Alumni Invited to Participate in 84th Singing Christmas Tree

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The 84th edition of the Belhaven University Singing Christmas Tree is scheduled for December 2-3 at 7:30 p.m. in the newly completed Belhaven Bowl Stadium.

The event, which is billed as the nation’s oldest outdoor singing Christmas tree, has been a staple on campus since 1932. Thousands of students have participated over the years, and this year, they are being invited back to relive the joy of singing on the tree!

The brand new Belhaven Bowl Stadium gives the University an opportunity to expand the number of voices heard during the singing Christmas tree. Seats around the tree can comfortably accommodate up to 250 alumni singers.

The Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree began 84 years ago

The Belhaven Singing Christmas Tree began in 1932.

Interested alumni can participate by simply completing this form and let us know which of the following rehearsal times you can attend.

Day rehearsals are at 12 p.m. on November 28 – December 2 
Night time rehearsal are at 7 p.m. on November 28 – December 1

Thousands of students have sang on the tree over the years.

Thousands of students have sang on the tree over the years.

Alumni will sing a select number of songs during the concert, and only one rehearsal is required to take part in the singing Christmas tree again. Don’t forget to sign-up for the alumni reception at 6:00 p.m. in the Dr. Billy Kim International Center foyer before each performance. If you need additional information, contact Mr. Christopher Phillips at singingchristmastree@belhaven.edu or 601-974-6497.

Belhaven Basketball Reunion

IMG_1650“When I interviewed for this position, Athletic Director, Scott Little described an athletic department that exists, in large part, to provide our student-athletes with an environment where they are able to compete for championships.  The basketball locker room renovation project is an extension of that vision.  The daily process of holding our young men and women to a higher standard spiritually, academically, socially, and athletically is best facilitated when we surround them with the best athletics has to offer, both aesthetically and technologically.  We were so blessed to have alums gravitate toward this particular project and give so generously.  The end-result is one of the nicest basketball locker rooms you’ll find at this level.  This space will not only greatly enhance the day-to-day experience of our current players, but will bolster our recruiting efforts as well.”                                                                     –Jonathan Vines

The following are pictures from the newly renovated men’s and women’s basketball locker rooms:

IMG_1645IMG_1648Coach Vines, Coach Calder, along with our Alumni Office would like to invite you and your family back to campus for a reunion of former players. The date is Saturday January 16 for our game against conference foe East Texas Baptist University. Tipoff starts at 3:00 P.M. After the game there is no scheduled activity so feel free to make dinner plans with family and friends.

 

Prior to the game, we would like to invite you to a lunch held on campus to get together with old teammates and meet new friends as well. Coach Vines will be on hand to give us an overview of the program and an update on season and our players.

After lunch we would like invite former players who are interested, to see our remodeled locker rooms in Rugg Arena. This was a privately funded upgrade that was needed for the program. We are thankful for those who helped make that project happen.

Please R.S.V.P. as soon as possible to Cliff Ford or Beth Whitney. My contact information is : cford@belhaven.edu or phone 601-968-8978. We hope to make this an annual event and look forward to seeing you and your family on campus!

Forever Loved, Forever Young: An Adoption Story

I have no shame in admitting that I stole this article from someone else.  This is an amazing story of some Belhaven folks and their calling into the world of adoption.

Ashli Duplessis YoungIt was December 8, 2008—the day to finally meet Sam. After years of waiting, Ashli and Kyle Young found themselves in Russia, face to face with the 3-year-old child they would soon adopt and call their own.

“It was weird,” Ashli said of that first interaction. “People talk about instantly connecting with their child. I didn’t experience that. He was just a kid with a personality I didn’t know.”

Five years earlier, the couple began the adoption process after doctors said they had less than a one percent chance of getting pregnant. They wanted children and, through prayer, came to realize that God’s way of building their family was going to be through adoption. In the anxious period of waiting for the call that a child was available, the Youngs battled through learning experiences in their marriage as well as a surprising pregnancy that led to a miscarriage. In the meantime, friends were having children, and patience was difficult to maintain. “Even though I didn’t like God’s timing, I had to trust that it was His timing,” Ashli admitted.

When the call came through from Buckner International that it was time to meet their son, the commitment to follow through with adopting a child seemed intimidating. The couple, however, chose to trust that God’s hand was in the process, and brought Sam home to Texas where their lives would never be the same.

Sam adjusted easily. Within four months, he was speaking English. As he began kindergarten, though, evidence of his past struggles began to take effect, and learning difficulties made school more of a challenge than for the average student.

Kyle and Ashli decided to take action and figure out what worked best for their son. They found therapists who could help cope with his feelings, doctors who understood international challenges, and teachers who taught with patience.

In June 2014, the Youngs felt God’s calling to expand their family once more and adopt a girl domestically. Kayli, at age seven, had lived in seven different households and, because of that, had few reasons to trust that Kyle and Ashli were going to keep their commitment of forever to her. Kayli quickly began demonstrating behavioral issues at home and in school almost on a daily basis, something that the Youngs expected because of her difficult past and making adjustments to a new family.

young family“To deal with somebody who hurts because of somebody else’s choice can take an emotional toll,” Ashli said while fighting back tears. “But I want my kids to feel the safest they can feel.”

Day-to-day life can be challenging for the Young family. Ashli said she focuses on rejoicing in the little victories, such as Sam not having to call from the nurse’s office and Kayli not having to make a mark on the behavior chart.

