Shopper Blog: Cleanup honors a high official and his humble public service

·20 min read

FARRAGUT

Cleanup honors a high official and his humble public service

John Shearer, Shopper News

Before his death this fall, John Stewart of Knoxville had enjoyed a distinguished life working with some of the nation’s top governmental policymakers, from the late U.S. Senator and former Vice President Hubert Humphrey to the key leadership at TVA.

But to residents of the Ridgerock neighborhood near Old Weisgarber Road and Interstate 40, he was best known for a much humbler job, one that also drew praise.

Ridgerock community volunteers pause for a picture during their trash pickup on Nov. 10, 2021, in memory of John Stewart and in honor of Nancy Stewart. 
From left: A.J. Lowe, Julia Lowe, Nancy Stewart, Barbara Fields, Ellie Lowe, Lucy Lowe (in front), Preston Fields (holding Owen Wall), John Labine, Claire Labine and Lisa Labine.
Ridgerock community volunteers pause for a picture during their trash pickup on Nov. 10, 2021, in memory of John Stewart and in honor of Nancy Stewart. From left: A.J. Lowe, Julia Lowe, Nancy Stewart, Barbara Fields, Ellie Lowe, Lucy Lowe (in front), Preston Fields (holding Owen Wall), John Labine, Claire Labine and Lisa Labine.

For years, he would voluntarily walk along Ridgerock Lane and Old Weisgarber Road picking up trash to keep the area around his home cleaner looking. Although he did it so frequently that some not familiar with his motive wondered if he was simply looking to cash in some aluminum cans, the residents took note with much appreciation.

“I’m 33 now and I haven’t lived there since I was 18, but by the time I was old enough to know my surroundings until I was old enough to leave the house, I don’t remember him not picking up litter,” recalled Haley Wall, adding that her mother always pointed him out as an example of doing community service.

“It’s definitely a childhood memory to have him going through the neighborhood.”

Wall had been back staying with her parents while her Rocky Hill home was being remodeled when she took her children trick or treating on Halloween through the Ridgerock area with Kelsey Kunz and her family.

While knocking on Nancy Stewart’s door, she learned John Stewart had died in late September after a battle with heart disease and a stay at the famed Cleveland Clinic.

Nancy Stewart is shown outside her West Knoxville home on Nov. 17, 2021. A trash pickup in her neighborhood was recently organized in memory of her late husband, John Stewart, and in honor of her.
Nancy Stewart is shown outside her West Knoxville home on Nov. 17, 2021. A trash pickup in her neighborhood was recently organized in memory of her late husband, John Stewart, and in honor of her.

After initially being saddened to hear the news, she soon brightened up inside after a thought came into her mind. Why not continue his praised tradition by having a community trash pickup day in his memory and in honor and support of Nancy Stewart, who also sometimes helped him over the years.

“The idea came into my head to get the children in the neighborhood together and teach them the importance of community service and taking care of their environment,” said Wall, whose father, Preston Fields, is admiringly called the mayor of Ridgerock.

So, on Nov. 10, about 12 residents of the community, including several young children, did just that.

“I was surprised that everybody came back with something,” Wall said of the fruitful effort.

Nancy Stewart said she was happily shocked when Fields knocked on the door and told her of the planned event beforehand.

“I thought it was very sweet and very thoughtful, and I hope it was a good lesson for the children,” she said.

About 40 years ago, they had moved into a home in the neighborhood that was built in 1924, and she said her late husband would regularly walk up and down Old Weisgarber Road collecting trash from items thrown from passing cars.

“That was a rich trove of junk,” his widow said, adding that he would occasionally find such items as dollar bills. “He was always offended at the site sight of the trash.”

The volunteer work also helped him find something else — the joy of community service, which to him was just an extension of his professional life.

“He did that his whole life,” said Nancy Stewart, who had met her late husband when they were children on Long Island, N.Y. “He had academic credentials but preferred working around policy and decision makers getting into the nuts and bolts.”

Besides helping Humphrey work to pass the famed Civil Rights Act of 1964 before coming to Knoxville as an assistant manager of TVA in 1980, he was also involved as the communications director of the Democratic National Committee in the 1970s.

