By Jonathan Smith, Editor in Chief
A scared high school senior slunk into the double gym in Moody Coliseum among hundreds of people he didn’t know in February 2002 on a mission for someone else.
The sea of people wore pounds of stage makeup and brightly colored and sparkly costumes. Ridiculously large smiles and wide-eyed gazes were plastered on these people’s faces.
But not all the faces were smiling.
Copies of the student newspaper opened to the arts page hung around the double gym. Unkind words scrawled in black Sharpie laced some of the pages. Big X’s placed through chunks of text. Images of the arts editor hung in angry effigy on the walls.
This was my first true Sing Song experience.
As a high school senior visiting my sister, a senior here at the time and editor of the Optimist, I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I stopped by the newspaper office that cold February night.
The arts editor, Paul Anthony, had just published a review of Sing Song, critiquing each act and predicting each of the winners (with what ended up being almost deadly accuracy).
It only makes sense – at least to the journalism majors – for the campus newspaper to review one of the biggest productions of the year for the school. Few bat an eye at reviews of other school productions.
Several social clubs did not agree. For some of them, being called the second-place act by a college sophomore in the campus newspaper was a little too much honesty.
And so they reacted angrily, and the defaced copies of the Optimist hung around the double gym portrayed an attitude about this good-natured competition that school administrators likely did not intend 50 years ago.
Unfortunately, when the Optimist needed to contact a Sing Song participant backstage, no staff member felt comfortable walking into that lions’ den.
So the job fell to the one person sitting in the office who no one on campus knew and wasn’t even a student yet – me.
Needless to say, my first Sing Song experience did not leave me with warm, fuzzy feelings.
It’s a wonder I ever stepped foot back in the Optimist office again after my first “assignment,” but it’s even more amazing that I desired to go backstage at Sing Song ever again.
Only two years later, however, I was back in the double gym as a member of the Optimist. Last year, too, and I plan on being there again in another week.
I have seen a drastically different mood the past two years at Sing Song than I did in high school. I have seen the camaraderie that develops between club members of a Sing Song act as they wearily wait for their final performance. I have watched members of all different social clubs come together to celebrate the end of a show. I have seen social clubs genuinely wishing other clubs good luck before they take the stage.
Social clubs have had their better Sing Song faces forward these past couple years, and they need that streak to continue next week.
In a year that has seen three clubs disciplined for pledging activities (two of which won’t be participating in Sing Song as a result), social clubs as a whole desperately could use some positive press.
Sing Song faces will infect campus next week, but what will those faces look like?
Will they be angry, bitter faces that act out angrily at being called anything less than first place by the media or Sing Song judges?
Or will the bright eyes and huge smiles reflect attitudes that truly enjoy the friendly competition as much as the camaraderie?
You have one week to decide.