Through the process of waiting for the calls, meeting their son and daughter for the first time, and now getting to raise their children, Kyle and Ashli have learned to lean on one another, to trust in God’s provision, and to count on the support of family and friends.

Though they first saw adoption as God’s way of building their family, they now also see it as a calling to choose to love someone who has been rejected, much like God’s love for the Church.Ashli said she looks at the challenges, such as dealing with learning difficulties and behavioral issues, as a chance to fight for children who did not have someone fighting for them for a long time.

Many people fear adoption will interfere with their lives, but the Youngs can attest to the process being a far greater blessing than an interference. Just knowing they can provide a safe place for children who would otherwise be without a family makes it a call worth surrendering to.

“We love our kids, and adoption fits us,” Ashli said. “We’re the right four people in this house at this time. Our hope is that our house will always be a safe place for kids.” Everyone can have a part in adoption even when they are unable to take in a child, Ashli said.

The Youngs rely a lot on their friends and family who can provide emotional support and would struggle deeply without it. When considering adoption or ways to help provide support to a family who has adopted, Ashli said the first step is to pray and say, “God, press on my heart what I can do,” and He will lead the way.

Though Sam and Kayli share different DNA, Kyle and Ashli have chosen to love them as their very own. The children will be forever loved and, as their family motto states, they will be “Forever Young.” For more of the Youngs’ story, insight on how to begin the adoption process, and ideas on how your church can minister to adoptive families, visit texasbaptists.org/adoption.

Harrison Key Interview

We asked Harrison to do this alumni spotlight to spread the word about his upcoming book!

I’ve decided to provide my Belhaven alumni update in the form of an interview, because I am both difficult and prone to sloth, and this interview format precludes the need for thoughtful paragraph transition, which can be so tiresome to write.

BELHAVEN UNIVERSITY:  What do you do at SCAD?

HARRISON SCOTT KEY:  What is a “SCAD?”

BU:  It’s where you work, according to your website.

HSK:  Oh, yes! The Savannah College of Art and Design.  Wait, I have a website?

BU:  Yes.  www.HarrisonScottKey.com 

HSK:  That’s convenient.  Easy to remember.

BU:  Didn’t you go by “Scott” when you attended Belhaven?

HSK:  I did.  I had other names, but Scott was one of them.

BU:  Why are you Harrison now?

HSK:  Actually, I’m writing the story about why I started using my first name and also the truth about my relation to Francis Scott Key. I’m finally ready to talk about it.

BU:  Where can we read this story?

HSK:  The Oxford American.  Summer 2015.

BU:  You can’t tell us now?

HSK:  Nope.  You have to buy the magazine, because my editors are poor.

BU:  So, SCAD.

HSK:  I’ve been at SCAD for going on nine years.  I came here to be a speechwriter for the president of the university, which was great fun, because I’ve always enjoyed telling other people what to say, just to see if they would say it.  My Ph.D. is in playwriting, and speechwriting is no different:  It’s just inventing words and stage directions for a character who happens to be real.  The only real difference is that the character can fire you, which has a way of improving your focus.  A few years ago, I was asked to chair the liberal arts department, where SCAD houses the core curriculum–philosophy, English, anthropology, political science, that sort of thing.  I teach courses in humor, memoir, story, composition, all kinds of fun stuff.  I don’t chair anymore.  I just teach and write, and participate in hurtful interviews, such as this one.

BU:  Art students have to take English and philosophy?

HSK:  Yes.  Art students are insane, generally, and like to come to SCAD to punish themselves with courses on Shakespeare and Existentialism, which help make them better thinkers and slightly less insane.  SCAD shares that in common with Belhaven, this belief that the liberal arts are what make us human, or at least what helps us to understand our humanness.  Artists and designers need that, I think.  Like every other human.

BU:  So, you have a book coming out.

HSK:  That was supposed to be a secret.

BU:  It’s on Amazon already.

HSK:  I’d prefer to not talk about it now.  It’s supposed to be a secret.

BU:  It’s call The World’s Largest Man.

HSK:  Spoiler alert.  It’s about my family.

BU:  Tell us about your family.

HSK:  I have one.

BU:  And?

HSK:  My wife, Lauren, attended Belhaven, too.  She danced here. I danced here, as well, but people soon asked me to stop because it was upsetting to many people.  She was a ballerina, which is not what you’re supposed to call them.  You’re supposed to call them “dancers,” I think, or something else.  I can’t remember. Cantaloupes, maybe.  She started teaching ballet not long afterBelhaven and has been doing it ever since.  She’s on the faculty at The Habersham School, here in Savannah, where our children are enrolled.  It’s great that she’s there, that they have an actual ballet instructor on staff.  Very unusual.  It’s possible they hired her for other reasons, such as believing she was a cantaloupe.  But it’s great.  She’s a great teacher, so much better at teaching ballet than I am at teaching writing.  She has a gift.  Also, she has me, and I am a gift, as well, according to my mother.

BU:  Tell us about your kids.

HSK:  We have three girls, ages 8, 6, and 4. Simmons, Eppie, and Ferris.  Simmons is my reader.  Eppie is my athlete.  Ferris is the ballerina.  All three are good at crying for no reason and have a rare disorder where they develop amnesia in the night and forget that attending school requires getting dressed and actually leaving the house, which they seem to find upsetting.

BU:  What do you miss most about Belhaven?

HSK:  Probably the card catalog.  Do they still have those?  I miss them.  I miss the smell.  I’m looking forward to coming back this fall. I hope to do a reading, after which I would like to smell the card catalog, if that’s possible.

Photography by Chia Chong
Styling by Libby Summers