Band of stage fighters at Pellissippi State takes on Renaissance Festival

2 people fight with swords in Renaissance attire
In the photo, Steve Trigg, left, engages in a mock sword fight with Thomas Crout. Crout plays character Captain Pickle and Trigg plays Beryl Plectrum Codpiece Knackberry Folderol.

Stage-fighting students at Pellissippi State Community College took their unique combat skills to the next level when they performed recently for the East Tennessee Renaissance Festival.

“Our stage-fighting course is unique in Tennessee,” said Charles R. Miller, the college’s Theatre program coordinator and a professor of Liberal Arts. “We have one of the top two-year Theatre programs in the country.”

Students in the stage-fighting course learn the skills to perform mock combat for theatrical purposes. Participants are a mix of full-time students and people from the community enrolled only in the class.

The fighters from Pellissippi State—Greg Congleton, Jordan Cook, Carolyn Corey, Thomas Crout, Julianna Meyers, Steve Trigg and Debi Wetherington—worked as “street characters” at October’s Renaissance Festival in Harriman. Several also performed on stage twice a day in “In a Pickle,” a comedy stunt show, and all honed their skills in “Human Combat Chess,” featuring theatrical sword fighting.

“We were aiming for the highest level of quality and safety available,” said Barrie Paulson, vice president/manager and entertainment director of the East Tennessee Renaissance Festival. “These students from Pellissippi State were cast in lead roles. The word after the performances was that even though the student actors were new, they more than held their own beside other professional stage acts.”

Earlier this year, 10 students at Pellissippi State passed the skills proficiency test of the Society of American Fight Directors. It was the first time the test had been administered in the state in almost 20 years.

In the video, Debi Wetherington and Jordan Cook take part in the Human Combat Chess Match. Jordan plays William Black and Debi plays Mary Tailor, two characters who are engaged to be married, but pitted against each other in the chess match. The video shows their unwillingness to hurt each other even as they are forced to appear to battle.

The college’s stage-fighting course is taught by Bob Borwick, the only SAFD certified instructor in Tennessee. Borwick teaches exclusively at Pellissippi State. Paulson served as a volunteer fight assistant in the course. She, too, passed the SAFD exam earlier this year.

Miller, who taught the stage combat class for years, says he gladly stepped aside for Borwick’s expertise: “Bob has so much great experience, and the quality of our Theatre program comes first.”

“It turned out to be a great opportunity for me to keep current with my stage-fight skills and to scout quality actor-combatants for the Renaissance Festival,” Paulson said.

Paulson and the Pellissippi State students tested with Dale Girard, an SAFD fight master and director of stage combat studies at North Carolina School of the Arts. By passing the exam, the students earned a much sought-after skill status in the world of professional theatre.

The course to prepare for the SAFD skills proficiency test is THEA 2222 Special Topics (Stage Combat), and it will be available again in spring 2015. Business and Community Services also is offering a non-credit Stage Combat course.

“I would love to see Pellissippi State’s Theatre program become the place for stage combat training in East Tennessee, and the place talent scouts target for expertise,” Paulson said.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State: Orientation sessions set for new spring enrollees

Students who have been accepted to attend Pellissippi State Community College for the spring 2015 semester should make plans now to attend a New Student Orientation session. Two orientation dates include special sessions for international students.

The sessions are required of all first-time degree-seeking freshmen and are recommended for transfer students. Reserve a space as soon as possible.

Orientation gives new enrollees the opportunity to meet with Pellissippi State students, faculty, and staff; learn about what they can expect in college and what the college expects of them; learn strategies for college success; explore degree, major, and transfer options; and discover campus services and resources such as financial aid, tutoring, and computer resources.

New Student Orientation campuses, dates and times:

  • Hardin Valley Campus—Dec. 2, 5-8:30 p.m.; Jan. 8, 1-4:30 p.m.; Jan. 16, 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • Blount County Campus—Jan. 15, 1-3:30 p.m.
  • Division Street Campus—Jan. 16, 2-5:30 p.m.
  • Magnolia Avenue Campus—Jan. 14, 1-4 p.m.
  • Strawberry Plains Campus—Jan. 12, noon-3

The Jan. 16 orientations at the Hardin Valley and Division Street campuses include a special session for international students.

Students can attend any of the New Student Orientation sessions; however, it’s best to attend an event at the campus you will attend. Pellissippi State encourages parents, spouses and others supportive of the student to attend New Student Orientation. The application deadline for spring semester is Jan. 9. Classes begin Jan. 20.

To sign up for an orientation session, visit www.pstcc.edu/orientation or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact Disability Services at accommodations@pstcc.edu or (865) 539-7153.

Pellissippi State: Arrive early for complimentary tickets to popular Holiday Spectacular

Female ballerina with other ballerinas in the back and lit christmas trees

Join in the holiday cheer at Pellissippi State Community College’s hugely popular annual Holiday Spectacular concert, offered in two performances, 6 and 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 4.

