Howard’s Office of Student Affairs hosted a festive Christmas tree lighting on the Yard last week, where students played music, danced and hung ornaments.
Several organizations and about 100 students were attended to the “Deck the Halls” event during nighttime, which was hosted by student affairs in partnership with HUSA and the Office of Campus Life.
Students embraced the event as an opportunity to reflect on the past semester and welcome the holiday season as they finished up their last week of classes in the final week of November.
Students were encouraged to wear holiday attire and design their own ornaments to adorn the tree. Through their Instagram page, HUSA called on students to design their ornaments in a way that reflects their motivations to continue their “collegiate journey.”
Anaiyah Boone-Douglass, a senior elementary education major from PG County, Maryland, said, “This allowed students to create ornaments that serve as a constant reminder of their support system during final[s] season and as they embark on the next chapter of their lives.”
Boone-Douglass currently serves as the director of special projects for HUSA and organized last week’s event. Additionally, she explained the goals that emerged during the planning process.
“We aimed to create a festive atmosphere at Howard, particularly as students faced finals and the end of the semester,” Boone-Douglas said.
“We wanted to ensure that the event reflected the warmth and love present in the Howard community. Planning these goals involved collaboration not just from me but also from my dedicated staffers and our advisor,” she added.
Kayla Jackson, a freshman biology major from Chicago, said that the students involved shared “very profound words that inspired a sense of unity.” Jackson said she enjoyed seeing the various student organizations participate in festivities.
“The message that I got was the start of new beginnings,” she added, “I think the tree helped to symbolize the unity of our school and how we’re all growing together.”
After the initial lighting, members from the university community surrounded the illuminated tree to watch choral and dance performances and hear student leaders speak about what inspired them to continue their collegiate journey.
“The atmosphere was incredibly comforting and fostered a strong sense of community as we gathered around the tree singing Christmas songs and witnessing Miss Howard light the tree,” Kyla Richardson, a freshman marketing major from Atlanta, said.
Richardson expressed that she is eager to attend the event again next holiday season.
“I cannot wait to attend it again next year,” she said, “It is definitely something I’m looking forward to.”
The Howard University Community Choir performed a rendition of Norman Hutchins’ “Emmanuel” followed by an ARMC Beacon Liturgical Dance Ministry routine to “Silver & Gold” by Kirk Franklin.
Kenedi Gibbons, a freshman Advertising major from Atlanta, said the gospel choir was “impressive.”
“They really matched the spirit of the event,” Gibbons said.
The festivities continued with activities in the Armour J. Blackburn University Center Ballroom with an after-party hosted by HUSA, featuring food and games. Boone-Douglass said that it was “crucial” to collaboratively host the event and include a range of on-campus organizations.
“Many organizations at Howard share a common mindset of service and leadership, and it’s vital to demonstrate our support for Bison. Especially those who may not have a warm holiday environment,” she said. “By uniting, we strengthen the sense of community and camaraderie that defines Howard.”
Copy edited by Alana Matthew
Correction: A previous version of this article referred to the Howard University Community Choir as the “Howard University Gospel Choir.” This error has been corrected.