And it was his office in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., that was broken into in June 1972, leading to the scandal that eventually resulted in the resignation of Republican President Richard Nixon two years later.

John Stewart addresses guests during an event at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. The forum focused on the 50 year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel)
John Stewart addresses guests during an event at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. The forum focused on the 50 year anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Amy Smotherman Burgess/News Sentinel)

Nancy Stewart said they had been out to dinner to celebrate her birthday the night before, and they were awakened in the middle of the night by police telling her husband about the break-in.

“They were wondering if he wanted to swear out a complaint, but he got somebody else to do it,” said Nancy Stewart, saying her husband later regretted not being a more active participant in helping uncover an important incident in American history.

After moving to Knoxville and retiring, he stayed involved in the larger community as a member of Church of the Savior, United Church of Christ, as an opinion columnist with the News Sentinel, and, of course, as a trash collector.

And the latter might be his greatest legacy as far as West Knoxville is concerned.

“I would hope it would be an example for other people and other neighborhoods,” Stewart said in appreciation of the gesture by Wall and the others.

SOUTH KNOXVILLE

Dogwood students pick up crocheting, share the gift

Ali James, Shopper News

Mya Silva, a fourth grader at Dogwood Elementary, took up crocheting after following Creative Grandma on YouTube.

“I wanted to get a crochet hook, but was using a pencil at first and really enjoyed it,” Mya said. “I started with a simple chain and then started to make the headbands.”

Fourth graders Mya Silva, Ellery McPherson and Savannah France at Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 18, 2021. The schools’ PTO purchased little crochet kids for students so they can work on projects during their free time in their regular classroom.
Fourth graders Mya Silva, Ellery McPherson and Savannah France at Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 18, 2021. The schools’ PTO purchased little crochet kids for students so they can work on projects during their free time in their regular classroom.

"The headbands work really well, and it is easy to adjust them to fit,” Mya said. “They make me happy. I like to crochet stuff and it makes me calm when my fingers are always doing something. It helps with my anxiety.”

Lauren Corder, a new art teacher at Dogwood Elementary, gave third through fifth grade students the choice between learning to crochet or weaving for their fiber arts unit.

Lauren Corder, a new art teacher at Dogwood Elementary, gave third through fifth grade students the choice between learning to crochet or weaving for their fiber arts unit. The school plans to offer crochet as an afterschool activity next January. Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 22, 2021.
Lauren Corder, a new art teacher at Dogwood Elementary, gave third through fifth grade students the choice between learning to crochet or weaving for their fiber arts unit. The school plans to offer crochet as an afterschool activity next January. Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 22, 2021.

School principal Lana Shelton-Lowe said there was such a high interest in the crocheting that Corder wanted to get each child a crochet kit to take home so they can extend their learning beyond the school walls.

According to Corder, Dogwood Elementary’s PTO approved the purchase of around $225 worth of crochet hooks for the students. Community members, including parent and teacher Charly Cooper; the principal’s mother, Nancy Shelton; and Ann Jefferson from Sustainable Futures Makers Market were happy to donate yarn.

Dogwood Elementary student William Hernandez works on a crochet project.
Dogwood Elementary student William Hernandez works on a crochet project.

“In January we hope to offer an after-school crochet club that will make and donate items for Warm Up America,” added Shelton-Lowe.

“Crocheting was a passion of mine growing up,” said Corder. “Crocheting is such a calming activity; the repetitive motion is therapeutic. This was a good coping strategy for me, and I thought it might be for students, too.”

Corder mentioned that crocheting is also an excellent way to develop fine motor skills.

Savannah France practices her crochet at Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 18, 2021.
Savannah France practices her crochet at Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 18, 2021.

“I wanted to allow students to make authentic pieces that they could use beyond the classroom,” said Corder. “This gives them some voice and choice as they can self-select. Some students made headbands, others made wall hangings.”

Some of Corder’s students picked up the craft within three classes, and several brought their own supplies and practiced at home.

“They really learned the skill quickly,” she said. “It was surprising to see students who thought they couldn't get the hang of it and then their peers helped them and offered encouragement.