Part of Pellissippi State’s Music Concert Series, the Holiday Spectacular is free, and the community is encouraged to attend. Because space is limited, the college asks that guests arrive 30 minutes before each performance to receive a complimentary ticket. Tickets will be issued at the door to the first 485 guests, and having a ticket guarantees a seat.

The Holiday Spectacular, whose theme this year is “A Candlelight Christmas Evening,” takes place in the Clayton Performing Arts Center on the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. The concert features the talents of more than 150 Pellissippi State students and faculty in eight different musical ensembles, performing classical choral numbers, bluegrass, and jazz.

“The concert will feature exciting production numbers full of bright visual displays, as well as more quiet, intimate carols by candlelight to celebrate the warmth of the season,” said Bill Brewer, Music program coordinator.

“Every audience member will leave the show with a taste of holiday cheer.”

The Music Concert Series is part of The Arts at Pellissippi State, which brings to the community cultural activities ranging from music and theatre to international celebrations, lectures, and the fine arts.

While all events in the series are free, donations are accepted at the door for the Pellissippi State Foundation on behalf of the Music Scholarship fund.

For additional information about the Music Concert Series or The Arts at Pellissippi State, call (865) 694-6400 or visit www.pstcc.edu/arts. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources and Affirmative Action at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Pellissippi State’s Blount County Campus hosts bluegrass band

row of musicians singing and playing instruments on a stage outdoors

Pellissippi State Community College’s bluegrass ensemble brings the thunder to the school’s Blount County Campus Wednesday, Nov. 19.

The bluegrass ensemble, known as Hardin Valley Thunder, performs 4-5 p.m. in the William “Keith” McCord Lobby of the campus, located at 2731 W. Lamar Alexander Parkway. The event is free and the community is invited. A brief reception follows the music.

The students will perform both classic and contemporary tunes, among them, “Daddy Sang Bass,” “Kentucky Waltz,” and “Landslide.”

The bluegrass ensemble was formed in 2009 and is led by Larry Vincent, assistant professor of Music.

“Bluegrass music is part of the heritage of East Tennessee,” Vincent said. “Bluegrass has a special place in our community because of its origins in this part of the country, and our ensemble reflects that proud heritage.”

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Two Pellissippi State students state’s only Grainger Scholarship winners

portrait of male in jacket
Isaiah Maylott

Pellissippi State Community College students Jeffrey Roller and Isaiah Maylott have each earned a $2,000 Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship—the only recipients in Tennessee to receive the award this academic year.

Both Roller and Maylott are in the Engineering Technology degree program’s Electrical Engineering concentration.

The Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship supports technical education and promotes careers in technical areas of work. Grainger is an Illinois-based distributor of facilities maintenance supplies. Upon graduating, recipients also receive $2,500 worth of Grainger hand tools, each with a lifetime replacement guarantee.

“Pellissippi State is the only college in Tennessee that has students who receive this scholarship,” said Peggy Wilson. Wilson is vice president of College Advancement and executive director of the Pellissippi State Foundation, which oversees the awards.

“Grainger classifies Pellissippi State as a ‘veteran-friendly college,’ and each student who receives a scholarship from Grainger must be a veteran.”

Portrait of male in hat and hoodie
Jeffrey Roller

Roller, who served in the Marine Corps and as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan, plans to finish his associate’s degree at Pellissippi State in 2015.

“This scholarship has allowed me to continue going to college full time,” he said. “I can concentrate on keeping a high GPA so I can be more competitive for jobs when I graduate. It’s definitely helped.”

Maylott joined the Air National Guard in 2011 and is a radio frequency transmissions systems technician. He plans to graduate from Pellissippi State in 2015.

“I was excited to find out that I got the scholarship,” said Maylott. “I’ve never earned a scholarship based on military service and my grades. It was really an honor to be recognized for that. I’m also definitely looking forward to getting the tool set—that will be really helpful as I look toward my future career.”

“Grainger is investing in the future of American industry and local communities through the Grainger Tools for Tomorrow Scholarship Program,” said Russell Rumpp, Grainger’s market manager in Knoxville. “We are proud to partner with Pellissippi State and believe business and community college partnerships are one solution to building a stronger workforce.”

The Pellissippi State Foundation works to provide student scholarships and emergency loans, as well as to improve facilities and secure new equipment. For more information about the Foundation, visit www.pstcc.edu/foundation or call (865) 694-6528.

For more information about Pellissippi State and its programs, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State students compete in Math Bowl

Pellissippi State Community College students once again compete against other Tennessee college students when the institution hosts its yearly Math Bowl, Saturday, Nov. 22.

