Singing Christmas Tree Videos, MSU ASLA Award, JSU Angel Tree and Tougaloo Donation | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Singing Christmas Tree Videos, MSU ASLA Award, JSU Angel Tree and Tougaloo Donation

Belhaven University has selected and compiled video performances of its Singing Christmas Tree event going back a decade and photographs from as far back as the 1940s to honor its annual tradition in lieu of a live performance for 2020. Photo courtesy Belhaven University

Belhaven University has selected and compiled video performances of its Singing Christmas Tree event going back a decade and photographs from as far back as the 1940s to honor its annual tradition in lieu of a live performance for 2020. Photo courtesy Belhaven University

Belhaven University recently announced that it is cancelling its annual Singing Christmas Tree event for 2020 in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. However, in lieu of the usual celebration, Belhaven has instead selected and compiled video performances of the event going back a decade and photographs from as far back as the 1940s and put them on its website and social-media pages to honor its annual tradition.

Mignonne Caldwell, a former Belhaven University music professor and choir director, began Singing Christmas Tree in 1933 as an informal musical gathering with an all-female choir singing in the shape of a Christmas tree. Caldwell directed Singing Christmas Tree until she retired in 1962. The current director is music professor Christopher Phillips.

Today, the Singing Christmas Tree features a 35-foot-tall wooden and metal tree structure that holds up to 100 singers, including members of the Belhaven Concert Choir, alumni, faculty and staff. The singers now wear white robes with reflective collars and tiaras, in addition to holding lights. Each year, Belhaven holds auditions for a soloist who stands under the star at the top of the tree and performs "O Holy Night" near the end of the event.

To see the videos and photographs of past performances, visit Belhaven University's website or find a link on the university's Facebook and Twitter pages.

MSU Students Recognized for Gardening Project

Mississippi State University students studying landscape architecture, architecture and graphic design recently took part in a program to conceptualize a suite of garden designs aimed at helping schools build learning gardens.

The project, called "The Living Room: A Freeware Learning Garden Focused on Health, Food and Nutrition Education," received an Honor Award for student collaboration at the American Society of Landscape Architects.

MSU's consortium included 10 landscape architecture students, 10 architecture students and one graphic design student. ASLA recognized the MSU students for their efforts at the society’s recent virtual conference. The project also appeared in “Design-Build: Integrating Craft, Service, and Research through Applied Academic Practice,” a textbook by University of Washington Landscape Architecture professor Daniel Winterbottom.

The MSU students produced two proof-of-concept designs, one of which is already in place at Galloway Elementary School in Jackson and another which is scheduled for installation at the Starkville Oktibbeha School District Partnership School at MSU in spring 2021.

MSU's students collaborated on the gardens with The Fertile Ground Project, a Jackson-based program about food access; JH&H Architects in Flowood; Pikus Concrete in Utah and Significant Developments in Pennsylvania.

For more information about the ASLA award, visit asla.org/2020studentawards.

JSU Staff Participate in Angel Tree Program

Jackson State University employees from 15 departments recently adopted students from Blackburn Middle School’s Angel Tree, an annual holiday project the Salvation Army leads that aims to provide new toys, clothing, other essentials and requests to children in need.

The Mississippi Museum of Art, Hemingway Circle Neighborhood and Pecan Tree Park Neighborhood also adopted students as part of the Angel Tree project.

Participating JSU departments included Student Affairs, Human Resources, the College of Health Sciences, the Office of Academic Affairs, the Jackson State University Development Foundation, the College of Education and Human Development and more.

For more information on the Angel Tree program, visit salvationarmyalm.org.

Tougaloo Receives $6 Million Gift

Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott recently donated $6 million to Tougaloo College, the single largest gift from an individual donor in the college's history, a release from Tougaloo says.

Tougaloo placed the funds into the recently established Preserving and Advancing Excellence Fund and plans to use the donation to support major initiatives at the college.

For more information on the MacKenzie Scott donation and the PAE fund, visit tougaloo.edu or call Tougaloo's Office of Institutional Advancement at 601-977-7871.

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