“Brighter Together” was the theme for this year’s Lighting of the Lawn and the aim was to make it more reflective. Organizers designed the evening to harken to its roots, while looking to the future.
The community event was launched 17 years ago in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Since then, student leaders said, the festivities veered from the original theme. This year, the annual reading of the student-written poem brought the original intent back in stark relief.
President Jim Ryan, attending his first Lighting of the Lawn since taking office this year, opened the poem, parts of which were also recited by another new face at UVA, University Police Chief Tommye Sutton. They were joined by Dorrie Fontaine, who in July will conclude 10 years as the beloved dean of the School of Nursing.