On April 14th, 2023 at 12 p.m. Sam Houston State University’s Orange Keys hosted the 11th annual Raven’s Call ceremony that took place in front of the Ron and Ruth Blatchley Bell Tower. Beginning in 2012, the Raven’s Call University Memorial Service has become a Sam Houston State University tradition to honor Bearkats who have passed within the previous year.
Hosted and organized by the Orange Keys, the official ambassadors of Sam Houston State University, as well as the Dean of Students Office, the two worked together to keep the memory of those who have passed alive in the Bearkat community. Prior to the ceremony, a reception was held at the Peabody Memorial Library for the families of the deceased Bearkats. At 12 p.m. the reception concluded with Bearkats and their family walking to the ceremony together.
After the Bell Tower rang at promptly 12 p.m., the Sam Houston State University Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) gave a Presentation of Colors, followed by Lucianna Astorga beautifully singing Amazing Grace to begin the ceremony. Mateo Seghezzo, the Vice President of Programming for the Orange Keys gave a warm welcome to the families and Bearkats that were attending the ceremony. Then Dr. Alisa White, the President of Sam Houston State University, gave Words of Comfort to reiterate the feeling of unity through times of loss. During her speech, President White stated, “People we love are worth grieving over,” a powerful statement that conveys the importance of remembering those who have passed and how they affected Bearkats in the past and the present.
After President White’s Words of Comfort, she introduced Dr. Chelsea Smith, the Dean of Students, to hold a moment of silence for the Bearkats who have passed throughout the years. Dean Smith then proceeded to perform the Roll Call of those who were being memorialized during the ceremony. Beginning with students, faculty and staff, and concluding with retired faculty and staff who have passed with the year. A rose was placed by Orange Keys members to symbolize each individual being remembered.
With each white and orange rose being placed in the Raven’s Call monument, each rose symbolizes each Bearkat that has passed within the past year. Such symbolism brings a new sense of remembrance for these families to ensure them that they are not alone during these times of grief. On the bottom of the monument, it states “Gone but not forgotten”, a phrase that embodies the spirit of Bearkats that have passed, because although they have passed their legacy lives on through generations of not only the Bearkats to come, but their families and the communities they belonged to.
Once all of the roses were placed in the monument, Dean Smith stepped down from the podium to introduce Jarrett Thompson, the President of Sam Houston State University’s Orange Keys to close the ceremony. Thompson shared his gratitude for the Orange Keys and their efforts to keep the memory of deceased Bearkats alive through the memorial service that has become a staple within the Bearkat community. Following Thompson, Luciana Astorga came to the podium to conclude the ceremony by singing the Sam Houston State University Alma Mater.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, family members of the Bearkats that were being honored were able to take photos of their deceased loved one in front of the Raven’s Call Monument and Bell Tower to have a lasting memory of their Bearkat leaving their legacy at Sam Houston State University.