A hush fell over the Alumnae Auditorium as the first sounds of artificial thunder rolled across the audience. It was Monday, Feb. 12 at 7 p.m., and the American Shakespeare Center’s production of Macbeth had just begun, instantly enchanting the students and faculty of Judson College and Marion Military Institute alike. “Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and the filthy air….”
The American Shakespeare Center (ASC), stationed in Staunton, Virginia, is well-known for its use of Shakespeare’s original staging conditions (such as universal lighting, minimalistic sets, live music, lavish costumes, etc.) and traveling theater troupes. During their two-day visit to Judson’s campus, students were able to attend viewings of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and a stage adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
“The most interesting thing about [using Shakespeare’s staging conditions] is being able to see students actually understand Shakespeare’s writings,” explains Thomas Coppola, stage manager for the ASC’s traveling troupe. “There’s this ‘Shakes-fear,’ as I like to call it, that is not intentional by any means; English teachers decided that Shakespeare should be studied like a poet. And the thing is, these plays [. . .] aren’t meant to be studied in the classrooms. They’re meant to be seen, interacted with. They have that approachability that’s only available when you come and see a live show. To me, it’s really cool seeing the audience get hyped about Shakespeare when they realize that they can understand it. There’s finally a connection.”
This connection is something that the ASC takes quite seriously. In Shakespeare’s time, plays were performed on a thrust stage—a type of stage that literally “thrusts” into the crowd—and actors had the ability to communicate directly with the audience members as they performed the play. This is a characteristic that the center brought to Judson; stage seating was provided for a small number of students for both performances. With the stage seating came actor-audience interaction, including a full conversation, a passing of the coat and a grabbing of the hand, and even dancing with the actors onstage.
Additionally, students had the opportunity to attend workshops that focused on deciphering Shakespeare’s verse and exploring the world of sound effects and musical underscores used to develop scenes onstage.
Grace Terry, a freshman and music minor, attended the music workshop. “I was impressed by the several different ways you can make sound with random objects,” she observed. “My favorite part was when they showed us the water pipe that they used to make the supernatural sounds in Macbeth. It really opened my eyes to my view of music, especially when [the actors] talked about how we naturally fall into a steady rhythm. I used to think sound effects were just simple add-ons to the scene, but now I know that they construct an entire atmosphere and build the world in which the play is set.”
“I really enjoyed the rhetoric workshop that Thomas put on,” Jr-Soph Alexis Burt states. “I loved learning how actors can interpret Shakespeare however they see fit to really bring a performance to life. It’s interesting to see how we still use most of the language Shakespeare used today. The workshop really gave me insight on the language of the time and helped me better understand the plays.”
According to Dr. Laura Schrock, chair of the Concert/Lecture Committee, the ASC’s visit to Judson’s campus is a “once-in-a-lifetime” event for the college. “To be a Judson student and have this level of professionals to come here and do this much—it’s really staggering,” she says.
To the students of Judson, Schrock’s statement rings true. Not only did the ASC’s presence on campus bring a unique and intriguing new vigor to our tiny college campus—it brought a heightened sense of excitement and enthusiasm for performing arts that Judson students might have never gained otherwise. After the back-to-back-performance Monday and Tuesday night of two plays from the ASC’s repertoire, students were overheard on Wednesday in the cafeteria lamenting that there was “no play tonight”—a sure indication that the ASC’s presence left a lasting impression on the students of Judson College.
Late in October, a diverse group of Marion citizens came together to discuss the city and its role in Alabama history. This committee united to honor a new and important celebration: Alabama’s upcoming 200th birthday. While the committee has only met once, the various members including Judson’s own Mrs. Eleanor Drake, have many things in store for Marion when 2019 arrives. On December 14, 1817, the Alabama territory officially became the nation’s 22nd state.
“Perry County was created December 13, 1819 – one day before the statehood. Marion was settled sometime in 1819. The whole thing goes back: the city, the county, the state all go back 200 years,” Mrs. Drake said.
In order to properly commemorate this event in history, the Alabama 200 is a three-year statewide celebration which will provide an opportunity for both Alabama residents and visitors to truly experience the state and all it has to offer.
