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Mountain Lines March 2012



Young Harris College to Host First Spring Alumni Weekend

Generations of Young Harris College alumni will make the pilgrimage to the Enchanted Valley next month for the first-ever spring Alumni Weekend, Friday-Sunday, April 20-22. This year's event, dubbed "Destination: Young Harris," will include fun activities and endless opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni to interact and share the Young Harris spirit that spans the decades.

The decision to move the annual event from July to April was announced at the 2011 weekend last summer by YHC Alumni Association President Rufus Brown, '60. The new date moves Alumni Weekend into the College's spring semester, providing the opportunity for increased student, faculty and staff participation—a long-time desire of many alumni who want to reconnect with former professors and meet current students.

Alumni Weekend 2012 will feature special activities and recognition for the Class of 1962 celebrating their 50th reunion and milestone reunions for many other classes. During the new Half Century Club Dinner on Friday evening, YHC will honor members of the Class of 1962 as well as all other alumni who have celebrated this “golden” reunion. The YHC Alumni Association will also present the prestigious Annual Alumni Awards following dinner.

Saturday's festivities include a morning coffee with YHC President Cathy Cox and retired and emeriti faculty and staff at the Campus Gate Art Gallery, a YHC Alumni Update program with recognition of emeriti and current faculty and staff, and the ever-popular Lunch on the Lawn. 

Emerti, current and retired faculty are encourage to pick up a name tag and purple ribbon at the registration tent so that alumni can identify them throughout the weekend.

Alumni will also have the opportunity to enjoy athletic and cultural events throughout the weekend, as the YHC baseball team has home games all weekend; the annual Student Juried Art Exhibition will be on display; and Theatre Young Harris will present its season finale, Sweet Charity.

“I am thrilled to give alumni the opportunity to see our talented students in action through various musical performances and athletic games,” said Director of Alumni Services Dana Ensley, ’97. “Our students are also looking forward to sharing with alumni what their Greek, social and spiritual organizations mean to them during Saturday afternoon's GreenFest on the lawn.”

The weekend also includes new events, beyond the tried-and-true annual favorites.

“I think many former athletes are going to love competing against each other for the first time in years at the alumni soccer and softball games on Saturday that have been coordinated by the Department of Athletics,” Ensley said.

For more information about Alumni Weekend 2012, contact the Office of Alumni Services at (706) 379-5334 or or visit for a complete schedule of activities. 

Alumni, students, faculty and staff can also join the discussion, follow live events and connect on Facebook at and on Twitter @YH_College using the hashtag #YHCAW12.

Young Harris College Introduces Appalachian Adventure Club

Young Harris College welcomed to campus this year Appalachian Adventure, a new student organization that aims to provide the YHC community with opportunities to foster personal growth and facilitate learning and leadership development through environmentally sound outdoor excursions and events. The club was founded by students and faculty from YHC’s Department of Outdoor Leadership.

“I’m glad to have this club so that we, as students and future professionals, can provide a service to the YHC community while doing something we love: showing people the adventures that can be found in the wild outdoors,” said Appalachian Adventure president Callie Stevens, a senior outdoor leadership major from Clermont.

“The Appalachian Adventure club is an asset to campus that will help students, faculty and staff foster a love for adventure and the outdoors and take advantage of the amazing opportunities that surround us,” added the club’s advisor, Associate Professor of Outdoor Leadership Drew Cavin, Ph.D.

All excursions and activities are led by junior and senior outdoor leadership majors that have received extensive instruction from YHC outdoor leadership faculty and/or professional training. All trip leaders have been certified in a Wilderness First Responder course facilitated by Landmark Learning in conjunction with the National Outdoor Leadership School and Wilderness Medicine Institute.

New members are welcome to join Appalachian Adventure, which is currently comprised of 10 students. Students who are not certified to lead trips can still participate in the club by helping plan and promote upcoming events. Students, faculty and staff are not required to be members of the club to attend trips and activities planned by the organization.

This semester, Appalachian Adventure will host caving, backpacking and whitewater kayaking excursions. In addition, the group will present movie nights showcasing a variety of films related to the outdoors such as Blindsight and First Ascent, along with a gear swap at the end of the semester that will allow outdoor enthusiasts to buy, sell and trade outdoor gear.

“We plan to provide a lot of fun experiences for students, faculty and staff this semester, and we hope people come and enjoy the trips and activities we provide,” Stevens said. “The club is excited to move into future semesters providing the YHC community with fun and educational outdoor experiences.”


Young Harris College Theatre Graduates Land Lead Roles

Ali Neese, senior
Communications and Marketing Intern

During their four years at Young Harris College, Misty Barber, ’11, and Michelle Honaker, ’11, acted, sang and danced their way into the hearts of fine arts patrons at YHC—and now they are taking their talent to the professional theatre world after scoring lead roles in two musicals.

