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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Songfest takes the stage, raising nearly a quarter million for charity

Photo By Kaili Gaston

Alpha Chi Omega and One Army performed at Songfest on Friday, October 20, 2023 to a dance themed after the movie Kingston.

Will Ferrell, stormtroopers, Barbies and lots of glitter — the 45th annual Songfest saw over 30 student organizations compete with movie-themed dance performances to raise money for charity.

The three-day event was hosted by Chi Omega, a panhellenic sorority at Texas A&M; shows were Thursday and Friday at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. in Rudder Auditorium. In addition to selling out of tickets, Songfest raised money through a silent auction, merchandise, sponsors and donations. The winning performance received $20,000 for their charity and total profits numbered nearly a quarter million dollars.

Allied health senior and Chi Omega President Shelby Aulsbrook said she helped oversee the event.

“Songfest is the largest Greek philanthropy [event] at Texas A&M,” Aulsbrook said. “This is our 45th year hosting the event, and it’s steadily just gotten larger and larger each year. Last year, we raised over $237,000.”

Thirty-two student organizations were paired up to put on eye-catching performances, creating 16 student-choreographed acts inspired by  famous movies. Pi Beta Phi member and forensics freshman Meredith Miller said Songfest takes a significant amount of dedication from its participants, and while she didn’t dance this year, she’s seen the work that goes into it.

“Each organization is in charge of selling t-shirts and tickets to raise money,” Miller said. “They have been practicing for about a month now, and the practice schedule is insane. For the dances, my sorority had tryouts to place the better dancers in the harder dances. Depending on what dances you are in, you could practice almost every day of the week.”

Pi Beta Phi partnered with Aggie Men’s Alliance for their show “Alice in Wonderland,” featuring  multiple dances with performers dressed up as main characters while movie scenes or graphics played in the background. The other acts similarly went all out: lights, props and backdrops gave each group unique visuals, and costumes ranged from simple black tanks to glitzy tops to rugged pirate outfits.

There was no shortage of homages to each act’s movie. Kappa Alpha Theta and Squadron 17 recreated Will Ferrell scenes for their “Talladega Nights” show, and Delta Zeta and the Aggie Club of Engineers did a Star Wars-themed act complete with lightsaber battles and a Chewbacca suit. Theatrics were managed by Chi Omega and Rudder Auditorium employees behind the scenes.

“We have a Songfest chair, and she and her team have been working hard for 10 months to make this happen,” Aulsbrook said. “Rudder Auditorium gives us a lot of help, but as far as all the logistics go, it’s our Songfest team. They’re in the back talking through walkie-talkies and running the show.”

Nearly two dozen judges selected first through third places across the performances.

Included in the list were podcaster Melanie Shankle, Yell Leaders Grayson Poage, Jake Carter and Thomas Greve, Make-a-Wish employees Melanie Morales and Breeze Acevedo and former A&M football player Chris Valletta.

In addition, the Crowd’s Favorite awards were decided through online donations and performers picked the Acts’ Favorite. Winners were announced at the end of Saturday’s show, receiving corresponding trophies and jumbo checks presented to their group’s Songfest chairs.

Winners of the 45th Annual Songfest Competition

First place: Tri Delta and Century Men’s Society with “Elvis.” They received $20,000 for their philanthropies, St. Jude Children’s Hospital and Camp Kesem.

Second place: Zeta Tau Alpha and Beta Upsilon Chi with “Hook.” They received $15,000 for their philanthropies, the American Cancer Society and The Bridge Ministries.

Third place: Delta Gamma and Aggie Men’s Club with “Avengers.” They received $10,000 for their philanthropies, Service for Sight and Kairos Christian School.

Acts’ Favorite: Alpha Chi Omega and One Army with “Kingsman.” They received $2,000 for their philanthropies, Phoebe’s Home and Still Creek Ranch.

Crowd’s Favorite: Alpha Omicron Pi and Aggie Business Brothers with “Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse.” They received $2,000 for their philanthropies, Soldiers’ Angels and the Sexual Assault Resource Center.

First-place winners Tri Delta and Century Men’s Society had close to a hundred people performing on stage. Their act, “Elvis,” had 2010’s music but 1950’s glam and sent the audience gasping when a dancer was launched into the air  by other performers. Tri Delta’s share of the $20,000 prize will go directly to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, university studies senior and Tri Delta Philanthropy Director Mallory Font said.

“They always talk about St. Jude at practice, reminding each other that they want to win the money so it can go to St. Jude,” Font said. “I got to visit St. Jude over the summer, and there’s so much hope there. Seeing all the patients and families just made me want to do everything I can to come back here and work here to raise money for them.”

As hosts, Chi Omega will receive the largest portion of the money raised, Aulsbrook said. It will go to its philanthropies Make-a-Wish and Still Creek Ranch.

Chi Omega brought the children from Still Creek Ranch, a home for children in crisis where the sorority is the largest donor, to Songfest. The kids watched the acts and danced on stage during Chi Omega’s noncompeting performance. Aulsbrook said Chi Omega sees the Still Creek kids weekly and the members have strong connections there; being able to show them what the sorority accomplished and how much its members care for them was by far the most important part of Songfest for her.

“It’s not just girls and guys coming out here to dance and have fun,” Aulsbrook said. “It really is changing lives.”

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About the Contributor
Amy Leigh Steward
Amy Leigh Steward, Assistant Life & Arts Editor
Amy Leigh Steward is a neuroscience student from Boerne, Texas. She joined the Life & Arts desk as a writer in Fall 2023 and has been the assistant Life & Arts editor since January 2024. Outside of The Battalion, she's involved in MSC Aggie Leaders of Tomorrow, TAMIN Building Researchers and Innovators in Neuroscience and Society, and the Society of Undergraduate Biology Students. After graduation, Amy plans to pursue an MD-PhD in neuroscience and go into research, academia and scientific communication.
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