Opinion: Top ten must watch movies during Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas

Finals are just around the corner, but never fear Christmas is also near! Freeform’s 25 Days of Christmas begins this Thursday at 3:30 p.m. and features many different movies every day. What better way to unwind before or after finals than with some holiday cheer? Here are the top ten must watch movies:

1. “Elf”

Sprinkle some Christmas cheer into your day with this classic film filled of stars such as Will Ferrell, Zooey Deschanel, Bob Newhart and Peter Dinklage to name a few. Don’t forget the four elf food groups of “candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup” when you watch this unforgettable film. The first airing will be at 8:50 p.m. on Dec. 3.

2. “The Polar Express”

All aboard the Polar Express! Don’t miss this heartwarming film, centered around a young boy and his trip to the North Pole to see Santa Claus. The trip is filled with excitement, laughs and music with Tom Hanks voicing over five characters in the animated flick. The first airing will be at 9:20 p.m. on Dec. 2.

3. “The Nightmare Before Christmas”

Revisit Halloween Town with the Pumpkin King, Jack Skellington and all his animated friends when “The Nightmare Before Christmas” returns to Freeform. While many people consider this animated film to be a Halloween classic, others think of it as a Christmas classic. No matter what you think, the first airing will be at 11:20 p.m. on Dec. 1.

4. “A Christmas Carol”

Finals have you down? Don’t say “bah humbug.” Cozy up with a hot chocolate and watch this famous animated movie. This 2009 film follows Scrooge, voiced by Jim Carrey, and his journey of self redemption. Along the way, he meets three interesting characters and discovers the true meaning of Christmas. The first airing will be at 5:10 p.m. on Dec. 2.

5. “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”

Follow the Griswold family as they plan a Christmas spectacular where things rarely go to plan. This 1989 film stars Chevy Chase as the eccentric father, Clark. Don’t miss this flick because is it really Christmas without the Griswold’s? Don’t miss the first airing at 7:05 p.m. on Dec. 1.

6. “The Santa Clause”

After you watch the wacky “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” settle in and watch Tim Allen bring the laughs in this iconic movie. Watch his journey as he accidentally becomes Santa Claus and slowly stumbles into his new role. This movie is filled with fun, love and plenty of Christmas cheer. The first airing will be at 9:15 p.m. on Dec. 1.

7. “Frozen”

Once you’ve “let it go” after finals, be sure to check out this fan favorite movie. As much as you might like to say you hate “Frozen,” we all know this instant hit will have you feeling warm and fuzzy. Follow Elsa, Anna, Kristof and Olaf on this epic adventure and find out if the cold ever bothered them anyway. The first airing of this film is at 9 p.m. on Dec. 17.

8. “The Year Without a Santa Claus”

When it comes to Christmas, Santa Claus and holiday cheer seem to go hand-in-hand, but imagine a year without a Santa Claus. Follow Mrs. Claus and the elves on their journey to remind Santa how important he really is. This 1974 animated flick is sure to take you back to your childlike Christmas cheer. The first airing is at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1.

9. All three “Toy Story” movies

While these aren’t Christmas movies, they are classic Disney and the perfect movies to watch while you await your final grades. Follow Woody, Buzz, Jessie and Bull’s-eye on their endless adventures as toys. Don’t miss the marathon when it starts at 3:45 p.m. on Dec. 10.

10. “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town”

Rounding out the list is the ultimate classic Christmas film, “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.” Featuring the voice acting of legends, Fred Astaire and Mickey Rooney, this film will have you feeling Christmasy even if the weather doesn’t. The first airing is on Dec. 4 at 4:30 p.m.

While the lineup this year is notably missing classics like “Eloise at Christmastime,” “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” and all of the “Harry Potter” films, these picks are sure to fill your home or with Christmas cheer.

For more information and the full schedule visit Freeform’s website.

Featured Image from Freeform

Edited by Katy Hill


Jackson Terminal hosts annual indie craft festival

This past Saturday Nov. 19, the Retropolitan hosted their annual indie craft festival at the Jackson Terminal in the Old City.

This craft fair brings top vendors from all across the southeast. The craft fair was full of activity with attendees of all ages.

Many of the vendors had various hand-made jewelry that was different at each booth. There were also many different food trucks in attendance as well as a drink station that was serving hot coffee, hot chocolate and regular sodas.

“I like how there are so many unique pieces at the different booths. It reminds me of a craft fair I went to in Savannah, Georgia a few years ago,” said Emma Higgins who was attended the festival with her daughter.

The event as a whole contained many different retro styles of clothing, bags and jewelry.

