By Justin Madden
Grambling State University Media Bureau
Christmas is more than 20 days away, but late Thursday afternoon seemed like Christmas for a bit, absent young children and the opening of gifts.
The Christmas spirit flooded Grambling State University’s Black and Gold room and atrium as Frank G. and Dorothy Pogue, the university president and first lady, greeted and entertained students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members. The rooms were filled with the sound of jazz on a stage lined with live poinsettias and a large, brightly-lit Christmas tree stood front and center.
Invited by University President Frank G. Pogue and First Lady Dorothy Pogue, the Christmas reception featured music from the university’s music program as well as an ensemble of faculty and staff members.
In recent memory, university presidents have held a Christmas celebrations, but this one had special meaning for some as the institution starts to wrap up the first half of a challenging fiscal season. The university was blessed with its first “clean” state legislative audit recently but state funds have fallen dramatically.
“It’s not just a party. It’s a coming together at the special time of the season,” said Pogue. “We still spell Christmas, C-h-r-i-s-t-m-a-s, and it really means something to a community like Grambling. It means love, peace, harmony, respect and supporting each other.”
“It is really great to see the campus come together,” added Mrs. Pogue, standing by her husband at times and spending other times exchanging seasons’ greeting with campus constituents. “It really is a joyous experience.”
Supporting each other was exactly what the Grambling community did during the event as a newly-organized Holiday Ensemble wowed the more than 200 guests with Christmas carols such has “Joy to the World” and “This Christmas” along with some Baptist church seasonal favorites. The group dressed in holiday reds, greens and golds must have thought they were in a sold-out music hall the way they performed, and onlookers reciprocated with the stomping of their feet, shouting, clapping and occasionally joining in with the singing.
The Pogues enjoy bringing the campus groups together each Christmas season, in part because different people face different circumstances. That’s the case with Lee Britt, who this past year lost his brother and his mother-in-law. Britt said the Christmas reception was emotional medicine.
“Seeing people and friends that I know is therapeutic for me,” said Lee, an assistant physics professor. “As I look around I see a lot of people enjoying themselves and getting involved. Interacting with people is good, especially during Christmas time.”
Jeannette Amos echoed the same sentiments, saying the event’s greatest moments are when individuals stop and chat with others they may not see often.
“You get a chance to interact with people in the community and you get a chance to converse with your fellow co-workers outside of the office,” said Amos, an administrative coordinator for university police traffic. “It’s a nice holiday gathering.”
Courtney Heard enjoyed the chance to mingle with the president, first lady and university leaders.“It’s only a couple of times out of the year that we get a chance to see faculty, staff and students together,” said Heard, a senior political science major. “To me this means unity.”
As a first-time attendee of the Christmas reception, freshman Justin Owens said he was glad he attended. “This is a great holiday for Grambling, because this is a loving holiday and a giving holiday,” said Owens, 21. “I’m loving the choir, it was really and it’s good seeing everyone enjoying themselves. “