In addition to giving people the chance to explore our “Sweet Home” Alabama, Alabama 200 will engage the communities with activities and invest in educational programs for local schools. While Alabama 200 will foster and support future state growth, it will also commemorate the stories of Alabama’s memorable people, places, and events. As displayed on their website, Alabama 200’s vision for their program states, “It is a chance to celebrate our place in each of the 67 counties that stretch from the Shoals to the shores. It is a moment to remember the people who made our state and to nurture the generations who will carry us forward. It is an opportunity to chart a vibrant, prosperous future for the state with history as our guide.”
While we have not yet reached Alabama’s 200th birthday, the state committees have already begun to meet and plan various events and celebrations for this important time in Alabama history.
Earlier this year, a film crew set out to make a powerful short film about the Civil Rights Movement. Traveling from Atlanta, Georgia to the little town of Marion, the crew wanted to capture and recreate powerful moments in Marion’s rich history. The mastermind behind the film, Trent Lumpkin, gathered a cast of both high school and college students, as well as a handful of Marion citizens to construct his vision. The film entitled, “Through Her Eyes” is a time-period piece about an African American teenage girl becoming one of the first to integrate into an all-white school system here in Marion.
“It is based on a true story and on the events that really did happen in the area. That’s why it was so important to come back down there. That way we can pay tribute to the Civil Rights leaders who were lost in the battle of the area, as well as keeping true to all of the locations where these events actually happened,” Lumpkin says. Filming at locations such as Francis Marion High School, the local baseball park, and of course, Zion United Methodist Church, Lumpkin and his crew were able to recreate important historical events, such as the night of Jimmie Lee Jackson’s death. With the help of Mayor, Dexter Hinton, the film crew was able to travel to Marion to create their work.
“It was amazing. Everyone in the town was extremely friendly. It was a very welcoming environment. Without them this project would not have been possible. We look forward to coming back,” Lumpkin stated when asked about the filming process. “Through Her Eyes” is currently in post-production in Atlanta, Georgia and is set to be released during May or June of 2018. “We are going to come back and do a premiere as soon as the film is ready and it will be open to anyone who wants to see it. It will be a really powerful film,” Lumpkin stated.
Few sixth birthday parties are so peaceful as the one Charlie Flaherty threw for As Time Goes By.
September 16 marked the sixth anniversary of the opening of the used bookstore, which is open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. This isn’t Charlie’s first bookstore, though. His job from 1999-2004 was setting up about seven bookstores a year around the country. He held onto the idea for As Time Goes By for about ten years before he decided to make it a reality. Even on the birthday Saturday, when all the books were 50 percent off in celebration, the store was quiet. In the evening light, six young adults filed in, hailed Charlie as he held the door for them, and wished the store a happy birthday, before settling in to play a board game. One, who said he was in Army ROTC, left the game early to smoke a cigar outside with Charlie.
Charlie didn’t seem bothered by the lack of customers. He wished the store would pay for itself, and Marion isn’t a large market, but costs would be higher anywhere else, he pointed out. Charlie used to work at Judson on the maintenance crew for eight years, after his move to Alabama in 2002. Before that, he hit the road more often for various jobs, including working for the circus. He moved from the North down to Florida when he was sixteen, spent some time at college, before living ten years in New Orleans. This was followed by time in Manhattan and overseas before finally settling in Marion.
The young man smoking overheard as Charlie brought up the police chase that had careened past the store the night before. He asked if Charlie was ever nervous living in Marion. “No,” he replied, “This is Mayberry.”
In keeping with that throwback reference, the tagline for the store is “Nostalgia never gets old,” and the walls are covered with old family photos, newspapers and magazines, including copies of the first editions of “Time” and “Life” magazine. Even so, Charlie is adamant that print is dying, especially newspapers. He isn’t a fan of online news, comparing it all to USA Today—“Would you like a pie chart with that?”—but he recognizes the medias are moving on. So is he worried about e-books? “The fact is, enough people like the tactile nature of books” for his store to remain relevant, he says.
