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Education Department Hosts Educational Laughs

By Sean Callahan, News Editor

Student comedy shows have become a semester tradition at Saint Vincent College (SVC) in the last few years. But it is not every semester that a standup comedian with over 3,500 career performances in 48 different states comes to Latrobe. On April 13, at 7 p.m., at the Performing Arts Center, Andy Beningo gave a standup comedy performance that lasted for over a half hour. He was hosted by the SVC Education Department. SVC community members were invited to see the performance, as were students of several local public school districts. Registered school districts included Greater Latrobe, Ligonier Valley, Derry Area, Norwin Area, and Jeannette City.

Opening events began outside the Performing Arts Center at 6 p.m. Education students provided free popcorn and lemonade for attendees at a concession stand. Several education related clubs set up tables with information about their respective clubs. These included Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society, STEM Education Club, Bearcat Buddies, Education Club, and Early Childhood Education Club.

A new club, Helping Minds, was also included in the opening events. They focus on awareness for mental health and special education within classrooms, and general disability awareness. According to its mission statement, it “is open to any student on campus who wants to further their knowledge” on these topics. The poster board advertising the club also included statistics regarding special education and mental illness. Jennifer Buxton, Assistant Professor of Education, is listed as a contact (jennifer.buxton@stvincent.edu) for those interested in joining the club.

(Callahan) Several education related clubs, including the ‘Helping Minds’ club, were showcased from 6 to 7 p.m. before the show began. Officers Keely Hagofsky, junior early childhood education major, and Abigail Skundrich, junior early childhood education major, ran their club’s stand.

Every spring, the Education Department strives to have a speaker from education, or a related area, come to campus. According to Dr. Veronica Ent, Professor of Education and Chair of the Education Department, there are a variety of possibilities as to who the speaker may be each spring.

“Sometimes we select entertainment personalities, professional development in a new trending area, or someone of notoriety that would interest our students and community,” Ent said.

As Ent was searching for speakers and doing research, she discovered that Beningo was a middle school teacher turned comedian. He was known for clean comedy, had experience with young crowds, and was not political.

“I wanted to find something that was enjoyable and lighthearted this close to the end of the semester,” Ent said.

Beningo focused much of his performance on audience interaction. He heckled SVC students, middle schoolers, and visiting adults. Everyone from a 12-year-old to a married couple of 31 years were spoken to.

(Callahan) Andy Beningo was invited by the education department to perform standup comedy for public school students and SVC community members alike.

He also related to the education students with bits of his own background throughout the show. He taught sixth grade as a social studies teacher for one year. Beningo praised others for their choice to pursue educational careers while joking about his own shortcomings as a teacher.

“I learned something about other people’s kids. They’re evil,” Beningo joked. “I wasn’t good at classroom management. I’m too smiley.”

Beningo spoke more at length about his experience as a comedian. He claimed that SVC was likely the youngest crowd he had performed for. He compared this to a cruise ship he did stand-up for, where the average age was 84 years old. Beningo told a story of ‘the oldest man’ he had ever seen on the cruise, who praised him for his show.

“[He said] ‘my dad thought you were amazing.’ [I was thinking] ‘how old is your dad?’”

Other topics included Beningo’s own marriage, his experiences as a father, amusing times with his parents, and college.

More information about Andy Beningo can be found at his website (andybeningo.com). The SVC community can look forward to the Education Department’s next speaker next spring, on April 18, 2024. The speaker will be confirmed by the end of this semester.

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