Paige Houseman, WC '66, gets a hug from Judy Davis Alexander, WC '67, before the dinner for the dinner for the 50th anniversary with the Brenau Trustees. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)
Paige Houseman, WC ’66, gets a hug from Judy Davis Alexander, WC '67, before the dinner for the dinner for the 50th anniversary with the Brenau Trustees. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Even on a Chilly Early April Morning, Brenau Alumnae Warm at Traditional ‘May Day’ Reunion

Apr. 8, 2017
Kristen Bowman

More than 200 Brenau University Women’s College alumnae returned to their historic campus this weekend to keep alive the tradition that dates to the early days of the 139-year-old institution of celebrating May Day on the college’s usually azalea-ringed front lawn – never mind that the late frost this year nipped the azaleas in the bud and that academic calendar forces celebrating May Day closer to the first of April.

With current students going through their own tradition of seniors’ passing the baton to their sisters who are completing their junior years in a couple of weeks, the Alumnae Reunion Weekend and May Day festivities drew together the soon-to-be- alumnae who will graduate on May 5 with those who had graduated in the 1940s and subsequent decades. Graduates and their friends and families returned for two days of events including back-to-class opportunities, luncheons, cocktail parties, dinners and awards.

From left to right: Paula Speight LaMotte McCutchen,Jennie Gaines Caldwell, Sudan Sperry Cage, Mallory Gallion Bear, Kirby Lewis Colson, Carolyn Avery, all class of 1967, pose for a photo at the Delta Delta Delta house during the 2017 Alumnae Reunion Weekend at Brenau University, Saturday, April 08, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark for Brenau University)

From left to right: Paula Speight LaMotte McCutchen, Jennie Gaines Caldwell, Sudan Sperry Cage, Mallory Gallion Bear, Kirby Lewis Colson, Carolyn Avery, all class of 1967, pose for a photo at the Delta Delta Delta house during the 2017 Alumnae Reunion Weekend at Brenau University, Saturday, April 08, 2017. (Photo/ John Roark for Brenau University)

Kirby Colson, Women’s College class of 1967, returned to Brenau Friday to celebrate her 50th graduation anniversary. It was only her second time visiting campus in the last 50 years.

“I am so happy to be back here with so many of my classmates, especially several of my Tri Delta pledge sisters,” Colson said.
Colson was a piano performance major at Brenau and recently moved to South Carolina, where she teaches piano. She sat in on a music theory class with Professor Priscilla Jefcoat in the Music Department.

“You all are so lucky,” Colson said to Jeffcoat’s students. “This is a wonderful class.”

Another member of the class of ’67, Sarah Ponder McCrary, attended a Friday luncheon with a special guest.

“I brought my good friend and former professor Janis Wilson,” said McCrary, who was a home economics major at Brenau and subsequently became the food writer for The Albany Herald newspaper. “Everything I know today and do today is because of her, and I’d like to think I’ve taught her a few things since, too.”

Wilson taught at Brenau from 1962-74, then retired from teaching to become a successful real estate broker. Wilson said she was so pleased to be back on campus and see so many of her former students after more than four decades.

Although Saturday morning began with chilly temperatures in the low 40s, by the time alumnae got settled with mimosas and the friends around tables under the cloudless sky for the traditional brunch, things warmed quickly. Saturday’s events included the May Day celebration, formerly known as Spring Festival, one of the oldest traditions at Brenau. The festival in early days of the school occurred later in the spring usually around the traditional May 1 date for May Day. However, because the way the academic year calendar breaks now with the spring semester about to be completed, Brenau pushes the celebration up to the second or third weekend in April. Still, the celebration takes place on the front lawn, highlighted by the presentation of the May Court, crowning of the May Queen and wrapping of the May Pole. The queen, elected by fellow student, is joined by the princess, prince and four members from each class, and all are elected by the student body. This year Brenau President Ed Schrader crowned senior Sara Hubaishi, a senior history, political science and English major from Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and Stone Mountain, Georgia, as the 2017 queen.

May Queen Sara Hubaishi stands under the May Pole. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

May Queen Sara Hubaishi stands under the May Pole. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Melinda Hallam, Women’s College class of 2007, returned for the first time in nearly five years with her husband, Phil, and her two daughters, 8-year-old Abigail and 6-year-old Rosalyn, to watch May Day.

“In the beginning we’d be back to Brenau just about every year,” Melinda Hallam said. “But I recently went to graduate school, which took up so much of my time studying and that sort of thing.

I’m excited this year because the girls are old enough that I think I can spark their interest in Brenau.”

Melinda and Phil Hallam met in his native England when she was a Brenau student in an international program for two weeks. The family now lives in Sevierville, Tennessee, where Rosalyn is finishing kindergarten. She recently did a program her teacher calls “Kindergarten College,” in which each student does a presentation for the class about a college of their choice. Rosalyn did her presentation about Brenau.

“Melinda would love to have at least one of the girls, or really both, come here one day,” Phil Hallam said.

The events culminated with tours of campus and sorority houses, a student fashion show and an opening reception for the Brenau Collective in the Simmons Visual Arts Center.
Brenau President Ed Schrader welcomed the many alumnae “back home” and thanked them for their continued support of the university. “It’s been a great year here at Brenau, and this has been a great weekend to cap it off.”

General inquiries: info@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6299 or +1-800-252-5119 | Admissions: admissions@brenau.edu, +1-770-534-6100 or +1-800-252-5119 ext. 6100