“I’m glad I came with my niece because I’ve been working on my Christmas list and I still lacked a gift for my granddaughter and I figured she would like one of these wrap bracelets,” Janet Nunly, another attendee, said.

For more information on the Retropolitan Craft Fair, visit their website.

Featured Image by Emily Haskew

Edited by Kaitlin Flippo

McClung Speaking Contest educates audience on global issues

On Tuesday Nov. 15, students competed in the largest speech competition in the southeast. The semi-annual McClung Speaking Contest featured five finalists who presented speeches revolving around the University’s “Ready for the World” campaign.

The speakers are all currently in Communication Studies 210 and were chosen by a precise selective process. Austin Buck, Emily Graham, Megan Vande Linde, Jinna Free and Carolee Mabe were the final five contestants who passed the test and participated in the event.

These speakers all gave their testimonies on global issues. Women’s rights, bipolar disorder, poverty, suicide and the Zika virus were the major topics presented to the audience Tuesday night. Each speaker voiced an informative speech to educate the audience on his or her chosen topic.

Just like the judges, the audience had the opportunity to rank the speakers. This was just for fun, but some students had a difficult time determining their winner, as the topics were so diverse.

The majority of the audience was students who are also in public speaking classes, and they openly gave their input on the contest.

Becca Reed, who is enrolled in a first year public speaking class, said, “it was really hard to choose who did the best. They all performed so well and all the topics were interesting. The speakers were very engaging and did a great job conveying the information.”

As the contest continued, more students voiced their opinions on the competition, expressing that they understood the fears that are involved in public speaking, as they have faced these fears in the classroom throughout the semester.

Public speaking student, Connor Druckenmiller, stated, “It’s interesting to see these speakers overcome the fear of speaking in front of such a large crowd. We have to speak in front of our class, but they have to perform in front of a whole auditorium.”

Brooke Maynard, another student, also commented on the competition, “I thought the contest was really interesting, especially because we have to do speeches as well. Plus, we got to guess the rankings and winner of the event; it let us show our knowledge on public speaking.”

After deliberation, Austin Buck, who presented “Women’s rights around the World,” won the competition. The competition concluded positively as all the speakers were awarded and ranked, gaining recognition for their hours of preparation and hard work.

Featured Image by Abby Hamilton

Edited by Katy Hill

International Coffeehouse continues to share different cultures

The International Coffeehouse is held every Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Hodges Library. Every week, there is a different country that is highlighted. Students and faculty are welcome to stop by and enjoy food and drinks that are from the specific country.

On Nov. 9, the coffeehouse featured desserts, coffee and hot tea from Russia. Some of the desserts included Ruolet Piroshki (biscotti with poppy seed and raisins), Cherry Piroshki, which was similar to a cherry pie, and marmalade candies. Guests had the choice of coffee or black tea. All of the food and drinks were made by students in the Russian club before and during the event.

Hunter Leef, a UT freshman, was serving the food and interacting with those who came in. He said, “I just started learning Russian so I am volunteering today to help spread the culture that I have grown to love. These desserts are very similar to what you would find if you went to Russia and they’re very good.”

Besides the food and drinks, there were facts spread all around the room about the Russian culture. One of the surprising facts was, “There are over 100 minority languages spoken in Russia today, the more popular of which is Tatar (Tartar), spoken by more than 3% of the country’s population.”

There were many students sitting inside the Mary Greer Room and many going in and out. It was a welcoming atmosphere and most everyone was open to having conversations.

“The International Coffeehouse is a great way for students to come together and learn about countries every Wednesday,” Keely Biladeau, International House employee, said. “We will continue the coffeehouses through next semester! We hope the countries of Turkey and Egypt will be making another appearance as well.”

If you missed the International Coffeehouse this week, Argentina is the country featured for next Wednesday Nov. 16.

International Education Week starts Nov. 14 and goes through Nov. 18. You can find more information about this at http://ihouse.utk.edu.

Featured Image by Jada Blackwell

Edited by Katy Hill

Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors play for a packed audience at Market Square

With hundreds of audience members in attendance, Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors received a big welcome home on Saturday, Nov. 5. Fellow Knoxville natives, Cereus Bright, joined and opened for the band. The free concert was put on by the Campus Events Board and served as the bookend to the 100th University of Tennessee Homecoming celebration.

Carly Crawford, a University of Tennessee student and concert attendee said, “It’s really cool to not only have this free concert, but to also have UT alums playing.”

