Pellissippi State Community College invites the community to enjoy a unique view of the total solar eclipse — from the ground and from the stratosphere — on August 21 at its Blount County Campus.
The family-friendly Tailgating in Totality event begins at noon and lasts until 3. Food trucks will be on campus, but attendees are welcome to bring their own food and beverages. Bring your own chairs, blankets, sunscreen and other supplies. Alcohol is not permitted on campus. Please do not bring pets.
Pellissippi State will furnish attendees with eclipse glasses until supplies run out. Parking is limited; arrive early.
Attendees will have a prime viewing spot for the total solar eclipse when it begins at approximately 2:30. The college will be streaming live footage from a high-altitude balloon of the eclipse as well. The footage, produced by Pellissippi State students in partnership with NASA, will provide a unique view of an eclipse from the stratosphere. Hardin Valley Thunder, Pellissippi State’s bluegrass band, will play from 1:15-2 p.m.
Enrollment and student services — including admissions, financial aid, advising and the bookstore — will be closed at the Blount County Campus all day, Aug. 21. These services will be open at all other Pellissippi State campuses.
For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu or call 865-694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability at this event, contact the executive director of Equity and Compliance at 865-539-7401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For many decades, it has gone unquestioned that “Pellissippi” means “winding waters” in Cherokee, and that the word refers to the Clinch River that wends through East Tennessee and terminates near Pellissippi State Community College’s Hardin Valley Campus.
But in 2014, Pellissippi State discovered that this is not true.
Thus began a three-year journey, culminating in conversations with the Smithsonian Institution, to set the record straight.
“It is of extreme importance to us at Pellissippi State that we honor the diverse heritage of East Tennessee,” said Pellissippi State President L. Anthony Wise Jr. “It might be easy to say that a name is just a name, but to us at Pellissippi State, it’s crucial that we honor the truth about ‘Pellissippi’ and its importance in American history.”
At Pellissippi State, writer Heather Beck took up the search for just where “Pellissippi” came from and what the word might mean.
“Through this project, I learned that tracing the etymology of a Native American word isn’t simple, and it’s not always precise,” Beck said. “When Europeans traveled through North America, they encountered native languages that they transcribed — often inaccurately — based upon how the word sounded and how it might be spelled in their own native languages.”
In historical research, Beck discovered that the Pellissippi River features prominently in a 1784 proposal from President Thomas Jefferson for new state names west of the Appalachians. Among the President’s proposed names was “Pelisipia,” in what today would be parts of Eastern Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia. But Jefferson’s proposed name wasn’t a reference to what is today the Clinch River.
It was a reference to the Ohio River.
In early maps, the name of the Pellissippi River was expressed in various ways — from “Polesipi” to “Peleson,” “Pele Sipi,” “Pere Sipi,” “Pelisipi” and finally “Pellissippi” — and it also frequently changed locations. For about a decade in the mid-1700s, the name “Pellissippi” was used as a reference to two rivers, back and forth: the Ohio and the Clinch.
This phenomenon of names changing, and even moving, was common in early mapmaking. Maps often were copied by hand and commonly transcribed from one language to another in that process.
It appears that the Ohio River held the name “Pellissippi” first.
“Historically it was ‘Mosopeleacipi,’ ‘river of the Mosopelea,’ the Illinois name that was learned by La Salle for the Ohio,” said linguist emeritus Ives Goddard of the Smithsonian Institution’s Department of Anthropology.
The river took its name from a nearby tribe, the Mosopelea. When the Mosopolea migrated out of the Ohio River valley, Shawnee moved in. They seemed to have shortened the name of the river to “Peleewa-θiipi,” or perhaps “peleewa θiipiiki,” in which the symbol θ makes a -th sound.
Goddard suggests that, as the original name of the Ohio River evolved from “Mosopeleacipi” to a version of “Pellissippi,” it also was inadvertently moved or misattributed as the name of the smaller Clinch River to the south. For a while, the rivers swapped names back and forth.
The Ohio seems to have firmly settled on its modern name around the 1780s. The Clinch took its modern name in the mid-1800s.
“Pellissippi has a long history in America, sharing a connection with a U.S. president, early explorers and Native American tribes and, not least, the Ohio River,” Wise said. “Although its meaning will remain metaphorical, not literal, we must remember — it’s not every day that a word comes to us through history as a blank slate. It’s not often that we have the opportunity to craft what a word means.
“For those of us who work at the college, ‘Pellissippi’ means access, opportunity, hope and success. Knowing where our name comes from may not change the mission of the College or the day-to-day aspects of students’ education or our place in our community. But we are pleased that we have done our best to restore and memorialize a history that might have been forgotten.”
