Let’s horse around at Derby Day May 5!

Let’s horse around for fun and a good cause! The Kentucky Derby ranks among the greatest spectacles of sports. If you can’t make it to Churchill Downs this year, watch the race with us at the Northeast State Foundation’s Derby Day party on May 5 at the Foundation Event Facility in downtown Bristol.

Join us for Derby Day on May 5.

The event features the best hat and best-dressed contest, and live music by the Spirit of Soul Dance Band to round out the evening. It is sure to be an event to remember! Cost is $75 per person or $600 per table (seating 8). Derby Day is being held at 620 E. State St., in Bristol. Doors open at 4:30 p.m.

Don your derby hats, sip a mint julep, indulge in a full menu of savory hors-d’oeuvres, and enjoy three wall-sized viewing screens to watch the race. Pick your favorite horse for a chance to win some terrific prizes. All proceeds of this event benefit Northeast State student scholarships through the Foundation.

Buy tickets online at www.northeaststate.edu/tickets or buy them at the event on race day. For more information, contact calyon@northeaststate.edu or 423.279.7630.

Annual Honors Convocation happening April 26

Northeast State recognizes our most distinguished students, staff, and faculty members of 2017-2018 at the annual Honors Convocation scheduled April 26 beginning at 7:00 p.m. at the MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center in Kingsport.

Honors Convocation recognizes Northeast State’s top student achievers in each academic department, students graduating in May with honors, and the Outstanding Student, Outstanding Alumni, and Outstanding Faculty and Staff award winners. Honors Convocation also recognizes the students involved with service-learning programs, student organizations and clubs, and individual awards won throughout the year from state and national organizations.

HonCon 2018 happens April 26.

A reception honoring the President’s All-Academic Team will be held prior to the event beginning at 5:30 p.m. The reception recognizes Northeast State students who are graduating this spring with 4.0-grade point averages.

For information, contact the College’s office of Student Development at 423.354.5120.

Faculty Focus – Prof. Dale Ledford

Faculty Focus, Prof. Dale Ledford
Assistant Professor, Biology.
East Tennessee State University, Bachelor of Science & Master of Science.
Northeast State alumnus. Friend to animals.

What is your background and how did it lead you to Northeast State?
I was diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome and ADHD. When I was in second grade, a teacher at my school told my parents she thought I was retarded. That did not over well with my parents especially my dad. I had to make some adjustments but after that things changed for the better. I stayed on the honor roll throughout elementary school. High school was, again, another time of adjustment. I had some great teachers but also some very negative experiences with teachers. I had a hard time with algebra and didn’t believe I could do it. When I was a student at Northeast State I stepped into Prof. Kim Nunn’s class and realized I could do it. I did well here at Northeast State. I later transferred and earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology from East Tennessee State University. I earned my master’s degree with a professor who said I needed to come to Northeast State to teach. He really pushed me to come here.

What are students seeking to achieve when they take a biology class?
Most are not biology majors. We have students looking at nursing, pharmacy school, and biology is a class they need to fulfill that goal. I think students have had some bad experiences with biology in the past. I want to show them that it is doable and break down those fears. Several of our local high schools are doing a fantastic job of preparing their students for college-level biology. I hope students see their own growth beyond my class and into the next class and into their careers.

Prof. Dale Ledford

What sparked your interest in biology?
In my general biology class, I didn’t know how anyone couldn’t find this stuff cool. It was so fascinating. I grew up in a rural part of Washington County so there were a lot of woods and wilderness to explore as a kid. I spent a lot of time outdoors and would try little experiments. My dad taught me to identify trees of all kinds. I had this slew of creatures that became pets from frogs and tadpoles to brown racer snakes and salamanders. We even had a flying squirrel who got into our house. I released all of them back into the wild. I didn’t understand how anyone couldn’t be fascinated with it.

What appealed to you about Northeast State?
I had a perspective being here as a former student and graduate. I clearly knew the environment. I knew the faculty was serious about learning. I also knew there was a commitment to quality we have from a lot of people. I knew how former professors kept you from giving up and kept you going. A lot of students are looking for an opportunity to quit. Students that give up don’t give up for no reason. They quit because we quit.

What do you do away from work?
I still love being outdoors hiking and fishing. My wife and I enjoy cooking, hanging out with our dogs, reading, and enjoying our downtime.

How does your experience in education influence your work with students today?
As an instructor, you set expectations for students and hold them to it. They won’t let you down. Beyond that, everything that happened to me told me I should give up and not try. I tell students now never let anyone who has no say in your future affect the direction you have in mind for your life.

Northeast State Theatre’s “The Neverending Story” opens tonight!

A story within a story. A hunter’s quest. A werewolf. A flying dragon. A gigantic shapeshifting spider.

It takes a talented cast and crew to tell The Neverending Story and pull off one of the most ambitious productions ever staged by Northeast State Theatre (NST). Based on the novel by Michael Ende and adapted for the stage by David S. Craig, The Neverending Story opens April 12 with the performances, design effects, and creative sets that audiences have come to expect from the College’s award-winning Theatre Department.

Giant monsters and eternal quests meet in The Neverending Story. (Photo courtesy of Madison G. Phillips)

Allen Lopez portrays Atreyu, a young hunter hand-picked by a royal called The Childlike Empress to fulfill a quest and stop an evil force called The Nothing from destroying the kingdom of Fantastica. Lopez previously played Charlie Baker in The Foreigner produced by NST last fall.

“A big theme of this play is how we put expectations on ourselves and expectations the world puts on us,” said Lopez. “Atreyu represents someone who instead of trying to solve a problem based on what is expected of him, finds a way to solve the problem on his own.”

