Author Archives: toiwanders

About toiwanders

One who wanders

Feeding Lions Film

As most students presented research at the 2021 Piedmont Symposium, a group of mass communications students presented something different: outlining a horror story in the Swanson Center Newsroom. The session, “Piedmont Film Productions,” featured a panel discussion with five students working on a short horror film, “Overtime.”  

“We wanted to make something good and we put a lot of hours into this project,” said junior Tyler Goins. “We spent over 20 hours on the project so far and an additional 12 hours editing the trailer. The full movie should be released in about two weeks and we hope Piedmont University will offer more opportunities to delve deeper into film.”

A synopsis of the film was given with no spoilers. In Overtime, a journalist reluctantly takes the night shift. Only one other person has ever worked in the newsroom at night, where something sinister happened and now something strange is going on. The trailer, which is available on YouTube and the Piedmont App, is just over a minute long and it stars theatre major Johnny Goodwyn, known as Seven around campus. Connor Creedon, sophomore sports communications major, served as talent scout and casting director.

“My role was to find an actor who had the time to film at [night]. This was challenging because this is a large portion of time to devote at the end of the day and we needed an actor who could do it for 4 days straight,” said Creedon. “We were lucky to get Seven, I had seen him in some theatre productions and knew he was good, but he was so good.”

The crew filmed at night which also posed problems, as they needed an empty building to shoot in. There were times that students would be in the Swanson Center studying and the team would have to wait. Emma Marti, sophomore mass communications major recalls how she stumbled upon the filming.

“I was in the Swanson Center to prepare for my next radio show, and I went to the bathroom,” said Marti. “I saw this guy just standing in the shadows, who I now know was Aaron Palmer. I was so freaked out because I had just gone ghost hunting with friends in Swanson a few weeks ago. It was great to see, once I knew they were filming a movie. They were so excited and passionate about it.”

The film was produced by Palmer, Creedon, Goins, Caleb Rogers and Christopher Barker as part of their Entertainment TV class, taught by Melissa Jackson, associate professor of mass communications.

“The student short “Overtime” was developed in class, but the five students spent many hours outside class time filming at night,” said Jackson. “I’m knocked out by the trailer!” I can’t wait to see their final cut.”

Jackson, and Mass Communications Department Chair Dr. Joe Dennis, are spearheading an effort to develop a film major at Piedmont University, to develop the skills of future directors, videographers, editors and screenwriters with a possible film production major, positioning students for jobs in Georgia’s multi-billion-dollar industry.

“Georgia is known as the Hollywood of the South,” Jackson said. “We’d like to establish our own ‘Hollywood at Piedmont University’.”

Breaking News

Students Killed at North Georgia College by Tornado 

BY TOI MEKHI WATSON 

Mar 24, 2021 

A tornado struck North Georgia and made contact on the campus of Piedmont College, killing several students and leaving several injured.  Medical professionals are treating a wide range of injuries from moderate to near fatal, and the number of casualties is currently unknown.  

“We had a tornado hit the Swanson Center this morning at approximately 10 a.m. which made something go wrong on the roof, making the Swanson Center catch on fire,” said Piedmont College Chief of Police James Andrews.  

The tornado hit right as a couple hundred nursing students arrived at the Swanson Center for disaster training. Most students injured and killed are nursing students.  For those who narrowly escaped the storm, the events took a turn; seniors to freshmen were thrown into a life-saving and life-threatening emergency.  

Overcome with shock and grief, they struggled through the heavy smoke to help who they could until medical professionals arrived. Distraught, a nursing student identified only as Kaleigh, searched the bodies laid across the campus lawn.  

“I can’t find Ollie. I looked everywhere; I just can’t find him,” said the nursing student.   

From across the lawn, bloodied students could be heard calling out for help.  

“I can’t hear. Leave me alone. I can’t hear.  A tornado blew through,” said nursing student Alberto Perez.  

Warming blankets and body bags line the lawn of the Swanson Center while authorities try to keep onlookers away. 

While severe storms are typical in this area at this time of year, a tornado is not. The last tornado warning was in April 2019.  Rotation was sighted, but it never touched ground. Lieutenant Matt Ruark with the Habersham County Fire Department was at the scene.  

“It was a category 3 tornado that touched down on the roof, collapsing it, and triggering a fire,” said Ruark. “We have not determined the number of casualties. This is a sad, sad day. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families who have yet to be notified, as this is an ongoing investigation. That is all I can say at this time.” 

