Vignettes about Events & People
Scott MacLaughlin, Cowley’s director of technical theatre, was crowned Mr. CinderFella 1993. Miss Kansas, Pam McKelvy, served as emcee of the event that year.
The college’s first Mr. CinderFella Pageant was held in April 1989. Dejon Ewing, chair of the Humanities Department, was an instructor at the time. She got the idea of a male pageant from her brother-in-law, Jack Ewing, who was working at Pratt Community College at the time. Jack refined the event from his days at Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva.
Northwestern had a Mr. CinderFella event during homecoming, but it wasn’t as involved as the current Mr. CinderFella Pageant. Since 1989, the pageant has served as one of the highlights of the spring semester at Cowley. Anywhere from 12 to 16 male students enter and compete in three categories: beach/leisure wear, talent, and evening-wear.
MacLaughlin’s talent was memorable. He performed a "Shopping Cart Ballet" in the Little Theatre in Galle-Johnson Hall, dancing and pushing a grocery store shopping cart around the stage to the tune of "Swan Lake."
MacLaughlin grew up in tiny Yorkshire, N.Y., about an hour southeast of Buffalo in the western part of the state. After graduating from Pioneer Central High School in 1992, he enrolled at Jamestown Community College in New York. But during the summer of 1992, Scott’s dad was transferred to the Rubbermaid plant in Winfield. While his parents moved to Kansas, Scott stayed home. "I really didn’t want to move to Kansas," Scott said. "But my first semester at Jamestown was a disaster. It was awful. My mom spoke highly of a community college in Kansas and encouraged me to come out." He enrolled at Cowley in January 1993 and got involved immediately. The theatre and everything about it attracted him, and he became a standout student in front of, and later behind, the camera. "I liked it so much in Kansas that I and some of my friends decided to go to Kansas State," said Scott, who graduated from Cowley in May 1994. Not even another transfer of his father—to Pennsylvania in 1994—could persuade Scott to head back east.
He earned a bachelor of science degree in technical theatre from Kansas State University in May 1996. Three months later, he landed the job at Cowley. "I always worked construction jobs in the summer, so that was a good fit with theatre and all the set-building," he said. "And I always thought about education and teaching. When I was at Cowley as a student with Dejon Ewing, we would talk back stage about a new theatre. And we both thought how great it would be to get to work together on productions. That dream became a reality." While MacLaughlin’s student acting took place in the Little Theatre in Galle-Johnson Hall, his technical theatre expertise has brought him to the Robert Brown Theatre inside the Brown Center.
Cowley also is the place where he met his wife Rhoda, director of library services in Renn Memorial Library. As Cowley students, Rhoda had interpersonal communication and Scott had speech, the very next hour, in the exact same classroom. Although their paths crossed only occasionally as Cowley students, the interaction they had that spring semester of 1993 proved to be the spark that would change the course of their lives. Rhoda Hain and Scott MacLaughlin were married on June 27, 1998. And they’ve come full circle—from Cowley alumni to Cowley employees, and first-time parents. Son Britton was born July 27, 2001. Rhoda would hang around after her IPC class, just to make eye contact with Scott, who would try to get to his speech class early. "We’d smile at each other in the hallway, but we never knew each other," Rhoda said. It would be years before they were officially introduced.
It was the opening night of the 1996 fall semester play "Brighton Beach Memoirs," Scott’s first as Cowley’s director of technical theatre. "Kim (Hockenbury) Peri was a student in Scott’s class and was working on the set of Brighton Beach Memoirs," Rhoda said, recalling the story with pinpoint accuracy. "She introduced us. It was Nov. 7, 1996."
The next spring, Scott was busy working on the musical "Grease," in which he performed as well as built sets. Rhoda came to a lot of set construction parties. "We got to know each other then," said Rhoda, who was media specialist for Unified School District No. 285 in Cedar Vale at the time. "We’d stay until three in the morning sometimes talking, and I’d tell her she’d better get going because she had to work the next day," Scott said. About 18 months later, they were married.
Rhoda became director of library services in August 1999. It was a job she knew she wanted from the time she graduated from Cowley in May 1993. "When I was 17, I started working at the public library in Ark City," Rhoda said. "I did that for six years. I knew I wanted to go to the (college) library when I enrolled at Southwestern." Rhoda, a 1991 graduate of Arkansas City High School, was a liberal arts major at Cowley. She didn’t know what she wanted to do, but she knew she enjoyed the library. So, when she transferred to Southwestern College, she majored in education and knew which direction she wanted to take. She earned a bachelor of arts degree from Southwestern in May 1995, then went straight to Emporia State University to pursue a master’s degree in library science, which she earned in 1997.
The MacLaughlins are "thrilled with Cowley" and nearly everything about it. "We love Cowley," Rhoda said. "I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of our lives here," Scott said. "I enjoyed it so much as a student, I had to come back." A couple of years ago, the MacLaughlins earned master of education degrees in curriculum and instruction from Wichita State University.
Scott MacLaughlin passed away in 2013 as the result of a tragic accident. He will be remembered..