TNT found on campus

By: Jim Hayes

The Tennessee Highway Patrol bomb squad removed two jars believed to contain explosive materials, Oct. 27, from Volunteer State Community College parking lot E.

According to a police report filed by Vol State officer Frank Winslow, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Materials Management Department was having its annual Household Chemical Collections event when an unidentified man deposited a box containing two, four-ounce plastic jars of a white powdery substance later identified as being trinitrotoluene otherwise known as TNT.

“We had a hazardous waste collection event at the college,” said Eric Melcher, Vol State coordinator of public relations and marketing.  

“The college was just a host for the event. TDEC actually ran the event,” said Melcher.

“At some point, someone dropped off a box of what appeared to be TNT. Organizers of the event contacted our campus police department,” said Melcher.

“Our police department then contacted the THP bomb squad who came off and collected the box,” said Melcher.

Winslow’s report says that the box was dropped off at approximately 1 p.m. Saturday and that THP actually arrived on the scene at and took possession of the package about 5:30 p.m. Saturday after being contacted at about 3 p.m.

“TDEC holds these events all over the state. We’ve had it here annually every year for many years without incident. This year they just had someone drop off something they shouldn’t have,” said Melcher.

Melcher said no campus events were disrupted as the result of the incident.

No criminal charges are being filed.

Christmas for kids

By: Riley Holcraft

The holiday season is here, and Volunteer State Community College is celebrating with an annual Christmas for the Kids event.

It is an opportunity for low-income students at Vol State to provide a Christmas celebration for their children.

For over 10 years, Christmas for the Kids has allowed Vol State students to give their children between ages 0-16 a Christmas to remember.

Campus organizations and other individuals are encouraged to sponsor a child by selecting an ornament from the Christmas tree located in Woods Campus Center in the Mary Cole Nichols Dining Room.

The ornaments with individual information on the different children will be displayed Nov. 16, and the gifts of up to $75 are due Nov. 29.

The Office of Student Engagement and Support handles the applications and houses all of the gifts. The children are able to unwrap their surprises at a Christmas party on Dec. 1.

If a family wishes to participate, applications for the children receiving gifts are due on Nov. 9. The application includes a survey that asks for information about hobbies, interests, and needs so the children can receive gifts of significant value.

Attendance for the party event is required. Light refreshments will be provided for all guests, and Christmas-themed activities and games will be set up for the children. Santa will also be attending, and families are encouraged to snap a photo with him.

This fundraiser is hosted by Vol State’s Student Government Association. These individuals are responsible for keeping track of the children and sponsors and setting up the event on Dec. 1.

Vol State students, faculty, staff, clubs, and organizations are all qualified to sponsor one or more children.

Coordinator of Student Activities, Tabitha Sherrell, is passionate about the opportunity that Christmas for the Kids provides.

“This is one of my favorite events each fall semester. It is a chance to help support our Vol State students and their families during the holiday season,” explained Sherrell.

Do you want to provide a joyful Christmas for children of Vol State students? Are you a struggling student at Vol State with a child that needs a happy holiday? Christmas for the Kids is the event for you.

Story Slam

By: Gloria Cortes

The second annual Storytelling Slam competition was hosted in the Rochelle Center of the Thigpen Library Oct. 30 from 11:10 a.m. to 12:10 p.m.

The 12 contestants were: Abigail Wilson, Jack Coomer, Jared Clubbs, Amanda Edwards, Alex Carmen, Gregory Crenshaw, Ryan Kennedy, Michael Picchietti, Nicole Black, Tracy Lily, and Casey Collins.

Jared Clubbs was not there to present his story.

After the scheduled contestants went, a few students told their stories while people voted for the winner.

“We had five student-curated to present we got commitments from them to be there five showed up to speak. We had six students sign up for the open mic portion. In all, we heard 11 stories. Then we had three to four students answer the questions and stand up to speak at the end they were not a part of the competition,” wrote communication professor Sheri Waltz in an email.

Performance artist Jon Goode was the host for the Storytelling Slam and told several stories throughout the event.

“I think that in the course of people sharing their stories, you find out that we all have so much in common, there’s a common thread that runs through all of our lives, that we’re all just a swamp in this quilt and that these stories are the narrative string that pulls it all together,” said Goode.