For more information, visit www.pstcc.edu/pellissippi or call 865-694-6400. Tell us what Pellissippi means to you on social media, using #pellissippimeans.
Pellissippi State Community College is one of only 55 educational institutions across the United States that will participate in a high altitude ballooning experiment — sponsored by NASA — during the August 21 total solar eclipse, and the college will host a viewing party and community event to mark the solar eclipse.
The total solar eclipse will move from the west coast to the east coast throughout the day of August 21. The moon’s shadow will come between earth and the sun at approximately 2 p.m. in East Tennessee. It’s the first coast-to-coast solar eclipse in the U.S. since 1918.
Pellissippi State is one of only three colleges in Tennessee that are participating in the NASA-sponsored effort.
Pellissippi State will launch a high altitude balloon to gather data and conduct experiments during the two-minute window of the total eclipse. Video from the balloon of the eclipse will be streamed live to NASA’s website.
Additionally, a viewing party and community event will be held at the Blount County Campus from noon-3 p.m. The free event, called Tailgating in Totality, will include food trucks, games and activities for children — plus a live stream from Pellissippi State’s high altitude balloon.
“This is an amazing learning opportunity,” said Lynn Klett, instructor in Engineering and Media Technologies, and a faculty advisor to Pellissippi State’s high altitude ballooning team. “The last total solar eclipse was years ago, so we have the opportunity to learn a lot about what happens during an eclipse. But high altitude ballooning has its own challenges that require critical thinking and problem-solving, whether you’re flying during a solar eclipse or not.”
As an example of those challenges, Pellissippi State’s balloon must be within the proper altitude range — 60,000 to 100,000 feet — precisely during the two-minute window of the total eclipse. The scientific equipment within the payload must be able to withstand temperatures of -60 degrees Celsius and survive a controlled fall from approximately 100,000 feet in space.
And that’s just the beginning.
Jerry Sherrod, associate professor in Business and Computer Technology and this project’s other faculty advisor, is working with predictive software to determine where the payload is likely to land.
“East Tennessee has geographic challenges when it comes to predicting where a 12-pound payload on a small parachute will land,” Sherrod said. “We don’t want the equipment to land in a lake or in the national park where it may be impossible to retrieve, or where the scientific equipment will be lost or damaged.”
Klett and Sherrod have been working with the students on the high altitude ballooning team — as well as students in their classes — not only to discuss the project, but to design experiments, improve the payload structure and create predictive algorithms for the device’s retrieval.
The high altitude ballooning effort is being funded through the NASA Science Mission Directorate and the Tennessee Space Grant Consortium.
For more information about Pellissippi State, visit www.pstcc.edu/cae or call 865-694-6400.
Pellissippi State Community College will host plenty of summer camp class options for children (and adults!) this year.
Junior Summer Team Tennis — Ages 9 and up. Enjoy fun, friendly tennis team competitions. Instructor Andy Frost separates players by ability and age. Teams have one practice and one match per week. Cost is $135. May 31-July 26; practices are 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Wednesdays and matches are 2 p.m., Thursdays.
STEAM Camp Adventure — Ages 10-17. Spend a week specializing in Minecraft coding, robotics or videography. Cost is $320. Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., June 12-16, 19-13, 26-30 or July 10-14.
Self-Defense for Kids — Ages 6-9. Learn fun and easy self-defense moves for common scary scenarios. Cost is $79. Monday-Friday, 9-10 a.m., July 24-28.
Self-Defense for Preteens — Ages 10-12. Learn fun and easy self-defense techniques for common scenarios like bullying. Cost is $79. Monday-Friday, 10:15-11:30 a.m., July 24-28.
Girls on Guard: Self-Defense for Young Teens — Ages 12-14. Engage in practical self-defense techniques for specific situations. Cost is $89. Monday-Friday, 11:45 a.m.-1 p.m., July 24-28.
Reduce the Odds: Self-Defense for Older Teen Girls — Ages 15-17. Learn to recognize and escape dangerous situations through practice with technique and role play. Cost is $89. Monday-Friday, 1:15-2:30 p.m., July 24-28.
Multigenerational Class: Did You Get That On Film? — All ages. Learn to use your cell phone camera to capture better videos and use apps for special effects. Cost is $159. Monday-Friday, 1-4 p.m., June 19-23 and Monday-Friday, 8:30-11:30 a.m., July 17-21.
All classes are available through Business and Community Services, which offers lifelong learning opportunities to individuals through personalized, non-credit courses in everything from career training to personal hobbies.