Mya Silva, a fourth grader at Dogwood Elementary School, taught herself to crochet using a pencil and has made several headbands for friends and teachers. Nov. 18, 2021. “It supports the back of your head a bit,” said Silva. “Ellery said it is like a crown.”
Mya Silva, a fourth grader at Dogwood Elementary School, taught herself to crochet using a pencil and has made several headbands for friends and teachers. Nov. 18, 2021. “It supports the back of your head a bit,” said Silva. “Ellery said it is like a crown.”

"It really chokes me up to think about how they encouraged each other. It was so sweet, and you could see when the light bulb came on.”

“My teacher also showed me how to crochet,” said Mya. ”She is very cool and can crochet a lot.” Mya has made four headbands for her friends, as well as for her homeroom and reading teacher.

Ellery McPherson, wearing her crocheted headband at Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 18, 2021.
Ellery McPherson, wearing her crocheted headband at Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 18, 2021.

In addition to crocheting at school, Mya and her good friend, Ellery McPherson, crochet together when they play after school.

“Mya inspired me to do the crocheting and taught me how to use a pencil as a crochet hook and how to do the designs on the headband,” said Ellery. “I can be really stubborn when she tells me how to do it, but I’m practicing…

“I brought a ball of yarn from art and sat on the swing and used the whole ball of yarn to crochet,” said Ellery, whose Uncle Isaiah also crochets gifts for family. “When we went to the store I asked my dad if I could buy a ball of yarn for myself and it was the biggest ball I could find.”

Dogwood Elementary School teacher Kim McDaniel wears a crocheted headband made for her by Mya Silva.  Nov. 18, 2021.
Dogwood Elementary School teacher Kim McDaniel wears a crocheted headband made for her by Mya Silva. Nov. 18, 2021.

Ellery said she has been trying to dream up other uses for her crochet skills. “I was trying to think beyond headbands, then I thought it would be good to use for the mask necklace or to make it into a purse somehow,” she said.

Fourth graders Mya Silva, Ellery McPherson and Savannah France at Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 18, 2021.
Fourth graders Mya Silva, Ellery McPherson and Savannah France at Dogwood Elementary School, Nov. 18, 2021.

Ellery and Mya’s friend Savannah France is equally excited about crocheting and has been hard at work on a long emerald green crochet chain.

“I’m excited that we might get to do this after school,” she said.

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HALLS

Shannondale schoolkids create next best thing to Macy’s parade

Ali James, Shopper News

After reading “Balloons Over Broadway” last year, Shannondale Elementary STEM teacher Chasity VanBlaricum decided to involve the whole school in their very own parade.

Shannondale’s Angela Lane, Jolea Defreese and Lesley Cole hold up their banner at the second annual Balloons over Shannondale parade. Music teacher Brett Hopper and his "Shannondale band" of teacher assistants played instruments and hyped up the crowd at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.
Shannondale’s Angela Lane, Jolea Defreese and Lesley Cole hold up their banner at the second annual Balloons over Shannondale parade. Music teacher Brett Hopper and his "Shannondale band" of teacher assistants played instruments and hyped up the crowd at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.

“Balloons Over Broadway” is the real story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, who invented those “upside down puppets” that fill the sky in New York City during the trademark Macy’s Parade every Thanksgiving.

Fourth grader JoJo Niceley created her Dad for her balloon float at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.
Fourth grader JoJo Niceley created her Dad for her balloon float at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.

The second annual Balloons Over Shannondale, as they call their own Fountain City event, was held on a very crisp fall day just before Thanksgiving break.

Students created their own “floats” over the course of three weekly STEM classes and held the parade so that everyone could see their hard work, according to principal Renee Rupeka.

Lien Robinson at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.
Lien Robinson at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.

“The teachers’ assistants and our music teacher Brett Hopper have even formed a ‘band’ to lead the parade,” she said.

Oliver Conner with his Halloween themed balloon with classmate Nathan Mills representing his family’s tradition of baking at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.
Oliver Conner with his Halloween themed balloon with classmate Nathan Mills representing his family’s tradition of baking at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.

“Instead of creating the exact same balloons we created last year, we didn’t want them to get bored with repeating it every year, so we decided to change it up,” said VanBlaricum.

