Logo

MTSU, agencies urge public to attend Oct. 20 water quality event

Middle Tennessee State University representatives will be among a host of area agencies gathering Oct. 20 in Murfreesboro to educate and engage the public on the importance of protecting the area’s water supply.

In this file photo from the spring, MTSU senior Stuart Montez, a music business major from Little Rock, Ark., volunteered to help cleanup litter in the Sinking Creek wetland area as part of Alternative Spring Break activities. (MTSU file photo by News and Media Relations)

In this file photo from the spring, MTSU senior Stuart Montez, a music business major from Little Rock, Ark., volunteered to help cleanup litter in the Sinking Creek wetland area as part of Alternative Spring Break activities. (MTSU file photo by News and Media Relations)

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Division of Water Resources will host the “interactive” public event, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 20, at the Patterson Park Community Center, 521 Mercury Blvd. in Murfreesboro.

The event targets people who live in the Stones River Watershed, an area roughly 921 square miles that includes parts of Cannon, Davidson, Rutherford and Wilson counties. The goal of the event is to help those residents connect, share information, develop relationships and collaborate with others making contributions to water quality.stormwater logo

Residents from all of these counties are asked to share the important responsibility of protecting and improving water resources in the watershed.

“Learn more about our local environment where we live, work and play and network with a variety of organizations,” said Cynthia Allen with MTSU’s Stormwater Program. “The event is set up like a fall festival/Earth Day event geared toward education. Over 25 agencies will be in attendance to share ongoing efforts geared towards research, protection efforts and recreation regarding local streams.”

“This event will be a chance for people to see how water quality is being protected in the Stones River Watershed,” said Meredith Benton, regional director of TDEC’s Nashville Field Office. “It will also be an opportunity for people to find out from the people and organizations already contributing to the effort and how they can be involved with keeping the watershed healthy in the future.”

Watersheds are land areas that drain into a particular stream or lake. TDEC officials say a healthy watershed is important because these waters supply drinking water, water for agriculture, habitat for plants and animals as well as recreational opportunities like swimming, fishing and boating.

The following organizations, groups and state agencies will participate in the event:

  • TDEC Division of Water Resources
  • Stones River Watershed Association
  • Cumberland River Compact
  • Murfreesboro Parks & Recreation
  • Friends of the Greenway
  • Discovery Center
  • Middle Tennessee State University
In this file photo, MTSU student volunteers help plant trees along Garrison Creek in east Murfreesboro in November 2012. (File photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

In this file photo, MTSU student volunteers help plant trees along Garrison Creek in east Murfreesboro in November 2012. (File photo by MTSU News and Media Relations)

  • MTSU Stormwater Program
  • Motlow State Community College
  • Rutherford County
  • Stones River National Battlefield
  • Metro Nashville
  • City of Murfreesboro
  • City of Lebanon
  • City of Mt. Juliet
  • Wilson County
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Tennessee Stream Mitigation Program
  • Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
  • UT Extension
  • S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Tennessee Department of Transportation
  • Tennessee Department of Agriculture-319 Program
  • Tennessee Department of Agriculture – Forestry
  • Water City USA
  • Tennessee Environmental Council

For more information about this meeting, contact Regan McGahen at 615-532-1175 or regan.mcgahen@tn.gov.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

Cynthia Allen of the MTSU Stormwater Program puts soil around one of dozens of trees planted Nov. 9 along Garrison Creek in Murfreesboro. Allen coordinated a volunteer team of about 40 students for the tree planting event, which was hosted by the MTSU Stormwater Program in partnership with the Tennessee Environmental Council and the city of Murfreesboro.

In this 2012 file photo, Cynthia Allen of the MTSU Stormwater Program puts soil around one of dozens of trees planted along Garrison Creek in Murfreesboro. Allen coordinated a volunteer team of about 40 students for the tree planting event, which was hosted by the MTSU Stormwater Program in partnership with the Tennessee Environmental Council and the city of Murfreesboro.

Chili’s supports Raiders’ Closet with Oct. 20 MTSU benefit

A major restaurant franchise is giving back some of its profits to fund a service for job-seeking MTSU students.