The winners were Ryan Kennedy and Nicole Black who were tied for first place. Kennedy’s story was about the birth of his son, and Black’s story was about a time where she severely injured her arm.

Instead of having one winner and one runner-up, Kennedy and Black were both awarded $75 for first place.

“In public speaking class, we had to do a story for our first speech, and the teacher said to do something that is really impactful on your life. My son being born was one of those major things in my life,” said Kennedy.

“I heard there was $75 for the winner… I just wanted to say something funny,” said Black.

Waltz wrote that both Story Slams had been successful, with about 100 students attending this year.

“Our goal is to provide a platform for students and faculty to connect- to take time to celebrate our similarities and differences,” wrote Waltz.

Trevor Gordon event

By: Gloria Cortes

Progressive acoustic guitarist Trevor Gordon Hall held a public clinic and performance at Volunteer State Community College Nov. 1.

The event was in room 157 of the Steinhager-Rogan-Black Humanities Building, and it took place from 1:30-3 p.m.

“A decent crowd was here, but it could have been better,” said Music Department Chair Benjamin Graves.

Hall played several pieces and answered crowd members’ questions between songs. The songs he performed were: “Pine Trees and Powerlines”, “I Will”, “A Severe Mercy”, “The Meeting at the Window”, “Kalimbatar”, and “Skylark”.

This selection included some of his original work, like “Kalimbatar”, as well as covers, like “I Will” by The Beatles, that featured the kalimba, also known as a thumb piano.

Hall shared his musical experiences and spoke about his kalimbatar project, where he has attached a kalimba to his guitar and has been arranging music that features both instruments.

“The kalimbatar project has deepened my appreciation for music for sure. Now, I’m thinking with different tones, like I can play guitar and grab an entirely different sound from a different instrument just a couple of inches away. It makes me think of melodies differently, and I hear chords differently,” said Hall.

Graves said this event was to inform people, music majors, and non-music students alike, about progressive guitar music.

“I’m always interested in trying to bring as much different culture to campus as possible. I’ve been teaching here for years and I’ve never heard anything like Trevor Hall on campus, so I thought, ‘Let’s have a different flavor of a guitar player, because this is Nashville,’ and I have a buddy who teaches at MTSU and recommended Trevor,” said Graves.

Along with guitar-specific tips, Hall gave advice for music majors at Vol State.

“There’s always going to be the pieces that you have to work on, promoting yourself as a musician, all of this stuff that will get between you and your instrument. Make sure you keep your emotional connection to the instrument alive at all costs, because everything that gets between you two is going to feel like a foreign object, and you’re going to eventually grow to hate it,” said Hall.

The audience applauded for Hall between songs and for the end of the event, and several audience members asked more questions while Hall was packing up.

“I liked Hall’s original stuff.  I thought it was really cool, really innovative. I think this was a new experience for Vol State, we’ve never had a masterclass like this before,” said Vol State sophomore Kendahl Oakley.

TNT reportedly found on campus

Volunteer State Community College campus police on the Gallatin campus found two containers of TNT on Saturday, Oct. 27.

According to the public relations department on campus, someone must have dropped it off at the hazardous waste collection event at the school.

Further information to be posted in The Settlers newest edition on Monday, Nov. 5.


Color of Fear event

By: Riley Holcraft

Volunteer state community college participated in diversity week by hosting an event with the viewing and discussion of a three-part film, the Color of Fear.

The documentary spotlights eight men of Asian, European, Latino, or African descent. Their conversations and interactions expose the intensity of racism in America.

Issues such as sexism and homophobia are also addressed in group discussions.

Manager of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Jeff King, organized a final discussion for students and faculty that viewed the film to reflect on the controversial topics.

Guest speaker, Michael McDonald, facilitated a chance to revisit the compelling discussion in the film.

McDonald encouraged the audience to express personal thoughts and stressed the importance of addressing issues that may be uncomfortable.

McDonald opened the conversation with a single thought, “when the founding fathers envisioned freedom, they envisioned it for a very small number of people.”

He presented a brief explanation of the history of the Constitution. It is one of the shortest documents in the history of creating a nation, and it completely avoids any mention of race.

The film presented racism as an issue that has always been there. Although the behavior is learned, children become exposed at a young age.

Ultimately, “racism is a concept that people choose to either accept or not accept,” explained McDonald.

Stereotypes will always be present within society, but believing them is an individual choice.