Honaker will play Nancy Ward in the new musical Nanyehi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee debuting at the Lonnie Burns Fine Arts Center in Hartwell this April, while Barber is currently playing the role of Janet in OnStage Atlanta’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

Produced by Savannah River Productions, Nanyehi is based on the life of award-winning songwriter Becky Hobbs’ fifth-great grandmother, Nancy Ward, who was honored as a Cherokee warrior turned peacemaker in the 1700s. Hobbs contacted Honaker directly about the role after taking note of her work in the outdoor drama Unto These Hills in Cherokee, N.C., last summer. 

Since graduating from YHC, Honaker has performed in children’s shows and concerts throughout the state while also teaching private voice lessons. After Nanyehi, Honaker plans to return to Unto These Hills this summer before moving to New York City in September to further her career.

“Thanks to the opportunities I was given at Young Harris College, I feel ready to get out there and conquer the stage,” Honaker said. “YHC laid down the foundation for my acting career, but it is still a learning process. I'm always trying to further my technique and advance my craft.”

OnStage Atlanta’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone, a heartwarming homage to American musicals of the Jazz Age, premiered in February and runs through Saturday, March 10.

“I first saw the show five years ago at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, and I remembering thinking that Janet was a role I had to play at some point in my life. When I got word of the show, I knew I had to audition,” said Barber, who began working with OnStage Atlanta in October 2011 as a soundboard operator.  

“My time at YHC prepared me in all areas of theatre and helped me land a lead role in my first performance out of college,” said Barber. “At YHC I learned that having a lead role holds a lot of responsibility and high expectations. Moving into the professional world, I’ve told myself that no matter how small a role I get, I need to treat it like it’s the lead. Everyone on that stage has a purpose or they wouldn’t be there.”

As Barber and Honaker advance their acting careers, the years of auditions, rehearsals and curtain calls they shared while performing memorable lead roles as part of Theatre Young Harris at YHC still evoke happy memories.

“Every show I was involved in helped mold me into the performer I am today,” said Honaker. “My time at YHC gave me a sense of professionalism and understanding of the business along with the opportunity to grow in a comfortable setting. That foundation of training and development is now serving as the roots for my career.”

To purchase tickets to The Drowsy Chaperone, visit To purchase tickets to Nanyehi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee, visit

(From left to right) Michelle Honaker, ’11, will play Nancy Ward in the new musical Nanyehi: Beloved Woman of the Cherokee debuting at the Lonnie Burns Fine Arts Center in Hartwell this April, while Misty Barber, ’11, is currently playing the role of Janet in OnStage Atlanta’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone.

Senior Seminar Course Presents Film Series Inspired by Arthurian Legend

Kyle Huneycutt, junior
Communications and Marketing Intern

As part of a senior seminar course for Young Harris College English majors this semester titled “The Arthurian Legend,” an exciting and educational film series is being presented featuring movies that depict various versions of the Arthurian tale.

The course, taught by Associate Professor of English Jennifer Gianfalla, Ph.D., focuses on the portrayal of King Arthur and his court as depicted in literature spanning the legend’s earliest origins through the 21st century. Students learn how Arthurian material and influence can be found in the works of authors such as Tennyson, Twain, T.S. Eliot and Cormac McCarthy.

“The Arthurian legend is still alive and well, as anyone can see who turns on a television or walks into a bookstore. It is seeped in today’s culture, mainly because people are intrigued by the fantasy of a perfect kingdom,” Dr. Gianfalla said. “There are so many films about this legend, and I wanted to include them in this course so students can be aware of its cultural presence.”

The course marks Dr. Gianfalla’s first senior seminar at YHC. These courses related to special topics require students to take a more active role in class discussion and expose them to the type of coursework completed in graduate school.

“The most exciting part of teaching this senior seminar is that the students are there because they want to be—they have chosen to take the course,” Dr. Gianfalla said. “This is a rare opportunity to move beyond the Middle Ages and Renaissance and show students how literature from those periods truly informs and shapes literature from later periods.”

Senior English majors are required to enroll in two seminar courses prior to graduation, and students like Allie Matulia, of Marietta, are eager to take advantage of these courses that encourage in-depth study of narrow aspects of literature using unique learning tools like a film series.

“Being able to watch films in juxtaposition with the Arthurian legend books is fantastic,” Matulia said. “Before this class, I never would have realized how filmmakers manipulate the basic tale into what is displayed onscreen. It’s also great because we get to see the characters come to life for the portrayals that are correct.”