For each special flier presented Monday, Oct. 20, at the Chili’s restaurant at 755 N.W. Broad St. in Murfreesboro, the restaurant will donate 10 percent of the proceeds to Raiders’ Closet.

The Raiders’ Closet founder, Dr. Virginia Hemby-Grubb, will be at the restaurant to hand out fliers to customers as they walk in.

Hemby-Grubb, a professor in the Department of Business Communication and Entrepreneurship, created Raiders’ Closet to provide students with gently used professional attire to wear on job interviews.

“Raiders’ Closet will always be in need of gently used professional suits, accessories and monetary donations, because each time a student secures a suit from our inventory, we must replace it with another suit,” Hemby-Grubb said.

“The ‘give back’ event with Chili’s on Oct. 20 will ensure that Raiders’ Closet has funds available with which to replenish our inventory.”

Raiders’ Closet, which is located in Room 327 of the Keathley University Center, allows students to try on professional clothing items and keep them, free. It depends on donations of both clothing and money to operate.

The Oct. 20 fundraiser is good only at the Northwest Broad St. Chili’s location from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is good for all food and nonalcoholic beverage sales.

For more information, contact Hemby-Grubb at 615-898-2369 or virginia.hemby-grubb@mtsu.edu or Jaye Kiblinger at 615-898-2902 or jaye.kiblinger@mtsu.edu.

— Gina K. Logue (gina.logue@mtsu.edu)

Dr. Virginia Hemby-Grubb displays some of the items available for students preparing for job interviews and new jobs at the newly relocated Raiders’ Closet. (file photo submitted)

MTSU helps highlight October lectures at Heritage Center

MTSU alumni and faculty will share their research and insights on significant people and events from Rutherford County’s 200-plus-year history each Tuesday in October at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

To celebrate October as “Heritage Month” in Rutherford County, the Heritage Center is hosting free weekly lunchtime lectures beginning Tuesday, Oct. 7, at 11:30 a.m. at its location off the Public Square in Murfreesboro, 225 W. College St.

Heritage Center logo webThe Oct. 7 lecture, “Rutherford County Cemetery Project,” will be presented by MTSU alumni John Lodl, Rutherford County archivist; Michael Fletcher, a graduate research assistant in MTSU’s Center for Historic Preservation; and Catherine Hawkins of the Rutherford County GIS Lab.

They’ll highlight some of the findings of a countywide cemetery survey currently underway by Rutherford County government with the assistance of the Center for Historic Preservation and the Bradley Academy Museum and Cultural Center. The goal of the project is to digitally map and record all the cemeteries in the county.

Alex Collins, a student in MTSU’s public history program and the director of collections and education at the Historic Sam Davis Home and Plantation in Smyrna, will discuss “Davis Women in Mourning: Customs and Practices of the Victorian Age” Tuesday, Oct. 14.

CPH logo webCollins’ 11:30 a.m. talk will discuss the Victorian mourning rituals prevalent at the time Sam Davis, a Confederate Army scout, was hanged and how the women in his family would have observed the practices.

MTSU alumnus Patrick “Pat” Cummins, president of the Native History Association, and association vice president Toye E. Heape will discuss the organization’s research into the Trail of Tears during their Tuesday, Oct. 21, lecture at the Heritage Center.

Their 11:30 a.m. talk, “Forgotten Footsteps: Exploring the Cherokee Trail of Tears Alternate Route in Rutherford County, Tennessee,” tracks a little-known route of the forced relocation of the Cherokee people that travels from Readyville, Tennessee, along the east fork of the Stones River to the site of the former Old Jefferson community near Smyrna and on to Nashville.

Tennessee state historian Dr. Carroll Van West, an MTSU alumnus who also serves as director of the Center for Historic Preservation, will speak Tuesday, Oct. 28, on “Murfreesboro’s Historic Architecture.”

His 11:30 a.m. talk will address how the city’s historic buildings and places add to a sense of identity and community and remind us of landmarks lost.

“MTSU always gives back so much to the community,” West said. “We are proud to share our research with everyone in Rutherford County to emphasize how much significant history has happened here over the decades.”

The Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County is a partnership between Main Street Murfreesboro, the MTSU Center for Historic Preservation, the city of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County Government. The facility is open to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.

