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Christmas festivities, Orchesis concert highlight December at Saint Mary's
Mary Virginia Swain '77C

Saint Mary's School celebrated a most festive holiday weekend on campus, Dec. 1-3, 2017, with the annual Orchesis fall concert, the 37th annual Lighting O' the Grove, and the annual Lessons and Carols service.



Saint Mary's School celebrated a most festive holiday weekend on campus, Dec. 1-3, 2017, with the annual Orchesis fall concert, the 37th annual Lighting O' the Grove, and the annual Lessons and Carols service.

The weekend opened Friday, Dec. 1, with opening night of the fall Orchesis concert at 7 p.m. in historic Eliza Battle Pittman Auditorium. Orchesis presented a matinee performance at 2 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 2.

Sunday, Dec. 3, was one of the most festive days of the year on campus, as Saint Mary's celebrated the 37th annual Lighting O' the Grove at 7:15 p.m. on front campus, preceded by Lessons and Carols in the Chapel at 6:30.

The Lighting O' the Grove featured caroling, special Christmas music by the Chorale and Ladies in Blue, the lighting and dedication of the Christmas tree - this year to alumna, residential faculty member, and Director of Public Relations and Publications Mary Virginia Swain '77C, refreshments, the dedication of memorial luminaries (see list below), and more. More than 600 luminaries, placed and lit by the Granddaughters Club members, illuminated the historic front campus on Hillsborough Street, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Special lighting of the stately oaks created an enchanted Grove.

Canned goods were collected to be donated to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

The annual Festival of Lessons and Carols began at 6:30 in the historic Saint Mary's Chapel. It was standing room only and the hottest ticket in Raleigh Sunday evening. The Chorale and guest musicians, including Saint Mary's students, presented a beautiful program planned interspersed with the traditional Christmas lessons. Check out videos from the service at Saint Mary's School You Tube channel.

The annual Beacon Christmas party followed the Lighting O' the Grove in Smedes-Emory Parlor with a rousing Christmas show by the Echo, Saint Mary's senior class washtub band, and a reading of The Night Before Christmas by our own Santa's helper, Chris Hoskin.

Saint Mary's will also celebrate its annual Christmas Eucharist chapel service, Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 11 a.m., with the Rev. Jim Adams from Christ Church in Raleigh as guest priest. Seating is available for guests in the front and rear pews.

The residential community will celebrate the annual Christmas dinner, Wednesday, December 6, and the annual Christmas carol sing chapel will be held Friday, December 8, to which all are welcome.

History of The Lighting O' the Grove

The Lighting O' the Green was first held in 1981 as a gift from Saint Mary's to the Raleigh community. The event was founded by the 1981-1982 Student Government Association (SGA) officers and the late Henry Read, Saint Mary's director of development from 1977-1996. The event was first held in front of the Chapel, and a living campus tree was lit. In 1987, the event was relocated to the front of Smedes Hall and, in 1988, renamed The Lighting O' the Grove. This annual holiday celebration has become one of the school's most beloved traditions and is sponsored each year by the SGA.

The Luminaries at the Lighting O' the Grove

The candles placed by the Granddaughters Club around the circle drive represent each current student and member of the faculty and staff of Saint Mary's School. The lone candle in the center of the circle represents all Saint Mary's alumnae.

Special memorial candles are dedicated this year in memory of:

Margaret Rose Bass Blosser, former staff member;

Barbara Eagleson Cain '65C, past member of the Board of Trustees and the Alumnae Council, Saint Mary's Giving Circles member;

Georgette Campbell, professor emerita of science;

Susan House, former staff member;

Lou Kiefer, former staff member;

Mary Anne Creech McIntire '65HS, past member of the Alumnae Council;

Spencer and Mary Elizabeth Bassett Morten '41HS '43C, Heritage Society members, Lifetime Giving Society members;

Anna Wood Ragland '41C, Lifetime Giving Society member;

Jimmy Rogers, former championship soccer coach;

Georgia Murphy Smallman '44HS, Heritage Society member;

Peyton Woodson, past member of the Board of Trustees;

Martha Yates, former staff member;

and all Saint Mary's alumnae and friends who have died during

the past year.

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