Honor society hosts Community Garden symposium Nov. 18

Gardens and farms sustained life in Appalachia. A new generation of the region’s residents seeks to honor that legacy behind the concepts of community gardening and healthy eating.

Community Gardening unites people and produce.
Community Gardening unites people and produce.

The Alpha Iota Chi Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society is hosting a symposium entitled Community Gardens Collaborative: Building Teams and Visions for a Healthier Appalachia on Nov. 18, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on the College’s Blountville campus next to Tri-Cities Regional Airport. Guest speakers include David Cooke of Grow Appalachia and Samantha Benjamin-Kirk of the Farms to Schools program of the USDA.

Gardens to Degrees program began in Spring 2012 at Northeast State.
Gardens to Degrees program began in Spring 2012 at Northeast State.

Those interested in collaborating to improve access to healthy foods in schools and area communities are invited to attend. Breakout sessions to identify and discuss community gardening methods, successes, and challenges will be held in Basler Library.

Student-led initiatives are a hallmark of the Alpha Iota Chi chapter and Northeast State Honors Program students. The chapter has achieved five-star status, the highest level of participation in Phi Theta Kappa activities. Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,200 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 of the United States and four countries.

Interested parties can RSVP or contact jbhoneycutt@northeaststate.edu for more information.

Northeast State hosts Vietnam Veterans event Nov. 12

Northeast State is proud to welcome Vietnam veterans to share their experiences at the Veterans Film Festival on Thursday, Nov. 12, at the Blountville campus.

Presented by Vietnam Veterans of America, Chapter 979, Kingsport, the event will consist of film clips detailing the Vietnam War experience, hands-on displays for patrons to view, and photo displays. It will be presented in the Auditorium (A202) from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

This event features accounts of the Vietnam War told from the perspective of Vietnam veterans themselves. Intertwined with these personal stories, the festival screens several film clips detailing the service of other veterans who served in Vietnam and Southeast Asia during the war.

The event is open to the public and the community is encouraged to attend. For more information, contact 423.354.2528 or jmadcox@northeaststate.edu.

Northeast State commemorates Veterans Day Nov. 11

Northeast State will commemorate Veterans Day on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 11 a.m. with a special ceremony honoring the sacrifices and return of the nation’s servicemen and women.

Northeast State professor and retired United States Air Force TSgt. Allan Anderson will emcee the event. The ceremony will be held at the Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on the Blountville campus.

Northeast State Veterans Day commemoration happens Nov. 11 at the WRCPA Theater.
Northeast State Veterans Day commemoration happens Nov. 11 at the WRCPA Theater.

Northeast State student Jennifer Gryder will perform the National Anthem. The Northeast State Women’s Ensemble will sing America, The Beautiful while the Men’s Ensemble will perform the modern patriotic standard God Bless the U.S.A. Northeast State student veteran Leeann Baker will present the POW/MIA Table Ceremony honoring American military members held as prisoners of war and those still listed as missing in action.

The College welcomes retired United States Army Lt. Col. David S. Clark as this year’s guest speaker. Clark graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and served for 23 years in the U.S. Army Active Duty and Reserves in various command and staff positions. Clark earned a master’s degree in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. He also served an associate professor at West Point where he taught Strategy and International Relations. He is currently an entrepreneur-businessman in Kingsport.

The College received a grant through the Veterans Reconnect Grant program earlier this year to improve awareness and services for veterans attending Northeast State. The College served more than 280 veteran students enrolled during the 2014-15 academic year.

The event is open to the public and the community is encouraged to attend. For more information, contact 423.323.0210 or pachandler@NortheastState.edu.

Ladies lead the way in Steel Magnolias

If you don’t recognize the women of Steel Magnolias, you probably aren’t from the American South.

Northeast State Theater brings Robert Harling’s bittersweet play of love, life, and loss to the stage this week. The play combines alternately hilarious and touching moments of life for those uniquely Southern women at a beauty parlor in fictional Chinquapin, Louisiana.

“A Southern woman is strong, independent, speaks her mind and has a strong streak of sassy,” said Hannah Duncan who portrays salon owner Truvy Jones. “Southerners possess a certain community because a lot of us have the big extended families and we are fiercely loyal to them.”

Duncan eagerly took on the iconic role made famous on film by Dolly Parton. She and her co-stars relished the opportunity to portray these women.

The cast (clockwise from top left) Hannah Duncan (Truvy) Caitlin Haltom (M'Lynn), Audrey Hammonds (Annelle), Meygan Proctor (Clairee), Shelby Minogue (Shelby), and Rachel Lawson (Ouiser).
The cast (clockwise from top left) Hannah Duncan (Truvy) Caitlin Haltom (M’Lynn), Audrey Hammonds (Annelle), Meygan Proctor (Clairee), Shelby Minogue (Shelby), and Rachel Lawson (Ouiser).

Caitlin Haltom takes on the role of M’Lynn Eatenton, a doting mother juggling marriage, children, and a career. She like many cast and crew members credited their moms, grandmas, and aunts as women of strength that helped shaped their lives.

“Once you get the lines down, you feel free to move naturally and interact with the other characters as you perform on stage,” said Haltom, a second-year Theater major. “The characters are the women you know – your mother, grandmother and they are living people you see every day.”

Playing the character of M’Lynn’s daughter Shelby Eatenton-Latcherie is Shelby Minogue. Her first name is no coincidence.

“I was named for this character because my mother and grandmother loved the movie, so it is pretty special to me,” said Minogue, a first-year Theater major at Northeast State. “They are the top two women of my life.”