His ideas for the store have remained the same during the six years it has been open. His menu and prices haven’t changed, and the store displays a laid-back atmosphere. Books are piled everywhere, the room is warm, and Leonard Cohen plays on a record in the back. Charlie also sells drinks and desserts like a coffeeshop, and he offers them to you when you enter the store as if he considers you a guest in his home. If you ask him why, he says that is exactly the case. He lives in the back of the store, and claims that makes the store his living room, and therefore him the host. Judson student Arienne Borowski described a trip to the store as “walking into a home away from home. The smell of pie, books piled everywhere, and the warm company Mr. Charlie offers make the store feel comfortable and homey; more like hanging out with friends in your uncle’s living room than going into a stuffy, picture-perfect store to purchase some books and leave.”
Marion, like many other small towns in Alabama, boasts a rich and unique historical background. With the help of a local non-profit organization, Renaissance Marion, and its recent acceptance into the Main Street Alabama program, Marion’s past will be celebrated once more.
Renaissance Marion was formed by a board of local community members for the purpose of implementing change and improving the physical appearance of Marion. Executive Director Chris Joiner was hired by Renaissance Marion in August of 2016 to identify what the priorities of the group should be. After meeting with over a hundred community individuals, Joiner and Renaissance Marion prioritized three points of focus: economic development, infrastructure, and community relationships and engagement. A large group of community members was invited to discuss a program they believed to be a great opportunity for Marion—Main Street Alabama. This group included many prominent citizens, including pastors of local churches, principals of local schools, and even the Mayor. After agreeing that the program would be a perfect fit in the plan to best restore Marion, Joiner then presented the program to the Renaissance Marion board. They later approved the program and agreed to move forward. Joiner states that in August 2016, Main Street Alabama coordinators and experts were brought in from out of state to meet with members of Marion’s community. Forums were held to ask these members exactly what they wanted to see in their town.
“How Main Street works is that it enables people to implement the changes they want to see in their community,” Joiner states. “It’s their opportunity to give feedback.”
After a lengthy application process, it was announced that Marion had been accepted into the program. In January 2017, Renaissance Marion held an open session at Marion Military Institute that community members could attend and hear more about Marion’s involvement in the restoration program. Over 150 people from the community showed their support and attended the session. The massive turnout signaled to Renaissance Marion that Marion was ready to move forward.
While only in its first year, Main Street Marion has already begun to bring Marion’s downtown area back to life. The program features four different committees, each focusing on a different aspect of the town’s revitalization process. These divisions are promotion, design, economic vitality, and organization. Main Street has already completed various tasks such as gallery openings and working with local businesses to clean and refurbish storefronts. Window treatments featuring information on historical figures and businesses, landscaping projects, and even social events such as Jazz on the Square, which took place September 24, are just a few of the plans in the works for the downtown area.
Through promotion of local businesses and historic sites, such as the Women’s Hall of Fame, the Military Hall of Honor, and the Lincoln Normal School’s Museum, Marion’s tourism market can begin to grow over time. “One thing that attracted me to the program was that they work to revitalize historic downtown regions,” Joiner said.
As of the writing of this article, Main Street Marion is waiting on a strategic revitalization plan for the downtown area, a huge step toward their goals for future expansion. Once this plan is obtained, Main Street can begin to systematically expand their organization and move on to larger matters such as helping local businesses grow, helping local property and business owners renovate, and, most importantly, bring commerce into the downtown district. These plans could eventually aid in attracting new businesses to the region and may even help local people open shop.
Once the strategic revitalization plan has been received, Main Street Marion will then begin to implement projects moving into 2018. Members of the community, including students at Judson College and Marion Military Institute, may begin to get involved in the town’s restoration process. Planning opportunities for volunteer work and events, such as Jazz on the Square, will ensure much-needed community cooperation.
Joiner said, “People need to realize that while the city and Main Street Marion are putting this on, it’s going to take everybody in Marion telling their friends, telling their family, helping to push this. We all need to be recruiting people to come see the history and richness that is Marion.”
