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Thumbs: Our high country lowdown on the news - Sept. 18, 2016

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By Optic Editorial Board

THUMBS DOWN! HIGHLANDS PLACED ON PROBATION
The Higher Learning Commission has placed Highlands University on probation after determining that the school is out of compliance with accreditation standards it is required to follow. Highlands remains accredited while on probation, but there’s no question that this is a serious matter for the school. Highlands President Sam Minner said he’s confident he can institute the changes needed to get Highlands off probation as soon as possible.

THUMBS UP! A NIGHT OF LAUGHTER
Thousands turned out for the Gabriel Iglesias, AKA Fluffy comedy show. It’s wonderful to see an entertainer of his caliber perform in Las Vegas. Kudos to Ilfeld manager Donna Martinez and to Highlands University for bringing such a great show to our city. And they’re saying this is just the beginning. The Mike Super Magic and Illusion show takes place at 7 p.m. today (Friday) at Ilfeld Auditorium. Tickets are $15 for the general public, $8 for children, and Highlands students get in for free.

THUMBS UP! SPEAKING OF QUALITY ENTERTAINMENT
Ron Maltais, a retired music director at the United World College, was obviously elated when he noticed several volunteers carting extra chairs into the great room at the Castañeda Hotel Saturday. The reason for his elation was a capacity crowd attending “Shades of Autumn,” a concert Maltais directed. The program, the first of a series, featured works of Vivaldi, Max Richter, Felix Mendelssohn, Antonin Dvorak and Luigi Boccherini. The works were performed by a stellar group, The Pleiades String Quartet, comprising Elena Sopoci, Elizabeth Young, Carla Kountoupes, Dana Winograd, Roberto Capocchi and Maltais. Maltais, and concert sponsors Allan Affeldt, Las Vegas Arts Council and Southwest Capital Bank deserve recognition for putting on such a wonderful concert.

THUMBS UP! BREAKING THE MOLD
Although men who fight fires usually outnumber women, the La Placita firefighters group proves the exception. The department, nestled in remote Gallinas Canyon, features six women and five men. The group represents a mixture of personnel such as a former school administrator, a retired college professor, an attorney and an air force physician. The women on the crew are Betty Martinez, Karen Baldi, Mary Kay Root, Dorothi Garcia, Rhonda Paynter and Mary Shaw.

THUMBS UP! SUNDAE SUNDAY
A host of area residents drove to the United World College in Montezuma to take part in the school’s Sunday Sundae, a meet-and-greet event to acquaint and reacquaint students with townspeople as part of its get-away program. Sunday Sundae allows people to mingle on the campus while enjoying an ice cream sundae served by school personnel and volunteers. Get-away student generally join their “families” for brief periods away from campus during the school year, for dinners, picnics, movies and other activities. Chief organizers of the event were Martina Moetz, head of school, and Rosalie Lopez and Nancy Ellington, get-away coordinators.

AND WE QUOTE
“I’m going to take control of the situation.”
— Highlands President Sam Minner, referring to the university being placed on probation by its accrediting body and steps he will be taking to get Highlands back on track.