Another aspect of racism concerns economic class. McDonald chose to discuss the topic due to its absence within the Color of Fear.

The audience all agreed that a person’s economic status is often compared to his or her race.

For example, the war on drugs focused on poor neighborhoods participating in the use and sale of crack cocaine.

Most of the people in these poor communities where of African-American or Hispanic descent. While rich, predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods with white powder cocaine substance abuse were rarely targeted.

There’s a discomfort that comes with the discussion of these topics.

“There is the fear of the unknown in our society, but it is important to hold each other accountable,“ said McDonald.

He encouraged the audience to strive for understanding. Racism is often swept under the rug for someone else to handle.

He closed Diversity Week at Vol State with a final call to action.

“It comes down to personal responsibility in terms of being vulnerable. The future of racism in America is based on the actions of today’s youth,” said McDonald.

Fall Festival

By: Julia Bazenet

Volunteer State Community College hosted the Fall Festival and International Food Day at the Thigpen Commerce on Oct. 24.

The event included putt-putt, corn hole, connect four, presentations on foreign language and other subjects, booths about health and fun activities to enjoy. It was used to help students relax and get into the festivities of fall.

SGA President Haley Brazel and head of the Fall Festival shared her experience and joy of the occasion.

“I think this event is fantastic. The food is delicious and the games that were set up had a lot of people around them, and the vendors we had were getting attention for their cause,” said Brazel.

Activities like the Volunteer State Volunteer’s Club booth allowed students to reflect on and appreciate their favorite traditions and memories of fall. Allie Hemmings, Kayleigh Payne, and Sara Eaton organized the booth.

“We had students and faculty write their favorite fall traditions on a big poster. It was really fun to see all the activities everyone put down, but it was also really cool to see their process of choosing a favorite,” said Eaton.

“I put on the poster that my favorite fall activity is a hayride. My church has a hayride and we sing songs and wave to the people we pass by. It is so much fun,” said student Lili Carter.

“I had a great time with my friends. Corn hole and the other mini-games looked awesome. I enjoyed the food. My favorite fall activities are carving pumpkins, going through corn mazes, and drinking pumpkin spice lattes,” said student Sierra Fellows.

Grave Robbing Lecture event

By: Nick Kieser

Here on the Volunteer State Community College campus on Oct.23 Thigpen Library hosted a lecture on grave-robbing in America.

The speaker Jennifer Weedman, who is a former Merrol Hyde Librarian, spoke on the matter of this part of American history.

“I loved it and when I got in front of the crowd and started talking about this information I love so much it was fun. I just wanted to share my stories,” said Weedman.

Students and professors in attendance listened tediously to the individual stories that Weedman told to the audience.

“We found it to be an interesting topic approaching Halloween. I think students who came understood how things were back then, and hearing that people hired others to go rob graves,” said Vincent.

Part of the presentation mentioned the men who were involved with digging up these graves. The mentioned and documented names in history are, Simon Kracht, Chris Baker, Bill Gunter, and Hampton West.

Most of these men according to Weedman were substance abusers of all kinds. In addition to that, she brought up how West was the scariest of them all and that he was even a bodyguard to Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.

“I am most definitely interested in things like this because I absolutely love history and scary stories. I wanted to hear the history behind this because I am unaware of it. The stories she told kept me on my toes,” said student Autumn Edwards.

Weedman is a part-time librarian in Thigpen and she is also in the process of writing a book on the things she has uncovered and wants to share with the world.

“I saw a picture of a man named Bud Rogan. He was a Gallatin man who lived from 1869-1905 and was the fourth tallest man in the United States. Bud is buried in the front yard of the family household, and had concrete poured over him so Vanderbilt couldn’t get to him,” said Weedman.

According to Weedman, Rogan was wanted by the doctors of Vanderbilt because they wanted to understand how a man could be the height that Rogan was when he was alive.

“There is no way I would donate my body. I want to be cremated after all that I have learned. It’s a wonderful thing if someone wants to, but I couldn’t do it,” said Weedman.

“Absolutely! In fact, this is going to help me with my book. Now I know what is good to share and what is not. There are so many stories that I couldn’t even get to that it would surprise you,” said Weedman.

Business student pursues outreach to other fellow business majors

By: Nick Kieser

Volunteer State Community College has a business degree pathway and students here with that major are taking various routes to pursue that degree.

