Despite threats of rain, more than 700 students attended Tuesday evening’s Aloha Oe ceremony at Ayres Hall, one of the university’s oldest graduation traditions. The farewell service invited graduating seniors to gather one last time before their separate commencement ceremonies to say goodbye to the university and pledge their loyalty to UT. Created as a companion event to Torch Night, which students attend as freshman, soon-to-be-graduates light candles and pass the “Torch of Service” to their fellow seniors to inspire them to be leaders in their communities.
The first Aloha Oe was held in May 1926 on Shields-Watkins Field and featured a muddy game of tug-of-war, students in grass skirts, and ukuleles. It has since become a more formal ceremony, with students dressed in caps and gowns, processing up the Hill to the lawn of the campus’s hallmark building. Despite the changes, the ceremony’s purpose remains the same: to give the graduating seniors a meaningful conclusion to their undergraduate years.
Former Volunteers quarterback and current Assistant Athletic Director Condredge Holloway was the guest speaker. Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek and Melissa Shivers, assistant vice chancellor for student life, also spoke. Outgoing Student Government Association president Adam Roddy and outgoing chief of staff Allison Cunningham addressed their fellow students as well.
Visit Flickr to see more photos from Aloha Oe.