Bethel celebrates 59th annual homecoming weekend
Most of the activities were fairly alumni- and family-oriented, such as the block party and the revamped Bethelon 5,000. The Bethelon has been a tradition at Bethel for the past three years. The event usually consists of participants running a single lap around Bethel’s campus while facing a variety of obstacles and tasks along the way. However, this year’s Bethelon wasn’t your average obstacle course.
Over the weekend of Oct. 2-3, 2016, Bethel welcomed back alumni from all over the region back on campus for the annual Alumni Weekend. Each year, the campus hosts a variety of events that both current students and alumni can take part in. Special department reunions, cookouts and block parties were part of the festivities, and the current cast and crew of “Bethical News” even greeted former hosts Casey Weaver and Anneke van Wyngaarden back for a special edition of the parody news segment.
More of this year’s events included an alumni chapel, various department reunions, an Alumni dinner, the aforementioned cookout and block party and even fireworks. At least, fireworks were planned. The cold weather and rain made the fireworks an impossibility.
This year, Bethel College’s campus activities presented the students, faculty, and alumni with a new and improved Bethelon event called the Bethelon 5,000. The fabled course presented new challenges and feats to each participant while testing their endurance with the course’s new length of a 5k race.
Bethel had done other 5K races in the past, but Reed Lyons, director of Campus Activities, explained that this race was something new and refreshing.
“We did a color run last year and just about everyone else did too,” said Lyons. “The color run seems to have been used by everybody lately and it was our goal to do something that would be both a great experience and provide people a new opportunity and way of running a 5k race.”
An interesting twist about the Bethelon 5,000 was that it provided clubs and organizations from around Bethel’s campus with the opportunity to get involved. Each of the 17 obstacles in the race were run and organized by volunteers from a Bethel College club or organization. Examples of these obstacles included a stroop test provided by the Psychology Club and Jongi-i jeobgi, or Korean origami, which was run by the international student fellowship.
Other clubs/organizations that were involved in creating obstacles were the B.U.F.F. club, Bethel College Business Club and the college’s soccer and basketball teams.
Lyons stated that the turnout wasn’t quite as high as they had hoped, and that the reason behind the low attendance may have been due to the early 8:30 starting time and the cold and rainy weather. According to Lyons, there were about fifty participants in the race, which also included three or four groups of alumni that participated in this alumni weekend event. Joe Baughman was the first to cross the finish line with a time of 33:20.
For the not-so-athletically inclined, there were the annual Homecoming Games, which consisted of events that took place in both Goodman Gymnasium and Sufficient Grounds throughout the week of September 28.
Those who competed were divided up by class and participated in various events to compete for the $100 prize for each class. Each class would have the opportunity to have a top male and female participant to be named champion.
This year’s events included the following: spoons tournament, atomic domination (a game combining skills from volleyball, dodgeball and foursquare), trivia tournament, dodgeball, Minute to Win It, Just Dance and a food eating contest. Participation and individual results from each event would give the participants points. The winners for each class were announced at the conclusion of the events on September 30th.
The freshman class winners were Kaitlyn Elmerick and Nathan Moxness. The champion from the sophomore class was Tyler Callahan and the junior class’ victor was Alan Fodrey. The seniors’ pair of victorious representatives was Joe Rasbaugh and Annie Erdel.
Lyons also stated that this year’s Homecoming Games had very low attendance as well. He believed that the dreaded midterm examinations and projects looming in the minds of students kept many from participating.
One event that was a bit more faculty-oriented was the aptly-named faculty meet-and-greet, a time where alumni could come and talk with their former professors and mentors. According to Emily Sherwood, director of alumni relations, alumni turnout at the meet-and-greet was relatively low, but faculty attendance was between 25 to 30 members.
Another highlight of the weekend was the alumni chapel, a time when the college honored three of its alumni with various awards. Carrie Nofziger, a 2008 graduate, won the Timothy Award for Outstanding Service. Nofziger is a sign language interpreter in Archbold, Ohio. Seth Bartlette, a 2006 graduate, won the Young Alumnus of the Year award. Bartlette is a producer and creative director for various events. His company is based out of Orange County, Calif., and in 2015, he founded a second company: Dexter Creative Agency. Finally, Jenny McGee, a 1999 graduate, received the Alumna of the Year award. McGee is the founder of the Starfish Project, an organization that works to rescue exploited women in Asia by teaching them to make jewelry as a trade. More information about the alumni award recipients can be found in the chapel archives
Finally, Bethel’s rugby team played on the campus of the University of Notre Dame at noon on that Saturday, which drew quite a crowd, according to Sherwood.
As for a look back on how the weekend went, Sherwood said that she thinks things went well overall.
“I think chapel was really successful, and I hope we did a good job of showcasing our three award winners,” she said. “They’re pretty phenomenal.”
Homecoming weekend has been a Bethel tradition since 1956, but, of course, certain aspects have changed from year to year.
“Looking back at probably the last 10 years, we’ve experimented with different things...” said Sherwood. “Instead of an alumni dinner we’ve tried an alumni brunch or an alumni breakfast. Some of the same things have remained, like the Kids’ Zone is a popular thing that people return for.”
As for potential future changes, Sherwood mentioned a possibility of spreading out the weekend’s events over the course of a year, to make scheduling easier for alumni.
“It’s difficult for a family to commit an entire day to the college, and so we will likely get people to return to their affinity groups,” said Sherwood. “So they’ll come back for their athletic reunion or they’ll come back for their departmental reunion. But they’re not staying the course of a day, because they’ve got other activities going on.”
Bethel certainly was busy with alumni and students participating in all these events. From the Homecoming Games to the Bethelon 5,000 to the alumni chapel, the weekend encompassed almost all aspects of Bethel culture, and was a tribute to Bethel students past, present and future.