Archive for March, 2008

Division campus hosts International Students Art Show

By Leah Hall

Pellissippi students from all over the world share a bit of their lives in the 2008 International Students Art Exhibit at the Division Street campus.

The participating students are in their first year of English classes with Prof. Mary Nietling.

Much of the work is reflective of the students’ cultural backgrounds and homelands. Some pieces reflect something more internal or personal.

“The inspiration for the show came from the students,“ said Nietling. “Their composition textbooks have areas to draw pictures that show the relationships of sentence structure. When I went around the classroom to check their workbooks, I noticed many very nice drawings, and thought to myself, ‘These students are talented!’”

Habeeb Al Salem, from Saudi Arabia, was instrumental in putting the show together. He studies computer graphics, and used his skills to organize the show. He has been interested in art since he was very young.

Some of his work for the show was computer generated. One piece is a mermaid, which he said reflects the kind of art he would like to create professionally. He is also showing some pencil drawings, including one of Arabic calligraphy.

Shirley Martinez, from Columbia, wants to study psychology. Her work depicts a sunflower with long hair, which she said represents a dear friend she had in the sixth grade.

Saori Kuwano, from Japan, created two rainbow-colored origami balls. She explained that they are meant to be a prayer or a wish for good luck, and are often given as gifts to the sick. She was first taught origami at the age of three by her mother and grandmother.

Charu Panthi, from Nepal, has many pieces in the exhibit. Some are paintings of her homeland, some are photographs and some are traditional designs. One piece called “We Interpret Dreams” is a series of faces with hair made of a collage of magazine pictures, which she said were inspired by Nietling. Each has the same haircut and she said that the scenes in their hair represent their ideas.

Li Hong Ma, from China, has shared some traditional Chinese illustrations. She is also showing a piece called “Life Tree” which she says represents her transformation in finding god. She describes this transformation as “coming to have a face.”

Students were encouraged by the responses they received for their artwork. “I never expected anything, but when people commented that they liked it, I felt really happy,” said Charu Panthi.

Shirley Martinez said she noticed a student walk past her art piece in the hall, turn and walk back to look again, and smile approvingly. She was glad to see her art have such an affect on someone.

Habeeb Al Salem said that this experience helped him to focus on his artwork; knowing that someone would be seeing it encouraged him in his creative process.

Saori Kuwano has enjoyed being in Nietling’s class, meeting other students from around the globe and participating in the art show. She said, “It is nice to share something new.” She said that sharing and learning new things will help her to “grow up to be a big heart.”

Other students with work in the show are Aziz Wahada, from Tunisia; Hala Burbar, from Palestine; Handan Paca, from Turkey; and Andy Aryanto, from Indonesia.

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

Bryan Shares History with Magnolia Campus

By Leah Hall

Jerry Bryan, vice president of Information Services at Pellissippi State, shared his Civil War family history as part of the Sharpshooter common book experience on March 11, at the Magnolia campus.

“I really wanted listeners to come away with a sense of what life was like in East Tennessee during and after the Civil War,” said Bryan. “So I wanted to talk about orphans, widows, disease, poverty, midnight riders, terrorism, babies, neighbor women, midwives, and pensions, as much as soldiering.” Bryan explained how this area was a very difficult place to live during the Civil War, as residents were a mix of Union and Confederate sympathizers. Very often neighbors were for opposing sides.

“There was sabotage and mayhem; there were night riders and lynchings. It was a very dangerous place to be at that time,“ said Bryan.

Bryan gave a brief description of the time, and explained how the unusual topography of East Tennessee was important to the way events played out.

He explained that at one point, joining the Union army was treason. Recruits had to travel up to Cumberland Gap to reach Kentucky to enlist, as they could not travel over the Cumberland Mountains or the range to the south.

One family tale was that of John England. He was too old to join the army, and so served as a Union recruiter. He served as a guide to recruits north through the Cumberland Gap.

England was captured by Confederate soldiers at his own home, taken to Anderson County jail, and condemned to death. He escaped by jumping out of a second story window, crawling to the Clinch River with damaged feet, and floating on a plank for miles to the Scarbrough Community, near his home.

After resting in the woods for ten days and being fed by neighbors, England fled the area wearing women’s clothing, and rejoined his unit in Nashville.

Bryan was able to share some of the unusual language and spelling used at that time, found in actual affidavits from his ancestors.

Most of these were from the National Archives in Washington D.C., where pension records of Union soldiers are held. Confederate pension records are held in the various states.

“What’s important is the ‘pension application records’, because it’s the pension applications that include all the affidavits that tell us about the lives of the people,” said Bryan.

Bryan says he has been doing genealogy research about his family since 1998.

In addition to the National Archives, his sources were interviews with living elders of his family, state and county libraries, courthouses, county archives, cemeteries, online databases and the McClung Collection of Knox County Public Library.

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

New Photography Studio in Memory of KD Lawson

by Danny Butler

The KD Lawson Photography Studio in the Bagwell Center for Media and Art at the Hardin Valley Campus was opened and dedicated Wednesday.

Pulitzer-prize winning National Geographic photographer Jay Dickman and Photoshop expert Jay Kinghorn were in attendance for the ceremony to honor Lawson and his contribution to Pellissippi State’s photography department.

Lawson died last November from complications of a heart attack. “He was an amazing individual,” said Dickman. “He was one of those rare individuals that creates an interface for these . . . young photographers learning how to make a living in the real world.”

