Family Sense

BY ABBY CARNEVALE // MAY 12, 2016 //

Watching freshman Angela Johns play defense with her Curry lacrosse teammates is a sight to see. However, it’s something her mother, Shelley, has yet to experience.

Shelley Johns was born blind, the result of her own mother acquiring a parasitic disease called toxoplasmosis while pregnant with her. The toxoplasma parasite is often found in cat feces and contaminated food; Shelley’s mothers got it from changing a cat litter box. Fortunately, toxoplasmosis is not genetic. Shelley is the only individual in her family who is blind.

Angela Johns and her mother, Shelley Johns.
Angela Johns and her mother, Shelley Johns.

But the disability rarely held her back. Throughout her life she has used a cane and guide dogs to get around. As a teen Shelley worked at Pizza Hut and was on her high school’s cheerleading squad. Her instructors would stand in the cheering positions, Shelley would feel the way they were standing, and then mimic it. Shelley went on to receive her bachelor’s degree in music at Capitol University in Columbia, Ohio, plays piano and the French horn, and has even released a song.

Johns’s parents got divorced when she was in the first grade. She lived with Shelley in Ohio for a number of years, but moved in with her biological father in Burrillville, R.I., for high school. When Johns was 17 years old, her mother moved to New Jersey with a friend to be closer to the family. Johns has two older brothers, and one younger sister.

Johns says she and her siblings are extremely close, due to the many years working together to fulfill their mother’s needs. But Shelley also took care of their needs as well. For example, she routinely made healthy, home-cooked meals, and washed and dried the family’s laundry.

“Somehow she manages to separate the lights from the darks,” says Johns with a laugh. “I don’t know how, and I don’t ask.”

Johns says there were a few drawbacks from having a blind mother.

“It’s difficult to accept compliments,” Johns states. She says she has a hard time believing certain praise because her mother constantly told her while growing up that she was pretty. But “I don’t make ugly kids,” Shelley says with a laugh.

Another downside is that Johns had to repeat the first grade because she didn’t know how to read. Newly divorced, Shelley signed Johns and her siblings up for the local Big Brother, Big Sister program in Ohio, and they spent countless hours at the library learning how.

Shelley also lists that as one of her regrets. Others include her inability to see her daughters’ prom dresses, or the drawings her children worked so hard on coloring when they were younger. But on the big stuff, the things that truly matter in the life of a family, things simply worked.f3fdjesm0pqhhy4l

Johns and her family did loads of activities together—they just did it with a twist. Whether they were all going for a bike ride or going rollerblading, Shelley was right by their side participating. On rollerblades, she would simply hold onto Johns’s belt loop and rollerblade with her kids. And Johns and her siblings would crush soda cans and place them on the back of their tires so their mother could follow the sound.

In fact, Johns credits her mother for much of her own character and success. Because of the outsized responsibilities Johns had at such a young age, she says she matured a lot faster than her peers. From writing checks in the fourth grade, to walking to school by herself, Johns wanted to do everything she could to assist her mom.

Such maturity and hard work continues to be on display. Johns, a biology major, is a freshman walk-on on the Curry lacrosse team and saw playing time this season after a starter got injured. She played in seven games, and started two. But whether she was sprinting to a ground ball at practice or marking up on her player to prevent a goal, Johns always gave it her all.

And throughout her lacrosse career, she was always proud to see her mother in the stands cheering her on with the other parents. Shelley would often bring a friend—who was also blind—to “watch” her daughter play and share in the experience. Shelley says her favorite part about going to her kids’ games was hearing their names announced on the PA system.

When Johns was younger, she says she didn’t have to learn about or adapt to her mother’s blindness. It was simply normal to her; it’s all she ever knew. It wasn’t unusual that Shelley put bells on her kids’ shoes when they were young so she could know where they were. Or that Johns likes to lovingly tease her mom, like removing the straw from her mother’s drink. Theirs is a special bond unlike many.

“Anyone can have children,” says Johns, “but not everyone can raise them.”


Big Increase in On-Campus Burglaries Last Fall


Curry College Public Safety currently has 20 officers on its staff, but that hasn’t stopped thieves from breaking into dorm rooms across campus.

There were upwards of a dozen burglaries in Curry residence halls last semester. The most frequent targets were Bell Hall, Rose Hall, Suites, and 886.