Minogue takes on a challenging role of a young woman moving through illness, marriage, and motherhood. She researched the disease of diabetes to determine how low blood sugar affects a human slipping into a diabetic sleep. Like her fellow cast members Minogue sought to portray Shelby’s peaks and valleys as honestly as possible.

“The six characters are all so different in so many ways,” said Minogue. “I truly like how I got to have really close relationships with these girls.”

Truvy and Shelby in the beauty parlor.
Truvy and Shelby in the beauty parlor.

Northeast State alumna Rachel Lawson returns to the Northeast State stage in the role of Ouiser (Weez-er) Boudreaux. Lawson had not seen the play or film and preferred to embody the role without trying to replicate any performance.

“I wanted to create my own Ouiser without any outside pressure,” said Lawson, who earned an associate degree in Theater.

Rounding out the cast is Meygan Proctor portraying the widowed former first lady of Chinquapin Clairee Belcher and Audrey Hammonds playing Annelle Dupuy-Desoto.

NST technical director and program faculty member Brad McKenzie takes the helm as the production’s director and technical director. With the exception of lighting design – also being done by McKenzie – the entire production crew is made up of theater students.

“This is a bit of departure for me as a director, but I wanted to challenge myself to tell this story,” said McKenzie. “I am immensely proud of my students and their work on this play.”

Northeast State Theater has become well-known for the excellent sound and lighting effects realized by the technology available in the WRCPA Theater system. Taking up that responsibility for the Magnolias production is second-year student and Theater major Aaron Musselwhite. After performing on stage in I, Ebenezer and The Laramie Project, Musselwhite takes on his first crew role as sound designer.

“Brad and (Northeast State Theater Director Elizabeth) Sloan push you a lot to learn and perform and you get wonderful direction from them,” said Musselwhite. “Once I got involved I completely fell in love with theater.”

Rachel Lawson's character Ouiser goes through make-up with Russ Onks.
Rachel Lawson’s character Ouiser goes through make-up with Russ Onks.

Dressing these 80s’ ladies fell to the team of costume designer Ashley Guy and assistant designer Jessica Richardson. Guy and Richardson began sketching ideas for their designs last spring when the play was announced as the fall production. The two hit area thrift shops to find vintage clothing matching the time period.

“Each character was very different and each character was assigned a different color palette to reflect who they were,” said Richardson who also studies fashion design at East Tennessee State University.

An actor and theater student since high school, Guy performed on stage in the productions of I, Ebenezer, The Odyssey, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. She also served as co-costume designer on Ebenezer.

“We did a lot of Google search to identify the fashion to get an idea of the outfits of the time,” said Guy. “There were a lot of shoulder pads in the Eighties.”

After creating stellar costume design for a host of past NST shows, Marty France took on the challenge of hair and make-up designer creating the big hair for the cast. The era’s style of big hair and flashy face paint provided a great canvas for France and co-designer Russ Onks.

“It has been a challenge with fashioning the 1980s style,” said France. “We drew inspiration from Bea Arthur and Delta Burke as two icons of that time.”

Scenic designer and stage shop manager Sommer Hughes built the set and created Truvy’s beauty shop using reclaimed salon chairs and furniture from retired beauticians. Her past work includes scenic design on The Laramie Project. Hughes began designing the Magnolias set and scenery last spring.

“I get into theater because it gives me the ability to make the things that are in my imagination real,” said Hughes. “It pushes me and challenges my abilities to make scenes come alive.”

Steel Magnolias is presented by special arrangement with Dramatists Play Service, Inc., New York. Performance dates are Oct. 29-31 and Nov. 5-7 at 7:30 p.m. Two matinees will be performed on Nov. 1 and Nov. 8 at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $10 and free to Northeast State students who present valid student identification.

For information about tickets or how to purchase tickets call the Box Office at 423.354.5169 or e-mail at tcbrooks@northeaststate.edu.

Northeast State group attends Blue Ridge Conference

A group of Northeast State faculty, staff, and students recently attend the 96th annual session of the Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership.

The conference’s mission is to help participants learn new ways to apply the principles of good human relations in the work place. In a retreat-like setting in the heart of the Blue Ridge Mountains, speakers and participants alike share a wealth of innovative management techniques and secrets to business success.

“The Blue Ridge Conference on Leadership provided me with a plethora of opportunities to advance my leadership skills with inspiring, thought-provoking sessions and keynotes,” said Carol Kimberlin, chief development officer at Northeast State. “The setting was awesome and when conference was over, I wanted to stay longer.”

The Northeast State team at Blue Ridge.
The Northeast State team at Blue Ridge.

The conference features speakers from many walks of life including business leaders, coaches, educators, lawyers, teachers, and representatives from industry, the clergy, and government. This year, the 300-plus attendees heard keynote speakers Pete Blank, Brig. Gen. Clara Adams-Ender, Jones Loflin, and Judge Glenda Hackett.

In addition, breakout sessions covered topics such as listening, communicating across generations, social media, and ethics. Breakout session speakers included Deborah Boswell, Livia Davis, Kyle Sandler, Dave McAuley, retired Maj. Gen. Perry M. Smith, and Melinda Stallings.

“The breakout sessions were relevant and enlightening,” said Chris Demas, dean of the Basler Library at the College. “The informal atmosphere made them very productive and enjoyable.”

This is the seventh year of attendance for Northeast State. The conference dovetails with the College’s Targeted Leadership Development Program which nurtures leadership skills within the institution.

Northeast State is represented on the Blue Ridge Conference’s board of directors by Dr. Janice H. Gilliam, president, and Paul Montgomery, vice president for access and development.