Tennessee Alumnus

Centennial Court

The center of everything

Beneath the sheltering branches of an old white oak tree, amid thick greenery and fragrant spring blooms, snatches of conversation and laughter can be heard floating past on the breeze. The world is calm and quiet when suddenly, at the stroke of an hour, everything explodes.

The air is filled with music, the trees sing and the fading summer light conducts a concert. It is impossible not to feel that the world itself has burst forth in song as the University of Tennessee at Martin Alma Mater announces the 5 o’clock hour from atop the Andy Holt Humanities Building. Centennial Court, in the center of it all, is a perfect place to watch the show.

The small circular area known as Centennial Court is an oasis for students seeking a place to pass the time between classes, read a book in the shade or simply watch fellow students go by. It is not uncommon to see whole classes wander outside on nice spring days and take up residence in the circle, proclaiming the wonders of Faulkner for the whole quadrangle to enjoy.

This is a place of peace, of thoughtfulness, of memories.

Beneath the large commemorative stone in the center sits a time capsule, buried in 2001, with the contents of a random student’s backpack, a recording of university centennial events, books, pictures and other local memorabilia. Hopefully students and faculty in 100 years will lift out the steel box and peek inside to discover a time when UT Martin was a place of home and family for so many.

This humble circle of bricks has been host to marriage proposals, gospel singings, impromptu concerts and the contemplations of a thousand young lives preparing to take on the world. It is here that life begins; sit down and enjoy the show.

– – –

Erin Creech Chesnut, an English literature and communications major from Murfreesboro, Tenn., is set to graduate from UT Martin in December 2012.