Atryeu’s problems are great, indeed. He must find The Childlike Empress a new name, survive the treacherous shapeshifter Ygramul the Many, and battle The Nothing’s attack dog Gmork. The quest represents the plight of a young person facing a transition to the often unforgiving adult world.

“I think the world is having a lot of problems right now,” said Lopez. “But there is a lot of good in the world, and you can’t get discouraged.”

The play opens with young Bastian Bux finding the book that tells of Atreyu’s story. Bux is portrayed by Jonathon Wampler whose role extends beyond playing a character. As the story unfolds, Bastian’s reactions express what audiences may be feeling and thinking. Bux also discovers Atreyu’s quest mirrors his own adolescent struggles.

“I don’t have a lot of people to play off of in this production so as Bux I’m talking to people in my head,” said Wampler, a Theatre major. “The play lets you in on these bad experiences but doesn’t let you give up hope.”

Work begins on The Neverending Story production. (Photo courtesy of Madison G. Phillips)

Lopez and Wampler teamed for the hilarious scene of confused table manners in NST’s popular fall production of The Foreigner. They along with fellow Foreigner cast member Shelby Minogue performed the scene at this year’s Region IV Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) awards gala – the first two-year college theatre department ever invited to do so.

Northeast State Theatre veteran Shelby Ashley pulls triple duty in her final production as a student. She is creating the play’s lighting design while playing the characters of The Childlike Empress, The Nothing, and a buffalo. Ashley won the Don Childs Stagecraft Institute of Las Vegas Award and the Vector Works Lighting Award at the KCACTF regional competition in February.

“I knew I was going to be the lighting designer on this play, and since this is my last semester I wanted to go out with a bang,” said Ashley, a Theatre major graduating this spring. “Once Atreyu begins his quest, he has to treat everyone he meets with respect. In life, we meet lots of people different from us, and we should treat them with that same respect.”

Jacob Lewis portrays Artax, Atreyu’s faithful horse accompanying him on his quest. He played the nefarious David Lee in The Foreigner and recently performed in the outdoor drama Liberty: The Saga of Sycamore Shoals. A second-year student at Northeast State and Theatre major, Lewis welcomed a challenge of playing not only a non-human character but a likable one.

“I’ve been an antagonist in past productions so this is a nice change to be a protagonist,” said Lewis. “Artax and Atreyu have been pals forever and have a strong connection.”

His Artax represents several fantastic and imposing creatures created for the stage including Ygramul, Falkor the Luckdragon, Morla the turtle, and Gmork the werewolf. Northeast State alumnus Richard Curtis returns to NST to lend his edgy design to these monstrous creations.

The scope of The Neverending Story production stretches the limits of epic adventure and childhood imagination. It also stretches the hours of a stage manager’s day. Wrangling this menagerie of cast, crew, and critters falls to stage manager Alex White who brings the show together. White also stage-managed Foreigner for which she received a KCACTF award nomination.

“We’ve got about 27 people, cast and crew, involved in this production so the challenge is trying to communicate information to everyone,” said White. “Email has been my best friend.”

This will be the final production Ashley and White as Northeast State students. They graduate leaving a high standard for new theatre students ready to carry on the NST tradition.

“It is crucial that you water your roots before you start growing,” said Ashley of her time in the program.

This play is being presented by special arrangement with The Dramatic Publishing Company of Woodstock, Ill. Performances are scheduled April 12th, 13th, 14th at 7:30 p.m. Two matinée performances are scheduled April 12th and 13th at 10:00 a.m. and one matinée on April 15th at 2:00 p.m. All shows will be held at Regional Center for the Performing Arts Theatre on the College’s Blountville campus.

Northeast State students with current student ID get one FREE ticket for one performance. Tickets are $10 in advance and at the door. For tickets visit http://www.northeaststate.edu/tickets, call 423.354.5169 or email ewmorritt@northeaststate.edu.

The play serves as an allegory for children and their parents nostalgic for a tale they remember. The residents of Fantastica face many of the same difficulties and threats of today’s modern world. The story’s parallels are not lost on the performers.

“The story builds on a lot of the anxieties that kids have today,” said Lewis. “People will remember their own childhoods and that’s what, for me, makes this play appealing for young people and adults, too.”

Take a “Journey Into the Unknown” on April 17

There is good unknown and bad unknown. The “good” unknown can be things like roller coasters, zip lines, or horror movies. A “bad” unknown can include final exams, public speaking, fear of failure, or relationships. Why do we fear the unknown? And what role, if any, does the phenomenon of “dark matter” play in our fears?

Explore these questions when mesmerizing mentalists Rich and Marielle Aimes present their interactive psychological workshop “Journey Into the Unknown” at Northeast State Community College on April 17. The event features THREE free workshops scheduled at 10:30 a.m., noon, and 7:00 p.m. at the Regional Center for the Performing Arts on the Blountville campus, 2425 Highway 75.

Audiences will experience the bizarre phenomenon of controlling ectoplasm, telekinesis (moving objects with mental energy), two-person telepathy and the manipulation of unseen forces. The workshop gives everyone tools to deal effectively with the unknown and even make those scary unknowns fun and positive. This is an interactive show for entertainment purposes only.

A board-certified hypnotist with the National Board of Hypnotist Education and Certification (NBHEC), Rich Aimes studied psychology and theater as an undergraduate college student. As a student of hypnosis, he trained in Los Angeles and Florida with some of the top hypnotists in the country. Marielle, his wife and stage partner, is also a board certified hypnotist with NBHEC.

The workshops are open to the public. For more information, contact 423.279.7669 or e-mail jpkelly@NortheastState.edu.