Elliv: Creating Community

Whether you are a freshman, senior or super-senior at Cedarville, the chances are good that you have heard about Elliv, the yearly student-run awards show. Although specific details, such as the songs, will remain a secret until the big day, the planning processes and history of Elliv don’t have to be kept a secret.

Elliv is an SGA production, involving close to 200 students. Brian Burns, the director of Student Life Programs, and Dan MacDougall, the assistant director, oversee Elliv. MacDougall is a 2012 Cedarville graduate and serves as the staff advisor to Elliv.

Building on Elliv’s beginnings

In 2000, Jeff Beste, now the director of alumni relations at Cedarville, started Elliv. Burns said Elliv was so foreign to Cedarville at the time that it created a bit of a stir. Bob Lutz, associate dean of leadership development at the time, carried on the tradition and continued to make Elliv better each year, Burns said.

Now, as they oversee Elliv, Burns and MacDougall are striving, not to be the next best thing, but to build upon the foundation that Beste and Lutz began, Burns said. They want to increase the show’s quality every year.

“Without Jeff, Elliv wouldn’t be here. Without Bob, Elliv wouldn’t be what it is,” Burns said. “What Dan and I want to do is take Elliv to that next level.”

Burns and MacDougall look for ways to tweak each show to make it better next year. They give their team structure, tools and parameters, Burns said, but they try not to lose focus of the main purposes of Elliv.

Planning with a purpose

The purposes of Elliv are to: 1) showcase God-given talent among the Cedarville student body, 2) celebrate Cedarville community and 3) recognize various members of the Cedarville community for outstanding accomplishments.

Elliv is run by committees that plan different aspects of the show. The main committee comprises the talent director, marketing director, costumes director, pre-show direc-tor, script director and awards director. These members are all selected by the Elliv director, who is, this year, Shannon Arbogast.

Arbogast is a senior sports management major who has been involved in putting on Elliv since her sophomore year. She said she has a passion for event planning and marketing, and she became the events director at the end of her junior year. During her sophomore and junior year, Arbogast served on the events committee under the event director.

This year is unique for the students running Elliv, because Arbogast is in North Carolina for an internship during the 2015 spring semester. To compensate, her team began planning Elliv right after Fall Break, unusually early.

While she is not present for all the spring planning, she still checks in regularly to make sure everything is going as she and the team envisioned it. Jenna Pretty is acting as the current Elliv director in Arbogast’s place.

Arbogast spent a good amount of time this fall creating a clear purpose for Elliv, which is “SGA Elliv serves the student body through brainstorming, planning, and executing a Cedarville specific awards show. Elliv encompasses a creative mindset because we serve a creative God.”

Burns reemphasized this thought.

“We do it because we want to serve the students, and more importantly, we want to serve the students in such a quality way because that’s how we glorify God,” Burns said. “That’s really what we’re all about.”

Auditions and pop culture


Photo: Jillian Philyaw

A few months ago, emails went out to the student body for general signups for Elliv. Two days were devoted to music auditions, and two were devoted to dance auditions. These auditions were open to the entire student body, and each student could audition for vocals, instrument or a combination, or they could enter the dance auditions.

There was a huge turnout, MacDougall said, because there is so much good talent at Cedarville. Each act is unique, having its own song, act leader, musicians and dancers. On average, there are eight to 10 acts each year. The main committee picks the songs beforehand, but the auditioning students do not know what songs have been picked.

When choosing the performers, the judges look for talent, MacDougall said, and the ability to perform in front of people.

Burns explained that the coordinators for Elliv produce an awards show featuring secular music to emphasize the “common grace” aspect of the songs they use.

“In everything that’s created there’s common grace. You can see God’s hands in everything,” Burns said.

Secular songs can hold meaning for Christians, such as the song “Dream On,” featured in Elliv 2014, Burns said. While the song was not written as a Christian song, Christians can find truth in it.

“We as Christians can sing that song, and do it well, and it’s not completely counter to what we believe,” Burns said.

Arbogast said, “Elliv serves that purpose in saying, ‘This is how we integrate Christianity into pop culture.’”

Suspense in secrecy

Along with the excitement and anticipation, Elliv involves suspense as the details remain a secret to all but the staff. MacDougall said there is a purpose to this secrecy.

“A big aspect of Elliv is the secrecy, and not letting the students know the entire song list before they get there,” MacDougall said. “We truly think that it makes it a better show when you don’t know what it’s going to be. It makes it more fun.”

Planning with practicality

Although Elliv is a fun-filled, exciting event for all students, the staff wants it to remain a co-curricular, Burns said. This means that students who work on producing Elliv can put that on a resume. Elliv also has a strict budget. Burns said this creates a teaching opportunity for students, because after graduating they will have to plan events with a static budget.

Burns also said he tries to prevent the planning of Elliv from becoming a full-time job for students because that is not the intention.

The Elliv planners also have the opportunity to give back, as the leftover money from Elliv’s budget is given to others, sometimes to the SGA philanthropy project. The planners must complete the project under budget.

And production services works with the students running Elliv for the technical side of things. Arbogast said prodcution services works out the lighting, sound, staging and similar important details of the production.

Fun and community


Photo: Jillian Philyaw

Burns said Elliv is something that almost all Cedarville students look forward to for various reasons.

MacDougall said as a student he went mainly to support his friends who were in the show.

“For most people, it’s probably going out with friends, being with friends, and ending the year with a bang,” MacDougall said.

Arbogast said the most exciting aspect of Elliv is that it is fun. And Burns credits community as being the biggest draw for students.

“People go to events because of people,” Burns said. “That’s the beauty of Cedarville, the beauty of Christian community, and that’s one of the goals of Elliv: We want to bring people together.”

When asked what has changed over the 14 years Elliv has existed, Burns said the show continues to have better quality each time. Arbogast agreed, saying the biggest change has been growth.

“The expectation continues to build every year,” Arbogast said.

Having an entirely student-run awards show every year is a unique aspect of Cedarville, and the quality and success of the show is because of the work and participation of the students, Burns said.

“Elliv is good because of students, and the event is good because of the students who go,” Burns said. “Elliv’s success is on the back of the students.”

Kjersti Fry is a freshman pharmacy major and reporter for Cedars. She is from Cincinnati, Ohio, and she enjoys playing the piano, playing ultimate frisbee and spending time with friends and family.

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