Raven’s Call: Gone but never forgotten

Raven’s Call is an annual memorial service dedicated to individuals connected to Sam Houston State University who passed away the previous year. This year’s memorial will be held Friday at noon in front of the Ron & Ruth Blatchley Bell Tower.

This coveted tradition is hosted by the Orange Keys. During the service, names of students, faculty and staff that have passed are read aloud and orange and white flowers are placed on the on the monument in their honor.

“100 years from now, none of us are going to be here… so what are we going to do?” Dean of Students John Yarabeck asked. “What are we going to accomplish? I think the biggest message of Raven’s Call is to celebrate your time here and celebrate people who have gone before us. If you do that, you’re going to take something away from it that will be meaningful.”

The memorial goes beyond just calling the person’s name out and placing a flower in their name. An art gallery and a family reception are also put up to honor those who have passed.

“Every student, faculty and staff member who have died in that time that we’re aware of, we honor [at Raven’s Call],” Yarabeck said. “We do this in a number of ways. In the art gallery, families are asked to send a picture and a descriptor of what they’ve done and we display it there so that people can know a little more about them. We have a reception for the families prior to the actual ceremony that talks about the history of it.”

Orange Keys President Courtney Shaw spoke about how Raven’s Call serves as a reminder that no one in the Bearkat community will be forgotten.

“I feel Raven’s Call is an important SHSU tradition because it shows that when you come to Sam, you are not just another face in the crowd,” Shaw said. “We are a community and we care about all of the people who come through Sam, and we should honor not only what they gave to the university, but their lives also.” ​

Everyone from the community is invited to attend the event—not just SHSU students. Shaw explained how she feels the event is important and often overlooked.

“I know when I was younger, I was not quite sure what [Raven’s Call] is, but to me it is one of the most sacred traditions here at Sam,” Shaw said. “To be able to honor fellow Bearkats is a great opportunity for the school to come together as a whole.”

The Orange Keys begin planning Raven’s Call at the beginning of the spring semester, and spend a good amount of time making sure everything is in order for the event.

“Each Orange Key is pivotal in the planning process and our Vice President of Programming oversees that each step is being taken in a timely manner,” Shaw said. “We also have help from other offices on campus, such as the president’s office, music department and ROTC who help with some of the logistics.”

Some look at Raven’s Call as an opportunity for the Bearkat community to come together, even if the event is sometimes somber.

“I think it’s a great opportunity just because, as students, we tend to get in our own little bubbles,” Orange Keys Vice President of Programming Bailey-Anne Kaytar said. “It’s such a great opportunity to come together, especially for those big moments of sadness.”

To recognize and honor the lives of fallen SHSU students, staff and faculty, everyone is welcome to attend Raven’s Call on April 20 at noon in front of the Ron and Ruth Blatchley Bell Tower.

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