According to the 2015 Curry College Safety and Security Report, there were a total of three burglaries all of last academic year. In the past three years, there have been a total nine thefts in dorm buildings on campus.

PHOTO BY puamelia // creative commons
PHOTO BY puamelia // creative commons

As a result of the increased burglaries this year, Curry College Public Safety has increased patrols around campus.

“We’re doing more perimeter checks of the residence halls, especially of the ones on the perimeter,” said Brian Greeley, chief of Public Safety at Curry College. “We have officers walking through the residence halls all night long.”

While investigations are ongoing as to who is responsible for the thefts, Greely said he believes the person or people involved don’t attend the college.

Curry has three entrances, two that are open until 6 p.m. and one main gate located at the front of the school on the south side of campus. Despite being a private institution, Curry is largely open to the public.

“We are not a gated community,” said Greeley. “If you wanted to walk on campus, you can do it.”

Kelsey Tagen and Amanda Paul, both sophomore nursing students, had their dorm room broken into last semester. Among the items stolen from their room were a MacBook Air (estimated at $778), a Dell Inspiron laptop (estimated at $230), chargers, debit cards, and about $150 in cash.

Tagen, who lives on the first floor of 886, said her window was locked, but someone was still able to break in.

“I feel safe, however I do believe Public Safety should be patrolling more often behind the buildings to prevent these events from occurring again…not just managing the situations after they happen,” said Tagen.

Greeley said it is a good idea for students and faculty to write down their laptop serial numbers, as well as download the “Find My iPhone” app. Students can also apply for dorm insurance through the “Student Personal Property Plan” available with National Student Services Inc.

Greeley added that all campus residents—particularly those who live in first-floor rooms—are advised to keep their windows locked at all times and to not allow others to follow them into a residence hall without swiping their own identification card.

Student Arraigned on Assault Charges

BY RYAN HATHAWAY // NOV. 1, 2015 //

A Curry freshman was arraigned in court on Monday, Oct. 26, after an incident in which he allegedly accosted another Curry student in Scholars Hall.

This is the second reported assault in the 2015-16 school year.

James Murphy, of Walpole, Mass., was arraigned on charges of accosting or annoying a person of the opposite sex, possession of a class B drug, Adderall, and three counts of indecent assault and battery of a person 14 or older. Murphy is free after posting $10,000 bail; he is due back in court Dec. 18.

The incident took place in the early-morning hours of Saturday, Oct. 24, in the front lobby of Scholars Hall, according to the Milton police report. Murphy was allegedly harassing, groping and attempting to kiss the victim, who was working front-desk security at the time, for approximately 45 minutes. The report also stated that Murphy told police he had previously consumed approximately 16 oz. of vodka, and that he didn’t remember much of what happened but did recall the victim telling him to “just go away.”

The only witness was the dorm’s resident advisor, Emma Sullivan.

Sullivan clarified that she did not see the incident, but was able to hear it from where she was working around the corner. She did, however, go out to check in on the victim twice. On the first occasion, Sullivan said she asked the student if she was OK and the student said yes.

Once Murphy finally left the lobby altogether, the female student went to Sullivan’s office and then contacted Curry Public Safety. (Sullivan is the editor of, but played no role in the assigning, writing or editing of this story.)

Dean of Students Maryellen Kiley emailed the student body on Monday to report the incident. In an interview Friday afternoon, Kiley and Associate Dean Rachel King stated that the college’s disciplinary process was ongoing and a decision on whether to suspend, or expel, Murphy had not yet been reached.

Kiley did say that Curry goes to great lengths to train its Public Safety officers and resident advisors to handle incidents of misconduct.

“We do a great deal of training with our RA’s,” she said. “RA’s have a lot of training regarding when to call their community directors or Public Safety.”

Kiley added that Public Safety officers are also provided with comprehensive training.

“Public Safety goes through a number of different trainings,” she said. “Most of them are trained SSPO.” SSPO stands for Special State Police Officer, and Kiley clarified that all but two Curry officers are not yet certified with the SSPO designation.

Kiley also said that student athletes receive additional training beyond what is offered to the entire student body regarding alcohol abuse and sexual misconduct. Murphy is a member of the Curry football team.

Murphy told police that he ignored his team’s 11 p.m. curfew because he was a freshman and “didn’t play much.” He also said that he had been drinking with friends from the football team in the North Campus Residence Hall that night, and that another member of the football team had supplied him with alcohol.

