by Kay Elam, Sigma Delta (Huntingdon College) Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee
“Though the four founders of Alpha Omicron Pi are no longer with us physically, their great heritage lives on through us.”
Each chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi is expected to celebrate Founders’ Day. AOII was founded on January 2, 1897, but, due to the holidays, that date is often problematic for members to gather to celebrate the founding of our Fraternity. At the 1921 AOII Convention, Founders’ Day was officially changed to December 8, the birthday of Founder Stella George Stern Perry. Because December 8 is often right before or during finals, not to mention in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the holidays, most chapters wait to celebrate Founders’ Day until January, or even February.
The founders were modest women and did not want the purpose of Founders’ Day to be all about them. Instead, they wanted members to stop and reflect on the lastingness of the obligations we, as members, had voluntarily accepted when we were initiated into Alpha Omicron Pi. They wanted it to be a time to renew our bonds of friendship and to become energized and inspired by our sisters of all ages and generations.
Celebrations come in all shapes and sizes: casual brunches at an alumna’s home, to more elaborate affairs where alumnae and collegians join together to celebrate at a more formal event. Some chapters use Founders’ Day as an opportunity to give out their annual awards, and often invite parents and university dignitaries to the event. Regardless of the format chosen, the program should pertain to AOII, its founding, the founders and ideals. The Candle Lighting Service for Founders’ Day (from the Rituals Book) is especially nice and is done by my metropolitan alumnae chapter.
My large alumnae chapter (Nashville Area Alumnae) celebrates Founders’ Day by having brunch with four area collegiate chapters. There is an awesome silent auction, a photo booth and lots of opportunities for fun. We have a guest speaker and usually have someone from the Arthritis Foundation speak about how AOII’s philanthropic efforts have made a difference to them. Greetings are read from both the Executive and Foundation Boards.
My favorite part of the celebration, however, is the Candle Lighting Service. Our Chapter President does a brief introduction. Then, four members describe the individual founders and a candle is lit in memory of each founder.
Representatives from all of the different collegiate chapters in attendance come forward in two lines in the order of the chapters’ installations. The representative says the chapter’s name and sub-motto, lights a candle, crisscrosses to the other side and starts a circle. With about 50 different collegiate chapters represented in our alumnae chapter, this is quite impressive.
After all of the chapters are presented, the president invites those still seated to join the circle before we adjourn. Because the candle lighting is a service, non-AOII invited guests may be included. Everyone present gets to feel the warm ties of friendship when we join hands and sing the “Epsilon Chapter Song.”
Alpha Omicron Pi
Friends as the years go by
Loving sisters are we
Alpha to thee
The Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) hopes your chapter has a fabulous Founders’ Day celebration planned. If you need Founders’ Day programming ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact us at RT&J@alphaomicronpi.org.