Category Archives: Student Groups

TODAY- Last Day of : Improv Try-Out Week

Improv Plotter Poster

Both of the college’s improv comedy groups, The Otter Nonsense Players and The Middlebrow Society for Improvisational Theatre, will be holding try-outs this week in hopes of finding Middlebury’s future leaders of sarcastic party conversations.

Otters tryouts will be held TODAY (Tuesday) at 4:30PM and Thursday (2/26) at 5:30PM in the Forest East Lounge.

Middlebrow will be Wednesday (2/25) and Thursday (2/26) at 4:30PM in the Coltrane Lounge (in the Adirondack House, entrance is near Pearsons).

It is important to note that you need only go to one day for either group.  So you could do Otters Tuesday and Brow Thursday, par examplé.

Experience is never expected. Most of the current members had never done improv before either, and had to try-out a few times. No matter if its your first semester, last semester, or that sweet spot in the middle, both groups would love to have you come and play!

Email [email protected] or [email protected] with any questions.

TONIGHT: Evolution Dance Crew

10989184_1570269456523543_3201093788634578860_oHuge news! There’s a new dance crew on campus! Come check out Evolution Dance Crew’s first showcase ever tonight! One talented group not enough? D8 AND Verbal Onslaught will be performing with them. At the same time? I’m not sure. We’ll have to find out live!

Date: Today, Thursday 26th
Time: 8:30 PM (doors open at 8)
Place:  Wilson Hall (aka social space)



TODAY- Last Day of : Improv Try-Out Week

Improv Plotter Poster


Both of the college’s improv comedy groups, The Otter Nonsense Players and The Middlebrow Society for Improvisational Theatre, will be holding try-outs this week in hopes of finding Middlebury’s future leaders of sarcastic party conversations.

Otters tryouts will be held TODAY (Tuesday) at 4:30PM and Thursday (2/26) at 5:30PM in the Forest East Lounge.

Middlebrow will be Wednesday (2/25) and Thursday (2/26) at 4:30PM in the Coltrane Lounge (in the Adirondack House, entrance is near Pearsons).

It is important to note that you need only go to one day for either group.  So you could do Otters Tuesday and Brow Thursday, par examplé.

Experience is never expected. Most of the current members had never done improv before either, and had to try-out a few times. No matter if its your first semester, last semester, or that sweet spot in the middle, both groups would love to have you come and play!

Email [email protected] or [email protected] with any questions.

TODAY: Public Debate Round

156052_644825582289599_2696556888038189466_nIt’s no secret that Middlebury students are often ridiculously smart. But all too often, more academic talk stays in the classroom and we fall into small talk or only chat about things that are immediately concerning: it’s really cold, the add/drop period is over, Atwater was poppin this weekend. But not at the Midd Debate Society! Come out and support your peers as they argue about issues that are relevant in and outside of the Middlebury bubble. Lily Wilson ’18 writes in:

The Midd Debate Society will be holding a fun and interesting public debate round tomorrow evening in Crossroads! Whether you a) didn’t actually know Middlebury had a debate society, b) don’t really know what debate is all about, or c) just want some free Grille food, you should come on by! Watch esteemed debaters Nate Rifkin ’15, Caley Henderson ’18, Elana Feldman ‘17.5, and James Callison ‘17.5 debate over whether the United States should pay people to vote in elections, with Frank Wyer ’15 serving as judge.

Date: Today, February 24th
Time: 5:15-6:30
Place: Crossroads Cafe
Cost: one million dollars (jk it’s free)

Middlebrow’s First Show of the Semester, Tonight!

After an incredible Feb. Break Tour, featuring 4 shows, 11 sofas, 57 tweets and an unmeasurable amount of good times, Middlebrow is happy to be back performing for their favorite audience: their friends. Fans of improv comedy and/or fashion will not want to miss this show, entitled “Yer a Wizard, Harry Connick, Jr.”, since the Brau will be filling the beautiful Abernethy Room with both of those TONIGHT.

When asked whether he was excited for Middlebrow’s performance tonight, Super-Fan Alexander Khan ’17, who is also a member of the group, responded “Yes.” Charlotte Michaelcheck ’15, the eldest and blondest member of the group,  was asked the same question, to which she nodded.

The show will begin at 10:45PM this evening in the Abernethy Room in Axinn, so come on by after the Alpenglow For the Kids concert  (see below). This show is free and open to all.

Information regarding auditions for both of the college’s improv groups will be announced at the show and posted on Middbeat later in the week.

