Tag Archive | "Volunteers"


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Tusculum College class continues work to rehabilitate New Hope Cemetery

Posted on 27 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

The Greene County Heritage Trust has recognized the effort to rehabilitate the New Hope Cemetery with a Special Award of Merit. From left are representatives of groups and individuals involved in the rehabilitation effort: John Mays, moderator of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church; Randi Nott; Tammy Greene, pastor of Shiloh Cumberland Presbyterian Church; Gene Maddox, member of Tabernacle Presbyterian Church; Joyce Doughty, director of the Center for Civic Advancement and Robin Fife, assistant professor of social science.

Historic New Hope Cemetery continues to emerge with the continuing work to rehabilitate the only remnants of what was once an African-American church and school in the Tusculum community.

The cemetery now looks very different and a database has been created about the individuals buried in the cemetery due to the recent efforts of a service-learning class at Tusculum College. The class was taught by Robin Fife, assistant professor of social science.

Located near the intersection of Oak Grove and Old Shiloh roads in what is now a residential area, the cemetery was at the site of what had been the New Hope Presbyterian Church and an affiliated school, established by former slaves following the Civil War. The church had ties to Tusculum. In 1869, the Rev. William Witherspoon Doak, then president of Tusculum College, was appointed by the Holston Presbytery to serve as an itinerant missionary, and as such, preached at the church. Tusculum students have been involved with the cemetery’s clean-up and rehabilitation since its rediscovery about eight years ago.

When students learned that the focus of the course would be the rehabilitation of the cemetery, some said they were surprised and doubtful that they would be able to do much of significance.

Discovering how much can be done through a focused effort in a short amount of time is one of the lessons students in the class say they learned from their experiences.   The students were able to accomplish a great deal from beautifying the cemetery to creating a database of individuals buried in the cemetery that will aid in genealogical and historic research. The students also created a grid of the cemetery, mapping out and recording the location of the tombstones and other features of the cemetery. One group created family trees for some of the individuals buried in the cemetery, while another researched the best practices for preserving the tombstones and then put them into practice in cleaning lichen from the markers.

One group sought donations for the rehabilitation process and made recommendations of how the New Hope Cemetery Committee can possibly raise funds for the cemetery’s continued rehabilitation and its maintenance in the future. Another group recorded the progress of the class and made sure that the groups were communicating to ensure efforts were coordinated. The class members gave a presentation about their efforts Wednesday, April 6, which was attended by a number of community members, including members of the New Hope Cemetery Committee.

Tusculum student Alex McKay, from Chattanooga, plays “Amazing Grace” at the conclusion of a presentation by a service-learning class about its work in New Hope Cemetery.

The class members divided into small groups to take on individual projects that involved their interests and talents. Class member Tom Salinas, from Brownsville, Texas, said that the students were not presented with a specific project to complete. “We had a problem, and we came up with our own projects and solutions,” he said. “Overall, it was a really wonderful experience.”

Clare McBeth of Martin said she learned that a small group can make a difference. “When we all got together and worked hard, we saw things can be changed.”

Other students spoke of the challenging nature of the project and a sense of accomplishment that came after a project was completed. “I like challenges,” said Donayle Watson of Elizabethton. “We had a challenge, and it was doing something to help the community.”

Charles Shrewsbury of Stanton, Va., recalled visiting cemeteries as he accompanied his father on family genealogical searches and said it was rewarding to be able to do something to help family members of those buried in the New Hope Cemetery have access to the cemetery.  “Family relationships are important,” he said. “No one should be forgotten.”

The group that undertook the cleaning of the cemetery did plenty of that type of work, such as raking up leaves that filled 13 large trash bags. But, they also worked to make the cemetery a more attractive place for visitors by refinishing and repainting three benches that are now providing a place to sit and reflect in the cemetery. The benches were donated to the cemetery through one of the students in the class. The students also built a bridge over the deep ditch between the edge of the road and the entrance into the cemetery.