Curry Director of Communication Fran Jackson said the college reviews every incident to determine whether policies or procedures need to be revised, including the possible addition of a second student working the late-night security shift.

“Matters of safety are a fundamental priority of the College,” she said. “We are overviewing procedures with the goal of safeguarding faculty, students, and staff.”

In interviews with five different Curry female students, all five agreed that they felt safe at the college. Three said they learned of the incident via Kiley’s email. One heard it from her family, who read about it in a local newspaper, and the other didn’t know about it at all.

Junior health major Abby Pieger, an RA, said she has never felt unsafe at Curry.

“We have the Blue Light System (and emergency alert system in select locations throughout campus), which I think is really effective,” she said. “And Public Safety tries to make their presence known around campus.” Pieger did say she thought the campus could be better lit.

Cassie Breen, a freshman nursing major who works as an attendant at the library, said she never walks alone at night. “Maybe they could add a few more Blue Lights in places where people go, she said. “I sometimes feel like they’re randomly placed.”

Sophomore nursing majors Amelia McCaffery and Kerry Cullinan said they appreciated that the college informed students about the alleged incident, and that Public Safety is always quick to respond to whatever issues arise on campus.

Said McCaffrey, “I think they handled it in a good way.”

Volleyball Team Continues Home Win Streak

COLE MCNANNA // SEPT. 21, 2015//

Curry’s women’s volleyball team extended its home unbeaten streak, sweeping its tri-match with Salem State University and Elms College (Chicopee, Mass.) on Saturday, Sept. 19.

The Colonels improved to 4-0 at home, and their overall record is 4-5. Curry is a now a game within .500, despite having yet to win on the road.

In the opening match, the Colonels swept the Salem State Vikings, 3-0 (25-16, 25-20, 25-20). In the second match, the Elms Blazers outlasted Salem, 3-2 (25-22, 18-25, 17-25, 28-26, 15-6.)

In the final match of the day, Curry beat Elms, 3-0 (25-20, 25-17, 25-17).

Curry 3, Salem State 0

Freshman Grace Stafford led the Colonels with a team-high 10 kills.

Curry's Nicole Rice was among the many players who helped the Colonels sweep their tri-tournament last week. // PHOTO COURTESY OF CURRY ATHLETICS.
Curry’s Nicole Rice was among the many players who helped the Colonels sweep their tri-tournament last week. // PHOTO COURTESY OF CURRY ATHLETICS.

Trailing just behind Stafford, with 6 kills, was junior Alyssa Keeney. Keeney also led the Colonels in assists (17) and service aces (3), and added three kills and four digs.

Junior captain Makayla Hughes was right behind Keeney with 9 assists, and had a service ace and 6 digs. Sophomore Courtney Carroll had a team-high 16 digs and chipped in with two service aces.

The Vikings were led by freshman Allison Vellucci, who led the game with 11 kills and 2 digs. 

Classmate Kaleena Kara was right behind with 7 kills, and senior Emily Peay followed with five kills and posted a game-best 21 digs.

Freshman Mackenzie Salls also posted a game high for Salem, putting up 21 assists.

Curry 3, Elms 0

In the third match, Stafford tied the game high with nine kills and 14 digs. Grambley and sophomore Nicole Rice both tallied eight kills for the Colonels.  

Grambley also tallied three service aces, which was a game high. Keeney and Hughes tied for the game high in assists with 16. Carroll led Curry with 15 digs in the backcourt.

Grambley totaled 18 kills between the two games, and Stafford had 15 while Rice followed with 12.

Keeney led the Colonels with 33 assists in the tri-match, and Hughes was right behind with 25. Carroll had 31 total digs, pacing the team ahead of Stafford’s 25.

After the game, Hughes said she was very happy with the team’s overall effort, including its continued undefeated streak at home.

The Colonels have yet to drop a set on their home court through four games this year.

Despite playing only one conference game in its first nine contests, Hughes said she is feeling very good going into the heart of the conference schedule.

“We really hung close with Roger Williams, who is supposed to be one of the best in our conference,” she said, “so we’re all feeling really good with the remainder of our schedule.”

Curry returns to action this Thursday, Sept. 24, as the team travels to Bridgewater State for a 6 p.m. contest.