College kicks off holiday season during inaugural Lees-McRae Christmas: A Service of Music and Lessons

Together with students, faculty, staff, and members of the community, Lees-McRae kicked off the holiday season Monday evening with its inaugural Lees-McRae Christmas: A Service of Music and Lessons.

The night began at 5 p.m. with a holiday-themed dinner in MacDonald Dining Hall for the campus community. Lined with white luminaries along the sidewalk, guests and their families made their way to nearby Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre for the music and lessons service, featuring games, singing, and the telling of the Christmas story.

Following a welcome from President King, the Lees-McRae Highlanders kicked off the festivities with a sampling of 22 classic holiday tunes performed in about three minutes. Audience members then gathered  on stage to participate in several holiday-inspired games.

Jingle Bell Shake

President Lee King and Tammy King prepare three students for the final game of the evening—jingle bell shake. With tissue boxes tied to their waists, students shook all the jingle bells from their boxes for a chance to win a prize.

The stage—beautifully adorned with strands of evergreen garland intertwined with lights and red ribbons—featured a 15-foot-tall Christmas tree flocked with wrapped boxes, lights, and poinsettias. The tree’s massive presence on stage was complemented by a black grand piano on one side, and the podium with the college’s crest on the other side.

Provided to the college by nearby Grandfather Home for Children, the 15-foot-tall tree served as the focal point for a night of singing and fun. Following the service, the tree was moved to Swank Park in the heart of campus.

An opening prayer from Rev. George Wright and the lighting of the star on the tree transitioned the service to the music and lessons portion. With the help of several local pastors including Feild Russell, Michael McKee, Alan Yawn, Tee Gatewood and student Mary Whiteacre, they told the story of Christmas in five separate lessons. Each short lesson was punctuated with musical performances by students or by hymns sung by the audience.

First on stage was student Mary Whiteacre ’19 who presented the first lesson titled, “The Setting.” Whiteacre’s presentation was followed by an audience hymn to “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” For the second lesson, Russell came to the stage to present “Gabriel and Mary.” His lesson concluded with a solo performance by student Bella Huey ’22 who sang “Breath of Heaven.”

The third lesson, “The Birth” was presented by McKee and followed by a duet student performance by Taylor Knoll ’20 and Novita Hardy ’20 of “Mary Did You Know”. The final two lessons, “The Shepherds and Angels” and “The Good News,” presented by Yawn and Gatewood, respectively, both concluded in audience hymns.

Ted Henry

Rev. Ted Henry of the Banner Elk United Methodist Church gives the closing and benediction to a filled Hayes Auditorium and Broyhill Theatre. 

Before the final song of the night, students from the Order of the Tower, passed out glow sticks to each member of the audience for a lighting ceremony sung to “Silent Night.”

Lees-McRae Christmas

Associate Professor of Theatre Arts Michael Hannah leads the audience in singing “Silent Night” with glow sticks in hand.

Following the service, visitors gathered in Evans Auditorium in the Cannon Student Center for cookies, hot chocolate, cider, and even more music by the Highlanders.


Students enjoy cookies, hot chocolate, and cider in Evans Auditorium during the inaugural Lees-McRae Christmas: A Service of Music and Lessons.

By Nina MastandreaDecember 05, 2018
FamiliesCommunityCampus LifeAlumni