For more information on activities at the Heritage Center, please call 615-217-8013 or visit www.hcmrc.org. For more information on Heritage Month events in Rutherford County, visit www.nps.gov/stri/planyourvisit/sharingprograms.htm.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

Murfreesboro's Old City Cemetery on East Vine Street, shown in this photo, is part of a countywide survey to digitally map and record cemeteries in Rutherford County. The survey is the topic of a free public lecture set Oct. 7 at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County. (Photos courtesy of the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County)

Murfreesboro’s Old City Cemetery on East Vine Street, shown in this photo, is part of a countywide survey to digitally map and record cemeteries in Rutherford County. The survey is the topic of a free public lecture set Oct. 7 at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County. (Photos courtesy of the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County)

The Victorian mourning displays practiced in the 19th century at the Sam Davis Home and Plantation in Smyrna, shown here, are the topic of discussion in a free public lecture Oct. 14 at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

The Victorian mourning displays practiced in the 19th century at the Sam Davis Home and Plantation in Smyrna, shown here, are the topic of discussion in a free public lecture Oct. 14 at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

This map of Rutherford County created from an 1832 survey of Tennessee depicts a little-known route of the Trail of Tears that's the topic of a free public lecture set Oct. 21 at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

This map of Rutherford County created from an 1832 survey of Tennessee depicts a little-known route of the Trail of Tears that’s the topic of a free public lecture set Oct. 21 at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

This building on North Church Street on the Public Square in Murfreesboro, most recently the home of The Guidance Center, shows the attention to architectural detail in city buildings that Dr. Carroll Van West will discuss Oct. 28 in a a free public lecture at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

This building on North Church Street on the Public Square in Murfreesboro, most recently the home of The Guidance Center, shows the attention to architectural detail in city buildings that Dr. Carroll Van West will discuss Oct. 28 in a a free public lecture at the Heritage Center of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County.

MTSU plans routine tornado-siren testing Tuesday

MTSU plans to test its tornado sirens on campus Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 12:20 p.m.

This will be a brief, routine test of the system, and no safety actions will be required.

The university notifies the campus and surrounding neighborhoods before these monthly tests. Tests are conducted on alternating Tuesdays and Wednesdays to minimize distractions for classes and community neighbors.

Members of the campus community can prepare for emergency weather situations anytime by checking MTSU’s list of “safe places” at http://bit.ly/MTSUSafePlaces. You also can make note of the siren-testing schedule by visiting http://mtsunews.com/tornado-siren-testing. Bookmark both sites!

Remember that, in the event of a weather emergency, all students, faculty and staff automatically receive a Rave alert at their MTSU email addresses. If you’re not already receiving text and/or voice alerts too, visit http://mtsunews.com/weather and use the “click here and log in” link to make those notification changes.

MTSU students, faculty will observe fall break Oct. 11-14

MTSU students and faculty will observe fall break Oct. 11-14. (MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU students and faculty will observe fall break Oct. 11-14. Classes will resume Oct. 15.(MTSU file photo by J. Intintoli)

MTSU students and faculty will observe fall break from Saturday, Oct. 11, through Tuesday, Oct. 14.

Fall semester classes will resume at their regular times Wednesday, Oct. 15.

All MTSU offices will be open their normal hours, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 13-14.

Weekend and fall break hours for the James E. Walker Library are as follows:

  • The library will be closed Saturday and Sunday;
  • Monday hours of operation will be 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.; and
  • Tuesday hours of operation will be from 7:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. Wednesday. It will reopen at 7 a.m. Wednesday and resume its regular fall hours.

The Student Union will be open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 10; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday; and 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Weekend and fall break hours for the Student Health, Wellness and Recreation Center are as follows:

  • The Campus Recreation Center fitness facilities will be closed from Saturday through Tuesday. They will reopen at 6 a.m. Wednesday;
  • Campus Recreation Center offices will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; and
  • Student Health Services and the Campus Pharmacy, which are located in the rec center building, will be open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday and Tuesday. The pharmacy’s drive- thru will be open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. both days. The pharmacy closes from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for lunch.

For ARAMARK/MT Dining facilities open during fall break, visit http://www.campusdish.com/en-us/CSS/MiddleTennessee.