“Kindergarten made the same Balloons over Broadway, but grades one through five each had a theme where they had to design and create their own balloon — representing a tradition they have as a family, a hero, or disguising their turkeys so that the farmer couldn’t find them.”

Claire DeBord with her hero, Lidia Jacoby and Owen Graham with his hero (a NASA scientist) at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.
Claire DeBord with her hero, Lidia Jacoby and Owen Graham with his hero (a NASA scientist) at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.

One of the Shannondale students has an allergy to latex, so they needed to use mylar balloons as the base to their designs. “Hopefully we will have fewer popping balloons this year and we may even try papier-mâché next year,” laughed VanBlaricum.

Susannah Chestnutt with her Benjamin Franklin gold balloon at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.
Susannah Chestnutt with her Benjamin Franklin gold balloon at Balloons over Shannondale at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23, 2021.

To further inspire their designs, VanBlaricum said second graders read “A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea” by Kevin Hawkes, and they came up with the theory that pandas would be better than pigs in a parade.

Every grade level had a special theme for the Balloons over Shannondale parade at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23.
Every grade level had a special theme for the Balloons over Shannondale parade at Shannondale Elementary on Nov. 23.

“All of the work was completed within the scheduled 45-minute weekly class,” said VanBlaricum. “I read them the story. gave them the idea and then they had to create it on their own. They looked at the best way to make a handle, so it looks like it is floating. They sketched their 2D shape and then had to translate it into a 3D design.”

One third grader, who is renowned within his class for his love of chickens, created a design on the front and back of his balloon.

Teacher’s assistant Ali Ackerman, as the school mascot, gets students hyped for the Balloons over Shannondale parade on Nov. 23, 2021.
Teacher’s assistant Ali Ackerman, as the school mascot, gets students hyped for the Balloons over Shannondale parade on Nov. 23, 2021.

The biggest lesson they learned was probably the importance of persisting through trial and error. “Realizing their mistakes, making adjustments when they transfer their sketched idea to a 3D design, sometimes improving and testing and improving again before they put it to the final test during the parade,” VanBlaricum said.

NORTH KNOXVILLE

'Unusual' Christmas story presents a modern Nativity

Carol Z. Shane, Shopper News

Amelia Peterson, literary manager and director of new play management for the River & Rail Theatre Company, is excited about the company’s upcoming gala this Sunday, Dec. 5.

“It’ll be our fanciest event so far since opening; we’re getting all black tie and fancy. The vision for the gala is to cast a vision for the future of our theatre company and for performing arts in Knoxville, and talking about how we can use our space even more.”

From the 2019 River & Rail Theatre Company production of “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” — the first in the Old City Performing Arts Center, Dec. 10, 2019. The musical play will be performed there starting Dec. 8, 2021.
From the 2019 River & Rail Theatre Company production of “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” — the first in the Old City Performing Arts Center, Dec. 10, 2019. The musical play will be performed there starting Dec. 8, 2021.

With her husband, artistic director Joshua Peterson, she founded River & Rail in late 2014. The company had no permanent location until they bought the former home of the Knoxville Ice Factory on State Street in May 2019. By December of that same year they’d turned it into the Old City Performing Arts Center.

Joshua and Amelia Peterson, founders of River & Rail Theatre Company, are thrilled to present “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” at the Old City Performing Arts Center, starting Dec. 8.
Joshua and Amelia Peterson, founders of River & Rail Theatre Company, are thrilled to present “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” at the Old City Performing Arts Center, starting Dec. 8.

A few months later, the coronavirus pandemic hit, and all was closed down.

After reopening in October, River & Rail is ready for the holiday season with its fifth production of the musical play “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby.”

The Petersons first produced it in August 2016 at the New York International Fringe Festival with the show’s creators, Don Chaffer and Chris Cragin-Day.

The Old City Performing Arts Center, now owned and operated by the River & Rail Theatre Company, is shown Feb. 22, 2020. “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” will be presented there, starting Dec. 8, 2021.
The Old City Performing Arts Center, now owned and operated by the River & Rail Theatre Company, is shown Feb. 22, 2020. “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” will be presented there, starting Dec. 8, 2021.