MCAB Presents: Alpenglow For The Kids (featuring D8)

alpenglow posterMiddlebury’s favorite Indie folk rock band is back to do a benefit concert for the kids at the University of Vermont Children’s Hospital! Come support For The Kids in kicking off Dance Marathon week!

When: Sunday, Feb. 22, 9pm
Where: Wilson Hall (McCullough Social Space)
Cost: free admission

StartupGrid Goes Live! The Student-Run J-term Internship You Definitely Want to Learn About Launches This Thursday

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 9.51.52 PM

Whether or not you heard about the ambitious yet, until now, fairly ambiguous student-lead on-campus J-term internship “StartupGrid,” it’s definitely time you get in the know. At Middlebury, we’re creative thinkers. We’re do-ers. We thrive off creation, innovation, and problem solving. And if any J-term project embodies this entrepreneurial drive, it’s StartupGrid. For four weeks this January, 25 students of diverse academic backgrounds banded together under the leadership of Jake Vacovec ’15 and Ty Danco ’77 (a tremendously successful venture capitalist) to create, an an early stage online resource providing advice, expertise, and instruction from top thought leaders in the startup and venture capital industries. StartupGrid self-defines with the following statement:

“Starting a company is hard – finding the right advice shouldn’t be. At StartupGrid, we connect you with specialized knowledge from seasoned entrepreneurs, so you can start bridging the gap between struggles and success today.”

As a member of the StartupGrid media team, I can confidently assert this project is pretty damn cool. And successful. After conducting 30+ interviews, collecting 50 hours of filmed interviews with top thought leaders in the startup and venture capital industries, and curating over 1800 multimedia articles, the StartupGrid team has created a one-stop resource for entrepreneurs looking for the right answers, accessible here.

To celebrate our team’s success, we’re hosting the StartupGrid Demo Day, aka the site’s official unveiling, this Thursday, February 18 at 5pm in Axinn 232. We strongly encourage any and all students, faculty and staff to come check out the awesome startup 25 Middlebury students built on-campus this J-Term, featuring a live StartupGrid interview with Pier LaFarge, Midd alum & CEO of SparkFund.

And, to get the celebration really going, the StartupGrid team invites everyone to join us for a reception with free food and drinks, including top-notch alcoholic beverages (of the 21+ variety for valid ID holders) in the Axinn Abernathy Room. The future of StartupGrid is bright – so please come see what we’ve done, how we did it, and our plans for the future. This night of innovative experiential learning, and the best craft beer Vermont has to offer (Heady Topper, y’all), is not to miss.

The whole idea of an online resource providing seemingly infinite startup entrepreneurial advice is intriguing to say the least, but the whole “internship” process is a little vague. So, to give you a sense of the StartupGrid leadership, team work, short and long term goals, and day-to-day work these 25 students engaged in, middbeat’s conducted an informational interview with StartupGrid co-founder and project manager, Jake Vacovec ’15So, without further ado, read up, and show up this Thursday at 5pm in Axinn 232.

MB: So, what is Startup Grid anyways?

JVSimply put, is an easily accessible website where you can find startup advice. It’s a collection of blog posts, videos, and interviews from thought leaders in the startup and venture capital industries. Our main goal is to curate the best startup media into a navigable website, a project which, until now, has not been done.

Entrepreneurship is on the rise, making startup advice more relevant than ever. But though demand for startup advice is fervent, such advice is largely disorganized and inconsistent in quality. So, rather than leave it to a time-starved entrepreneur to navigate the noisy world of startup advice, the StartupGrid team has taken on this challenge with great success. What sets StartupGrid apart is our library of exclusive interviews with 40+ entrepreneurship thought leaders providing the inside scoop on hot companies like Ello, IrisVR and Bridj.

MB: Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get involved, and how did the idea for this project develop?

JVMy name is Jake Vacovec, I am a senior economics major and I am one of the Co-Founders of StartupGrid. When I graduate in May I will be working in Manhattan at a FinTech startup called Behalf. After working at Behalf last summer as an intern, I got a taste of the startup world and was immediately hooked. My ambition to start my own venture carried me through a network of Midd Alumni. Eventually, I was introduced to a member of the Board of Trustees, Rick Scanlon, who started a VC/PE firm, Marker LLC. Rick then introduced me to one of his employees, a recent Midd grad, Brian Foster. Brian worked with Ty Danco, a tremendously successful venture capitalist and also a Middlebury alumnus, while enrolled at Middlebury and for a brief stint before joining Marker LLC. Brian offered to introduce me to Ty, and after working with Ty for a few weeks we had outlined what would soon become StartupGrid. All we needed was a team to bring it together.

