Author Archives: Savannah Richards

The Bigger Picture

Piedmont student Sage Shirley begins looking at the bigger picture and puts into action a plan to expand his local photography company into a major multimedia .

“I’ve been starting with my photography company, and building that up gradually,” said Sage Shirley, owner of Sage Shirley Photography. “We’ve been working with different models, locations, and types of photography.”

Shirley spent his childhood in front of the camera, serving as a model for his mother’s photography. As he grew up, he took inspiration from his mother and decided to hone his skills as a photographer. This passion for taking pictures would eventually lead him down the path to becoming a young entrepreneur.

“What really got the company started was Dream Hack,” said Shirley. “I was working with a team of professional photographers from Sweden with better equipment, but many of my photos were on par with theirs. I decided that this was something I could do successfully, and decided to start Sage Shirley photography.”

Dream Hack, on the surface, is an international gaming and fan convention. However, big events like this one, without a set coverage staff, offer opportunities for local media specialists to showcase their work to a large audience. Shirley was one of 13 photographers chosen to work for the Dream Hack coverage department at the Georgia convention.

This offered the opportunity for Shirley to take photos that would prove useful in later advertising for Sage Shirley Photography. Along with event photography, the company also specializes in session photography and often works with models such as Griffin Hanks to create artistic shots.

“He was open to any of the ideas we had to make my vision come to life,” said Hanks. “I was able to be more creative because he was really willing to work with me.”

While things have been going well for the small photography company, Shirley has plans to expand his business, both in reach and production.

“Within the next month, I’ll be launching my LLC,” said Shirley. “This will solidify Sage Shirley Photography as a corporate entity.”

The idea behind this expansion is to grow from a small local company to a multimedia corporation, and the first step to achieving this goal is to determine where the funding will come from.

“Currently, the main thing we’re trying to start is the social media marketing agency,” said Shirley. “The work we want to produce takes money to make, so we need an initial way of funding those projects, and the social media marketing is a consistent and reliable source of income.”

Shirley has expressed the desire to branch out into different areas of media production, including areas such as documentary production. The new corporation that will soon be licensed will become the parent company of smaller agencies such as Sage Shirley Photography and the future social media marketing agency.

“Somewhere down the line, we want several different assets and entities working together to create continuity within one corporation,” said Shirley.

However, such large aspirations are often difficult for one-man operations to undertake. Because of this, the company has begun to network within the community– and even within Piedmont College– to find the skillsets necessary to take Sage Shirley Photography to the next level.

“People have different talents,” said Shirley. “Even if it’s a small talent– just being able to write a decent column, or being able to organize and produce a website– can benefit the company as a whole, and we would love more opportunities to work with them in some way, if not bring them on full time.”

Piedmont student Alyssa Gibbson was approached by Sage Shirley Photography because of her skills in graphic design. Gibbson agreed to design the logo for this new corporation, in exchange for a professional photography session.

“I usually charge $30 for designing, but we worked out a deal where he would take my formal pictures for free in exchange,” said Gibbson.

With so many new plans beginning to unfold and take shape, Shirley needed to choose a name for his new company that would serve as the parent company for Sage Shirley Photography.

“I knew I wanted a mountain as the name,” said Shirley. “I’m from the mountains. The mountains have always been a strong part of who I am, so I wanted my business to be a part of that– to be some sort of mountain, to be strong, to be firm, and to be lasting. So I did some research on different mountains, and I saw the name Elbrus. The name just had power with me, and I just knew it was the one.”

Things Are Heating Up At Piedmont

The annual disaster drill is heating up Piedmont’s spring semester and lighting a fire under senior nursing majors by giving them the real-world experience of rescuing injured civilians from a burning building.

“I think it’s awesome how well they’ve been able to simulate a real disaster. The smoke and fire alarms will be on,” said junior nursing major Alex Domenicali prior to the drill. “They have to come in here and not only get us out of this building that is supposed to be on fire, but also figure out who needs to go first, and kind of prioritize and assess.”

Associate Professor of Theatre Henry Johnson helped to create a stressful atmosphere in the Swanson Center that would serve as a challenge for Piedmont’s nursing students to overcome. Johnson’s makeup class helped by turning junior nursing and sports medicine majors into gruesome victims of the faux fire, while the professor himself put his license in pyrotechnics to use creating the flames.

“The corner of the scene shop is where we store paint in an ATF approved storage container,” said Johnson. “If it got hot enough it would blow, and that’s what this explosion will be. It’s not really an explosion. It’s simulated. There’s no concussion to amount to anything, but there’s a bang and a fireball. The fireball is basically coffee creamer. Coffee creamer burns if you proportion it right with other things.

Several theatre majors were also recruited to help bring the illusion of emergency to life. They set up colored lighting and fog machines that were used to create the most immersive experience possible. After adding blaring alarms and a company of firefighters to the equation, the Swanson Center truly became a disaster zone.

“It’s awesome to see not only our nursing students, but also the first responders– the firefighters, the EMT’s, and the police– kind of work together,”  said Domenicali. “We get to see them in action.”

Representatives from many different agencies were present for the drill, including Habersham Emergency Management Agency, District 2 Public Health, Demorest Police Department, and Habersham County Emergency Services. Officers of the Piedmont College Police Department were working to assist these many agencies by directing people where to park and showing first responders where to find the burn victims.