In a review of that production on artandtheology.org, Victoria Emily Jones wrote: “Far from the tired, pious storytelling of many a Christian-penned pageant, ‘The Unusual Tale’ bursts with energy and even surprises, inviting believers and nonbelievers alike to consider anew the meaning of the Incarnation.”

The same year they brought it to Knoxville. And they’ve done it every year since, except for 2020.

“The thing that we love about ‘The Unusual Tale’ is the rich humanity in it,” says Peterson. “It really does take the perspective of an actual human if these events were to happen to a real person — ‘let’s just take the story at its worth and take the religious debate out of it.’

From the 2016 River & Rail Theatre Company production of “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby.” Dec. 7, 2016.
From the 2016 River & Rail Theatre Company production of “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby.” Dec. 7, 2016.

“I’ve had people say, ‘I’m not religious, so I’m not going to like it.’ But it’s not a very religious perspective. You can consider it a folk tale. They weren’t wealthy, they weren’t royal.

“In this production, Mary is portrayed as a woman who has a fire in her and who has a desire to do something for her people. It connects with historical context — Jews living under Roman oppression.”

From the 2019 River & Rail Theatre Company production of “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” — the first in the Old City Performing Arts Center, Dec. 10, 2019. The musical play will be performed there starting Dec. 8, 2021.
From the 2019 River & Rail Theatre Company production of “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” — the first in the Old City Performing Arts Center, Dec. 10, 2019. The musical play will be performed there starting Dec. 8, 2021.

Peterson says visiting director Danny Skinner, a veteran of Broadway, is bringing his own creative spin.

“This year’s production is a modern setting in a homeless encampment. We are inviting people to imagine the story in our own community of unhoused residents, and to imagine that these are our family members. And to imagine that there is so much beauty and dignity — and even miracles — that can happen in unexpected places, in the hardest of circumstances.”

Broadway vet Danny Skinner directs this year’s production of “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” at the Old City Performing Arts Center, starting Dec. 8, 2021.
Broadway vet Danny Skinner directs this year’s production of “The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” at the Old City Performing Arts Center, starting Dec. 8, 2021.

“The Unusual Tale of Mary and Joseph’s Baby” runs Dec. 8-23 at the Old City Performing Arts Center, 111 State St. Ticket prices start at $3. There are $40 VIP tickets with preferred seating available. Use promo code SHOPPER to get $5 off the VIP price.

For a full list of ticket prices, dates and show times, visit riverandrailtheatre.com.

KARNS

'Feed the 5,000' finds a way to serve greater community

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News

In its third year, the Feed the 5,000 event at Grace Baptist Church is bigger and better than ever when it comes to volunteers and boxes distributed.

The church had hundreds of boxes left when the event was over Saturday, Nov. 20. Not to worry, according to Senior Pastor Dr. Bobby Lewis. New avenues of distribution were found.

Head of Schools Dr. Tony Pointer packs a box with stuffing at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.
Head of Schools Dr. Tony Pointer packs a box with stuffing at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.

“This is our third year of doing this here at Grace. This year we had more volunteers than ever. We did the most preproduction work we’ve ever done, the most advertising we’ve ever done; but we had the least number of participants.

“We gave them a box to be blessed and a box to be a blessing to someone else. We had hundreds of boxes left over and I was deeply, deeply disappointed by that,” Lewis said.

Feed the 5,000 packages at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.
Feed the 5,000 packages at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.

In the end, all was not lost and nothing was wasted. The church received several calls from homebound people wondering how they could get a box. Several of the staff pastors and many volunteers took boxes and delivered them.

The church tried to partner with another larger church to help distribute left-over boxes, but that didn’t work out.

Volunteers come in all age ranges as Thera Carr does her part to pack boxes at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.
Volunteers come in all age ranges as Thera Carr does her part to pack boxes at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.

They were finally able to connect with a pastor who serves an apartment complex housing single mothers.

“Many of (them) were wondering where their next meal was going to come from, much less their Thanksgiving meal. We were able to deliver boxes to all of them. Wasn’t that amazing? God really humbled me," Lewis said.

