Step Afrika! performs at Northeast State Feb. 8

The spectacular dance company performers of Step Afrika! return to Northeast State Community College on Feb. 8 for a night of traditional African step dancing.

The free performance begins at 7 p.m. in the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts at the main campus, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

One of the most thrilling and best-received performance groups ever at Northeast State, Step Afrika! was founded in 1994 by C. Brian Williams.  Step Afrika ranks as the only professional dance company in the world dedicated to the tradition of stepping.  The company is critically acclaimed for its efforts to promote an understanding of and appreciation for stepping and the tradition’s use as an educational tool worldwide.

Step Afrika! delivers a powerful performance at Northeast State Feb. 8.
Step Afrika! performs at Northeast State on Feb. 8.

While in traveling to southern Africa, Williams came across the South African gumboot dance — an art form created by mineworkers which greatly resembled the stepping he had learned at Howard University.  He later met three members of the Soweto Dance Theatre.  Together, they created the Step Afrika! International Cultural Festival the first known attempt to link the people who practice stepping in America with Gumboot dance performers in Africa.

The first festival was held in 1994, just six months after the election of Nelson Mandela as president of a free and Democratic Republic of South Africa.  Two years later they launched Step Afrika!’s first program in the USA.

Stepping is a unique dance tradition created by African-American college students practiced by historically African-American fraternities and sororities in the early 1900s.  In stepping, the body is used as an instrument to create intricate rhythms and sounds through a combination of footsteps, claps and spoken word.  Stepping comes from a long and rich tradition in African-based communities using movement, words and sounds to communicate allegiance to a group.

Step Afrika! reaches tens of thousands of Americans each year and has performed on prestigious stages in North & South America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

The production is part of Northeast State’s commemoration of Black History Month throughout February.  The performance is free and open to the public.  For more information, contact 423.279.7669 or

Debate Team competes in The Volunteer Classic

The Northeast State Debate Team started their spring semester right with a fresh new war of words by competing in the 2013 Volunteer Classic Debate Tournament held at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville on Jan. 21.  The tournament included schools from Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and South Carolina with debaters competed in four rounds.

“I am extremely pleased with the effort of all the students and, of course, the results; I look forward to further competition,” said Dr. Rick Merritt, assistant professor of Speech and Debate Team coach.  “They dedicated their weekend to this academic endeavor and represented Northeast State in a very impressive manner.”

Debate team members Britny Fox, Rocky Graybeal, Nicole Neilson and Anne Rowell represented Northeast State against 15 teams and 30 speakers participating in the Parliamentary Debate novice division.  The team argued topics ranging from increasing funding for domestic infrastructure to firearms and ammunition regulation.

Fox and Neilson teamed to face opponents from Valdosta State University, East Tennessee State University, and Piedmont College.  Fox earned the second-ranked speaker in two of her three rounds of debate while Neilson earned a third-ranked speaker in the second round.

Rowell and Graybeal debated teams from Walters State, Morehouse College, Arkansas State University, and East Tennessee State University.  Rowell earned a first-ranked speaker in the third round and Graybeal got the nod as the first-ranked speaker in the fourth round.  Rowell was named the seventh-best speaker for the tournament.  Graybeal and Rowell made it to the elimination round of eight teams.  They won their first elimination round before falling in the second.  They earned fourth place for the tournament.

The event was held using the Parliamentary debate format modeled after the Parliamentary debates in England.  In this format teams receive the topic 15 minutes before the start of the round.

Northeast State moving forward on Downtown Centre

Northeast State has announced that Shaw & Shanks Architects are nearing completion of design work for Downtown Centre renovations in Johnson City. Once plans are finalized, the College will issue bids for construction.

The design plans by Shaw & Shanks, a Johnson City-based company, will allow Northeast State to move ahead with construction that will meet required building, fire, and city codes and create space for offices and classrooms for the College’s Northeast State at Johnson City teaching location.