Pellissippi State’s Math Bowl is part of the annual State Mathematics Competition, sponsored by the Tennessee Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges. In 2013, four Pellissippi State students finished in the top three in the state for their respective subjects: Zachary Jerome placed first in calculus A, Charles Garrett first and Ben Aptaker third in basic algebra, and Thao Nguyen Strong first in precalculus.

“We’re very proud of our winners from last year and look forward to seeing more top-level competition from Pellissippi State students in 2014,” said Bobby Jackson, an associate professor of Mathematics.

The State Mathematics Competition takes place each year at locations across the state. On Nov. 22, Pellissippi State hosts two site competitions, one at the Hardin Valley Campus and one at the Blount County Campus.

In the Math Bowl, students are tested in basic algebra, statistics, precalculus, and two levels of calculus, A and B. Each contest exam consists of 25 multiple-choice questions. Students can use a calculator but no notebook or textbook.

TMATYC awards cash prizes to the top three students in each subject. In addition, Pellissippi State—thanks to a grant from Oak Ridge Associated Universities—rewards its top finishers in each subject with additional cash prizes.

For more information about the Math Bowl or Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State certified as a veteran-friendly campus

The state recently certified Pellissippi State Community College as a “VETS Campus,” in acknowledgment of the institution’s efforts to ensure veterans experience a successful transition from military service to college enrollment.

“This designation is important because it recognizes Pellissippi State’s commitment to educating our men and women who have served in the military,” said Rachael Cragle. Cragle is Pellissippi State’s Advising director. She also is project director of the grants that help fund a number of the college’s student veteran support projects, including the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center.

“This certification validates all of the work that Pellissippi State has done to establish our Veterans Success Center and to provide support for our student veterans,” said Cragle.

The certification is part of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act, which was passed into law earlier this year. The VETS Act recognizes colleges that not only deliver services to veterans but also “create a supportive environment where student veterans can prosper while pursuing their education.”

Pellissippi State opened the Ben Atchley Veterans Success Center one year ago this Veterans Day (Nov. 11) to provide space for veterans to gather, study, and relax, as well as to have access to advising and mentoring services.

The college provides pre-enrollment services—such as test preparation and help with benefits—through a partnership with the Veterans Upward Bound Program at the University of Tennessee.

The school communicates with its student veterans through email from enrollment to graduation and beyond, with the goals of improving retention rates and identifying situations that might require intervention. Pellissippi State offers veterans credit for military and other career experience through prior learning assessment, or PLA.

The college’s outreach programs to veterans are funded in part by a $37,982 Tennessee Access and Success Network grant and a three-year, $98,000 Tennessee Board of Regents Access and Diversity grant. Community partners include the Knoxville Rotary Club, the East Tennessee Military Affairs Council, and other non-profit and support groups.

For more information about Pellissippi State’s efforts to help student veterans succeed, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

Photography faculty work spotlight of Pellissippi State show

Pellissippi State Community College showcases the work of its Photography faculty members during the Photography Faculty Exhibit, Nov. 18-Dec. 12.

The exhibit is in the Bagwell Center for Media and Art gallery at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road. Gallery hours are 10 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Monday-Friday.

A reception takes place 4-6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 17. The exhibit and reception are free to attend, and the community is invited.

“This exhibit allows our students to see what their professors are doing in their personal art pursuits,” said Kurt Eslick, an associate professor in Photography. “It’s great when students can see that their professors are out there creating, too.”

For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State hosts inaugural ‘Take Back the Night’

WHO: Pellissippi State Community College students and employees and community members are invited to “Take Back the Night” to raise awareness of domestic and sexual violence.Take Back the Night” is an international awareness campaign.

WHAT: Pellissippi State’s “Take Back the Night” event features a short march and a “speak out” session featuring keynote speaker Kali Meister, a Pellissippi State adjunct faculty member, playwright, and rape survivor. Also on hand will be college counselors as well as representatives of local women’s health and community outreach organizations.

WHEN AND WHERE: Thursday, Nov. 6, at 6 p.m. on the Division Street Campus, 3435 Division St.

For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or humanresources@pstcc.edu.

Medic Mobile at Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus Nov. 19

Pellissippi State Community College hosts a Medic Regional Blood Center blood drive on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at the Hardin Valley Campus, 10915 Hardin Valley Road.

The Medic Mobile is available 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m., and the community is invited to donate to the blood drive. The mobile unit will be parked in Faculty/Staff Lot F1, located beyond the Visitors Lot in front of the Goins Administration Building.

Medic, a nonprofit organization, supplies 27 area hospitals with volunteer donations. Medic representatives say there is a need for all blood types.

Potential donors must be at least 17 years of age and weigh at least 110 pounds. Donors should not fast before arriving. Medic suggests that donors eat a meal and drink fluids approximately three hours prior to donating. Participants also are asked to present photo identification and a list of current medications.

For more information about donor eligibility, visit www.medicblood.com. For more about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu or call (865) 694-6400.

Pellissippi State Community College, Knoxville, TN