By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
A young man in a black ninja outfit stalked up to Founder’s Hall and nodded brusquely to the motley crew already assembled. Three young ladies in revolutionary-era garb adorned the steps, alongside a barefooted young woman in a flower-power headband. All had gathered for the kick-off event of the week’s full slate of Homecoming fun: a best “rebel” costume competition. Festivities, combining Homecoming with Family Weekend activities for parents, culminated Friday and Saturday, Oct. 5-6, with a flurry of events celebrating PHC, its returning students, parents, and alumni.
In a departure from recent years, Sandra Corbitt, Dean of Student Life, charged a student task force with organizing events to emphasize school spirit and class identity. Freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors competed for their classes in Tuesday’s costume exhibition, Wednesday’s pie-eating contest, Thursday’s 5K run, and Friday’s stylish dress code contest. And in spite of the onset of midterms, students participated with gusto.
“It was interesting trying to start traditions,” commented senior Kelsey Stapler, who headed up the student organizing committee. “We were excited to see the whole student body come together. Even if the same activities aren’t repeated next year, the main thing was to establish a precedent of school spirit.”
The student committee also included sophomores Tia Ly, Jensen Near, and Christy Hailes. Katie Teubl, Resident Director for Women, contributed significant effort as well.
Two traditions carried over from previous Homecoming celebrations. On Friday afternoon, with visiting parents and families in attendance, the men’s and women’s soccer teams battled rival Christendom College on PHC’s home field. While the women pulled out an exhilarating win on penalty kicks after a 2-2 score in double overtime, the men suffered a heartbreaking 0-1 loss on a Christendom goal in the game’s final minutes.
In what is becoming another favored Homecoming tradition, the student/alumni football game on Saturday afternoon, students achieved a hard-fought win, avenging a 2006 drubbing by the alumni.
“The alumni are getting fat,” offered one sophomore good-naturedly, while an alumnus countered that, “Perhaps too many of us are gone on military service.”
Saturday morning’s yearly meeting of the Alumni Association saw the PHC grads, many still in graduate school or beginning new careers, recommit to sponsor a $2000 student scholarship. Fresh initiatives begun this semester include the ongoing development of a new website to improve alumni communications, and an “adopt-a-wing” program in which individual alumni sponsor residents of dormitory wings by inviting them to their homes or taking them out for activities.
“Let’s continue to increase the positive interactions between alumni and on-campus staff and students,” said Jennifer Shaw, Alumni Association president. “Since most of us can’t often come on campus, we need to re-learn what is happening under the new administration.”
For the first time, fall 2007’s Homecoming also included a roster of Family Weekend events targeted toward parents. Randy and Lisa Wilson, parents of sophomore Colten Wilson, presented a beautiful workshop on intentional parenting. The Wilsons, who have received considerable media attention for their annual Father-Daughter Purity Ball, shared their use of special, loving ceremonies to nurture their seven children toward a strong adulthood in Christ.
“I am a very blessed young man to have the father and mother I do,” Colten told the audience.
Parents and donors were also invited to Friday night’s concert by the Peasall Sisters, a bluegrass group of three teenage sisters who have earned GRAMMY and CMA Awards for their part in the blockbuster O Brother, Where Art Thou? movie and soundtrack.
After the student-run variety show on Saturday night, Homecoming weekend ended with two of PHC’s favorite, long-running traditions—a candlelight ceremony and an engagement bobtism. For the candlelight ceremony, several young women gathered in a darkened dorm lounge and passed around a lit candle and an engagement ring. The engaged woman—her identity open to speculation—then took possession of the candle and blew it out. In the men’s untidy equivalent—PHC’s infamous bobtism rite—the prospective groom was ceremoniously tossed into Lake Bob, the College’s murky drainage pond. With that, the campus retired, sleepy and satisfied.
“It was a weekend in which PHC students could fellowship with each other in a non-academic way,” enthused sophomore Cate Pilgrim with a huge grin, “—under a big white tent, with pumpkins and bluegrass music.”