Northeast State professor's documentary film on Darwin honored by the American Library Association

BLOUNTVILLE - In the shouting match between proponents of Charles Darwin's evolutionary theories and those who demonize him, the story of his own religious faith is lost. How might Darwin's own struggles illuminate today's discussion of his ideas?

Biology professor David Wollert found the topic so compelling that he wrote and directed a documentary film entitled Paradise Lost: The Religious Life of Charles Darwin. Apparently others find the topic just as interesting. The film was recently named an “Editor’s Pick” by Library Journal, the official journal of the American Library Association. Wollert was admittedly surprised by the honor.

“I was pleased just knowing that they wanted to review it,” said Wollert, a faculty member at Northeast State Community College since 2000.

More than 100,000 libraries and institutions subscribe to the journal. Amongst thousands of submissions, only a few titles each year are singled out as “Editor’s Pick,” and these are usually books, rather than films.
The documentary premiered at Northeast State in June. The film was most recently screened at the Tennessee Science Teachers Association conference in Nashville.

“The film has been very well received,” said Wollert. “Charles Darwin is a fascinating, but often misrepresented figure in history. I suspect few people know that he once trained for the ministry.”

The cross-disciplinary film traces Darwin’s personal and professional life as it documents his transition from theism, to deism, to agnosticism.

Wollert wrote a screenplay in 2003 based upon Darwin’s religious experience and began pitching it to various production companies across the country. A few companies expressed interest, but wanted to alter the content to exploit the controversial nature of the topic. Wollert finally decided to produce the film himself.

“I didn’t want to fuel what has come to be a very polarized debate,” he said. “Certainly, as a professor of biology I would consider myself an evolutionist. But I am very comfortable integrating modern science with my religious faith.”

He appears to have met his objective. Reviews of the film have praised both its visual imagery and its open-ended narrative. It is also being promoted by The Clergy Letter Project as a resource for Evolution Weekend.
The Clergy Letter Project began as a position statement signed by over 10,000 members of the clergy worldwide endorsing a fruitful integration of religious faith with a modern scientific understanding of the universe, including evolutionary theory.

As part of this effort the project sponsors Evolution Weekend. During Feb. 8-10 hundreds of churches across the country (including two in the Tri-Cities) will host special events designed to increase public awareness and understanding of the positive relationship between science and religion. Many will be showing “Paradise Lost.”

“I’ve tried not to push any particular position,” said Wollert. “Rather, I’ve tried to present Charles Darwin as a real human being with real struggles in hopes of generating some positive discussions about science and religion.”

Learn more about the film at www.blankslatestudios.com.


Northeast State scholarship application deadline is March 1

BLOUNTVILLE – Go online today and apply for one of the dozens of academic scholarship opportunities available through Northeast State Community College.

March 1 is the deadline to file an application for any scholarship administered by Northeast State that is awarded during the 2008-2009 academic year that begins in August. Scholarship applicants must also complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) online at www.fafsa.ed.gov by March 1.

Scholarships administered through Northeast State include the Academic Work Scholarship, Educational Access and Diversity Scholarship, and scholarships offered through the Northeast State Foundation. The college awards scholarships to qualifying applicants following a competitive review process. Scholarships typically cover a portion of tuition costs for a full academic year for a full-time student working toward an associate degree or certificate.

An applicant should meet the stipulations set forth in each scholarship. The scholarship application qualifies a student only for a Northeast State scholarship. The application does not qualify a student for other sources of state or federal financial aid. For a listing of available scholarships, visit the college’s Web site www.northeaststate.edu.

For more information, contact Greg Walters at 423.354.5120 or Megan Horn at 423.279.7637.


Northeast State kicks off College Goal Sunday Feb. 10

BLOUNTVILLE – Northeast State Community College and other institutions across the state will host College Goal Sunday on Feb. 10, from 2 – 4 p.m. at the college’s main campus, 2425 Highway 75, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport.

College Goal Sunday (www.collegegoalsundaytn.org) is a free, volunteer charitable effort to provide information and assist low-income and first-generation college students and their families. Students planning to attend the workshop need to log onto the website to register to allow for efficient seating. College Goal Sunday helps families complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) required to qualify for college financial aid nationwide. Tennessee’s financial aid experts will volunteer their time to help families in completing the FAFSA application, even if the student has not selected a college.

If possible, before attending the workshop, students need to log onto www.pin.ed.gov and register for a personal identification number (PIN) for the student and one parent to serve as an electronic signature for the FAFSA account. Students must bring their PIN to the workshop.

Students and/or parents should bring the following items if available:  

  • 2007 federal tax return or other income documentation
  • Social security numbers for student and parents
  • Driver's license
  • 2007 W-2 forms or other records of income
  • 2007 untaxed income records - social security, temporary assistance to needy families, welfare, or veterans benefits records
  • 2007 bank statements
  • 2007 business and investment mortgage information, stock, bond, and other investment records
  • Alien registration card (if not a U.S. citizen)

The College Goal Sunday program was created by the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association with funding from Lilly Endowment, Inc., and with supplemental support from Lumina Foundation for Education. For additional information, contact the Northeast State Office of Financial Aid at 423.323.0252 or visit the College Goal Sunday website.


Northeast State Theater holding open auditions for Romeo & Juliet Feb. 11-12

BLOUNTVILLE – What light through yonder window breaks?

Why it must be the audition call for the Northeast State Theater production of William Shakespeare’s classic love story Romeo and Juliet.

Northeast State Theater has scheduled open auditions Feb. 11 and 12 from 4 - 7 p.m. in the auditorium of the college’s main campus, 2425 Highway 75, Blountville, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport. Callbacks are scheduled for Feb. 13 between 5 - 8 p.m.