Upcoming film showings in Wilson Lecture Hall include The Fisher King on Tuesday, March 13, at 6:30 p.m., The Mists of Avalon on Tuesday, March 20, at 7 p.m. and King Arthur on Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m.


Academic Service Learning Presents New Opportunities for Young Harris College Outdoor Leadership Students

Young Harris College introduced two outdoor leadership courses this semester that integrate academic service learning into the curriculum. These courses provide students with the opportunity to select, plan and lead activities for local students from Towns and Union counties through community partnerships established through YHC’s Bonner Leaders Program.

“Given the nature of the outdoor leadership program and the personality of our students, volunteering in local school programs seemed like a natural fit,” explained Instructor of Outdoor Leadership Danae Turchyn. “This experience is allowing our students to put theory into practice. Experiential education emphasizes the need for relevancy and personal experiences, and I can’t imagine a better way to gain new understandings than through this initiative.”

As part of a new course taught by Turchyn called “Processing the Experience,” YHC students select, plan and lead weekly adventure activities for elementary and middle school students in the Towns County after-school program. YHC students explore learning theories and models that guide the practice of reflective learning as a means to promote the internalization and transfer of learning.
“This experience is helping me learn how to deal with younger students in a more effective way. It’s also teaching me how to be a more assertive facilitator,” said Zach Thompson, a senior outdoor leadership major from Cartersville. “Our research will enable us to look at how younger students are able to demonstrate leadership skills, build trust with peers, learn effective communication skills and build self esteem while working in groups.”

Turchyn also teaches “Adventure Therapy,” a course that gives students the opportunity to work with the Union County Alternative Education Program (AEP) in Blairsville. Small groups of YHC students lead games and teambuilding activities for high school students once a week that focus on developing leadership skills, effective communication techniques and improved self-efficacy.

To facilitate the learning process, students track weekly progress to capture themes and trends that will eventually generate topics for research papers.

“The needs of the students in these school programs are substantial, as most are dealing with multiple personal and family issues,” said Academic Service Learning Program Coordinator and Bonner Leaders Program Director Rob Campbell. “Learning how outdoor leadership directly impacts these complex issues helps YHC students understand how valuable their education will be not only to themselves, but also to a world desperately in need of their skills and leadership.”

Senior outdoor leadership majors Callie Stevens, of Clermont, and Jeremy Mabe, of Marietta, recently worked with Turchyn to submit a proposal for a presentation at the Association of Experiential Education Southeast Regional Conference this April. The group hopes to share their experiences and help other colleges and universities implement similar service learning components.

“Being able to see the effect that a positive experience can have on the AEP students helps connect the theories I am learning about in class,” Mabe said. “I can truly understand the reasoning behind why certain activities work and how participants can connect certain lessons with their everyday lives.”

Senior outdoor leadership majors Zach Thompson, of Cartersville, and Katie Adair, of Hampton, lead activities with second-grade students in the Towns County after-school program.

Senior outdoor leadership majors Callie Stevens, of Clermont, and Jenni Mathis, of Atlanta, lead activities with middle-school students in the Towns County after-school program.

Three Young Harris College Students Receive Singing Awards

Three Young Harris College students recently received awards for vocal performances at the Georgia National Association of Teachers of Singing (GaNATS) Student Auditions held at Clayton State University, Feb. 17-18. A group of 10 YHC students attended the auditions, along with Professor of Music and Director of Choral and Vocal Activities Jeff Bauman, Assistant Professor of Music Karen Calloway, Adjunct Instructor of Music Laura Stooksbury and Staff Accompanist Anita Guss.

Freshman musical theatre major Benjamin Sims, of Hiram, received first place in the Lower Division College Musical Theatre Men category; senior musical theatre major Tyler Ogburn, of Blairsville, received second place in the Upper Division College Musical Theatre Men category; and sophomore music major Mathilde Brun, of Gavleborg, Sweden, received third place in the Second Year College Women category.

These annual auditions are sponsored by the NATS Southeastern Region which includes Alabama, Florida and Georgia. Through the experience, students of NATS members have the opportunity to receive constructive criticism, encouragement toward the preparation of appropriate repertoire, and public recognition of musical talent and vocal achievement.

During the auditions, students receive written feedback from a panel of adjudicators and are ranked based on many factors including tone, dynamics, vibrato, range and acting. In order to be awarded first place, a singer must receive an overall evaluation of “superior” from at least two out of three judges.

Sims performed in a final recital at Spivey Hall that showcased all first-place winners in each category after winning over the judges with musical numbers from Oklahoma!, South Pacific, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and Aida.

During his freshman year, Sims has already become highly active in the YHC community. He serves as residence hall council president for Enotah Hall and is a member of the Delta Gamma Drama Society, Generation X gospel choir and YHC Choir. He hopes to break into the film and theatre industry and is considering attending graduate school to study mass communications.

