For a school built and established in 1895, history is a key factor to the Graceland identity. Inevitably, the tradition that the students have created for themselves lives on as part of that history. Generation to generation, the history and tradition grow, and the current student body creates their own history while acknowledging those who have gone before them. It is this: the lasting community and shared history that is so fundamental to the relationships that Graceland fosters.
I think it begins with Graceland’s residence life “House” system. I, for example, was placed on Cheville House. While one of the oldest Houses on campus, one of the things that makes Cheville special and feel like home instead of just a dorm was the history and “fraternity” of the hall. One of the first things Cheville does as a House is to sit down and talk about the history of Cheville. The namesake, Roy Cheville, and his influence on Graceland; all the functions we do, like the Pig Roast; every dumb decision our current and past Chevillians have made… We look at old photo albums and tell stories of old. I felt like I belonged somewhere; that I was formally a part of this family. I was now “on the in” and the people around me were family. It’s funny. I didn’t feel like family because of those who are directly around me or with me; our time and bonding would come later. We had a whole year ahead of us, and that is information for a different blog… It wasn’t those in the room with me that made me feel a part of a family. It was the history, the lineage, the fact that I was now a Chevillian like hundreds who had gone before me.
Now, I can only speak for myself and for my experiences on Cheville, but I’m sure almost everyone can relate to my experience in some way. Graceland is just too rich with heritage and history and all of those things I have mentioned for any student on campus – or even around campus – to not pick up on some piece of it; even if it is a small piece. Everyone finds something, whether it be the House history and identity or the greater Graceland one that we are all a part of. It’s something that is so strong that even people who spend little time on campus or are just on college visits recognize. The Graceland history, tradition and all of its identifiers help develop who we are; what’s important to us. It helps foster and maintain all of those famous Graceland relationships. In a lot of ways, it is the lifeblood that fuels new and existing Graceland Yellowjackets.
Carter Chapley ’17