The auditions will consist of cold readings from the script. Performers are encouraged to prepare a one- to two-minute monologue to use as well. Monologues can be from Romeo and Juliet or any other play by Shakespeare.
Sides and audition pieces will be made available after Jan. 28 to anyone preparing for the audition. Anyone interested in getting the audition pieces should contact 423.354.2479.

Play performance dates are April 17 - 19 at 7 p.m. and April 20 at 2:30 p.m. The play is being directed by Michael L. Aulick. Romeo & Juliet will mark the first dramatic performance staged in the college’s new performing arts center which will be completed this spring.

For more information, call 423.354.2479.


Folk artist Cosy Sheridan performs The Pomegranate Seed at Northeast State Feb. 18

BLOUNTVILLE – Mythic songwriter Cosy Sheridan will perform part of her dazzling one-woman show The Pomegranate Seed at Northeast State Community College on Feb. 18.

Sheridan created The Pomegranate Seed - An Exploration of Appetite, Body Image and Myth in Modern Culture in 2003 as a two-act narrative of songs and monologue chronicling one woman's journey into the symbolic underworld and her emergence as a more vibrant and empowered woman. Sheridan also released an accompanying CD of the music. In framing one woman's life mythically as she moves into enlightenment, the performance is a story of finding meaning in life's experiences.

She has been performing the show across the country, delighting audiences with her distinctive take on the media's message about women's bodies, and her modern-day retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone's journey to the underworld. The Salt Lake Tribune described it as “a bold unflinching look at issues affecting women’s lives.”

The first act weaves together humor and music in an exploration of messages from the media, from cultural icons and family. From Barbie dolls to fad diets, from Eve and her apple to the tragicomedy of bathing suit shopping, Sheridan as Everywoman comes to grips with her body, her self-image and all that it implies, finding a way to joyfully inhabit her own body.

Sheridan is regarded one of the pre-eminent singer/songwriters on the folk scene documenting the lives of modern women. She places the fast-paced culture of 21st century America into a mythic context with insightful, energetic and at times comic effect.

Sheridan first appeared on the national folk scene in 1992 when she won the songwriting contests at the Kerrville Folk Festival and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and released her critically acclaimed CD, Quietly Led on Waterbug Records. The Boston Globe’s review called her, “A very funny and enormously amiable entertainer, with a keen and wicked eye for the excesses of our fast-food, TV-happy and noisome culture.”

The performance launches Northeast State’s observance of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, Feb. 24 – March 1. The college’s activities will include informational displays and introducing students to the online screening for eating disorders.

She will perform Act I of The Pomegranate Seed at 10:15 a.m. in the auditorium of the Northeast State’s main campus, 2425 Highway 75, Blountville, adjacent to Tri-Cities Regional Airport. She will also perform at 7 p.m. in Brown Hall Auditorium at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. The concerts at Northeast State and ETSU are free and open to the public.

Both performances are sponsored by Mountain States Health Alliance, Frontier Health, and the Eating Disorders Coalition of Tennessee-Northeast www.edct.net/northeast.aspx.
For more information, contact 423.323.0212.


5,000 and counting
Dobyns-Bennett senior latest student to take Northeast State CTE subject placement exam

BLOUNTVILLE – Northeast State Community College marked a milestone in dual credit articulation testing in December by honoring a Dobyns-Bennett High School senior ready to make his move to college.
Dobyns-Bennett senior Joshua Garner became the 5,000th student that has taken advantage of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) articulation exams sponsored by Northeast State since the college began offering the tests in 2003.

“The dual credit testing program offers non-duplicative course material so the student doesn’t have to take a similar course as he or she did in high school,” said Gary Lee, director of High School Transition Programs at Northeast State.

Students may earn college credit for what they have achieved in high school. The exams are free for the students who may bring up to eight hours of earned credit to Northeast State upon enrollment. Lee emphasized the fact that these are college-level exams and five years of testing has resulted in a 53 percent pass rate for the high school students. Northeast State offers CTE exams during both fall and spring semesters. There are usually 600 to 700 students on campus for the spring exams.

High school students may earn college credit in core curriculum classes and technical education concentrations. Typically administered by Northeast State faculty, exams are given on subjects including Automotive Technology, Computer Technology, Principles of Business, Early Childhood Education, Engineering Graphics, Electrical Technology, and Welding.

Students from 20 high schools throughout the region have taken one of 29 CTE exams during the past five years. Students successfully passing the exams have earned more than 8,000 college credit hours.
Garner has enrolled in the college’s Career Fast Track Program class under the Health-Related Professions concentration. He will begin introductory courses in the college’s nursing program this spring.

“I want to work in the health care field and perhaps focus on becoming a doctor,” said Garner.

For information about the dual credit exams and participating high schools, call 423.354.2505 or email gelee@northeaststate.edu.


Northeast State hosts student registration for spring semester Jan. 9

BLOUNTVILLE – Northeast State Community College has announced spring registration schedules for its campuses in Blountville, Elizabethton and Kingsport.

Northeast State will hold open registration on Jan. 9 between 8:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. College admissions representatives will be registering students at Wayne G. Basler Library on the college’s main campus, 2425 Highway 75, Blountville; Northeast State at Elizabethton, 386 Highway 91; and the Regional Center for Applied Technology, 222 W. Main St., Kingsport.

Currently enrolled Northeast State students can log on to NORSTAR at the college’s website (www.northeaststate.edu) using their personal identification numbers. Students can register for classes at any campus location using the five-digit call number printed beside each course listed in the spring class schedule. The spring schedule can be viewed online at the website.

Spring registration will continue through the semester’s first day of classes on Jan. 14. For more information contact the Northeast State Office of Admissions at 1.800.836.7822 or 423.323.0253 or e-mail admissions@northeaststate.edu.