“It’s a great way for the community resources to come and get a practice in, because hopefully we don’t have any mass casualty events, but everyone needs to be prepared for one,” said Dr. Abbey Dondanville, Associate Dean of Health Sciences. “It’s a great place for the fire department, the police, Homeland Security, and everyone that can be involved to come practice and make sure their lines of communication are clear and concise.”

Though other parties might benefit from the drill as well, it is still mainly an exercise for senior nursing students, who served as rescuers. The drill was designed to give students the chance to put the skills they’ve learned to the test in a realistic environment. “It’s sometimes the first time they’ve really had to think on their feet and not know what to expect,” said  Dondanville. “It gives them that safe space to try their skills and their communication, and if they make a mistake it’s OK because no one has actually died.”

Each of the victims was given a notecard that informed them of their ailment, as well as any other instructions they needed. Some participants were instructed to haggle or harass the nurses. By placing pressure on the first responders, the patients helped them get a better understanding of what real-life application of their knowledge will be like.

The patient’s job was to create obstacles. The nurse’s job was to overcome them. “We’re having to triage these people and figure out who’s better off and who can survive,” said senior nursing major Kayley Steiner.

Rescuers faced the task of diagnosing the patients and determining whether they had minor injuries, needed delayed attention, needed immediate attention or were deceased. They then led– or carried– the patients out of the building and placed them on color-coded tarps that signaled to other nurses how severe their injuries were.

“It’s an awesome experience,” said Domenicali. “There are a lot of schools in Georgia that don’t get to do this”

Throw the Distance

Piedmont College track and field program hopes new “mad scientist” track coach can use his original inventions to help lead the team to victory.

“Champions will always do two things.” said assistant track and field coach Brian Gawne. “Find a way to perform, and always come back against the odds.

Loading up his beloved mini-van– affectionately called The Blue Bomber– Gawne started his journey down the east coast towards little ol’ Demorest, Georgia with a single mission in mind: to turn a small group of division three throwers into champions. Though Piedmont College is a big change-of-pace for Gawne, it is far from his first time coaching.

“I’ve coached football, soccer, wrestling, and volleyball, as well as every track and field event,” he said.

Extensive coaching experience, passion for the sport, and creativity became the building blocks on which many of Gawne’s inventions were born. The throws coach is known for creating his own equipment and tools to help him instruct more effectively.

For example, the “turtle” is a wheeled machine attached to an adjustable cord which Gawne invented as a way to help train his athletes in track events such as the weighted and hammer throws. This invention also has the added bonus of eliminating potential head injuries, which come as an occupational hazard of training beginners to throw heavy metal objects.

“Coach Gawne is a damn good coach,” said junior thrower Mitchell Mershon. “He is very knowledgeable about every event, and can change how he coaches based on the athlete he is working with.”

Gawne aims to coach to the strengths of each of his athletes as individuals. His students have received his coaching efforts well thus far.

“Coach Gawne is a phenomenal coach,” said Giahnni Fernandez, a sophomore track and field athlete. “He takes his time to understand us.”

Gawne’s coaching efforts have paid off thus far going into Piedmont’s track and field indoor season. Fernandez herself broke the school’s record for the weighted throw and placed top 10 in the region. Several other athletes training under Gawne have either broken personal or school records.

“I came down here because I wanted a change of pace,” said Gawne. “But mostly, I wanted to try and give back and do something good for young athletes.”

Savannah Richards: tale of a time traveler

The existence of aliens, bigfoot, and ghosts have always been highly debatable topics for me. However, the existence of time travel is one thing I adamantly believe in. The reason is simple: I myself am a time traveler.

I’ve found that the past has always been a very interesting terrain that I enjoy exploring. While I may not have a mythical machine to zap me backward across space-time, I’ve somehow found myself wandering through ancient cities often in my lifetime. I have an affinity for falling through gaps in the pages of ancient Greek historical texts and being sucked into Egypt through the screen of a documentary, somehow managing to forget my passport every time. This peculiar skill manifested after I began learning classical– read: dead–languages such as Latin. I did, however, remember to bring a passport when I went to Italy with a Latin group my sophomore year of high school. Walking through the streets of Rome is enough to give a girl whiplash, as she can be walking down a perfectly modern street, then turn a corner and run smack into an Egyptian pyramid. Yes, you heard correctly folks. There is a pyramid in Rome.

My present is a pleasant place to be and holds just as much mystery as the future, despite my compartmentalization complex which drives me to schedule everything down to the last half-second. I’m a Mass Communications major at Piedmont College, a student worker, and a Track and Field athlete. Despite my best efforts to keep organized, not even a time-traveler can control the waves of life, and I have to relax and go with the flow when the tides turn. This is a lesson I learned whilst making my way to Piedmont. I quite like money, and lament to say that I’ve never had much of it. This became quite an obstacle to getting in college, but I knew that Piedmont was the right fit for me, so I worked hard and left the rest up to faith. That’s what I am doing currently.

On my trips to the future, I’ve been a passenger rather than the captain steering the ship. Tiny hands gripped the wheel, but I’d been granted the privilege to stand by as a navigator. Through volunteer work as a Life Group teacher at First Baptist Church of Snellville, as well as working in Children’s Ministry and at Davis Martial Arts Studio, I have been able to connect with hundreds of children. The opportunity to hear the stories of so many kids has both broken my heart and strengthened it, but mostly it has given me hope for what the world will become. They have inspired me to snatch up my own dreams, because if a child can push through all of the boundaries placed in front of them and remain unshaken then I should follow their example. I want to encourage everyone to reach through their own struggles toward the stars. Per aspera ad astra!