The Civil Rights Movement was an important era in American history and, more specifically, in Marion’s history. The town’s involvement in the movement is recognized in one tragic shooting of a local deacon, Jimmie Lee Jackson, when he was only 26 years of age.
On the night of September 9, the Courthouse square was lit up in a proud display. Twenty University of Alabama-Birmingham students of the Department of Theatre, as well as a handful of local Marion citizens, gathered around the square as they prepared to take part in a reenactment of the fateful night Jimmie Lee Jackson was gunned down.
Local resident Della Maynor, 67, was there to provide the Film School students with first-hand knowledge of the night of February 18, 1965. Maynor, who was 14 at the time, shared the events of that night such as what songs were sung, people in attendance, and what took place. What she recalled them sounds a little like this…
On the night of Jackson’s death, at least 500 Civil Rights activists had organized a rally to meet at Zion United Methodist Church in Marion. The rally itself was coordinated by C.T. Vivian, a Lieutenant to Martin Luther King Jr. The rally members had planned to march to the Perry County Jail, only a block away, where another civil rights activist, James Orange, was being held and protest Orange’s arrest. At the start of the rally, members attempted to kneel down to pray, but they were interrupted by local police officials, as well as Alabama State Troopers. The group members were instructed to call off the rally and return to their homes. According to Maynor, Reverend James Dobynes went against police officials wishes and instead knelt down to pray. Rally members were then attacked by Police, causing them to scatter in search of safety. An NBC reporter by the name of Richard Valeriani was also there in order to film the chaos. the After the lights of downtown Marion were cut off, leaving the night pitch black Valeriani and his filming crew turned on bright lights to aid visibility for filming. They
were immediately ordered by police officials to shut off their lights and cameras. Valeriani refused and was also attacked. They later learned that he ended up at a hospital in Birmingham for treatment. “I’ll never forget him.” Della Maynor stated.
Once rally members fled the scene, many went to a local establishment, named Mac’s Café, seeking refuge. “We thought it was a safe place, we went there,” Maynor said, “Still, they pursued us.” Resting in Mac’s Café were Jackson’s own mother, Viola Jackson, and his grandfather, Cager Lee. The police entered the café and attempted to force rally members to leave and return home. Upon hearing that his family members were in trouble, Jimmie Lee went to the cafe to defend them. Minutes later, he was shot by an Alabama State Trooper only a street away. Wounded, Jackson was sent to the hospital, where he passed away eight days later. Jackson’s tragic death later became inspiration for the Selma to Montgomery Marches of March 1965 and aided in the achievement of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The civil rights movement, while shaping both our country and our local community, has also helped shape the life of someone close to home. Dr. Billie Jean Young, Judson’s own Artist in Residence, credits the movement for shaping her life and furthermore, her creative processes. Originally from Choctaw County, Alabama, Dr. Young grew up unaware of the movement and its impact. Only upon meeting a Perry County resident did she learn about Jackson’s death and Marion’s own involvement. Dr. Young began to work with children at Francis Marion through Judson College. She asked them what interested them in theater. The students told Dr. Young of their desire to do something involving the civil rights movement.
“Although they had some stories, they weren’t talking about it. They had just heard that there was a movement here,” Dr. Young states. Dr. Young then began to invite people who were part of the civil rights movement who were still living, such as James Orange, to talk with her students. Upon hearing Orange’s story, more people were interviewed. “I was really bothered by the fact that we weren’t talking about Jimmie Lee,” says Dr. Young, “I had the research and I started to think about what I could do. Well, what I do – and that’s write a play!”
She began with Marion students, along with a handful of students from Uniontown, to do improvisations. Dr. Young then organized a listening session at Zion United Methodist Church open to anyone who wanted to talk about life during the civil rights era. “They didn’t have to be activists because it affected everybody. It’s all of our history because it happened here,” says Dr. Young. With all of this information gathered, Dr. Young was able to write the play, “JimmyLee”. The opening of the play was held at Lincoln School on the
day of Jackson’s death, February 26, and the play received a standing ovation. This play, for Dr. Young, was the first acknowledgement of what had happened that night.
