ST. GEORGE — As Dixie State University’s homecoming celebrations wound to a close last week, dozens of former members of the Dixie Program Bureau gathered to sing songs and reminisce in celebration of the group’s 50th anniversary.
Following Friday’s alumni banquet, approximately 60 former Dixie State students assembled in the band room of the Eccles Fine Arts Center, where they sang “Just for Now,” “Dear Old Dixie” and a variety of other favorite songs popularized by the Dixie Program Bureau, an extracurricular vocal performance club initiated by music teacher Roene B. DiFiore.
DiFiore, affectionately known as “Mrs. D” by her students, started the Program Bureau in the fall of 1967, leading a small group of students known as “The Dixie Dozen,” who traveled around the region and performed as musical ambassadors for the college. The program grew increasingly popular, attracting thousands of participants over the next roughly 20 years of its heyday. DiFiore passed away in 1990, but her legacy lives on as her singers, also called “Roene’s Kids,” have since passed on their love of music to their own children and grandchildren.
“The Program Bureau was something that made you connected across the campus,” John Bowler, DSU’s director of alumni relations, said. “It was cohesive. It was something we all shared. It produced something that was meaningful and made you feel like you belonged.”
That unifying sense of camaraderie was evident during Friday night’s sing-a-long. The moment the pianist started playing, the entire room burst into song, often clapping and making rhythmic motions. In addition to school pep songs, the group belted out rousing vocal renditions of a variety of patriotic and popular tunes.
Addressing the group Friday night, DSU Dean of Students Del Beatty said he appreciated the tradition the Program Bureau brought to Dixie State and noted that its modern-day iteration is DSU’s “Raging Red” performing group.
Raging Red, Beatty noted, fulfills a similar role as musical ambassadors, traveling near and far to promote Dixie State University through song and dance.
Raging Red consists of a smaller group of 20 students, all of whom are on scholarship. Despite the differences between the programs, Raging Red director Marilee Webb told the former Program Bureau members Friday evening that “they feel a strong tie to you.”
The official celebration marking the Dixie Program Bureau’s 50th anniversary took place Saturday evening at DSU’s Alumni House, where approximately 75 people gathered. DSU President Richard “Biff” Williams thanked the group for their contributions in helping promote and foster the “Dixie Spirit” over the years.
The group’s devotion to the school can be summed up within the lyrics of Dixie’s own school song, which were penned by DiFiore herself and later updated to reflect the institution’s current status as a university:
“Hail! All hail to thee!
Oh, Dixie University!
We know your worth – the best on earth,
Only the best will do for you and me –
- Roene B. DiFiore Center for Arts and Education website.
- Dixie State University Alumni portal.
- Raging Red song and dance group’s Facebook page.
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