This group also made some discoveries as they worked. The students uncovered a set of steps at the back of the cemetery that may have led to either the church or the school.

The plotting and mapping group created a grid of the cemetery, using string and stakes to divide the cemetery into four foot by four foot squares. The group then recorded everything located in the squares to create a blueprint and map of the cemetery.

A related group researched the best practices in conserving the tombstones and compiled a list of “do’s and don’ts” for those who would be working in the cemetery in the future.  The group put what they learned into practice, beginning the process of cleaning lichen from some of the markers.

Another group recorded the names of those found on the tombstones, which began their research into who was buried in the cemetery. Researching death certificates, cemetery lists and other information, the students were able to compile a database of individuals buried in the cemetery, listing names, birth and death dates, occupations and causes of death as possible. In their research, the students found the names of 54 persons who may be buried at the cemetery. The students said based on the information they found,  they are almost certain 43 of the 54 are buried in the cemetery, thirty of which are in marked graves and 13 in unmarked.

The group found one person with a Tusculum College connection – Aaron Gudger who was a janitor at the college prior to his death as a result of a car accident.

Another group researched various families whose members are buried in the cemetery and created family trees for those families. The students researched census, birth, death and other records and contacted family members to learn more about the families.

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Earth Day Extravaganza focuses on environmental education and sustainability

Posted on 15 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

earthday1Expanding Tusculum College’s Community Garden, at left, and tree tours of the campus, at right, were part of the Earth Day Extravaganza on Thursday, April 14. The event, focusing on environmental education and sustainability, was open to the public. Sponsored by the Pioneer Green Team, the event was centered in two primary areas. One was on the lawn outside of McCormick Hall on campus, where there were a number of displays providing information about topics as varied as preserving local wildlife to the dangers of radon, as well as children’s craft activities. Setting up displays were Rural Resources, Bays Mountain, the Cherokee Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Coca-Cola and the U.S. Forest Service, which also brought along Smokey the Bear. Student volunteers worked all day at the other central location, the college’s Community Garden at the Honors Residential House near Doak Elementary School. The students planted a number of new flowers, shrubs and trees at the garden and added decorative stone pavers.





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Tusculum professor and student volunteer during ceremony of national professional organization

Posted on 14 April 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

A Tusculum College professor and student recently served as volunteer assistants at the Major of the Year Award and Reception Ceremony of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE).

Dr. Kirpal Mahal, professor of physical education, and Kate Prisco, a junior from Rogersville, volunteered to help at the ceremony for the association, which is the leading authority for physical education standards. The ceremony was held during the 126th Convention of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD), which was held in San Diego from March 30 to April 3.

This was the first time that Prisco attended the AAHPERD convention. She said serving at the NASPE ceremony was a great experience in that she was able to meet a number of professionals and learn about their work. As a volunteer, Prisco said she felt like an important part of the event and the association, which she described as open-minded with the right goals, enthusiasm and drive to get professionals active in its mission.

Dr. Mahal commended Prisco for the professional manner in which she performed her duties at the ceremony and the way she presented herself and represented Tusculum College very well.

During the NASPE ceremony, Tusculum senior Simon Holzapfel, from Nuremberg, Germany, along with 90 other undergraduate students in the physical education and exercise science fields from various universities, was awarded the NASPE Major of the Year Award. Holzapfel said it is a great honor to be the recipient of this award as only one student is nominated annually for the honor by the faculty of Tusculum’s Physical Education and Sport Studies Department.

Dr. Mahal accompanied a group of Tusculum students majoring in physical education or sports studies to the convention, including Elisa Andriano of North York, Ontario; Calvin Britt of Augusta, Ga.; Dean Hopewell of Leicester, England; Cassandra Melnike of Pickering, Ontario; Angie Michaud of Surgionsville, Tenn., Holzapfel, and Prisco.

