EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 14, 2013

NECC hosts Black History Month events

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — HAVERHILL — Northern Essex Community College, 100 Elliott St., is hosting several events in celebration of Black History Month.

On Feb. 19, an anti-racism workshop will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in the Spurk Building, Room 208.

Poet January Gill O’Neil of Beverly leads the college’s Black History Month Read-in Feb. 25 from noon to 1 p.m. in Lecture Hall A in the Spurk Building. O’Neil will read some of her work and attendees will share their own favorite prose and poetry written by African American writers.

O’Neil is a professor at Salem State University and is executive director of Massachusetts’ Poetry Festival. She is the author of “Underlife”, a book of poetry acclaimed for its powerful autobiographic verse.

Kevin Comtois, a professor in the Global Studies Department at Northern Essex, speaks on, “From Slave Spirituals to Hip Hop: The Social and Political History of American Music” Feb. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Langley Adams Library in Groveland. He will have the same program Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at the Memorial Library, 2 Main St., Andover.

During the presentation, he will use recorded music, film clips, and still images, to trace the evolution and social and political context of American popular music from slave spirituals, minstrelsy, blues, jazz, and Rock and Roll.

Comtois has been teaching history at Northern Essex since 1999. In 2005 he was a recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to study Jazz with Dr. Gerald Early, an expert on the evolution of Jazz in America, at Washington University, St. Louis.

Tsongas to open

new office

LAWRENCE — Congresswoman Niki Tsongas is having an official opening of her new office Tuesday, Feb. 19 from noon to 1 p.m. at The Everett Mill, 15 Union St. Suite 401.

Reservations to attend must be made by Friday by sending an email to june.black@mail.house.gov.

He’ll help you cope with winter blues

NORTH ANDOVER — The Rev. Rich Knight will lead a winter blues support group Thursday, Feb. 21 at 4 p.m. at Trinitarian Congregational Church, 72 Elm St.

Knight said the group is designed to help people who have difficulty coping with depression caused by winter’s shorter days and other types of grief.

The meetings are held monthly and are open to the public. For details, contact Knight at 978-686-4445 or email minister@natrinitarian.org.

JCPenney grant helps YMCA after-school programs

LAWRENCE — The Merrimack Valley YMCA has received a $5,000 grant from JCP Cares, JCPenney’s charitable giving program, to provide school-aged children with financial assistance to attend after-school programs at the Y. This gift provides children from the

Lawrence community, who otherwise could not afford to participate, with access to after-school programs that cultivate the values, relationships and skills kids need to thrive.

“As a company founded on the Golden Rule, JCPenney has a strong legacy of giving back,” said Miki Woodard, vice president of philanthropy at JCPenney. “We are firmly committed to organizations like the Y, which truly make a difference in their communities.”

“The support of JCPenney enhances our efforts to serve as many children as possible with meaningful, high quality after school programming,” said Anne Whalen, Y Executive Director. “By working together we can not only keep children safer, but also help provide them with lasting benefits, including healthier lifestyles, improved social skills and an enhanced academic performance.”

Combining play with academics, Y after-school programs promote creativity, a love for learning, social and emotional development and character building, while complementing lessons learned during the school day.

Robotics testing center opens at UMass Lowell

LOWELL — Robots ran obstacle courses, climbed through a honeycomb of compartments, tested their vision and soaked themselves in simulated rainstorms. Those were a few of the demonstrations Tuesday at the opening of the most advanced robotics testing facility in the nation, the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation Center at UMass Lowell.

Designed to fuel robotics research and development in all of the New England states, the NERVE Center will serve what is already a $1.9 billion industry just in Massachusetts, according to a new report released at the opening by the Mass Technology Leadership Council.

The NERVE Center, located at 1001 Pawtucket Blvd., Lowell, features a dozen courses that test the strength, durability, design and functionality of robots. The courses use materials like wood, sand, gravel and water to challenge robots’ capabilities to negotiate obstacles and rough terrain like rubble, climb inclines and stairs, maneuver through deep water, withstand rainstorms, handle objects and view images in a variety of circumstances. One of the courses simulates the conditions a robot would face if deployed inside a collapsed building on a search-and-rescue mission.

“Investing in innovation helped move Massachusetts out of the recession and continued support for new technology will help us create new jobs and economic growth in the future,” said state Housing and Economic Development Secretary Greg Bialecki.