MB: At the beginning of J-term, what were your goals for StartupGrid? How did you go about preparing to accomplish those goals?

JVI spend the entire first semester working on developing all the operations and processes for StartupGrid in order to accomplish our high-level goal – a useful website. After recruiting 25 talented, diverse students, I was hopeful that the semester would be a huge success, but also feared it could crash and burn given the limited time we had. We were essentially a case study for future projects of this caliber and I knew we would be under a microscope. It was a lot of pressure, so my main goal was to clearly define role expectations and have a strong process in place. Ultimately, I wanted to end J-Term with a tangible product that everyone involved was proud of and the larger community of entrepreneurs and “want-repreneurs” could benefit from.

MB: Who composes the StartupGrid “team?” How did you assemble this team and what demographics do they represent?

JV: The StartupGrid team is comprised of 25 exceptionally talented Middlebury students, all of which are either juniors, seniors, or were super senior Febs. The best part about the team was that it was truly an interdisciplinary group of students. We had majors ranging from English to Computer Science. The founding team was divided into five sub-teams: (1) Product & Project Management (2) Programming & Design (3) VC Research (4) Film (5) Social Media Strategy. Each member was put onto a team, but the group quickly learned that at a startup, it’s all hands on deck. Everyone did their jobs but also developed skills beyond their expected function.

MB: Over J-term, what did your day-to-day, week-to-week schedule look like? How did the StartupGrid team go about building the site and accomplishing their goals?


JV: Every week the team met 5 times for 2-hour period. Each meeting had a different purpose, some were to review the weekly goals, others to relax and enjoy a beer. My favorite meetings were our Wednesday night meetings – the Heady Topper brainstorm sessions. Before every Wednesday meeting I would drive up to Williston to pick up a case or two of Heady Toppers and buy a couple pizzas from Nino’s on my way back. These meetings were where we fostered our cohesive, collaborative team culture. We were able to accomplish our goals, and had a good deal of fun doing so.

The programming and design team assigned themselves weekly sprints and standups, for which we would define the goals for the week and each member would ‘standup’ and explain what they had accomplished the previous week. Every Friday Ty would come to campus and meet with each team over the course of 5-6 hours, which was an incredibly educative experience. We also benefited from advisement from Adam Bouchard, CEO of Agilion Apps. On two occasions, Adam invited us to his cottage off Route 7 and helped us define our product market fit using a lean vision exercise.

MB: Tell us a bit more about Ty Danco. What’s he all about?

JV: First off, this project would not have been possible without Ty. I was beyond fortunate to meet Ty and spend the past 6 months working with him and learning from his entrepreneurial expertise. Ty is one of the most passionate people I know, and is constantly overflowing with ideas; he epitomizes entrepreneurship. Ty has had a full career and I’m probably doing an injustice to him by only highlighting a few tidbits. After graduating from Middlebury in 1977, Ty became a two time Olympic athlete (casual, right?) before beginning his career in finance. Later, he founded a startup that was acquired by CalPERS. He is an angel investor and also works as a Director for the accelerator, Techstars.

MB: So, how’d it turn out? Did you accomplish what you aimed to? 

JV: To be blunt, the StartupGrid project turned out fantastically. It’s not easy to pull together 25 students and give them 25 days to build a legitimate startup. In truth, we have collected more data than we know what to do with, which is exciting because the room for growth is exponential.

To date we have curated over 1800 multimedia articles, conducted interviews with 40 experts and amassed over 50 hours of film. All of this content has been fully integrated into The real accomplishment was the duality of this educational experience. We studied theoretical learning through research, curating, and interviewing as well as experiential learning through the creation of a legitimate startup. This experience was like none other at Middlebury and gave us a taste of what it would be like to work for a startup.

MB: What do you hope for the future of StartupGrid?


JV: StartupGrid needs to be polished up a bit, but it’s future really depends on how we decide to pivot from here. We could make it an open source resource for the entrepreneurship community to add to, similar to a company like Wikipedia. Or we could make it a University package, where other schools sign on and build off of our platform – providing students with a theoretical and experiential learning opportunity. For the next few months its activity will flat line but once we decide our growth strategy it will pick back up. Some of the members, including myself, will be working on this for the rest of the year and even years to come. I see it as a great side project where I will eventually transfer into an advisement position.