“Somebody has to keep the history alive. The people were so appreciative, so proud that it made me realize that this was indeed important work. It was beyond creativity, it was soul enhancing!” said Dr. Young. “I tried through drama to at least make people think about becoming reconciled through our history and to each other.”
Revive hosted special guest speaker Cathryne Buse on Feb, 20. Buse is the author of Teaching Others to Defend Christianity, a book that details her experiences defending the Christian faith with apologetics. As Buse explained, apologetics is defending and proving the validity of the Christian faith through logical reasoning and scientific evidence. “I wrote my book,” Buse explained, “to create a resource that believers like you can be leaders of small groups, Bible studies, etc.”
Buse grew up in a Christian home in Birmingham. Her church, parents and Sunday school teachers were all people who were critical in helping Buse develop her faith from a young age. However, one life-changing event occurred when Buse was in fifth grade. She was tasked with drawing the big bang and her parents were livid; they insisted that she draw earth and write Genesis 1:1 next to her drawing. Buse explained what a great teachable moment that was. If her parents had reacted differently, Buse perhaps would have learned that it was ok not to stand up for her faith.
Eventually Buse graduated college suma cum laude, with highest honors, from the University of Alabama with a degree in engineering. Buse got a job working at NASA, a place where she was surrounded by critical, analytical coworkers. Her coworkers defended their skepticism by asking her how the Bible could be true if it was just written by men over a period of about a thousand years.
These questions made Buse wonder why she became a Christian in the first place. She realized that, while she was a good Christian, she was a not a good witness – two totally different aspects of the Christian faith. “If Christians can tell unbelievers all these verses and ideas presented in the Bible,” Buse asked, “who will actually care if they don’t believe in God to begin with?”
Why do people become Christians? Why do they believe Christianity is the ultimate truth? Do these beliefs come from the environment they are raised in? Do these beliefs come from the people they are around? These types of questions imply that, if shown enough scientific data, Christians could be convinced to turn their backs on their faith.
According to Buse, “the Gospel isn’t presented in a vacuum.” People already possess worldviews that have been set in stone. Buse explained that a person’s worldview is made up of 4 parts:
1. Where the person came from.
2. How the person determines morality.
3. What the person thinks the meaning of life is.
4. What the person thinks happens to people after they die.
Buse defines witnessing as explaining, as well as showing, to people why the Gospel is different from every single other religion and worldview that exists and why Christianity is the truth. As a result of her encounters, Buse wanted to study Christianity through logic and science. The more she studied science, Christianity and philosophy, the more Busey realized how true Christianity is. “Who made chemistry,” she asked. “Who made the rocks? Who made science? All these questions have the same answer – God.”
She wanted to use the information and facts she discovered through her research and present them in a usable, understandable way for others. Buse broke down the essential information needed to help people logically conclude that God exists into three parts:
Thermodynamics is the study of the relationship between heat and other forms of energy. There is conclusive, hard scientific evidence that there was a time where the universe did not exist and that the universe is decaying in the present. Buse argues that, if the universe hasn’t always existed, then something or someone must have created it.
All physical laws – laws like gravity, for example – are so precise that there is no statistical way that all the governing laws of the universe could have formed by chance in the specific way needed to sustain life on earth.
There are systems so complex in cells that they can’t be broken down. Breaking down such components of cells destroys them; they can’t be created by adding one component to the system at a time. DNA, for example, can’t be broken down to its base components and be put back together one piece at a time. If it’s broken down, DNA ceases to be DNA. Another stunning example of this phenomenon is how proteins are made. It takes 100 proteins to make 1 protein. But, where did the original 100 proteins come from? This is similar to the chicken and the egg puzzle and is, perhaps, one of the strongest pieces of evidence that proves that God exists. Someone must have made the first proteins, and someone must have made the first DNA.
