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Stories this week at WFU

By Jacob McConnico
December 2, 2004

WFU CELEBRATES HOLIDAY SEASON WITH 'A SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS,' 'LIGHTING OF THE QUAD' — "A Scottish Christmas," featuring Bonnie Rideout with Highland pipes and drums, Celtic harp and Scottish dancers, will make its North Carolina debut at Wake Forest University at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2 in Wait Chapel. The concert, a Secrest Artists Series event, features Rideout, a three-time U.S.-Scottish fiddle champion, and some of North America and Scotland's most legendary Celtic musicians. Music will include traditional Scottish carols, wassail tunes and dance music associated with Christmas, Hogmany (Scottish New Year's Eve) and the New Year. Contact the News Service to attend the rehearsal between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Interviews can be arranged. At 9:30 p.m., following the concert, the university will also hold its annual "Lighting of the Quad." During the event, students decorate the plaza with greenery, lights and a live evergreen tree. It also includes music, singing, speakers and refreshments. Concert tickets for "A Scottish Christmas" are $22 for general admission; $16 for senior citizens and non-Wake Forest students; and $5 for children under 12. They are available through the Theatre Box Office at 336-758-5295. The "Lighting of the Quad" is free and open to the public.

Contact: Pam Barrett, or 336-758-5237.

TAKE THE HO, HO-HUM OUT OF HOLIDAY LETTERS — Year-in-review letters accompanying Christmas cards have become a popular way to maintain connections with friends and family who have fallen out of touch. As the trend has emerged, so has the fact that in an age of e-mail and cell phones, many people today struggle with the art of letter writing. John Llewellyn, associate professor of communication at Wake Forest, says four "YULE" rules can help you compose engaging, thoughtful letters that loved ones will look forward to reading every year.

  • You care for these people. Make the love and caring - the spirit of the season - come through in the letter.
  • Use vivid language to tell your story. Let them "see" the special moments. This is not a drab inventory; it is a catalog of adventures.
  • Leave economic gloating for some other time, if at all. If your biggest problem is where to park the spare Jaguar, don't mention it.
  • Enough is enough. Two pages of news is plenty and may actually be read with interest.

Contact: Maggie Barrett, or 336-758-5237.

COMMUNITY INVITED TO ANNUAL CHRISTMAS LOVEFEAST — Wake Forest will hold its 39th annual Christmas Lovefeast and Candlelight Service at 8 p.m. Dec. 5 in Wait Chapel. The event is free and open to the public. Celebrated in the traditional Moravian format, the event includes music, carol singing, beeswax candles, coffee and Moravian buns. University Plaza (the Quad) will be decorated with luminaries. Monetary contributions will be accepted for Prodigals Community, Samaritan Ministries or the Chaplain's Emergency Fund.

Contact: Pam Barrett, or 336-758-5237.

FACULTY, STAFF SERVE BREAKFAST TO STUDYING STUDENTS — Wake Forest professors and staff will serve a hot, late-night breakfast to study-weary students from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Dec. 6 in the Reynolda Hall Cafeteria (the Pit). The twice annual breakfast has become a tradition for students and faculty during exam week. Faculty and staff volunteers at the late-night event will serve up breakfast staples like pancakes, biscuits, grits, scrambled eggs and bacon. Student musical groups will perform at the breakfast.

Contact: Jacob McConnico, or 336-758-5237.

RECENT JOB LOSS: WHAT'S REALLY TO BLAME AND HOW TO FIX IT — Despite what seems to be an exodus of manufacturing and information technology jobs, so-called "outsourcing" is not the primary cause of recent job loss in the United States, says Jac Heckelman, associate professor of economics and McCulloch Family Fellow at Wake Forest. Rather, technology is to blame, specifically, the lagging technological skills of the U.S. workforce. "We have moved historically from agrarian to manufacturing to service," Heckelman said. "This is a perfectly natural progression and as the world's richest nation, we are leading the way. We still employ a great deal in manufacturing and technology — the slow transition away from this is not a problem." What needs to happen to help displaced workers find jobs? "The workforce needs to develop new skills to keep pace with technology," Heckelman said. "Keeping education and job training costs down — for example, through community colleges — will help ease the transition costs."

Contact: Maggie Barrett, or 336-758-5237.

HAPPIER HOLIDAYS FOR DIVORCED PARENTS AND THEIR CHILDREN — Planning ahead and staying positive can lead to happier holidays for divorced parents and their children, says Christy Buchanan, associate professor of psychology at Wake Forest. Work out holiday plans as far in advance as possible, so children and parents will know what to expect, suggests Buchanan, co-author of the book "Adolescents after Divorce." Be flexible and creative in coming up with new ideas and traditions, she says. Children of divorce often say they feel caught when they have to choose, she says. "Let children have input, if they want it, but don't put it all on their shoulders, she says. "Try not to be defensive if a child wants to spend time with the other parent." Parents who know they will spend a holiday away from their kids should try to do something positive for themselves, she says. "Don't be in a situation where you are home alone on Christmas Day because you didn't plan ahead," Buchanan says. "Make sure you've got something to do that will bring you some happiness. Plan a special trip. Plan to spend time with other friends or family." Showing respect and concern for an ex-spouse by at least refraining from doing/saying negative things is helpful for children of divorce any time, but can be particularly important during the holiday season.

Contact: Cheryl Walker, or 336-758-5237.

THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: WHERE DOES IT GO FROM HERE? — National Democrats might want to look at the party's appeal in North Carolina and in some other Southern states as they evaluate their next steps in preparing for the national elections of 2006 and 2008, says Jack Fleer, professor emeritus of political science at Wake Forest University and author of the book "North Carolina Politics." "In this state for the past four elections, moderate Democrats have been elected governor while the state electorate gave substantial majorities to Republican presidential candidates in three of the years (not 1992)," Fleer said. "This and other Southern states might provide some insights for how to broaden the appeal of Democratic candidates for various offices."

Contact: Jacob McConnico, or 336-758-5237.

FUN SCIENCE IDEAS FOR KIDS AT CHRISTMAS — Barbie and Spiderman will be popular gifts for children this Christmas, but Angela King, a senior lecturer in the chemistry department at Wake Forest, says parents should also consider science or math-related gifts that are fun and educational. Items that top her list include all building toys like the always popular LEGO sets or the more flexible K'Nex or magnetic geometric building sets like Magz; kits for growing crystals; fossil dig sets that include small plastic models of fossilized bones embedded in a mud brick and digging tools; magnifying lenses; wooden geometric blocks, which help kids develop spatial reasoning, size recognition and pattern replication; weather stations; and pump rockets and balloon rockets, which teach children concepts of air pressure and Newton's Laws. "Excitement provides motivation for mastering skills needed not just to make discoveries that impact the world, but also to function well in our technology-based society," King said. "The best way to get kids interested in science and math is to have them actively engage in thinking and hands-on manipulations, but that doesn't rule out fun." King, who leads the SciMax Summer Enrichment Institute at Wake Forest each summer for rising high school students, said that subscriptions to science or nature magazines like Ranger Rick, published by the National Wildlife Federation, also make great gifts.

Contact: Jacob McConnico, or 336-758-5237.

HOLIDAY STORY IDEAS AVAILABLE ON WFU NEWS SERVICE WEB SITE — The Wake Forest News Service has compiled a tip sheet of story ideas for members of the media looking to fill column inches and air time during the holiday season. The stories offer commentary from a variety of Wake Forest experts in diverse fields like health and exercise science, chemistry, communication and psychology. The last day of student exams is Dec. 11.

The holiday tip sheet is on the Web at

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