At the convention, the students had the opportunity to meet and mingle with scholars and professional leaders in sports, health and physical education fields. The convention offered around 700 sessions, presentations and events on a variety of topics related to the students’ fields of study.
The students had the unique opportunity to tour to the U.S. Olympic Training Center at San Diego. The facility is one of only three Olympic training centers in the U.S. and is a gift from the San Diego National Sports Training Foundation, a group of dedicated business and community leaders, as well as volunteers, who raised the funds to build the center. The complex is mostly outdoors and covers 155 acres.

Dr. Mahal, Holzapfel, Michaud and Prisco also attended a social event sponsored by Springfield College, meeting its faculty and alumni. Springfield College, located in Massachusetts, is one of the nation’s most prestigious institutions in exercise science and physical education.

Holzapfel was one of only three student delegates selected to represent the entire student membership of AAHPERD and attended the Alliance Assembly, its governing body, on April 2. The delegates voted for the next president-elect of the Alliance, Irene Cucina, and approved motions including that “the Alliance work toward one unified national organization with a focus on comprehensive physical education, physical activity, and health.” This vote will result in the five organizations that comprise AAHPERD being transformed into one comprehensive organization.

Attending the convention was an exceptional experience for most of the Tusculum students. Prisco said she had an excellent experience attending sessions, presentations and meeting other professionals of various physical education and sports-related fields. She said it was inspiring to see so many people working passionately for the same goal of increasing the public’s activity level and improving their health.

The students also expressed appreciation for Dr. Mahal’s initiative and efforts that made the trip possible to provide the students with such an important learning experience and part of their professional development.

Dr. Mahal and the students also expressed appreciation for the financial support from the Tusculum administration, the Teaching and Professional Growth Committee and the Physical Education and Sports Studies Department.

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Alumni volunteers needed for upcoming Junior Conference

Posted on 23 March 2011 by eestes@tusculum.edu

juniorconference10Tusculum College will host area high school juniors on Thursday, April 7, for the second annual Junior Conference focusing on higher education opportunities and career awareness.

Alumni volunteers are being sought to help with the event, which will bring juniors from all five Greene County high schools to the Tusculum campus. More than 800 students are expected to attend.

Students will attend a variety of sessions that will provide career information first-hand from local company representatives and from area professionals who will share information about their fields.

The students will be divided up into morning and afternoon sessions, with each student having the opportunity to select two sessions to attend from the more than 20 choices offered, said Tankersley.

A keynote session featuring Nathan Honeycutt will be held at 8:30 a.m. Honeycutt, a successful architect, will speak about achieving one’s life dream.  In his career, he has been the lead designer on many architectural and master planning projects in the United States, the United Arab Emirates and China.  Some of his major projects include the Georgia Aquarium and the Dubai Towers, currently under construction.  He currently lives in East Tennessee and is one of the owners of Honeycutt Architecture.

Following the opening session will be two 45 minute sessions that the participating students will have the opportunity to choose from College Track, Vocational Track and Career Choices.

Participating companies include the Wal-Mart Distribution Center, Century 21 Legacy, Mountain States Health Alliance and Laughlin Memorial Hospital.

Career/Professional topics covered during the career choice talk include sport management, nursing, education, athletic training, physical therapy, medical technology, business, pharmacy and law.

Alumni are needed to volunteer as moderators or campus guides for the sessions. The moderators are responsible for introducing the guest speaker (a bio will be supplied), assist the presenter with any set-up problems (the IT staff will be on call), monitor student behavior, help engage the question and answer process and help students identify their next destination.

Campus guides will be responsible for directing students to their session location and will be stationed outside to help students identify the building where they need to go. Some guides will lead a group of students to the appropriate building.

The event will involve a full-day commitment of volunteers. Volunteers need to arrive on campus at 8:15 a.m. and the event should be over by 2:15 p.m. The College will provide lunch for all volunteers.

To volunteer, please contact Colleen Cox, coordinator of alumni relations, at ccox@tusculum.edu.

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