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Searcy, Arkansas has been the home of Harding University since 1934. Every year, Harding has continued to expand its campus and increase in enrollment. Potential students are offered several opportunities to tour and experience campus throughout the year during designated Bison Days weekends; one of the most popular of these occurs during the weekend of Easter and boasts Spring Sing, a musical event that showcases the theatrical talents of over one thousand students.
This is a time to appreciate the campus in its fresh spring splendor: crape myrtle and dogwoods flower the campus and friendly squirrels amuse passersby. Reunions, concerts, tours, an Easter egg hunt, church services, and even a joust populate the weekend’s schedule of activities. The highlight event, Spring Sing, is a collection of performances in which participants dance and sing to enact brief stories for the audience. Spring Sing 2015’s theme is “Famous for Fifteen,” mimicking the numerals of the year and demanding a consideration of the nature of fame and its function in a Christian environment.
Half of the acts during Spring Sing are created, directed, and performed by social clubs. At Harding, social clubs fulfill the role of fraternities and sororities but intend to embody only the positive aspects: friendship and service to the community, with a godly focus. Participation in Spring Sing serves to strengthen relationships among students; around one hundred students work on a single production together, planning and practicing for months and performing four times during the weekend. After the final performance Friday night a panel of judges awards winners in different categories, considering everything from choreography to costumes, with a grand winner receiving the prize donation for its chosen cause. The clubs’ causes include the Sunshine School, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Jacob’s Place, Special Olympics, Searcy Children’s Home, and Friends for Life.
This year, the clubs ham it up pretending to be Hogwarts students, apprentice Jedi knights, characters from the game of Clue, enslaved Oompa Loompas, Disney princesses, and more. An especially moving and mature performance from one of the clubs depicts the atmosphere of 1960s San Francisco as a woman faces losing the man she loves to the draft; the group relies almost entirely on songs from the decade to tell their story. Another attempts to solve a murder mystery at a dinner party, calling in Sherlock, the Scooby team, and finally Batman to solve the case. Stringing the oddly diverse and original stories of the clubs together are four hosts and hostesses, talented and seasoned performers who, with backup from an ensemble, cleverly transition each segment of the show using group and solo renditions of show tunes and popular songs. In keeping with the theme “Famous for Fifteen,” the transition songs performed were all one-hit wonders.
The show traditionally concludes with a performance of “United We Stand,” a song that highlights an essential Harding trait of camaraderie. After a night of listening to talented singers depicting humorous and creative parodies in fun costumes, and with such obvious friendship, it’s easy to understand why this event is such a large draw for admissions to the university.
If you have a high school student who wants to go to college and might be interested in a private Christian school here in Arkansas, or if you want to know what causes so many students from all fifty States and dozens of foreign countries choose to travel to our state to receive their education, or if you’d just like to be entertained for an evening—you should attend Harding University Spring Sing.
All photos provided by Jeff Montgomery – Harding University.
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