Prospective students and their parents have plenty of opportunities to visit campus. Visit www.mtsu.edu/rsvp to schedule a tour.  (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

Prospective students and their parents have plenty of opportunities to visit campus. Visit www.mtsu.edu/rsvp to schedule a tour. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

A special Saturday campus tour Oct. 11 and daily campus tours Monday and Tuesday are full. To schedule a daily tour for other days, call 615-898-5670 or visit www.mtsu.edu/rsvp.

True Blue Experience Days will be held Oct. 17 for prospective students in the College of Basic and Applied Sciences; Jan. 23, 2015, for prospective students in the Colleges of Behavioral and Health Sciences and Liberal Arts; and Jan. 30 for prospective students in the Colleges of Mass Communication, Business and Education.

The Office of Admissions also has special Saturday tours planned for Nov. 15 and Dec. 6, with all starting at 10 a.m. in the Student Services and Admissions Center. The above phone number and website provide ways to register.

University officials urge prospective students and their parents to apply by Dec. 1 to receive priority consideration for major scholarships.

— Randy Weiler (Randy.Weiler@mtsu.edu)

MTSU flips punch line on ‘Tonight Show’ jab at ‘Murfreersboro’ (+VIDEO)

Middle Tennessee State University is standing up for its hometown with some good-natured humor directed at “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon regarding the correct pronunciation of the Midstate city’s name.

In this video screen grab, stand-up comedian John Mulaney, left, a guest on the popular late night NBC show "The Tonight Show", butchered the city of Murfreesboro's name during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon in which Mulaney relates a horrible experience at a Murfreesboro, Tennessee, gig during his early days on the road.

In this video screen grab, stand-up comedian John Mulaney, left, a guest on the popular late night NBC show “The Tonight Show”, butchered the city of Murfreesboro’s name during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon in which Mulaney relates a horrible experience at a Murfreesboro, Tennessee, gig during his early days on the road.

The issue hit national airwaves Wednesday night on “The Tonight Show” when stand-up comedian John Mulaney, a guest on the popular late night NBC show, butchered the city of Murfreesboro’s name during an interview with Fallon in which Mulaney relates a horrible experience at a Murfreesboro gig during his early days on the road.

In sharing his story, Mulaney awkwardly mispronounces Murfreesboro as “Murfreersboro” — while being adamant that he was pronouncing it correctly — and he and Fallon had some laughs about the city’s name, including a running gag regarding the number of R’s it contains.

You can see the exchange here: http://www.nbc.com/the-tonight-show/segments/12866.

In a video filmed Wednesday afternoon that playfully jabbed back, MTSU mass communication student Chris J. Davis, news director of the student-run MT10 News, “interviewed” students about how to properly say their town’s name, and then asking them to name the host of “The Tonight Show.”

The interviewees proceed to pronounce Mur-frees-boro flawlessly, while Fallon’s name gets some, er, extra R’s added. Watch the video here:

http://youtu.be/eR2aTbU3I5I

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee, who also participates in the video, sent Fallon a care package via overnight mail filled with MTSU and Murfreesboro gear for Fallon to keep or give to his audience.

The university reached out to Nashville NBC affiliate, WSMV-TV Channel 4, to share the video with the New York NBC affiliate in hopes of properly educating those around the Big Apple on how to correctly pronounce the proud home of the Middle Tennessee State University.

— Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee sent "The Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon a care package via overnight mail Thursday filled with MTSU and Murfreesboro gear for Fallon to keep or give to his audience. (MTSU photo)

MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee sent “The Tonight Show” host Jimmy Fallon a care package via overnight mail Thursday filled with MTSU and Murfreesboro gear for Fallon to keep or give to his audience. (MTSU photo)

MTSU’s Confucius Institute signs pact with Discovery Center (+VIDEO)

In a ceremony featuring traditional Chinese music, dancers and a man in a giant panda suit, leaders of the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring and MTSU signed a pact Friday, Sept. 26, that they hope will lead to future cultural collaborations.

The agreement inked by University Provost Brad Bartel and Discovery Center CEO Tara McDougall will allow MTSU’s Confucius Institute to develop activities and displays about Chinese culture at the children’s museum.

http://youtu.be/RXoSzqYfadk

Sept. 26 was Chinese Culture Celebration Day at the center, a free event that marked MTSU’s observance of the 10th anniversary of the global Confucius Institutes.

