What comes to your mind when you hear "New Student Orientation?" Does it involve intentional time dedicated to helping welcome parents as well as new students? Does is end with a fall retreat? Does it remind you of worshipping and praying together as a family and spiritual community? This is how we kick off an academic year at Patrick Henry College!
This year, PHC welcomed 110 bright-eyed, talented students from around the country. The academic year at PHC kicks off with special time for students and their families. New Student Orientation is far more than student drop-off for new parents and grandparents. The first two days are for families.
Orientation concludes with a Fall Retreat each year—a special time when the PHC community dedicates the new academic year to the Lord. We come together as faculty, staff, and students around food, music, worship, and the study of God's Word.
Highlights of the fall retreat include dining together, a three-part sermon series by guest speaker, Austin Hamrick from Cornerstone Chapel in Leesburg, VA, and praise and worship with Victor Jones from Church of the Holy Spirit. It all wrapped up with an ice cream social and a concert by PHC's very own student-led band, C.S. Lewis and the News!
Families of the incoming class spent the first day helping their students move into their dorms and get settled on campus. The following day, they attended lectures and panels where they learned about the college's history, the classes taught, and more. They also met with PHC's leadership and toured the campus. A banquet that evening was held in their honor: soft lights glowed as RAs performed comedic skits and President Jack Haye and Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Mark Mitchell, gave speeches encouraging new students to make the most of their four years at PHC. Afterward, parents and students had the chance to pray with each other before the parents' final departure.
Saying goodbye is difficult, especially to loved ones. After the farewells from parents and siblings, the Resident Assistants led the new students in a night of community worship. With the focus turned toward the Lord and His glory, students were able to refocus their minds on Him and His calling for them during their time at PHC.
The rest of the week was filled with fellowship, worship, and a message from Hamrick, the incoming students were surrounded by an encouraging community of believers. The whole student body gathered together for the first time since completing the spring semester. Old friends reunited and new friendships formed. A strong sense of Christian community was especially established by the worship team from The Church of the Holy Spirit. Singing praises in unison both encouraged the new student and lifted the spirits of returning students.
The sermons from Hamrick, focusing on the story of Daniel, sought to remind students of the simple truths of the gospel. His messages of moral courage gave the students a taste of biblical scholarship to encourage their appetite for the rest of the semester. Students reflected on Daniel's strength to refuse temptations and the influences of the world, instead focusing solely on God. "The message of courage really set the tone for this upcoming semester," said junior Sahknaa Relph.
Wrapping up the Fall Retreat, students gathered for an ice cream social and participated in an assortment of carnival games. Students also enjoyed a performance by PHC's student-led band, C.S. Lewis and the News. Finally, the students, both new and returning, traveled to Bear's Den, where they spent time in corporate worship.
At PHC, our mission is to prepare Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical value and fidelity to the spirit of the American founding. To that end, the 2022-2023 school year is off to a great start!
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