Traditions are the backbone of an organization. They are the glue that holds everything together.
Las Mascaras, the speech and theatre organization, and the Apache Belles are two of the oldest groups on campus and are built on tradition.
Both organizations share a tradition called, “bigs and littles.” In both groups, each sophomore chooses a freshman for their little, based on compatibility and interests. These sophomores act as mentors for the freshmen throughout the year and help them find a place in the group.
In the Belles, bigs and littles spend a lot of time together and have their own traditions. Littles get their bigs gifts for football games and, most importantly, the Belles big spring show. Some of these gifts may be new ideas, but will always include what the Belles call, pass downs. Pass downs are old traditions that have been passed down from that particular line of bigs and littles for years. The friendships formed between these bigs and littles are ones that usually last long after college.
“Once a Belle, always a Belle,” said Ariana Perez, freshman Belle.
Another tradition the Belles have, is a charm bracelet. Every event the Belles have, such as football games, spring shows or special trips, they get a charm: something to represent the experience.
Erinn Travis, a freshman Belle said, “[without these traditions] the team wouldn’t be as bonded as well, and we’d probably be out of control.”

“If we didn’t have our traditions, we wouldn’t be who we are today,” said Perez.
The distinction between the freshman and sophomore dance line is very important for the Belles: it’s the difference between leading and learning. The sophomores instruct the new Belles how to conduct themselves in all situations, and teach them the ways of the group. The leading year is a very special time for sophomore Belles. At the end of the Belles spring show, the sophomores take their special final bow. It’s a recognition of all their hard work and dedication.
“I feel they have a positive effect; as far as the freshman and sophomore tradition,” Jasilyn Schaefer, the Apache Belle director said. “It gives them something to look forward to. If everyone entered the team on the same playing field, the second year wouldn’t be as special. So, we give them benchmarks and goals to achieve,”
Las Mascaras, or Las Mas as it is typically called, also has a way to recognize its dedicated students. At the end of every spring semester, the group holds a formal banquet where all the faculty and students are celebrated for their work throughout the year. Awards are given to the best of the speech and the theatre department and include things such as: best actor, best techie, distinguished speaker and more. Voting for these awards is held by private ballot the week prior to the event and all Las Mas members are asked to vote. It’s almost like they’re Academy Awards and is a very special night to commemorate the end of the show season and to recognize the hard work that was put into it.
“It brings us all together…It’s right before graduation and it’s kinda our last time together. To a lot of us, it’s equally as important as a show,” said Stephanie Spencer, a sophomore business major and Las Mas treasurer.
One particular tradition belonging to Las Mas is not quite as formal, however. Beginning in the spring of 2012, the students adopted a tradition that they named, “Top of the Town Tuesday.” Every Tuesday, the students dress up to the 9’s.
“We dress our way to the top of the town,” Trevor Commons, TJC theatre major and founder of the Top of the Town tradition said. It all began because Commons got a bunch of nice clothes for Christmas 2011 and he wanted to have an occasion to wear them. Soon it caught on, and it became taboo to not dress up on Tuesdays.Family photo
The guys garb themselves in a variety of slacks, vests, ties and suit coats, while the girls don cocktail dresses. The girls can also “suit up” if they prefer and wear slacks with formal tops.
There are many other groups on campus that have fun and interesting traditions. One such group is the Anime Club.
Every summer, the Anime Club makes a trip to Dallas to go to Akon. Akon is a large Anime convention and is actually the longest running Anime convention.
“…It’s basically where Anime fans come, and they get together and fellowship. You can make some really interesting friends,” said Shannon Rooney, a current member and the first president of the Anime Club.
In order to make the money for this annual trip, the club will host a bake sale at least once every semester. Almost everything for the bake sales are home-made and have a variety ranging from cookies to whole cakes.
“We’re in college, and let’s face it; we love to eat. So bake sales are really successful,” Rooney said.
Traditions are created to help keep things lively and interesting.
“They make your group unique,” said Commons.
Whether a tradition is faculty or student led, they all work toward the same goals: finding their own identity and setting them apart from the crowd.

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