Drew Holcomb and his wife, Ellie Holcomb who sang alongside the band, met while attending the University of Tennessee. During the concert, Drew stated that he and Ellie would come to Market Square when they were students to hear live music. He went on to say, “it’s a really surreal experience to be playing at a venue that we would come to so often as students.”

The band played many old songs as well as a couple new tracks. The band put the audience on their feet with songs like “Fire and Dynamite,” “Here We Go,” and “Good Light.” They also appealed to the couples in the audience by playing slow hits such as “American Beauty” and “Hung the Moon.” The band even played two brand new songs, one which they had just recorded the day before.

The hit song of the night, “Tennessee,” was played during the encore and hit home with the audience featuring lyrics “It’s not just geography, it’s a part of me, the air I breathe.”

The bands had to stick strictly to the Market Square sound ordinance leading to the concert ending promptly at 10 p.m.

With so many students and general public in attendance, this concert served a successful ending to the monumental 100th University of Tennessee Homecoming.

You can stay connected with Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors on their website by checking out tour dates, videos, updates and much more.

Featured Image by Gabrielle Harman

Edited by Katy Hill

UT Singers performs annual homecoming concert

Last week marked the 100th Homecoming for the University of Tennessee, and while some watched “the stately walls rise glorious to the sight,” others filled the Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall in the Natalie L. Haslam Music Center to hear the UT Singers annual homecoming concert Friday night.

The UT Singers, premier a cappella ensemble and Tennessee’s musical ambassadors, took the stage under the direction of Interim Associate Director of Choral Activities, Dr. Jaclyn Johnson, before a nearly full recital hall. Johnson encouraged the audience to clap, cheer, video, livestream and “woohoo” during the performance.

“Blending is everything, especially with each person on a microphone. Every tiny flaw is amplified, and because the group is only 14 members, there is absolutely nowhere to hide,” Johnson said commenting on the group’s performance and efforts. “We spend a great deal of time devoted to blend and balance.”

The recital hall resonated with balanced sound as the 14 singers performed 14 songs including modern pop hits, classic R&B and of course, “Rocky Top.” Lights were orchestrated to fit each song and were brightly displayed on the stage in hues of pink, purple, blue and orange, creating an enjoyable ambiance for all in attendance.

The singers opened with a mash up of Imagine Dragon’s “Radioactive” and Fall Out Boy’s hit “My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark” featuring soloist, Megan Murray.

Murray, a first year UT Singer and junior from Kingsport, loves the opportunity to sing in such an ensemble. She said, “UT Singers has made me love UT more and more every week. It has allowed me to pursue my Public Relations major while still having an amazing outlet to pursue my passion for music alongside others who share that same passion.”

Murray and the other members broke into smaller ensembles for several songs. They branched beyond a cappella by incorporating guitar and piano. Hayley McGinnis belted Tori Kelley’s “Hollow” with an acoustic twist accompanied on guitar by Cory Sauer. Paul Davis III also accompanied Nicole Doyal on piano for Adele’s “All I Ask.”

Their time and efforts reached a pinnacle as they invited UT Singers alumni to sing the Alma Mater as well as “Rocky Top” arranged by recent UT Singer alumnus, Seth O’Kegley. Many alumni ranging from the graduating class of 1959 to the most recent class of 2016 joined them on stage donning their orange and white. Other alumni like HGTV design celebrity, Josh Johnson, watched livestream on Facebook.

The generational group sang in a style unfamiliar to some of the former singers because the group was formerly geared toward show choir.

“As a UT Singer, I’d have been intimidated by the complex a cappella harmonies that make groups like Pentatonix so incredible, but it sure would’ve been fun to learn!  They have paved the way to an entirely new take on the oldest form of singing, and I think it’s awesome that UTS is taking on the challenge,” UT Singers alumna, Liz Mabie, said.

The UT Singers enjoy opportunities to perform for alumni, public and private events. Dr. Johnson and the UT Singers take pride in their service as they “have the honor of singing for multimillion dollar donor and alumni events.”

Their family-like bond and support system enables them to shine individually as they move to the music they make and connect with the audience. Audience members like Ellen Sudarshan enjoyed both the music and their stage presence.

“Their arrangements were really dissonant and resolved really well. I think they all had a great, unique personality onstage, and they were really fun to watch,” Sudarshan said.

The UT Singers join with the rest of their a cappella family, ReVOLution and VOLume, for the Winter Choral Concert on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 8 p.m. in Cox Auditorium. The University of Tennessee Chamber Singers, Concert Choir, Men’s Chorale and Women’s Chorale will also perform. Admission is free.

Featured photo by Lexie Little

Edited by Katy Hill