Jamie Paul and Darla Robbins pack one of 1,000 boxes at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.
Jamie Paul and Darla Robbins pack one of 1,000 boxes at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.

“What I looked at as a mistake, God looked at as an opportunity.

“Trust in God.

Volunteers spanned the generations as Emily Olinger packs boxes at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.
Volunteers spanned the generations as Emily Olinger packs boxes at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.

“I think what we saw yesterday was God taking us off our campus. We are now thinking and praying how might we take this where it is needed most next year. Maybe a downtown venue, or different community."

The sanctuary at Grace Baptist Church is filled with people listening to a message of salvation from Dr. Bobby Lewis during the Feed the 5,000 event held Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.
The sanctuary at Grace Baptist Church is filled with people listening to a message of salvation from Dr. Bobby Lewis during the Feed the 5,000 event held Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021.

Each box contained a complete Thanksgiving meal for five people. Members of the congregation and the Karns community spent a month donating stuffing, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, corn muffin mix, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie.

About 600 volunteers gathered to pack 1,000 boxes with Thanksgiving meals feeding five people at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.
About 600 volunteers gathered to pack 1,000 boxes with Thanksgiving meals feeding five people at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.

Because of supply chain problems, each box contained a large chicken rather than a turkey.

About 600 church volunteers of all ages packed the boxes at a massive but festive packing party Wednesday, Nov. 17.

Senior Pastor Dr. Bobby Lewis at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.
Senior Pastor Dr. Bobby Lewis at the Feed the 5,000 packing party held at Grace Baptist Church Wednesday Nov. 17, 2021.

During the Feed the 5,000 event, 20 people came forward for decision counseling and 10 were baptized.

Info: www.gracebc.org.

FARRAGUT

Admirals Performing Arts Company is working ‘9 to 5’

Nancy Anderson, Shopper News

Farragut High School musical theatre students were hard at work rehearsing an upcoming production of “9 to 5” on Tuesday, Nov. 23.

The production is large, with a cast of 40 in addition to 10 technical personnel. The entire production, save lighting, is done by students in the Admirals Performing Arts Company.

Most of the cast of “9 to 5” pause to gather on stage during rehearsal at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.
Most of the cast of “9 to 5” pause to gather on stage during rehearsal at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

Directing staff include vocal director Mitchell Moore, theatre director Tony Wooley, choreographer Elizabeth Plewniak, and student director Sophia Cook.

The production will feature a 20-piece student orchestra conducted by assistant band director Elizabeth Gott.

Mary Claire Carter as Doralee, Meghan Tucker as Violet, and Hannah Liske as Judy sing the title song during the closing act at a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.
Mary Claire Carter as Doralee, Meghan Tucker as Violet, and Hannah Liske as Judy sing the title song during the closing act at a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

The production is true to the original made famous in 1980 by Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, who play three working women who live out their fantasies of getting even with and overthrowing the company's autocratic boss. Hilarity ensues.

Some of the principal dancers strike a pose on stage at a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.
Some of the principal dancers strike a pose on stage at a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

The title song, “9 to 5,” was written by Parton.

The Farragut High School production stars Mary Claire Carter as Doralee, Meghan Tucker as Violet, and Hannah Liske as Judy

Liske as Judy (Jane Fonda) is a powerhouse singer. She has taken singing lessons since the age of 8.

An excellent dancer, Bri Booth executes complicated dance steps while singing the title song during a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.
An excellent dancer, Bri Booth executes complicated dance steps while singing the title song during a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

“I fell in love with theatre at my first drama camp when I was 8, which spring-loaded me into all of this. It’s so fun to take the stage and sing out all by myself, but it’s nerve-wracking too.

“I think this is one of my favorite characters I’ve ever done.

Maggie Raines is master of ceremonies during a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.
Maggie Raines is master of ceremonies during a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

“It’s a little out of my comfort zone so it’s hard to adapt, but I’m getting there,” said Liske.

Carter talks about playing Doralee Rhodes, famously played by Parton, saying, “I’m really excited. It’s a big deal and I’ve been watching a lot of Dolly interviews because her accent and the way she moves is a big part of who she is. Also, her character in general is really cool. She does a lot for the community.