Northeast State continues moving forward to occupy the Downtown Centre in Johnson City.
Northeast State continues moving forward to occupy the Downtown Centre in Johnson City.

Northeast State signed a five-year lease for the Downtown Centre with the Johnson City Development Authority, which has committed $1 million in funds for interior renovations. The building is located at 101 E. Market St.

The building’s exterior has been pressure-washed, cleaned, and painted with a 3-color scheme. Signage will be placed on the building in the near future, including a digital sign near the intersection of Buffalo and Market streets. In addition, the College’s plant operations personnel have cleaned the building’s interior courtyard and are in the process of landscaping the area.

The College recently received $180,000 in funds from the state’s new Clean Tennessee Energy Grant Program to replace the building’s HVAC system.

The College proposes to install two boilers as part of the replacement for the HVAC system in the facility. Having two units will permit the use of one or both as demand dictates.

The building’s current HVAC system has been in the building since its construction in 1986.  The new system will increase thermal efficiency from 75 percent to 95 percent and overall annual HVAC operating costs are projected to decrease from $60,000 to about $46,000.

The courtyard area at the Downtown Centre.
The courtyard area at the Downtown Centre.

Students enrolling at the Johnson City teaching site may take advantage of East Tennessee State University’s Dual Admission Program. Dually admitted students first enroll at Northeast State to complete an associate’s degree and then enroll at ETSU to pursue a bachelor’s degree. The program eases the transfer process, fosters academic success, and provides enhanced advisement and transition support services. ETSU will have an office in the facility to provide information for the program as well as a variety of other services. ETSU’s dual admission program is available to Northeast State students at all of the College’s teaching sites.

“We’re excited about this partnership and the opportunity for students to be dually admitted to Northeast State and ETSU,” said Dr. Rick Osborn, Dean of Continuing Studies and Academic Outreach. “Not only will this new location make higher education more accessible for students in northeast Tennessee, leading to more college graduates in area, but it will also invigorate Johnson City’s downtown.  I look forward to the opening.”

More information about dual admission can be found at

Sign up for E2Campus for emergency & weather alerts

Welcome back students!

If you haven’t signed up yet, the e2Campus alert system notifies students about weather advisories and schedule changes.

Get breaking or emergency news on your phone, pad, or e-mail and avoid traveling to campus when classes are canceled.

Campus Alert is a free, voluntary system.  Students will not be spammed or get ads from Campus Alert.  User information will not be shared with third parties outside the college.

Questions about the system can be directed to Campus Police or the office of Information Technology.

Northeast State hosts MATHCOUNTS Feb. 2

Tomorrow’s generation of engineers and scientists will put their math skills to the test when Northeast State hosts the regional MATHCOUNTS competition on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 6:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the College’s main campus in Blountville, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

Mathletes compete at last year’s MATHCOUNTS competition held at Northeast State.

MATHCOUNTS is a national math competition for middle school students. Those students who win at the local level proceed to state competitions held in Nashville next month. Tennessee’s top four Mathletes® and top coach earn the right to represent their state at the national level.  Competition sites will be staged in the College’s auditorium, the faculty/staff/guest dining room (A110), the courtyard & overflow area, and auditorium classrooms (A101, A103, A103).

The competition features four rounds of competition in both individual and team categories. Teams will work together to complete math problems.  In individual competition events, students will be quizzed on their math knowledge. The final round will be followed by an awards ceremony recognizing the top team and individuals.

More than 500,000 students take part in the MATHCOUNTS competition each year. Founding sponsors of MATHCOUNTS are the CNA Foundation and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.  National sponsors include ADC Foundation, General Motors Foundation, Lockheed Martin, NASA, Northrop, Raytheon Company, Shell Oil Company, Texas Instruments Inc., 3M Foundation, and Xerox Corporation.

For more information, contact Brandon Stevens with Eastman Chemical Company at or 423.229.3891 or Dr. Mark Pollock or  423.354.2506.