Morality is a Universal Concept
No matter where we come from, everyone has a sense of morality, even people we don’t think have morality. Despite how twisted their moral codes were, Stalin and Hitler both seemed to care about honesty; they would execute anyone who lied to them without any questions asked. Even now, ISIS executes people they think have stepped outside the boundaries of morality. But how ae these people moral? Buse explained that people like Hitler, Stalin and ISIS possessed morality, but that it was a twisted morality. These types of people changed the focus of obeying and being loyal to God to obeying and being loyal to them and their desires.
Basically, a code of morality is a set of rules to live but, no matter what the rules are. Perhaps one of the most important things to understand about Buse’s argument is that the arguments regarding religions, atheism, etc., all boil down to codes or morality and patterns of thinking. Buse explains that, if Christianity isn’t true and moral relativism – the belief that all beliefs are equally valid even though every system of belief doesn’t work for every person – is the correct way to look at the world, then no one should be able to judge anyone else based on their beliefs.
She continued to explain that there are two possibilities for where universal morality comes from: man and nature.
Much like people can only judge a straight line because they know what a crooked line looks like, people can only know what morality looks like by watching the actions of someone who is moral. However, if morality comes from man, then every person on earth would have a different code of morality. Essentially, this would mean that someone who would never abuse a child would say that that choice is perfectly fine for another person to make. But this isn’t how the world works, is it? No way! Every person on earth would judge child abuse as morally wrong. This type of social thought experiment proves that morality doesn’t come from man.
The other place morality could come from is nature. There is a theory based on Darwinistic evolution that suggests that humans evolved the concept of morality to make social interactions and expectations to make societies run smoothly. However, this isn’t true. Morality and altruistic behavior goes against the very core of Darwinistic theory – survival of the fittest. If a starving ancient human gave their last piece of meat to a small ancient human child, that starving human would die. To evolve this behavior in an entire population is counterproductive to its evolution, scientifically speaking.
So, then, if morality doesn’t come from man or from nature, where does it come from? Where does that leave us?A being outside man and nature had to create and instill it in mankind. The only answer left for where morality came from is God.
Bethany Williams, a double major in biology and psychology who frequently attends Revive, was extremely moved by Buse’s talk. She stated, “it was extremely important to me to see a whole different way Jesus Christ is proven to be real. Buse’s sermon brought up new questions about how to prove to others that Jesus is real while simultaneously helping me understand, on a whole new level, just how real He is and what He can do for us. This was so important. for me to hear.”
As Buse explained, “If we have morals, then God must be good, just, loving, etc.; because we are made in His image. How do you think He feels about what we, as His children, do?” He cares a lot. He is sad when we don’t follow the moral code He set out for us. Buse stated that witnesses can use this point to transition into how Christianity is different than all the other world religions – the other world religions state that it is what humans do that determines if they get into heaven while Christianity states that humans must be utterly perfect to enter heaven.
Then, the witness can explain that, “humans are broken and we can never, ever fix what we broke by sinning.”
“‘Then what can we do?,’ the person being ministered to will ask. ‘Nothing,’” Buse explained. “We do nothing, because we can’t do anything about it. The only thing that can fix what we broke is by believing in Jesus as the Savior. The only thing we can do is give our sin to Jesus so he can heal our brokenness.”
Buse continued, stating that, “we can only fully understand the human condition by understanding what Jesus did for us. Everything hinges on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Everything.”
If we believe Genesis 1:1 – In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth – then, we can believe the rest of the Bible. It is our job as Christians to be the light and salt of the world.
Will you be equipped when God gives you the opportunity to witness?
This semester, there were six weekly opportunities to serve in the Marion community. These weekly opportunities were organized by the Faith Based Service Learning (FBSL) Department.
PERRY COUNTY NURSING HOME
Student Leaders: Kayla Oliver and Kristina Gentry
Days of Service: Fridays at 1:30
Students who gave their time volunteering at the Perry County Nursing Home visited and spent time with the nursing home’s residents. One of the many things Judson volunteers did with the nursing home’s residents was crafting.
SEWING SEEDS OF HOPE
Student Leaders: Hannah Woods and Heather Carlson
Days of Service: Mondays and/or Fridays 2:30-4:30
Students who volunteered at Sewing Seeds of Hope helped clean and organize the offices. Judson volunteers also helped complete administrative work.