“We are pleased to strengthen our great relationship with the center and look forward to working with them on future opportunities, both through our Confucius Institute and throughout the university,” Bartel said.

Bartel also unveiled a $10,000 digital cultural exploration station donated to the center by the Hanban headquarters of Confucius Institutes.

It features a 55-inch monitor that patrons may touch to access interactive programs about sites of interest in China, food, music, kung fu, calligraphy, the Chinese zodiac and other topics.

Confucius Institute Day Discovery Center graphicVisitors enjoyed Chinese music and dance, calligraphy demonstrations and Chinese tea tasting at the special event, as well as mini-Chinese classes where they learned basic Chinese phrases and characters.

Since its founding in 2010, MTSU’s Confucius Institute has helped K-12 schools offer Chinese language programs, led students to summer camps in China and taken school administrators to China for educational collaboration and exchange.

The institute also offers noncredit Chinese language programs at beginning, intermediate and advanced levels for children and adults.

For more information about Confucius Institute, visit www.mtsu.edu/cimtsu.

— Andrew Oppmann (andrew.oppmann@mtsu.edu)

Guanping Zheng, right, director of MTSU's Confucius Institute, addresses the crowd assembled for the signing of the partnership between Discovery Center CEO Tara McDougall, left, and MTSU University Provost Brad Bartel. (MTSU photos by Andrew Oppmann)

Guanping Zheng, right, director of MTSU’s Confucius Institute, addresses the crowd assembled for the signing of the partnership between Discovery Center CEO Tara McDougall, left, and MTSU University Provost Brad Bartel. (MTSU photos by Andrew Oppmann)

Chinese dancers entertain the crowd Sept. 26 at the Discovery Center at Murfree Spring during Confucius Day, where the center and MTSU also signed a pact aimed at future cultural collaborations.

As fall preview days approach, note Dec. 1 scholarship deadline

In the midst of a busy fall campaign to recruit students for 2015 and beyond, MTSU officials want people to be aware of a key date along the way.

It’s Monday, Dec. 1 — the deadline for prospective students and their parents or guardians to complete and send in their admissions application to be fully considered for major scholarships.

“It’s important for students to come out and visit early and make their decision,” said Dr. Laurie Witherow, associate vice provost for enrollment at MTSU.

“We encourage students to apply early to be fully considered for the scholarships we are offering.”

Information on scholarships available to MTSU students can be found at www.mtsu.edu/financial-aid/scholarships.

 )

Prospective MTSU students take information from the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership table in the Student Union earlier this year. The first in a series of on-campus visits occurs Saturday, Sept. 27, with a Fall Preview Day. (MTSU file photo by Andy Heidt)

MTSU is in the middle of its annual statewide fall True Blue Tour.

MTSU officials and academic staff have visited Chattanooga, Johnson City and Knoxville, and the MTSU Caravan visits Nashville Tuesday, Sept. 30. The final swing will be to the west, visiting Memphis and Jackson.

Saturday, Sept. 27, marks the first of two Fall Preview Days on campus. Students and their parents have time to register at www.mtsu.edu/rsvp.

“People can still register,” said Melinda Thomas, director of undergraduate recruitment in the Office of Admissions, “and we encourage them to get there early.”

The preview day starts at 8 a.m. Saturday, but participants can arrive as early as 7:30 to check in inside the Student Union on the east side of campus. A printable campus map at http://tinyurl.com/MTSUParkingMap14-15 shows parking and MTSU buildings.

Campus and housing tours and academic sessions will be available throughout the day. Lunch vouchers will be provided to registered students. The preview day ends at 3 p.m.

Any student already admitted to MTSU will receive an “I Choose True Blue” T-shirt, Thomas said.

MTSU recruiters are trying to meet with students earlier in the recruiting process, Thomas said, adding that financial aid and application workshops are being conducted in different regions across the state. This includes the recently announced scholarship incentives promoting the “Graduate in 4 and Get More” offerings. Learn more at www.mtsu.edu/apply.