Whited Wants Us to Argue

Dr. Stephen Whited wants students to argue more. 

“It’s all about respect,” says Dr. Stephen Whited, professor of English at Piedmont College, “It’s not only about who is right or wrong, it’s about the quality of the debate and hopefully one learns something.”  

Proper use of commas and parentheses remains a daily refresher for writing game arguments. Students are reminded how punctuation may save a life, in this case, the life of a Piedmont Lion. “Let’s eat Lions” doesn’t mean the same as, “Let’s eat, Lions.” Whited uses his platform in the ENGL 2225 Nature Writers course to teach students how to think rather than what to think and opens the debate on science, religion and human nature. Teaching the class in seminar fashion, Whited offers food for thought by asking the students questions and offering challenging rebuttals.

“This is not merely about good guys versus bad guys, correct answers versus false answers,” he said. “The media needs it to be that way, like in a TV debate format, but that is not the way an academic investigation works. That’s what I want students to see.”

Being productive involves making connections. Whited said, “Cause and effect is the secret to life, and a genius reveals the connection between the two.”

Whited’s words set the tone for students participating in the Nature Writers course which is taught using research and logic games designed by the Reacting to the Past Consortium, published by W.W. Norton. One of these games puts Darwin’s ideas on trial. Students research Darwin’s theories and then must determine the best strategies for defending or refuting him. Does Darwin survive the trial? It is up to the students in the class to decide.

“I want people to see how hard this is,” he said. “It’s not a good guy, bad guy thing.  It’s a policy thing, and it is not easy.”

Whited prides himself on respecting differences and being opened to learn even more from smart people and credible sources. But all assertions must be tested.

“If a mere mortal –yes, that’s you or me- claims to know the absolute truth, run away,” he said. “Our job is to get as close to the truth as we can.”

Husband. Father. Educator. Writer. A philosopher to some, Whited is also versed in poetry and he plays classical guitar. But teaching is at the core. “An education is all about what you do.”

Toi Wanders

When Juliet asks Romeo, “but what is in a name?”, her point was that we are not our namesakes; we are individuals. But, are we truly individuals? Are we completely free to chart our own course? Do our names only affect us because of who we are associated with: is it a choice, or does the name bestowed upon us somehow determine the path on which we travel in life?

My name is Toi Mekhi and names may matter. Toi is a Hebrew name meaning “one who wanders.” Mekhi has a few translations. The Polynesian translation is “toward the water.” In Hebrew, it means life source or like G-d, and finally, the Japanese translation is “of the underworld.” Let that sink in a minute.

Having spent my entire life wandering, most of it in a daydream, I have to wonder if there isn’t more to a name. A copy of my Kindergarten report card reveals, ” Toi spends her day with her head in the clouds,” and my first grade report card notes, “Toi is very talkative and distracts other students by speaking her own language which only she seems to understand, and always at inappropriate times.” In hindsight, I was in a dual language school for those two years and I did not come from a dual language home, so I was not versed in the second language that was required to be spoken every other day. Maybe I thought that was what everyone else was doing. Maybe I decided that since I had no idea what people were saying, I should be challenging them too. Who knows.

As I grew older, I wanted to explore, create, and perform; but I lacked focus, day- dreamed too much, and had horrible stage fright. In addition, I could not articulate exactly what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wasn’t a “rules” person, tended to lose interest in things rapidly, and I wanted to be creative. It wasn’t until I reached high school and registered for a speed reading class that I started to feel I wasn’t the only space cadet on the planet. One day in class, my teacher declared, ” If you don’t like the view, change your seat.” I have been changing my seat ever since.

Having changed my seat often, I now possess a plethora of life and work experience. Traveling, Teaching, Sales Management, and even a bit of Acting, are all in my professional repertoire. Deciding to wander into College at this stage in my life may seem odd, but I enjoy the challenge and I still have much to learn. Reminiscent of “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, I am being born now, in my prime. Equipped with wisdom, I have no interest in what the underworld can offer. If I travel toward it, I assure you, it is for research only. I like to think that my being an empath and my genuine care for others is a God-like quality, but I have also gone through a self- absorbed, materialistic stage. I would now refer to that version of me as having a God-like complex. What matters is, I wandered beyond that. Continuing to learn and being creative is my life source. Piedmont College is watering my soul. I am indeed one who wanders. At times my wandering is calculated with a specific destination in mind, but more often than not, I am just floating along in the clouds. In the words of the wise J.R.R Tolkien, “Not all those who wander are lost.”