VISITING SHUT INS
Student Leaders: Leslie Wheat and Katie Owens
Days of Service: Friday afternoons and/or weekends
Judson students who volunteered visited with shut-ins, people who are usually elderly and can’t leave their homes. Some of the volunteers brought meals while other volunteers did small tasks, like changing light bulbs, to help whoever they were visiting.
Student Leaders: Audri Thicklin and Tiffany Pugh
Day of Service: Monday at 10 a.m.
Volunteers who helped at Berean HeadStart read to pre-K children. Judson volunteers also spent time with the children they read to while they were at Berean HeadStart. Additionally, the volunteers helped build the confidence of every child they met.
FRANCIS MARION SCHOOL
Student Leaders: Kayla Jones
Judson volunteers who spent time volunteering at Francis Marion helped in special education classrooms. These volunteers tutored some of the children they worked with, helping develop the children’s reading and math skills.
FRANCIS MARION PEARL MENTOR PROGRAM
This is an upcoming mentor program that is in the process of being created. The goal of the Pearl Mentor Program will be to mentor girls in 11th and 12th grade through community service while developing their leadership skills.
This year Judson has welcomed two new staff members, as well as two new professors in business and English, respectively. Dr. Kem King is the college’s new business professor, and she has high hopes for her time here. King got her undergrad degree at Mississippi State in Business Management with a focus on human resources. She later went to East Tennessee State for her MBA in Management and pursued a PhD at the University of Alabama in three areas: organizational behavior, strategy, and administration.
While she has always seemed to return to Birmingham periodically during her life, King considers Gulfport, Mississippi, to be her home and where she grew up. Much like many Judson girls, King was drawn to Judson once she found out it existed. In fact, one of her favorite memories was finding the college while living in Greensboro with her daughter. “Chandler and I lived in Greensboro for a year . . . Every day we’d get out and go exploring . . . We went out into Marion and found Judson, and I thought wouldn’t it be so cool to teach here?” Dr. King fondly recalled finding Judson and making the decision to teach here. She remarked, “I have been a twenty-year-old female in this world . . . I think I have something to say to these women.”
Dr. King enjoys reading, antiquing, and thrift shopping in her spare time. “I [just] pick up a book and read it,” she explained, referring to her willingness to read nearly anything that crosses her path. During her time at Judson, she hopes to accomplish many things that make people either want to be a business major or be proud of being one. She is currently working toward starting a store where students of any major can work at or buy from, and she aspires to take some Judson students on world trips to expose them to the beauty and wonder that can be found outside of Marion, Alabama.
Senior Business major Victoria Douglas recognizes her sentiments and her heart for her students. “I first met Dr. King at her student-interview session in the spring of 2016. Her professional manner was made especially impressive by her warm, open personality–I could tell that she was genuinely passionate about teaching and would care about both the students and their progress in and out of the classroom,” she explained, fondly recalling her meeting with the then business candidate. “I was thrilled to hear about her acceptance as a professor of business here at Judson College: she was the professor of business candidate who seemed to be the missing piece to the Judson puzzle. Without her, the Business Department would not be the same. . . . All in all, we are so thankful that she has joined Judson College as a faculty member, and we hope her experience here as been just as good for her as it has been for us.”
As freshman Amanda McQurter’s name was called, junior/soph Lauren clenched her fingers in apprehension and frustration. She already had two littles, Victoria Belcher and Sierra Driver. Could she really afford another?
The room remained silent aside from the roar of whispers that could be heard as people wondered who would stand.
Lauren was already anxious about becoming a Big and a Little for the very first time. Would she be a good big? Would her big be proud of her? Could she financially afford a third person? Troubling thoughts swirled throughout her entire being. She would need help from her Judson friends and family to make it all happen. But what if Amanda didn’t like her? But Victoria was her roommate, right?
The internal struggle continued as people discussed the impending decision. So far no one had stood. Should she really go for it?
