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Four Students are Crowned Royalty at the Annual 53rd Renaissance Ball


November 9th kicked off the 53rd annual Renaissance Ball hosted by BUS (Black United Students). The big event showcased multiple student talents — from singing to dancing — along with students dressed in their best formal attire. All of the festivities for the night surely made it one to remember.


In preparation before the kick-off, some of the BUS E-Board gave their expectations and anticipations for the night lying ahead. 


“I’m anxious to see what talents everyone came out with, and what talents they have,” Jamal Ross, BUS Vice President, confessed. “I’m just interested in seeing what that’s going to uphold, and if everyone is going to have fun or not. I think it’s going to be a fun night.”


BUS President, Julian Grimes, shared some different sentiments on his excitement for the night. “I’m looking forward to seeing who becomes the king, because I was king two years ago. I crowned the king last year, so we’re going to see who the new king is. I’m excited for that.”


The show started off with a couple of formalities from BUS programming directors, Courtney Simpson and Olivia Williams, and event hosts, Deanna Baccus and Aniyah Davies. After the short introduction, the judges were then revealed to the audience. The judges for the night included Brian Johnson (former programming director for BUS), Dr. Talea R. Drummer (Dean of Students at Kent State), Nashya Poole (Resident Assistant for Koonce Hall) and Daniel Diaz Nilsson (Assistant Dean for Access and Engagement). 


All of the contestants gathered on stage for a big group dance number to start off the show. The list of contestants included Josiah Ragin, Adara Mickels, Ceejay Scott, Champagne Jones, Mar’Quez Hart, Saida Lewis, Greg Simpson and Alexis Belcher. Guests in the audience cheered as the contestants showed off their energetic and eye-catching dance moves. After the dance number, the contestants went backstage to prepare for the talent portion of the show while a screen projector played a video that displayed all of the participating students in the show.

Following the video, all of the participating contestants came back to the stage one-by-one to showcase their special talents. Musical performances were performed by contestants Adara Mickels (singing), Alexis Belcher (singing), Saida Lewis (piano performance) and Marques Hart (rapping). Other contestants ventured off into different showcased talents such as dancing (Champagne Jones), spoken word (Josiah Ragin), fashion showcase (Greg Simpson) and short film (Ceejay Scott). 


Kollin Battle
Kollin Battle

Each special talent performance captivated and entertained the audience as guests cheered and clapped in appreciation. After the talent portion of the show came to a close, members of the sorority Delta Sigma Theta, Denia Morris and Jada Streifel, to present the annual Renaissance Ball Scholarship to student winner Amaya Berry. 


Following the scholarship announcement, contestants then came back onto the stage, dressed in their formal wear, for the Q&A portion of the show. Judges then gave each student two questions each that they had to answer. Some of the contestants answered with quick and witty remarks while others answered with more heartfelt and honest responses. 


When asked about the inspiration for his performance, Ragin revealed that it was a breakup. “I went through a breakup and did all I could for that person and myself,” he said. “In that process, I lost myself and I had to see myself before I could have anyone see me.”


Another contestant, Greg Simpson, was asked about his potential edge over other contestants, and followed up with a straightforward answer. “Who’s ever met another NewB in their life?” he asked. “I think that answers your question.” 


After some brief deliberation, the judges then finalized their picks for the winners of Renaissance Ball King, Queen, Prince and Princess. The hosts returned to the stage to announce the winners for the annual 53rd Renaissance Ball. 


Taking home the crowns were Greg Simpson (Prince), Saida Lewis (Princess), Josiah Ragin (King) and Alexis Belcher (Queen).

Kollin Battle

In the conclusion of the night, BUS Co-Programming Director — Courtney Simpson — gave her reflecting thoughts on making the whole show come together. 


“The most rewarding part is seeing the fruits of the labor. I just really think everything was super good,” she said. “I’m super proud of everyone, the e-board on BUS, the whole BUS community and the whole Kent State. I’m just really proud with everything and how it all went.”

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