Mary Claire Carter, Hannah Liske and Meghan Tucker take notes from vocal director Mitchell Moore at a rehearsal for an upcoming production of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.
Mary Claire Carter, Hannah Liske and Meghan Tucker take notes from vocal director Mitchell Moore at a rehearsal for an upcoming production of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

“She’s a very bright spot in this world right now, which is kind of dark and sad sometimes. She’s positive and I think that’s really cool. I’m really proud to be playing Doralee.”

The opening sequence features dancers surrounding Mason Cross as Joe doing an artistic interpretation of “Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen” during a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.
The opening sequence features dancers surrounding Mason Cross as Joe doing an artistic interpretation of “Tumble out of bed and stumble to the kitchen” during a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

The production will take the stage Thursday, Dec. 9 through Saturday, Dec. 11 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium of Farragut High School.

There will be a silent action during each performance to help raise money for future productions.

Student director Sophia Cook at a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.
Student director Sophia Cook at a rehearsal of “9 to 5” held at Farragut High School Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021.

“These are very expensive productions to do,” said Moore. “We’ll be doing a number of fundraisers to help pay for this and future productions. We have some really great things planned.”

Info: www.knoxschools.org/FarragutHS.

OPINION

Life lessons from the microwave

Leslie Snow, Shopper News

My mother is standing in front of the microwave, looking perplexed. “I have no idea how long to cook this thing,” she says, holding a frozen chicken in her hands.

“It’s already cooked,” I tell her. “We just need to thaw it.”

“Do you use the thaw setting?” she asks, gesticulating with her chicken.

“You can,” I reply, “but I would just heat it for five minutes on 30 percent power.”

“I’ve never done that before,” she says, in wonder. “Can you show me?”

I work my magic and press some buttons. “See? It’s easy,” I say with a smile.

She shakes her head. “I don’t think I can do that. It looks complicated.”

“It’s not complicated,” I assure her, “it’s just imprecise. If it doesn’t thaw the first time, just try again.”

I press the start button and the two of us stand in front of the microwave watching her dinner spin in a circle.

When microwaves first came out, we were supposed to be able to cook whole meals and even bake in them. Never mind that meat comes out gray. Never mind that cakes and eggs explode inside without warning.

The arrival of the microwave was met with all kinds of fanfare. I was at my friend Evy’s house when her mother plugged theirs into the wall for the first time. I can still remember the whole family staring in wonder as we watched a frozen bagel thaw. It was a real miracle at the time.

But now, standing in front of my mother’s microwave, I’ve begun to see the problem. The microwave isn’t for everyone. It's an ambiguous appliance. It might come packaged with cooking instructions, but as far as I know, no one reads them. We simply guess and check.

How long does it take to microwave popcorn? Until the kernels stop popping.

How long does it take to thaw ground beef? It depends on your method. Everything you make in the microwave says, “heating times may vary.” No one knows how long to cook anything in a microwave.

The oven and stove top are far more dependable. You bake a cake at a precise temperature for a set amount of time. You simmer rice on low for 20 minutes. If you can read a recipe, you know what to do. There’s no guesswork involved.

Lately, I’ve been contemplating the life lessons of the microwave. It’s not easy to make a decision when there’s no instruction manual to follow. It’s hard to see a clear path forward when there are so many options. Just the other day I heard myself say to my sister when she was struggling with a decision, “There’s no right answer. It’s like the microwave. You just guess.”

So many of the choices we make are uncertain. So much of life is just guess and check. Try and try again if it doesn’t work the first time.

I say all that to my mom while I’m trying to warm her Costco chicken. I tell her about life’s uncertainties and how we all want guarantees.

She stares at me blankly while I pontificate, wondering what’s wrong with me. Finally, she says, “Why don’t we put the chicken in the oven at 325. It’ll be warm in 45 minutes.”

As it turns out, my mother is more of an oven person. She likes firm answers and clear choices. The microwave is an appliance meant for people who embrace adventure and relish uncertainty. People like me.

Leslie Snow may be reached at snow column@aol.com.

This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Shopper News brings you the latest happenings in your community

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