During the dedication, Dickman announced that Olympus, a camera company, was donating $24,000 to the recently formed KD Lawson scholarship fund.

Later that night, Dickman and Kinghorn presented a “Meet the Pros” seminar in the Performing Arts Center, sponsored by Olympus.

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

New Grant Offers Future Teachers Opportunity

By Evan Hudson

A new grant for students majoring in education who are willing to teach in low-income schools can offer up to $4,000 a year.

According to Wendy Floyd of the Financial Aid Office, the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) grant is designed to help pay up to $16,000 for undergraduate and $8,000 for graduate school.

In return for this grant students must work four academic years in a high-need and low-income school within eight years of graduation.

Also, students are required to teach in high need fields such as special education.  This grant is designed to target the shortage of teachers in such fields.

“If someone fails to complete the four years of teaching within the eight year time period the grant money is treated as an unsubsidized loan,” said Floyd.

For more information on the TEACH Grant contact Wendy Floyd in the FInacncial Aid office at

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Help with FASFA Forms Coming Soon

By Evan Hudson

Students looking for money for collage should attend one of the FASFA Help Days hosted by the Financial Aid office.

Help days are designated to help students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Help days will be held on the following days:

April 18 from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m.
May 12 from noon till 6 p.m.
June 10 from 1 p.m. till 6 p.m.
July 14 from 1 p.m. till 6 p.m.

During these days staff will be available to walk students through the process of completing the FASFA application.

The FASFA is used to determine eligibility for Federal Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, the Tennessee Student Assistance Corporation’s Federal Family Education Loan (TSAC), Tennessee Lottery Scholarships, Student Loans, Federal Work Study and more.

In order to get the most student aid students are encouraged to apply for the FASFA early. Wendy Floyd said, “TSAC money is given out on a first-come first-serve basis and money runs out early in the year.”

Financial Aid staff will also be available to help students Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Goins Building in Room 101C. Appointments are preferred but not necessary.

For an appointment for financial aid information, email with you name and the time you would prefer to come.

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Variations Choir to Perform at Carson-Newman

By Landon Doane

The Pellissippi Variations Choir will be performing at Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tennessee on March 30.

Associate Professor of Music Bill Brewer will conduct the auditioned choir of 36 members in a concert held in his honor. Brewer stated, “Carson-Newman has an alumni recital and each year they select a graduate to return and present a recital.” This year, Brewer has been selected as that alum.

Brewer said, “Being honored by my alma mater is truly a highlight in my career. To think that those who taught me and helped mold and shape my career think I have done well is quite rewarding.”

Despite this being a homecoming of sorts, Brewer is not treating this performance any differently. Brewer states, “Every audience deserves the best performance possible by an artist or a group.” Brewer added, “I feel the same pressure to present the best concert possible every time my choir takes the stage.”

Even though Brewer’s years at Carson-Newman are behind him, he is still in constant contact with his alma mater. “Pellissippi sends a good number of music students to Carson-Newman as transfers so I am constantly in touch with the present faculty,” said Brewer.

The concert will take place at 3:00 p.m. at the Tarr Music Center.

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Poland Performances Meaningful Experiences for Choir

By Landon Doane

The Pellissippi State Variations Choir returned from their tour of Poland. The choir toured Warsaw, Lublin and Krakow from March 1 through March 8.

Associate Professor of Music Bill Brewer led the auditioned choir consisting of 36 members. During the choir’s week visit, they toured many well known places such as the Royal Castle and Wilanow Palace in Warsaw, St. Mary’s Church in Krakow and Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp.

“Auschwitz was an incredibly intense experience for the group. As we toured the camp I was deeply impressed by the obvious way that the visit moved our students” said Brewer, 52. In addition to touring Auschwitz, the choir also performed a concert at the former concentration camp. Brewer added, “As we attempted to sing, to honor those who had lost their lives, it also served as a sort of healing to those of us living now and remembering.”

Brewer was not the only person that appreciated the history the group witnessed in Poland. Student Gregory Jerrod Cate, 19, said, “What I really enjoyed about the trip is that you could still feel the history in the country.” As well as performing at Auschwitz, Variations gave concerts at Wilanow Palace, John Paul II Catholic University in Lublin, St. Mary’s Church, the Young Musicians Festival and the Chapel of St. Kinga in the Salt Mine of Krakow.

Student Aaron Comer, age 22, said, “It is an amazing sound to hear the echo the choir produced in the Salt Mine in Poland.”

“The choir exceeded my expectations at every performance. The culminating Friday evening concert was truly a highlight of my conducting career” stated Brewer.

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Pellissippi Educator’s Poems Lauded

By Danny Butler 

Edward Francisco’s volume of poems The Alchemy of Words was selected as a top pick for November and December 2008 by The Small Press Review.

Praises for Francisco’s newest collection have also been published in the Appalachian Heritage, and Knoxville’s Metro Pulse said that Francisco’s poems were “following tangents, but wherever his mind wanders, he speaks in an elegant style.”

Francisco, writer-in-residence and Professor of English at Pellissippi’s main campus, says that he wrote most of these poems in response to the decline of the English language and its use in modern society. “During the past seven years, I’ve seen the language used, misused, and abused without precedent,” Francisco said. “What I’m trying to do is to offer an antidote to the poison that has taken its toll.”

Published by Burch Brook Press, copies are available at the Pellissippi Campus Bookstore and on Burch Brook Press’s website.

Burch Brook Press

Wednesday, March 26th, 2008