ATU Students Step Up for Salvation Army

The final numbers from the Salvation Army angel tree project for the 2016 holiday season for the Arkansas River Valley are in, and they reveal that Arkansas Tech University students made the season brighter for a considerable number of area youth.

Of the 450 local children who had their wishes granted through the Russellville location of the Salvation Army, 200 were granted through an effort led by the College Panhellenic Council (CPC) at Arkansas Tech.

Nine Greek organizations at Arkansas Tech sponsored at least one Salvation Army angel during the 2016 holiday season.

Anna St. John, who served as CPC president in 2016, said the idea for taking on the project originated with a desire by the group to take on a new challenge.

“We realized that we could really make a difference and bring the Greek community together,” said St. John. “At the end of the year we really wanted to do a service project to give back to the community that got all of Greek life involved. We had quite a few meetings trying to figure out what it would be. When we started this whole project, I had no clue we would have such a positive response.”

Of the 200 children assisted through the Arkansas Tech CPC effort, more than 90 percent were sponsored by Arkansas Tech students. After the first 100 were chosen within an hour, the CPC reached out to Salvation Army and pledged to find sponsors for another 100 children. They fulfilled that pledge.

“It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my four years at Tech,” said St. John. “When everyone came to drop off all of the toys and clothes for their angels, it absolutely brought tears to my eyes. Everyone really came together as a community, dug deep and remembered the true meaning of Christmas. I think this really is a true testament to what our Greek students are capable of on this campus. Actions speak louder than words. I cannot express the joy and gratitude I felt towards everyone who helped contribute to this project. Saying that it was a success is an understatement. It was so awesome that everyone that participated just really wanted to give back and didn’t expect anything in return. It was the best feeling to realize just how many people truly cared about this project and giving these sweet kids the Christmas they deserve.”

Learn more about Greek life at ATU.

Wind Ensemble Taking Its Show on the Road

The Arkansas Tech University Symphonic Wind Ensemble will perform a pair of collaborative concerts with high school bands from within the region during the first weekend in March.

The ATU ensemble will be joined by the Dardanelle High School Wind Ensemble for a 7 p.m. performance on Friday, March 3, at The Center for the Arts in Russellville.

On Saturday, March 4, the scene will shift to the Fort Smith Southside Auditorium for a 6 p.m. concert featuring the ATU Symphonic Wind Ensemble and the Fort Smith Southside Wind Ensemble.

The students from Arkansas Tech will perform selections from “West Side Story” during both appearances.

Clay Hooten directs the Dardanelle High School Wind Ensemble, while the Fort Smith Southside Wind Ensemble is under the direction of Sean Carrier.

Dr. Daniel A. Belongia is director of bands and associate professor of music at Arkansas Tech.

Learn more about the ATU Department of Music.

Your Choice: Pot Roast or Chicken Teriyaki?

Williamson Hall Dining Room will be the scene for week three of the Arkansas Tech University Department of Parks, Recreation and Hospitality Administration spring lunch series on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Lunch will be served from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. The meal, which includes soup or salad, one entrée, one dessert and beverage, will cost $9.95 per person plus tax.

Reservations are suggested for parties of five or more to ensure group seating. To make reservations, call (479) 968-0378 or send e-mail to

Diners will receive a punch card. Those who attend five or more lunches during the spring 2017 semester and get their card punched each time will be eligible to receive a voucher for a free meal during the fall 2017 dinner series.

Below is the menu for the Williamson Hall lunch on Thursday, Feb. 23:

Soup or Salad (choose one)
Loaded Potato Soup
House Salad

Entrée (choose one)
Classic Beef Pot Roast (Served with Creamy Mashed Potatoes and Brown Gravy)
Chicken Teriyaki (Served with Steamed or Fried Rice)

Dessert (choose one)
Apple Dumplings (Served with Ice Cream)
Turtle Cheesecake

Tech Love Story: A Real-Life Prince Charming

According to Shelby Byrns, “Love always finds you when you aren’t looking for it.”

She transferred to Arkansas Tech from out of state with one goal in mind: completing her degree so she could begin her teaching career. But Tyler Byrns had other plans. He was immediately smitten with Shelby and began charming her skeptical heart, which wasn’t looking for love.

It wasn’t any one thing that made Shelby fall in love with Tyler; it was many things. The way he surprised her with cake and flowers for her birthday, the way he persevered through any obstacles he encountered, the way he showed her what kind of man he was during their conversations while hiking on Mt. Nebo.