Other upcoming on-campus recruiting events include:

  • Friday, Oct. 17 — “True Blue Experience Day” for students who will be part of the College of Basic and Applied Sciences.
  • Saturday, Nov. 1 — Fall Preview Day.
  • Friday, Jan. 23 — “True Blue Experience Day” for prospective students in the College of Behavioral and Health Sciences and the College of Liberal Arts.
  • Friday, Jan. 30 — “True Blue Experience Day” for prospective students in the College of Mass Communication, the Jones College of Business and the College of Education.

Daily campus tours also are continuing. Call 615-898-5670 or visitwww.mtsu.edu/rsvp to find available dates and to register.

— Randy Weiler (randy.weiler@mtsu.edu)

Stormwater Program seeks student help for Sept. 27 park cleanup

The MTSU Stormwater Program is joining the Stones River National Battlefield and eight other partners for a Saturday, Sept. 27, cleanup event to improve Old Fort Park in Murfreesboro.

Volunteers are needed for the event, which will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Old Fort Park, located off Old Fort Parkway. The purpose of the cleanup is to remove “invasive exotic plants” and pick up trash in the park, specifically along the Lytle Creek Greenway and at Fortress Rosecrans.Nat Public Land Day

MTSU students are encouraged to volunteer for the event, which provides a great opportunity for students to earn community service hours and/or extra credit in some of their classes.

“Together, we hope to bring more than 100 citizens of Murfreesboro and Rutherford County together for a morning dedicated to properly managing the lands and waterways that are a critical to our quality of life in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County,” according to a release from the National Park Service.

stormwater logoThe effort is part of National Public Lands Day, the nation’s largest single-day, hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance public lands. It is sponsored by the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation in partnership with Take Pride in America.

“In the process, we will improve the condition of our national and city parks as well as the critical watersheds of Lytle Creek and the Stones River,” the release states.

Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. at Picnic Pavilion No. 2 in Old Fort Park. Volunteers should bring work gloves and wear long sleeved shirts, work pants, and closed toe shoes.

Lunch will be provided at noon by Walmart and the Friends of Stones River National Battlefield.

To sign-up early or find out more, contact Amanda Sherlin with the MTSU Stormwater Program at 615-904-8575 or call 615-893-9501, or email stri_administration@nps.gov.

 — Jimmy Hart (jimmy.hart@mtsu.edu)

What to know

What: National Public Lands Day cleanup at Old Fort Park

When: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 27

Where: Meet at Picnic Pavilion No. 2 at Old Fort Park, Murfreesboro

What to Bring: Work boots or closed toe shoes, long-sleeved shirt, work pants, and work gloves

Some tickets still available for this week’s ‘American Tall Tales’

A few tickets are still available for this week’s MTSU Arts performances of the original production “American Tall Tales” in Tucker Theatre, but they’re moving fast!

“American Tall Tales” features student- and faculty-written tunes and tales about incredible characters like Pecos Bill, John Henry, Slue-Foot Sue, Annie Christmas and Johnny Appleseed. The show focuses on family fun with 7:30 p.m. performances set this Wednesday through Saturday, Sept. 24-27, at MTSU and a 2 p.m. matinee planned for Sunday, Sept. 28.

Performances are being scheduled at area schools, too.

MTSU theatre students Erin Davidson, left, Dominic Gillette and Harley Walker pretend to see a bear — or maybe it’s just a grownup demanding they come down from the attic and take their baths — during rehearsals for “American Tall Tales,” an award-winning original production with performances set Sept. 24-28 in the university’s Tucker Theatre. Tickets are available online, and performances are being scheduled at area schools, too. (MTSU photo by Darby Campbell)

Tickets for the MTSU Arts performances, sponsored by Ascend Federal Credit Union, are available online here and at the Tucker Theatre box office an hour before curtain times.

“All these stories came from hardships. … They’re bigger than life,” explains Dr. Jette Halladay, MTSU theatre professor and the “Tall Tales” director.

“It’s kind of an American spirit that we take these hardships and turn them into stories of incredible courage and strength.”

Most Americans have heard or read the outlandish tales and impossible boasts of these “incredible” stories during childhood. Students in Halladay’s Theatre for Young Audiences course in 2003 turned to those tales when searching for a unique children’s play.