Vol State student, Roy Garcia, Student advocate of the Tennessee Society of CPA’s is on a mission to reach out to the other business majors here on campus.

“A student group or body helps other students just out of their own will. As a business major, I have hardly run into other business majors that could help me. This school really needs students being able to learn and teach other students and pass it on,” said Garcia.

According to Garcia, his first mission on campus is to find other business majors and connect with them.

In reaching out to business students at Vol State Garcia stated that there are three events for accounting majors one at Middle Tennessee State University on Nov. 9, the next at the University of Tennessee Martin on Nov. 13, and at Tennessee Tech University on Nov. 16. All event times are from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“I would like it to be an outreach here. One thing I would like to do is be able to unlock a door or have a door open for students to be able to make that connection themselves here. At least show students that they can do that whether it’s things like in business, music, or anything like that,” said Garcia.

“Roy is doing a really good thing for the community by providing a great outlet for kids who know what they want to do and even for the kids who may not have a sure clue yet,” said Robert Tapia.

Garcia said for himself that he is an intern at an accounting firm in Bellevue, TN.

“In the end of it, all of the leg and push work was my own. I want the students to know it’s easy and that they can do it,” said Garcia.

“There are a lot of opportunities that kids I know, especially myself, that are sometimes unaware of how much an abundance there is of help and aid, and one of the things I realized was that one person can only do so much alone,” said Garcia.

Working for the TSCPA is something that according to Garcia is something he inquired on in wanting to work for them.

“There aren’t many career-oriented programs for business. I love that Roy is showing initiative in providing resources for other students,” said student Tayler.

“One of the things I would like to see in myself while helping other students is being for the other student. Students that want to be a part of this should also share those qualities as well,” said Garcia.

According to Garcia after Vol State, he is looking into the University of Belmont or the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

“After Vol State, I am looking to transfer. One step at a time, but yes eventually my plan is transferring,” said Garcia.

Lady Pioneers basketball

By: Jim Hayes

Volunteer State Community College Lady Pioneer head basketball coach Otis Key hopes the experience gained during last year’s 8-20 season translates to more wins this year.

The Pioneers kick off their 2018-19 schedule with away games at Cumberland University Nov. 1  and at Snead State Nov. 2. Their home schedule begins with a Nov. 12 game against Northeast Mississippi.

They open conference play the following Saturday, Nov. 17, at home against Jackson State.

The Pioneers return eight sophomores, led by all-conference point guard Aliyah Miller, the nation’s leading three-point shooter, Kelsey Harriman, and Shalaya Armstead who finished second in the conference in rebounding.

“This is the first year that I have had a really good mix of sophomores and freshmen and that all of the kids have been able to contribute,” said Key, a former Harlem Globetrotter player.

“The sophomores went through the fire last year. They are battle tested and they’re kind of bringing the freshmen along,” said Key.

Key said Miller is, “long and with good size.”

“She sees the floor well and handles the ball well and makes good decisions. I think once she trusts her teammates this thing will really go,” said Key.

Miller said this year’s team has more chemistry because of the number of returners.

“Being the starting point guard, you have to lead the team. I have to be the one talking offense and defense and passing the ball,” said Miller.

Harriman said her leadership role will include helping “everyone get into their spots. So far they execute the plays pretty well,” she said.

In 23 games last year, point-guard Miller averaged 10.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 7.5 rebounds per game. Harriman, the other guard, tallied 8.8 points per game on 2.8 three point shots each contest.

“All of our freshmen will come in and make an impact. Once they get their confidence under them they will be instrumental for us,” said Key.

Key said the Pioneers will try to play an up-tempo game this year, utilizing their speed and shooting ability. He said he is hoping for a 20 win season.

“If we win the games we are supposed to, battle in the ones that are 50/50 and maybe steal one or two we shouldn’t, we have a chance at 20 wins,” said Key.

“I think our main strength is that we are quick, we’re fast, we’re long and athletic We’re able to do a lot of things on the defensive end once we learn the concept,” said Key.

“Our weakness is that we are small,” he said. “I don’t have the luxuries of the 6’2 or 6’3s,” said Key. “But I think this team makes up for it in grit and fight and heart.”

“We have a tough schedule this year. I did that on purpose to get these eight seniors seen,” said Key.