MB: Do you think StartupGrid will ultimately be profitable, and if so how?


JVOur main focus is to create a website that benefits our audience before we begin to consider how to make a buck off it. I guess it also depends on what you consider profitable, any website can be profitable through ads but another way to think about ‘profit’ would be to amass a badass email list of users, which in some minds can be considered even more profitable. For me it is less about the money and more about the future benefits an experience like this offers. For now we are not focused on profitability, but the avenues to get there are certainly available.

MB: What skills have you gained through this process? What skills have the group members at large gained? Continue reading

Student Group Profile: Mountain Club

With the start of a new semester, you may be wondering what new activities you should get involved with? Well stop your tossing and turning because lucky for you MiddBeat is scoping out some of Middlebury’s finest to guide you to a successful semester. This week we sat down with Joe Lovelace ’17 and Anahí Naranjo ’17, the Co-President and the Outreach Coordinator of the Mountain Clu, to find out what the MMC has been up to.

middbeat: so what is the Mountain Club?
The Mountain Club is the outdoors club at Middlebury so we lead trips of all sorts: canoeing, day hikes, backpacking, bird watching, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, basically anything and everything outside. We also have weekly meetings and plan social events like Firesides where we get together in Brooker (the outdoor interest house), hangout, and eat a home cooked meal. 

What do you have going on right now?
JL: Over Winter Carnival weekend we had a really successful event called Northern Lights which is an exciting exhibition of the mountainess spirit trapped inside everyone during J-Term unleashed in the form of human dog sled races, snow shoe relays, and ice dancing. We also had tons of excellent food and hot chocolate. There was a really big turnout and it seemed like everyone had an awesome time. A lot of our guides spent J-Term preparing for FOO which unfortunately was canceled due to the weather but we have been taking out multiple winter trips and increasing our volume of certified winter guides. We’ve also been doing a lot of trail maintenance to beef up the cabins and trails aspect of MMC in order to prepare for the new lodge that is coming near Breadloaf (Burgin Lodge). We’ve also been working on the Catamont Trail system to build better relationships with the people who perform most of the trail maintenance in our area. But the big trips coming up are for spring break where we will be sending people as far north as Canada and as far west as Moab in Utah.

What should prospective members of the Middlebury community know about Mountain Club?
JL: Well incase people didn’t know, we have gear hours from 4:30-7 on Tuesday and Thursday in the FIC where you can check out everything from sleeping bags, tents, and headlamps to snow shoes and cross-country skis. There are TONS of free camping and other sorts of trips going out this spring that are open to anyone interested-no experience necessary. We really want to get people camping and hiking who have never done it before because we literally have tens of thousands of dollars worth of gear and live in such an accessible and beautiful place that everyone should enjoy. We also have naked calendars for sale now for only $10 a piece, they are a great way to see your favorite mountain folk baring it all (pun intended)- plus it includes all the faces of the moon! Check out Mr. February ;) You can also feel free to send your tastefully nude photos to the Mountain Club email to be featured next year.

What kind of outreach are you doing this year?
AN: We’ve been trying to go beyond the club’s previous outreach efforts because before we were focusing on outreach outside of the college like at local schools and getting kids to enjoy the outdoors, but now we are reaching more inward. There is honestly a lack of diversity within our club and campus, historically MMC has not had strong representation of people of color and we’re currently working to address this issue. We’re trying to reach more students within the school who haven’t had a lot or any exposure to the outdoors so we have been collaborating with other orgs on campus.

What collaborations are happening?
AN: We are currently planning a retreat/discussion fireside with UMOJA (the African Student Organization) and we are trying to create beginner only trips where we will have a sign-up exclusively for people who have never gone on a trip before because maybe they have been intimidated by the experience of other participants. We are also going to plan something with SNG (Sunday Night Group) but that is still in the works. If any clubs, groups, or individuals are interested in having the MMC facilitate an outdoor retreat or would like to collaborate with the club, feel free to reach out to me at [email protected]

If, after reading this, you feel inspired to conquer the great outdoors or hang out with a group of really fun bearded folk, the MMC meets on Wednesday at 6pm in Coltrane. If you would like to be on the emailing list to learn about all of the fun trips going out, email [email protected].

RIDDIM Auditions Sunday

Riddim Pic

Anne Powers ’15 writes in:

Come audition for RIDDIM World Dance Troupe! We accept and encourage
all styles of dance. The audition will consist of learning and
performing a combination. We also highly recommend you bring a 1
minute solo of your preferred style. Hope to dance with you soon!
Email [email protected] with any questions.

