Students, faculty gather ‘round to light the tree for season


‘Tis the season for stressed Augie students. But amidst the chaos of finals and the end of the semester, students took comfort in the welcoming spirit of Tuesday’s Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

“More than anything, it’s the feeling of community,” sophomore Ethan Pauley said. “It’s fun to see little kids running around.”

Despite running out of cookies, the ceremony was full of Christmas traditions and good cheer. Members of the Augie choir sang carols, students decorated Christmas tree ornaments and all gathered to see the Christmas tree lights debut. College students and children alike enjoyed crafting their own ornaments and playing with Augustana’s new toy train on display.

“I like the communal aspect of being able to talk with friends and enjoy a hot drink,” sophomore Reid Rasmussen said of the holiday festivities.”

Junior Jessica Spalding described the Augie Christmas celebrations as an “encouraging part of the year.

“It’s really comforting to me,” Spalding said. “Everyone has something to look forward to.”

With finals and the end of the semester looming on the horizon, the respite provided by the Christmas tree lighting gave everyone at Augie an excuse to step back and reflect on what’s really important in this season of light and love.

Students Keeping Ole’s Legacy (SKOL) sponsored the Christmas tree lighting ceremony with the help of the Augustana Advancement Ambassadors.

Last year, SKOL set out to revive the old tradition of the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony. The renewed tradition saw success in its first two years, and SKOL hopes to continue the ceremony for years to come.

“We didn’t want to let it die,” junior Krista Youngberg, a member of SKOL said.

The ceremony kicked off with a few words from Advancement Ambassador and senior Erin Schoenbeck, donned in a Christmas tree suit with shoes shaped like presents.

Youngberg then read a poem by English professor Patrick Hicks that described the significance of light.

“From light we began, and to light we will return,” the poem read.

Following the poem, Academic Dean Susan Hasseler came forward to read her four lessons on love and light. The lessons included poetry about love and light, and biblical readings about love and the shepherds seeing the light from the star of Christmas.

Between each lesson, Hasseler and three Augustana Advancement Ambassadors recited, “Love came down at Christmas and filled this space with holy light.”

Schoenbeck then led a countdown from 10 as Hasseler flipped the switch and lit the  tree, prompting cheers from the crowd.

The choir members led the crowd in one final carol, and the ceremony ended with an Augie family picture in front of the tree.

“[Lighting the tree] is all about getting the Christmas spirit on campus,” Youngberg said.

The Christmas celebrations and decorations on campus make Augie feel like home, according to Schoenbeck.

“They make those last three weeks of finals bearable.”