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College to hold symposium with homecoming theme

COVINGTON - Georgia Perimeter College has a busy schedule next week, with its annual symposium Tuesday through Thursday and an open house Nov. 8.

This year's three-day symposium has a "Homecoming" theme.

"While most colleges celebrate homecomings this time of year, it is especially meaningful for Georgia Perimeter College's newest site, the Newton Campus," according to a statement released by the college.

The campus' film professor, Linda Bowen, who is chair of the symposium planning committee, said the school doesn't have a normal homecoming like most colleges and universities, but the committee wanted to call it that this year since the campus is new.

"It's just a chance to showcase our campus," she said about the symposium, which is free and open to the public.

It features Newton-centered music, films and history.

The symposium kicks off at 11 a.m. Tuesday with a screening of pilot episodes of "In the Heat of the Night."

"We're showing two things related to the area," she said. "Some people here might have worked on them or had a small part, so we wanted to do that."

The school also will show "My Cousin Vinnie," which was partly filmed in the area, at 7 p.m. Wednesday

At 7 p.m. Tuesday, Covington native Andy Offutt Irwin will do some storytelling about his life growing up in Newton County, and a soulful singing duo, Joyce and Jacque, will perform.

At noon Wednesday, the college will hold an outdoor barbecue feast and feature live music from the Buckaroo Boys.

Also, student symposium projects will be on display inside.

"I had my students, for extra credit, do research on entertainers who came from the area," Bowen said. "I told the other faculty to offer students the opportunity to do this, like authors who came from the area or maybe native vegetation. It's a passive display."

The symposium ends at 11 a.m. Thursday with a panel discussion, "Ghosts and Graveyards."

Local historians - Jerry Love from Gaither's Plantation, District 5 Commissioner Monty Laster, GPC professor George Lonberger and Bobbie Bishop, an investigator from East Georgia Paranormal, which has investigated Gaither's Plantation - will discuss their experience with ghosts and graveyards in the area to keep the Halloween spirit alive, even after Halloween.

Bowen said Laster enjoys going to graveyards, and Lonberger is having his sociology students - almost 100 total - create two cemetery projects that he will discuss.

One project is a cemetery field worksheet that asks students to answer questions about a local cemetery, such as its size, location and importance. The other is a paper that discusses social characteristics of those buried in the cemetery, he said.

"I also have them create a listing of the life expectancies of those buried before 1900, compared to those buried after 1900. I really encourage the students to think about the information that can be found on the headstones: reflections of the importance of mothers, religious beliefs and military service," Lonberger said in an e-mail. "In the future, however, I would like very much to move the students towards smaller family cemeteries and away from large ones like Oxford Cemetery."

He also will discuss the history and features of U.S. cemeteries.

"Cemeteries are most often the final 'home' that we will all have," he said. "They are the resting places of our ancestors and loves ones, and therefore should be treated with reverence."

Newton Academic Dean Alan Jackson said the symposium is a great opportunity to visit the campus for those who haven't visited it yet.

"GPC is their college. We want to be part of this community," he said. "Just as people in this community have been welcoming us to their events, we welcome them to ours."

The Newton campus also will hold an open house at 6 p.m. Thursday that is free and open to the public.

Michelle Floyd can be reached at michelle.floyd@newtoncitizen.com.

SideBar: If you go

' What: "Homecoming" Symposium

' Featuring: "In the Heat of the Night" screening (Tuesday), Andy Irwin storytelling (Tuesday), Barbecue feast, Buckaroo Boys music, "My Cousin Vinny" screening (Wednesday) and "Ghosts and Graveyards" panel discussion (Thursday)

' When: 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Tuesday, noon and 7 p.m. Wednesday, 11 a.m. Thursday

' Where: Georgia Perimeter College, 239 Cedar Lane, Covington

' Cost: free

' What: Open House

' When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 8

' Where: Georgia Perimeter College, 239 Cedar Lane, Covington

' Cost: free