When: Sunday, February 15, 12 PM
Where: Coltrane Lounge (behind Adirondack House)
Cost: hips that don’t lie

From the Archives – 1955 Winter Carnival


1924 photograph of Mead Chapel viewed from Old Chapel.

For the past 91 years, Middlebury students have continually upheld the tradition of celebrating Winter Carnival, which happens to be the oldest student-run Winter Carnival in the nation.  Although the first official Winter Carnival did not occur until 1934, the traditions that carry on today date back to the early 1920s when obstacle, snowshoe, and ski races were held along Storrs Avenue and ski races and ski jumping competitions took place around campus. The 92nd year of festivities kicked off last night with a Carnival themed dinner in Proctor and Ross, and tonight (Thursday) there will be a bonfire roaring outside Ross commons between 8:00-10:00pm and fireworks starting at 9:00pm. As always, there will be a comedian, an ice show, a concert, a snow sculpture contest, a winter ball, and oh yeah, the ski races at the snow bowl.  If you like this column and/or you like free snacks and hot chocolate you might want to check out the screening of historical Winter Carnival footage from 4:30-6:00pm in Crossroads on Friday.

In the last archives post we wound back the clocks all the way to January 13, 1955.  This week we find ourselves delving into an issue of The Campus from just a few weeks later–Feburary 17, 1955, just in time for the 32nd Winter Carnival.


1955 Winter Carnival Poster via The Campus

“Ice Capades” Modifies Melted-Out Show: Freshman Judy Johnson Is Star Soloist”
The two-act program was made up of twelve musical numbers and began with a gala of over thirty skaters (“16 red-jacketed guards and 20 ladies in waiting skating in evening gowns” to be exact) performing to “Pomp and Circumstance.” This was followed by the duet act, “Fire and Ice,” “a combination of baton twirling and skating” which was of course named after the best combination salad bar-cheese wheel restaurant in town.  Just kidding–Fire and Ice has only been Vermont’s landmark restaurant since 1974!  This act was adapted from a performance the year prior so that red electric battery lights were used instead of real fire. Lame.  Other acts included: The Cardioidal Concept (eight women skating around a red valentines heart), the Safari Scene (“a skating wild animal, a bathing beauty and a sun-helmeted hunter” accompanied by “the beating of African drums”), Card-Board Cards (Alice and Wonderland themed), Le Grand Ballet, A Bunny Hop, a couples waltz duet (The Campus pointed out that the only noteworthy part was “the bright orange bermudas worn by the rah-rah collegian”), The High and Mighty (barrel jumping), freshman Judy Johson’s much anticipated solo debut, and The Finale.


Liquor Prohibited in Ski Bowl Area
“All spectators are requests to refrain from bringing alcoholic beverages to the Snow Bowl” Sound familiar?  The Men’s Undergraduate Association also chimed in, discouraging “the consumption of any form of intoxicant at athletic events at which Middlebury participates, on or off campus.”  Middlebury has such a strong sense of tradition!

Cigarette Ad appears in The Campus
Apparently a student’s best friend is Lucky Strike. Also, cigarette advertisements were ubiquitous in old issues of The Campus.

News Briefs section keeps us updated on who’s engaged to be married at Middlebury
A total of six couples announce their recent engagements in the paper.

“Partypooper, Trying to Avoid Carnival, Can’t Fight It, So Is Advised To Face It.”
Dear Editor, I don’t Like Carnival.  I get cold at hockey games, I hate to dance, I can’t stay awake past en and I’m allergic to spirits beverages. And besides, I don’t have a date.  In other words, my problem is how to avoid Carnival.  What shall I do.  Antisocially yours, J. Partypooper ‘58″


While I can relate to J. Partypooper in some aspects regarding the participation in somewhat forced traditions or mass student activities for the sake of feeling social, the multi-faceted approach to avoiding the over-hyped Carnival given by the campus editor Kathleen Platt is pretty hilarious, not to mention timeless. Though, her final thoughts? If you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em.

Read the full page of news below:FEB_17_1955_winter_carnival_PARTY_POOPER

If you’re inspired to do a little digging in the archives yourself, and you find an interesting article or photograph from Middlebury history that deserves a spotlight, email it to middbeat@ In the meantime, you can follow Middbeat’s resident retronaut in her weekly quest to troll the depth’s of time.