“What I took from my experience at this audition was the realization that no matter how good other people are, you always have to believe in yourself and push yourself into saying that you can do it, that you are good, and you can accomplish any goal you set your mind to,” said Sims.

Ogburn performed a variety of selections for his audition, including pieces from Carousel, The Drowsy Chaperone and The Last Five Years. Along with starring in many Theatre Young Harris productions, he is a member of the Delta Gamma Drama Society, YHC Choir and YHC Chamber Choir. After graduation, Ogburn plans to attend graduate school for digital photography in the hopes of one day opening his own studio in New York City.

An aspiring opera singer, Brun performed classical pieces for her audition including “Solveig's Sång” by Edward Grieg, “Still Wie Die Nacht” by Carl Bohm and “The Black Swan” from Gian Carlo Menotti’s “The Medium.” Brun is a member of the YHC Chamber Choir, Delta Gamma Drama Society and Alpha Iota sorority.

“This audition was a glimpse of what is waiting after my education is complete: the audition process with the waiting, the nerves kicking in and a lot of great voices in one place,” Brun said. “I really appreciated the written comments from the judges. They commented on some things I've been working on lately, which gave me a boost and made me realize I’m on the right path.”

“I am so glad I went this year and I really enjoyed getting to have this experience,” added Ogburn. “It definitely helps to get feedback from people who aren’t your professors—especially when they say the exact same things as your professors.”

Certificates of merit and cash stipends were awarded to all first, second and third place winners of each category or division. Students with the highest ratings in state auditions are encouraged to enter regional auditions that will be held in March.

(From left to right) Senior musical theatre major Tyler Ogburn, of Blairsville, received second place in the Upper Division College Musical Theatre Men category; sophomore music major Mathilde Brun, of Gavleborg, Sweden, received third place in the Second Year College Women category; and freshman musical theatre major Benjamin Sims, of Hiram, received first place in the Lower Division College Musical Theatre Men category.

 Faculty and Staff Notables

 Assistant Professor of History Dr. Matthew Byron presented a paper titled “Pistols at Dawn or Six-Shooters at Noon? The Decline of Dueling and the Rise of Street Fighting in the Post-Civil War Era” at the 2012 Liberal Arts Conference held at Auburn University-Montgomery, Feb. 11. He presented a paper titled “The Impotency of Dueling Laws in Georgia: A Clash Between Legal and Extra-Legal Forms of Justice” at the 2012 Georgia Association of Historians Conference held in Macon, Feb. 24. Dr. Byron also presented a paper titled “Thou Shalt Not Duel: The Impotency of Dueling Laws in South Carolina” at the 2012 South Carolina Historical Association Conference in Columbia, S.C., March 3. He will present a paper titled “Dueling Across Borders: The Impotency of Dueling Laws in the Mississippi River Valley” at the Missouri Conference on History held in Columbia, Mo., March 29.  

Assistant Professor of Education Dr. Sharon Jackson attended the Georgia Council for Teachers of English 2012 Conference titled “Read, Write, Reflect: The Teaching Life” held in Pine Mountain, Feb. 17-18.

Senior Instructor of Music and Director of Bands Mary Land conducted the Vandercook College Band at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic held in Chicago, Ill., Dec. 17. She presented a clinic titled “Creating Reliable and Valid Assessments for Music” at the University of Georgia’s 21st Annual MidFest, Dec. 8-10. She also conducted the Michigan All State Band in Grand Rapids, Mich., Jan. 20-22. As president of the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA), Land organized the GMEA In-Service Conference in Savannah, Jan. 25-28.She conducted the YHC Concert Band during a performance at the GMEA’s 9th District Honor Band Clinic held at Fannin County High School, Feb. 10.

Dean of Library Services Dawn Lamade and Associate Library Director Debra March joined representatives from around Georgia to celebrate the opening of the Richard B. Russell Library at the University of Georgia, Feb. 17.  This Library houses special collections including The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies and The Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection. Young Harris College’s Duckworth Library staff continues to work closely with UGA on projects including “Reflections on Georgia Politics” and the “Byron Herbert Reece Collection.”

Associate Professor of English Dr. Mark Rollins will present a paper titled “Altering the ‘Regulation Finish’: Hardy’s Inconclusive Marriage Plots” as part of a panel titled “Gendering Borders in 19th-Century Literature” at the annual conference of the College English Association in Richmond, Va., March 29-31. 

Assistant Professor of History Dr. Natalia Starostina presented a paper titled “In Response to Circumstances: Medical Evacuation and French Ambulance Trains in the Great War” at the Medical History of World War I conference organized by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and the U.S. Army Medical Department Center of History and Heritage held at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Feb. 23-25.