Photo: Backstage Deanna Thomas and Susan Keeling prepare centerpieces, Trina Fink polishes glass tiles, Nancy Jones and Judy Garner discuss final details
As Hardin-Simmons University’s Round Table Scholarship Luncheon approaches, students in the Department of Theatre are busy readying the venues, Van Ellis Theatre and Behrens Auditorium, for the event.
Thursday, March 6, 2014, will mark the fourth year for the Round Table Scholarship fundraiser, which was established during the Round Table centennial celebration as members sought new ways to serve the HSU campus.
Round Table committee members are adding finishing touches as they gather in Van Ellis Wednesday to form a centerpiece assembly line. Vases are lined up ready to be methodically filled with curly willow, purple irises, marbles, and lights. Tables will be finished off with decorative chargers and programs.
This year’s featured guest for the fundraiser luncheon is singer, songwriter, educator, and author Gloria Gaither. Best known for her contribution to the world of contemporary gospel music, Gaither has written lyrics for more than 700 songs, primarily to music composed by her husband Bill Gaither. Together, these Gospel Music Hall of Fame and Museum inductees have earned four Grammy Awards, ten Dove Awards, and the ASCAP Songwriters of the Century Award.
While many people are familiar with her gospel songs, this year’s Round Table entertainment will feature Gaither’s life story as Dr. Laura Pogue, HSU associate professor of English and dean of General Education Studies, interviews Gaither about her distinguished career.HSU first lady Carol Hall said luncheon audience members will have the chance to ask questions of Gaither by filling out a card on the table prior to the meal.
“I’m excited that the Round Table Scholarship Luncheon has become an anticipated event. People are looking forward to it and making their reservation early,” said Hall, who has been the event chairperson the past three years. “While we are sold out of luncheon spots, Behrens Auditorium is open for people to view the event live on stage and via a feed on large-screen monitors.”
Hall said there are several door prizes that will be given away in a drawing, including a purse donated by Casa Authentica, as well as a photo opportunity with Gaither and an autographed book.
“Theatre students have been taking apart seating platforms and moving them into storage to make way for the tables and chairs. We’re setting up viewing screens and lights and just making everything clean and beautiful,” said Ryan McBride, assistant technical director of theatre and a 2012 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate. McBride said students will also be working on a computer set-up to carry the live feed to the large screens in Behrens Auditorium.
“Larry Wheeler (head of the theatre department and technical director) and his crew have been so accommodating to our ‘invasion’--tearing down the theater set-up and then putting it all back together for an event later on Thursday evening,” said Nancy Jones, chair of the Round Table Scholarship Luncheon.
McBride points to the great learning experience the event provides as theatre students get real-life opportunity to work fast and efficiently. Many of the same students are also involved in a busy week in Brownwood at the Christian University Theatre Festival performing Fraud’s Last Session. Hall said the Round Table committee appreciates the help of the students and is especially grateful for their help with the 46 tables and more than 300 chairs.
Past Round Table Scholarship recipients have included Holly Lewis of Colorado City, Texas, a biology major set to graduate in 2015 with plans to attend medical school; Whitney Browning of Seymour, Texas, an exercise science major and pre-physical therapy; Nicole Little, a biology major from Weatherford, Texas; and Danielle Kizer, a pre-med biology major from Fort Worth, Texas.
In addition to the scholarship, The Virtue Award is a surprise to the chosen recipient. It is presented to a woman who has demonstrated support of Hardin-Simmons and reflects the service principles and virtues of the founders of the Round Table organization.
A reception will be held on Thursday monring at the HSU President’s Home for underwriters and table sponsors to meet Gloria Gaither and have a picture made with her.
Individual tickets for the overflow seating may be purchased at the door of Behrens Auditorium for $10 cash or check. Doors to the auditorium will open at noon, with the show to start at 12:15 p.m.
For those already holding tickets to the sold-out event, doors to Van Ellis Theatre will open to luncheon guests at 11:30 a.m., with lunch to begin at 11:45.
Interestingly enough, while set up is being completed on this year’s event, planning for the 2015 Round Table Scholarship luncheon has already begun. “We have already decided on next year’s featured guest,” Hall said excitedly. “We are really hoping to get final confirmation in time to make the announcement at the luncheon.”