kids and to help them learn new things. When they need help, I like to show them new ways to learn.”


A Cappella plays in Peoria, too


Last December, NBC’s successful four-night holiday premiere of “The Sing-Off” demonstrated that a cappella-style singing holds a prominent position in today’s music industry.


Facebook users can view On the Rocks’ performance at

In 2004, the a cappella phenomenon caught on at Bradley when PETER BOBIS ’06 founded On The Rocks, an all-male group, whose roster is often in flux. Currently, JOSH GALASSO ’09, ANDREW WIESER ’10, CHRIS PENNANT ’10, DAN ECKERT ’10, JAKE HIER ’11, JAKE SCHRINER ’12, PHILIP CHOONG ’12, MARCUS COLE ’13, and DAN CALABRO ’13 are involved with the organization.

Auditions for On The Rocks take place every semester, but this is the first year the group officially registered as a Bradley organization. In his first semester as the group’s director, Chris Pennant shares that On The Rocks provides a fun learning experience. “Being in an a cappella group has taught me some things about singing that I wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance to learn. My favorite part is looking at the audience in the middle of a song and knowing that all our parts came together exactly right.”

On The Rocks primarily performs free shows on campus. They have sung at Bradley events such as 24 Hours of Music, Relay for Life, Shack-A-Thon, and the Chorale talent show. Occasionally, RAs invite them to sing in the residence halls. Pennant enjoys this particular venue, pointing out, “It doesn’t hurt that the ladies love it when we serenade their dorm floors.” The group performs songs by artists such as Ben Folds, Billy Joel, Jackson Five, Imogen Heap, and Guster.

In November 2008, On The Rocks participated in the A Cappella Invasion at Saint Louis University with four other a cappella groups. KEVIN McCLELLAND ’11, former director of On The Rocks, says this was his favorite experience. He explains, “We were able to watch other a cappella groups perform, and it was great to see so many people excited about a cappella.”

This semester, On The Rocks will perform during a half-hour slot at Sigma Alpha Iota/Phi Mu Alpha’s 24 Hours of Music event on April 23. They also plan an April concert.

on the rocks a cappella group perform at bradley university