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Tree of Light gets students ready for holiday season

Senior Reporter

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Thursday, November 29, 2012 18:11

Tree of Light

Stephen Green, Connor Hyde, Samantha Villarreal | The Houstonian

SHSU students gather for the annual Tree of Light ceremony.

Bearkats bundled up and brought donations to the 92 nd annual Tree of Light Ceremony in the Plaza on campus Tuesday night.

With candles in hand, students and faculty braved 55-degree weather as they gathered around the 40-foot Christmas tree waiting for it to light up. For some students, the event served as relief before the stress of finals hits.

“We’re all enjoying time before finals stress us out and it’s a good cause,” Stephanie Gomez, freshman history major, said while wrapped up in a blanket. “I came out, then went back [to my dorm] for my gloves and blanket.”

Sam Houston State University’s Orange Pride Dance Team danced to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and the SHSU Choral and Jazz Combo caroled holiday songs like “Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Silent Night.”

“I was singing along to ‘Jingle Bells,’” Paul O. Ajibolade II, animation freshman, said. “This is my first Tree of Light ceremony. It was exciting, everyone was cheering for it to start.”

Holiday cheer was everywhere in the Bearkat Plaza. Christmas tree cookies and red velvet cupcakes were washed down with hot chocolate and wassail provided by Student Activities.

Homecoming King and Queen, Ashton Winfree and Ashley Baker, introduced administrators and then made a “call for ornaments” where different university organizations got to trim the tree with an ornament representing their group.

President Dana Gibson gave a brief history of the tradition.

“The Tree of Light Ceremony is the oldest tradition in our university,” Gibson said. “The original tree stands in the middle of the Evans Complex.”

A new tradition was started last year when Gibson took out her cell phone to capture a photograph of all the students taking a photo of the tree as it lit up. This year she continued the ritual.

Students were encouraged to volunteer and to give back to the community. In the spirit of “Giving Tuesday,” Student Activities handed out 575 T-shirts in exchange for canned goods that will be donated to the Good Shepherd Mission.

“One in five families in Walker County come to the Good Shepherd Mission at some point,” Director of the Good Shepherd Mission David Smith said.

While they were not able to attend, distance education and Woodlands Center students could watch the ceremony online.

Several administrators including Vice President of Student Services Frank Parker, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Jaimie Hebert, Vice President for Finance and Operations Alvin Hooten, and Vice President of Enrollment Management Heather Thielemann were also present at the ceremony.


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