By the time Tyler proposed after six months together, Shelby knew that he would be a great life partner and father someday. She agreed with her whole heart. Years later, Tyler told her that he began saving for her engagement ring when he had only known her for two weeks.

Now married for almost three years, Shelby says “It has been a wonderful journey filled with love and friendship, and we owe it all to ATU.”

Who Will Wear the Miss Tech Crown in 2017?

Twelve students have registered as contestants in the 62nd annual Miss Arkansas Tech University Scholarship Pageant.

The pageant will be on Friday, Feb. 17, at Witherspoon Auditorium. It will begin at 7 p.m. Admission will be $8 for adults, $5 for minors and free with a current and valid Arkansas Tech identification card.

Miss Arkansas 2016 Savannah Skidmore of Calico Rock and Miss Arkansas Tech 2016 Carly Copeland of Clarksville will provide special entertainment.

The Miss Arkansas Tech University Scholarship Pageant is sponsored by the ladies of Delta Zeta. Dr. Jim Collins, professor of horticulture at Arkansas Tech, serves as pageant executive director and master of ceremonies.

The Miss Tech Pageant is an official preliminary to the Miss America Pageant, and the winner will compete in the 2017 Miss Arkansas Pageant.

Contestants in the Miss Arkansas Tech University Scholarship Pageant must be full-time female Tech students between the ages of 17 and 24.

The new Miss Tech will receive a two-semester tuition scholarship at Arkansas Tech. In all, more than $21,000 in gifts and scholarships will be awarded during the pageant.

The 12 contestants for the 62nd Miss Tech title, listed in the order in which they will compete, are:

Contestant No. 1: Allie Evans
Parents: Angela Marie and James David Evans
Hometown: Dardanelle
Talent: Pop Vocal – “Don’t Forget Me”
Critical Issue: Promoting Positive Self-Esteem in Teen Girls
Sponsor: Building Blocks Pediatric Therapy

Contestant No. 2: Meagan Halcomb
Parents: Ann and Chuck Halcomb
Hometown: Delight
Talent: Vocal
Critical Issue: Let’s Be Real – Suicide Awareness
Sponsor: Alpha Tau Omega

Contestant No. 3: Anna Adams-King
Parents: Bernadette and Chris Adams; Audrey and Bruce King
Hometown: Fort Smith
Talent: Baton Twirling – “You Can’t Stop the Beat”
Critical Issue: Mentoring Makes the Difference
Sponsor: Zeta Tau Alpha

Contestant No. 4: Cierra Martin
Parents: Audra and Rob Thompson; Lavonda and Wayne Martin
Hometown: Lavaca
Talent: Vocal – “Crazy”
Critical Issue: Boys and Girls Clubs of America
Sponsors: Phi Mu and Chi Alpha

Contestant No. 5: Payton Marshall
Parents: Stacy and David Marshall
Hometown: Belleville
Talent: Vocal
Critical Issue: One Foot Forward
Sponsors: Friends and Family

Contestant No. 6: Kelsey Stone
Parents: Kim and Dee Stone
Hometown: Russellville
Talent: Vocal
Critical Issue: Healthy Habits
Sponsor: Leaning Willow

Contestant No. 7: Makayla King
Parents: Cristy and Lynn King
Hometown: Conway
Talent: Lyrical Dance
Critical Issue: Mission of Hope
Sponsor: Zeta Tau Alpha

Contestant No. 8: Lacy Knox
Parents: Libby and Clay Knox
Hometown: Hope
Talent: Jazz Dance
Critical Issue: Think Positive, Be Positive
Sponsor: Zeta Tau Alpha

Contestant No. 9: Raigan Purtle
Parents: Ryna and Brian Purtle
Hometown: Russellville
Talent: Dance
Critical Issue: Mentoring – IOU
Sponsors: Delta Zeta and Formal Affairs

Contestant No. 10: McKinzy McGee
Parents: Sharon and Leslie Edwards
Hometown: Mena
Talent: Monologue
Critical Issue: From the Plant to the Platter
Sponsor: Hull-Hughes Collegiate FFA

Contestant No. 11: Emily Torrealba
Parents: Cindy and Eduardo Torrealba
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
Talent: Dance
Critical Issue: Encouraging Women to Study STEM Fields
Sponsor: ATU Women in STEM

Contestant No. 12: Danielle Duggan
Parents: Donna and Greg Duggan
Hometown: De Queen
Talent: Vocal
Critical Issue: Think Pink, Think Cure
Sponsors: Zeta Tau Alpha and Parents