Saint Mary's School News

41st annual Lighting O' the Grove celebrated Dec. 16, 2021

The spirit of Christmas was in abundance Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, at the annual festival of lessons and carols (in Pittman Auditorium this year) and the 41st annual Lighting O' the Grove! Lessons; carols sung by the Chorale; music by the Chorale, Ladies in Blue, The Echo, and all in attendance; the lighting of the tree; memorial luminary dedications; and more than 500 luminaries lighting the circle drive in the Grove! The Beacon Christmas party was also held for students in Smedes-Emory Parlor with more music from The Echo and a reading of The Polar Express by Santa Claus. A joyful Saint Mary's time was had by all. Merry Christmas, to all!

The Lighting O’ the Green was first held in December 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 Henry Read, Saint Mary’s beloved director of development from 1977-1996. The event was first held in front of the Chapel, and a living campus tree was lit with lights strung by Mr. Read and the SGA. Guests from the Raleigh community came to enjoy the entertainment and dignitaries who presided including local actors, musicians, and state government officials. In 1987, the event was relocated to the front of Smedes Hall and, in 1988, renamed The Lighting O’ the Grove. This annual Christmas celebration has become one of the school’s most beloved traditions.

As we have done since 1981, we collected canned goods/non-perishable food items under the tree to be donated to the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. 

The Lighting O’ the Grove featured caroling; special Christmas music from the Chorale, Ladies in Blue, and The Echo; the lighting of the Christmas tree; refreshments; and more. Hundreds of luminaries will illuminate the historic front campus on Hillsborough Street, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Luminaries

The hundreds of 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:

 Louise Landauer Allred’58HS’60C, Giving Circle and Board of Visitors member;

Blanche Robertson Bacon ’53HS ’55C, Former vice chair of the Board of Trustees and longtime trustee; Mazie Strickland Froelich ’51C Outstanding Alumna Award recipient; John Bratton Jr. Volunteer Service Award recipient; namesake of the Blanche Robertson Bacon ’53HS ’55C Honors Scholarship;

Ken Beasley, instructor of mathematics from 2017-2021;

Mattie Lou Uzzle Blackman ’61C, Lifetime Giving Society member;

Margaret Elizabeth Burgwyn ’65HS ’67C, former alumnae secretary/director;

Thomas C. Coxe III, former trustee;

Harriet Matthews Jackson ’73HS, Lifetime Giving Society member;

Peggy Pegues Kinney ’58HS ’60C, longtime class secretary;

Trissy Holt Lomax ‘54C, longtime class secretary;

Alice “Dill” Walker Lynch ’54C, former trustee;

Susan Poyner Matthews ’66C, endowment contact;

Nancy O’Herron Rankin ’41HS, donor/namesake of Rankin Terrace and the Nancy O’Herron Rankin Endowment Professorship;

Camille Grice Redding ’55HS ’57C, former trustee;

Charles McKimmon Winston, former chair of the Board of Trustees;

Dora Winters Taylor ’43C, former alumnae secretary/director;

Rollie Tillman Jr., former chair of the Board of Trustees;

Isabel Carter Worthy ’49C, Legacy Giving Society member;

and all Saint Mary’s alumnae and friends who have died within the past year.