“They wanted to tour with it and not have to deal with royalties,” Halladay recalls, “so they wrote the script and the songs. It took us a full year to prepare it for Tucker (Theatre performances), and then we were invited to youth theater festivals in Finland, Russia and Latvia, winning two awards at the Baltic Theatre Festival.”

Those award-winning summer 2004 overseas performances, along with recent summer theatre trips to Honduras and Guatemala to present other original plays to young audiences, helped students set the stage to bring “American Tall Tales” back to MTSU.

“Theatre is a whole different experience with kids,” senior theatre major Harley Walker of Murfreesboro says with a laugh. “The energy is entirely different, which is so nice. Of course, it’s a family show as well. Parents can come and still enjoy it, and older kids too.”

The updated production, set in an attic where the players take turns telling their stories, features a simple and easily transported set and costumes designed by theatre professor Virginia Donnell with assistance from student designer Stephanie Bottum.

Dr. Jette Halladay

Dr. Jette Halladay

“We’re doing everything (in the play) with stuff we found in an attic,” adds senior theatre major Erin Davidson of Eagleville, Tennessee. “Any of the kids can go home and say ‘I can do that! I can pull stuff out of the attic and I can make a play, too, with my friends!’”

Davidson is portraying “Sage the Bear,” and Walker is “Slue-Foot Sue.” Parents and teachers who want to share the characters’ stories with their children and students can download the “American Tall Tales” educational packet, which Bottum also prepared, at www.mtsu.edu/theatre/TTEd.pdf.

Click on the poster above for ticket information for “American Tall Tales” at MTSU’s Tucker Theatre Sept. 24-28.

“This is our cast’s take on it, and that’s what makes it even more special to us,” explains Dominic Gillette, a junior theatre major from Chattanooga, Tennessee, who’s portraying “John Henry” onstage.

“We hear these songs being sung that we’ve created and it gives us that feel-good type of vibe. Creating together with a group is great.”

The cast also includes Joshua Jackson as Johnny Appleseed, Aaron Brooks as Billy, Chelsea Bell as Annie Christmas, Abbey Kairdolf as Sally Ann Thunder Ann Whirlwind, Steven Johnson as Pecos Bill and Jasmine Reid as Cici. MTSU alumnus Micah Snow is the production’s music director, and new assistant dance professor Margaret “Meg” Brooker is the choreographer. MTSU senior Jessica Gregory is stage manager for this production.

“American Tall Tales” will also be touring area schools on Fridays until the end of spring 2015 to share the fun more conveniently and inexpensively with local children.

“For a school to come to see a matinee at Tucker Theatre costs $3 per child,” Halladay says, “which is a good price, but then they also have the cost of the buses and then scheduling the times and getting the chaperones. If a school has 300 children, it would cost them $900 for tickets alone. We can bring the performance to the school for $700 a show and save them hundreds of dollars.”

Halladay, who’s won multiple awards and grants for her children’s theatre projects, teaches classes on children’s drama and speech, storytelling, theatre in education and playwriting. Her love for children’s theatre has spread to her students, too, as they’ve learned to write and perform for young audiences as well as more typical theater crowds.

During last spring’s colorful production of “A Year with Frog and Toad,” for example, “the whole cast was expecting squirming and yelling in the seats,” says Paul Gary, a sophomore theatre major from Knoxville who portrayed “Toad.”

“But they were just sitting there, with the rest of the audience, paying attention,” he adds as he prepares to play “Mike Fink.” “Jette is truly a blessing. I wouldn’t have anyone else do this show with us.”

Funds raised by local performances and school tours will help with expenses when the troupe takes “American Tall Tales” to Ireland and other portions of the United Kingdom next May, Halladay says.

“This show’s great because it’s a bunch of children who are playing in an attic, and they find this magic pot that turns them into these legends,” she adds. “But we also make it clear that every child has a legend in him. Every child is a hero.

“Also, these children are just using junk they find in an attic. You don’t need money to buy props and costumes and all. As long you have an imagination, you can turn it into whatever you want.”

General admission tickets are $10 each and $5 for K-12 students and senior citizens. MTSU students with valid IDs will be admitted free.

Tickets for “American Tall Tales” also can be ordered by phone by calling 888-71-TICKETS (888-718-4253) 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)