Monday, January 23, 2017

Southern Ohio Police Training Institute cadets celebrate graduation milestone

Four students from Southern Ohio Police Training Institute class BAS 16-044 celebrated a milestone on Jan. 20, 2017 in their journey to becoming certified peace officers in the state of Ohio, by graduating from the rigorous course.

At the culmination of nearly six months of coursework, studying, physical tests, and challenging scenarios, Erikka Martinez, Bryant Gibson, Conner Smith and Jesse Kontras, accepted their certificates for the completion of the SOPTI program.

First year commander Terri Mikesh, touted their accomplishments during the formal graduation ceremony held in Ohio University Chillicothe’s Stevenson Center.

“I congratulate our graduates on their tremendous achievement,” said Mikesh. “The academy is extremely challenging, requiring cadets to balance nearly 700 hours or SOPTI class time and outside study time with their own family and work commitments. It takes someone who is driven and focused, committed to doing the hard work required to succeed. These graduates have demonstrated that type of commitment.”

Numerous distinguished guests, family and friends joined OUC and SOPTI faculty, staff and instructors to celebrate the cadets’ accomplishments.

Executive Director of SOPTI, Dr. James McKean, addressed the graduating class during the ceremony offering words of advice for the future.

“Toady’s officers are challenged to work in an increasingly culturally diverse environment that is socially complex, that requires an even higher level of critical thinking and problem solving skills than officers in my day,” said McKean. “But rather than view these challenges as obstacles, I encourage BAS 16-044 to view them as opportunities to demonstrate the spirit of public service, dedication to your communities and commitment to your profession instilled in you by your instructors.”

In addition to receiving formal certificates for course completion, Mikesh presented awards for overall academic achievement, driving, firearms proficiency and a commander’s award for outstanding performance throughout the program. Smith took home three of the four awards for driving, academic achievement and the commander’s award. Gibson was the recipient of the “Top Gun” award for firearms proficiency.
SOPTI is a Basic Peace Officer Training program that is conducted in strict compliance to all rules and regulations prescribed by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission. Cadets gain exposure to and conduct hands on training in traffic enforcement, field sobriety, firearms qualification, subject control, ethical decision making and physical readiness among numerous other blocks of instruction.

SOPTI will begin its next class with a new cohort of cadets in late Spring. For more information on the program, visit or contact Commander Mikesh at or 740-774-7286.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

OUC Mourns Passing of Former Quinn Library Director, Stanley Planton Jr.

The OUC community is mourning the loss of former Quinn Library Director, Stanley Planton Jr., who passed away Jan. 14, 2017 after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Stan,” said Martin Tuck, OUC Dean. “He was an instrumental figure in OUC’s rich history and made significant contributions to the Quinn Library and campus overall. We send our condolences to his family and friends and will celebrate his legacy at OUC.”

Planton directed the Quinn Library for 25 years and was a formidable figure in the Chillicothe community. He was a well-established researcher who’s work contributed to the success of numerous individuals, including famed author Dan Brown.  Stan’s research work included gathering information for both of Brown’s first two novels as well initiatives for economic development in Southern Ohio.

Due to the extensive work Planton put forth in helping with Brown’s novels, Brown donated a significant portion of money to establish a religious tolerance collection of books at Quinn Library.

Stan leaves behind a wife of 48 years, Margaret Planton, and two sons. A celebration of life ceremony will be held at Calvary Lutheran Church, 74 W. Main Street in Chillicothe on Feb. 4, 2017 at 3:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made by check to the Ohio University Foundation, with OUC Quinn Library “The Religious Tolerance Collection,” in the memo line, and mail to OUC, Attn: Joyce Atwood 101 University Drive, Chillicothe, Ohio 45601.

View Stanley Planton Jr.’s obituary in the Chillicothe Gazette here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

OUC Theater program takes on Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival


 While the rest of the Ohio University – Chillicothe campus enjoyed the long winter break, the OUC Theater program descended upon Montclair State University in New Jersey for the Region II Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival from Jan. 3rd through 7th.

A record seven students from OUC attended this year’s event with OUC Theater program director Lance Mekeel in tow. The festival, now in its 49th year, is a national theater program involving 20,000 students from colleges and universities annually that serves as a catalyst in improving the quality of college theater in the United States.

“The students really appreciated being around other students who understand and embody theater,” said Mekeel. “Having the opportunity to participate in workshops and activities with others who are invested in the theatre community is entirely different than the experience they have in the day-to-day classes at OUC.”