“I stood for Amanda because I believed she would be more comfortable with our family, and we were eager to accept her with open arms,” Lauren explained. “Oh… I have three now. I was almost finished with two, but now I have to do three . . .” Upon realizing she then had three of everything to make, from craft boxes and canvases to poseys and (later on) blankets–especially when she was already mostly done with Sierra’s and Victoria’s–she went into a panic.
A week passed quicker than any junior/soph or new big would have wanted. From daily sign-making and gift-giving to the constant canvas- and craft box-decorating, Big/Little Week is a rewarding yet exhausting endeavor. It can also be quite a pricey event, once you add together the cost of canvases, paint, craft supplies and boxes, and anything else you might need to decorate for the banquet. All the while, Lauren was frantically piecing things together for her now three Little Sisters. She spent hours making, remaking, and re-remaking things, all the while covered in paint and glitter from head to toe. She is still getting the glitter out of her hair!
Would they like their canvases? Would they be happy as triplets now instead of just twins? Would they all get along as well as she hoped? The only way Lauren could keep her mind off of the itching doubts and confusion was to keep working. Although, Sierra later confirmed facetiously that she truly had no reason to fret. “I was not so much thinking of the ceremony itself, but of the results. I would get someone who understands my puns; unfortunately, she is basically a bottle of glitter. But at least now I can draw ducks on everything,” she remarked post-event.
Finally, the night arrived. With the help of her Grandbig, senior Cynthia Mosborg, Lauren’s three canvases were finished and ready to present. The chapel was full of chatter as Judson girls excitedly awaited the beginning of the Big/Little Signing. Junior/sophs were on the right hand side of the chapel proudly showing off their hard work to one another, while freshmen were on the left waiting and wondering in giddy suspense.
The event started with Megan Matthews, junior/soph class president, at the podium with a list of names, ordered alphabetically by the junior/soph class. Starting with B, Makayla Birchfield was called to the front to meet her three new Littles and present them with their Penguin Mafia canvases. The four of them signed their names together as Big and Littles, and the junior/sophs relentlessly begged to see the canvases as they passed by to sit. This trend continued for nearly every name called. As Megan worked her way down the list–Darana Campbell . . . Jashaun Davis . . . Larissa Guenzler . . . Cheyenne McGee . . .–Lauren got more and more excited and terrified to go up and present her Littles with her labor of love.
The Ns came along and before she knew it, her name was being called. She got up to meet her new Littles halfway and presented them with their Duck family canvases, surprising them by flicking on the lights her Grandbig had so meticulously attached to the borders of each canvas. After handing the canvases over, she received her own canvas and signed with her Big and Littles for the very first time. Even Amanda seemed to enjoy the idea of being a duck. “If it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and acts like a duck then it must be a duck,” she playfully stated afterward.
Megan called many more names and the remaining junior/sophs presented some breathtaking canvases; however, nothing else mattered more to Lauren than the expressions of love, surprise, and happiness each Little gave her as they received their gifts and signed their names beside hers.
Shortly after the signing, all the Judson girls gathered in the dining hall for the Big/Little Banquet, where all celebrated their first meal as Big and Little. Ducks, cows, frogs, leopards, and even amoeba decorated the Sara Christenberry Hunt Dining Hall. Streamers and confetti and candles covered the tables, walls, and ceiling.
Lauren’s ducks presided in the corner of the dining hall beside the salad bar and milk dispenser. She hoped they would all get along and enjoy each other’s company. As it seemed, she had little to worry about. The ducklings laughed and cut up and fit in perfectly with the rest of her crazy family. They feasted on chicken fingers and blew up confetti poppers on the seal, and the event was truly a night to remember. “My favorite part of big/little is when we shot those confetti cannons on the seal. Seeing everyone’s reactions was interesting. When it was all over, I was just glad I wasn’t left on the seal! I’m just glad to be a part of the duck family and especially Lauren’s little sis,” Victoria later commented.
This is Lauren’s story. However, it applies to any and every Judson girl who has ever been a Big or a Little. Aside from the surprise addition of a third Little, insert any name and this story will hold true to the feelings, desires, and expectations of anyone during Big/Little Week. What’s your story?