Students illuminated by glow sticks and neon bracelets jumped up and did the wave, their cheers scarcely audible over the thundering guitar riffs as Gavin DeGraw took the stage, singing to a packed house of students, faculty, staff and community members in William & Mary Hall’s Kaplan Arena.
The arena, where the day before the W&M community had gathered to celebrate the 320th anniversary of the College’s 1693 charter, now saw that same community unite once again to dance and cheer along with Gavin DeGraw and Good Old War at the third annual Charter Day concert, the finale of 2013’s Charter Day festivities. The event was sponsored by Global Flight Relief, a non-profit organization based in Newport News.
Many concertgoers lined up in the cold outside William & Mary Hall well before the 6:30 door opening, eager to claim good seats.
“We’re really excited for the concert; I’m a ‘One Tree Hill’ fan,” said Kelsey Shivers ’13, referring to the teen drama whose opening credits featured DeGraw’s “I Don’t Want to Be.”
Joining her in the line was Rachel Leon, M. Ed. ’13, who first saw DeGraw on the “One Tree Hill” tour. “He was one of the first concerts that I went to so I am really excited that he’s coming here,” Leon said.
Working behind the scenes
While eager fans huddled outside the doors, many student volunteers were inside the arena making last minute preparations for the concert. Alma Mater Productions (AMP)’s music committee led the team of volunteers, whose behind-the-scenes work not only facilitated the concert, but also provided invaluable experience to those helping.
The AMP team, who had been on the scene since 9:30 a.m., performed a variety of tasks, including transporting the artists, setting up their green rooms, guarding dressing rooms and even grocery shopping for the artists.
“It’s definitely an involved process, but everyone always has a role,” said Jamie Blake ’14, a member of AMP’s music committee who helped the bands with equipment set-up and sound checks as well as assisting with ticketing at the door.
Not all of the AMP team’s jobs took place inside the arena.
“My job today was to be a runner, so I’ve been driving everyone around. I have been driving to and from the airport yesterday and today and to and from the hotel. I picked Gavin up from the airport this afternoon,” said Kelsey Bunner ’13. “He’s a really cool guy; he’s pretty chill and really down to earth. He’s great.
“This has been a pretty mellow time—we’ve had some more crazy running experiences in the past,” Bunner added.
Katie Sharp ’14 was part of the team who went shopping for the bands.
“We have a whole list of things the artists request that they want in their dressing rooms,” she said, noting the items included coconut water, ginger chews, vegetarian cold cuts and fruit.
“It turns out that tofurkey is not super easy to find in Williamsburg,” added Philip Basnight ’13, chair of the AMP music committee. “We like being able to provide the bands with what they want so they’re in good spirits and ready to put on a great show.”
While the AMP volunteers’ efforts were vital to the concert, the students themselves also gained practical familiarity with working in a concert environment.
“If you’re interested in the music and especially performance side of things, you can’t really get an experience like this outside of AMP unless you go for internships, and that’s difficult. It’s definitely a great opportunity,” said Colin Cross ’14. “You get to learn a lot just by watching. If you’re observant, you can learn a lot about workflow and the production side with the sound crew and the lighting team.”
‘Charter Day is about community’
For both student workers and concertgoers, the concert highlighted the sense of community Charter Day evokes and celebrates.
“There’s really no other opportunity like this to celebrate a school that we all love so much,” said Ryan Goss ’16, who arrived early to claim a spot on the floor near the stage. “It cements the historical significance of this place. Three hundred and twenty years of astounding intellectual minds have walked these grounds and we’re just a part of that.”
The AMP workers also saw their work in the background as fostering the spirit of community at W&M.
“Charter Day is about community, and in my opinion, there’s no better way to bring the community together than a big concert in the Hall, one of the largest buildings on campus where we can all fit and celebrate together,” said Basnight.
Blake likewise thought of the concert as a celebration of camaraderie at W&M across the generations.
“It helps celebrate the sense of community we have on campus. Our history is a very important part of who we are at W&M, and it’s great to provide a concert for the students to bring everyone together and culminate the experience,” Blake added.
Founded by Scott Terry, CEO/Principal of Tempus Jets, Inc., Global Flight Relief has conducted missions in East Africa supporting HEAL Africa, the Eastern Congo Initiative and the Bridgeway Foundation and in the Caribbean in conduction with the World Pediatric Program. GFR is based in Newport News, VA with additional operations in Greenville SC and Uganda. GFR's aircraft are capable of conducting medical evacuation, delivery of food and medicines in remote areas under austere conditions, and other logistics support missions where people are in need of humanitarian assistance. For more information, contact Amanda Johnson at email@example.com.