This year, OUC entered their Fall production, “We (don’t) Remember: Cultural Memory in South-Central Ohio,” created by the cast, for recognition at the Region II Festival, which in turn allotted them three nominations for students to compete for awards. The annual awards in each region honor excellence of overall production and offers individual recognition for playwriting, acting, criticism, directing and design.

Three OUC students, Levi Kelly, Konner Kersey and Taylor Malone, were nominees for the Irene Ryan Acting Scholarship auditions this year, which is based on the school’s participating entry or production. To compete, each student chose a partner and together prepared two scenes for presentation, a two-minute and three-minute scene and a monologue. After presenting their pieces during an audition, students received feedback from respondents which determines if they advance to the next of three rounds. Unfortunately, OUC students didn’t make it past the preliminary round this year, but are hopeful for future placement. The winners of this portion of the program move on to compete at the national festival in Washington, D.C. for scholarship money.

“It’s so important for our students to be around other students who love theater as much as they do and to experience it in ways that they can’t necessarily experience here,” Mekeel said. “Even if it’s just for giving them a look at how theater happens elsewhere or getting them feedback on their work from other theater faculty. It’s a tremendously useful program for college theater students.”

OUC Theater program director Lance Mekeel significantly contributed to the success of the Festival by presenting a workshop on acting. The two-hour workshop focused on the Michael Chekhov technique of acting, for which Mekeel holds a national certification to teach. Mekeel also took part in a mentoring opportunity by directing one of six, 10-minute play entries for the National Playwright Program.

“I feel like it is of critical importance for those who are interested in theater, whether they’re majoring, minoring or are just curious about it, to be able to have exposure to events like this. I’m thrilled to help give that opportunity to our students,” Mekeel noted.

OUC students, through the work of the Student Theater Organization, will be holding fundraisers between now and next January to help cover the costs for program registration. Events will include a STO performance this Spring of “Sordid Lives,” dubbed “a black comedy about white trash.”

Mekeel said he plans on entering this year’s Spring & Fall productions into the 2018 festival. The Spring theater performance of “Ghosts” by Henrik Ibsen, will open April 6th and run through April 8th in the Bennett Hall Auditorium.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Chancellor John Carey visits OUC to discuss impact of College Credit Plus program

Ohio Department of Higher Education Chancellor John Carey visited the Ohio University Chillicothe Campus Wednesday to discuss the regional impact of the College Credit Plus program.

CC+, an Ohio Department of Higher Education initiative, allows students in grades as early as seven and through their senior year, to take college credit courses free of charge. Students can complete the college level class to earn dual credit for high school graduation and college simultaneously.

Campus Dean Dr. Martin Tuck and Chancellor Carey highlighted the program’s success during an interview with local radio station WKKJ’s Dan Ramey prior to showcasing the Chillicothe campus to the ODHE’s top official.

Both Carey and Tuck discussed the importance of access to quality higher education throughout the South-Central Ohio region which is provided through CC+.

“The College Credit Plus program has been instrumental in helping those in Chillicothe and surrounding communities gain an advantage when it comes to a college education,” said Tuck. “With more than 160 students having participated in the program at OUC this past semester alone, it’s opened doors for area students and the campus. We are delighted to be a part of this successful state initiative.”

Carey met with OUC students who are actively enrolled in CC+ to gain a better understanding of its bearing on student achievement and garner valuable feedback from program participants.  

Olivia Henness, a Unioto High School graduate and student at OUC studying early childhood education, spoke about her experience in CC+ and how it helped her prepare for college, save money and ultimately be a better student.

“I thought it was great that he wanted to meet with students who have participated or are participating in College Credit Plus in order to get their feedback on the program to better improve it,” Henness noted.  “I did College Credit Plus in high school and it allowed me to get ahead in my degree and I am now going to graduate a semester early, saving me a lot of money. From my experience, I would definitely encourage students to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Students were also able to offer ideas on how the program could be improved in the future which included ideas such as expanding in-school course offerings at the high schools.

“It would be nice to have more course offerings in local schools to help with the costs of driving back and forth to a college,” said Henness. “It would also give more students the opportunity to attend the courses, which is a great outcome.”  

In September of 2016, the ODHE released their report on the first year’s findings for CC+, estimating that more than 52,00 students enrolled in the program saving more than $110 million in tuition for Ohio families. It is expected that the state will see an increase in student enrollment as more Ohioans take advantage of the chance to attain college and high school dual credit through the program.

For more information on College Credit Plus, visit or