The year was 1989. Tom Craig and the other seniors on the newspaper staff participating in the class act, “The Cowboys Are Dead,” sang and practiced their choreography as they simultaneously scrambled to finish their stories.
That, Craig says, was one of his best memories as a student. “Intertwining Sing Song with our everyday life as students was a lot of fun, and that created memories not just about the experience, but about the relationships.”
In 2007, Sing Song became an important part of Craig’s life once again when he took the job as ACU’s director of student productions, a title that later expanded to director of student organizations and productions. This year’s Sing Song, fittingly themed “For the Love of Sing Song,” will mark his last year in that role. He will retire at the end of the semester to work full-time with his family business, the Antique Station in Abilene.
“When I first started working with Sing Song, I can remember waking up in the morning excited about going to work,” Craig said. “Sing Song is one of those jobs that’s easy to be excited about because you’re working with a lot of different people who are wanting to create something bigger than our normal everyday life. That generates excitement.”
Craig said he will miss the constant interaction with creative people. He encouraged students to care less about winning Sing Song and more about the relationships they form, he said. Those are the memories they will carry for a lifetime.
Next year, another Sing Song alumnus Nick Tatum (’13) will take over as director of student productions; Alyssa Ellison (’08) and Chris Herrington (’11) will be in charge of student organizations.
As a student, Tatum directed several winning Sing Song acts. He returned to Abilene in August, working as adjunct faculty and contract labor for student productions. He joined the ACU staff full time in January and has been working alongside Craig preparing to take the reins. “This is my ninth year to work with Tom [both as a student and staff member], and I have learned so much over the past decade,” he said.
“One thing I hope to carry on after he retires is his attention to detail when it comes to hospitality,” Tatum said. “Tom’s employees, students, family and friends can attest that he has a gift for making people feel welcome, paying attention to their individual needs, and making them feel valued.”
Tom believes he is leaving the beloved tradition in good hands. “I’m excited to know that those things will continue, because the nature of who we are at ACU and how we do things together and how we interact with each other will always continue,” Craig said. “I know the excitement and the relationships and the bonding will always be part of who we are at ACU.”
Inside look at Sing Song:
Any proper introduction to Abilene Christian University must include this well-known traditions. The brainchild of innovator Dr. Bob Hunter (’52), Sing Song was introduced as a campus-wide “Sing Song contest” designed to encourage student organization participation and demonstrate that ACU is “the Singing College.” The wildly popular event has been entertaining audiences and engaging students each February since 1957. ACU 101, a regular feature in ACU Today magazine, gives readers an inside look at this annual extravaganza that features more than 1,400 students.