From left: Kahlid Tapia, Kendra Wilson, Janet Whitley, Aleeshi Herring, Cerece Grier (on ladder), Marvin Andrade, Kisha Hunt and Kelvin Hunt
As the house lights went down, the crowd let out an awe-inspired gasp, and a Christmas carol broke out.
The scene was not at the Givens Performing Arts Center on the campus of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke but at the Chancellor's Residence. On a gray December 3 afternoon, the student Ambassadors decorated the Alumni Christmas Tree.
"This event traditionally kicks off the holiday season at the Residence," Mrs. Barbara Meadors said. "Once the tree goes up and the ornaments go on, the Ambassadors sing, then .. 'tis the season.'"
The Ambassadors, who are student representatives in the Office of Admissions, were appropriately awe-inspired by the experience. Some had never seen a live Christmas tree before, let alone one like the 12-foot tree in the Main Room of the Chancellor's Residence.
"It's big, really big," said Aleeshi Herring, a sophomore. "I have never seen a real tree in someone's home before. I'm from New York."
"It's nice," said Cherece Grier, a junior from Fayetteville. "I like the big red (glass) ornaments, the doves and the snowflakes."
The Alumni Christmas Tree is one of many traditions initiated at the Chancellor's Residence by the Chancellor's wife, Barbara Meadors. The Residence will host hundreds of students, faculty and alumni during the holidays and thousands more during the year.
From left: Kisha Hunt, Cherece Grier, Janet Whitley, Valisha Adams, Kendra Wilson and Aleeshi Herring
"The tree is a tradition that was started when Chancellor (Allen C.) Meadors and I moved into the Residence," Mrs. Meadors said. "Every year at the Alumni Holiday Drop-in, we encourage Alumni to contribute an ornament, that we enter into a permanent catalog."
Jackie Clark, Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management, added some perspective to the event.
"To have current students hang ornaments that were contributed from our alumni, connects the past with the present, new with old," Clark said. "There are 20 Ambassadors, whose official role is to represent the University, primarily as tour guides for prospective students and their parents. They are well-rounded students, who excel academically and socially at the University."
While the Chancellor's Residence got dressed in its annual holiday finery, nothing stands still at the University. As the ornaments were hung, another tradition took root.
"This year a new tradition got its start at the Residence," Mrs. Meadors said. "As a community service project, we are filling holiday gift bags for patients at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Fayetteville."
"The Chancellor and I are contributing paperback books for the gift bags, and our 'elves' are putting a Christmas ornament in each bag for patients to give as gifts, because they are unable to get out and shop for themselves."
Admissions Officer Kalid Tapia did the honors by placing the angel on top of the three, and then he led the Ambassadors in a rousing rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." For the students, there were just a few more days of classes before holiday break.