The temperature reads 70 degrees. Clouds cast shadow over the adjacent soccer field. The weather conditions are perfect for a pleasant Homecoming Saturday morning.
From Oct. 18-20, Homecoming weekend was upon us. Students, faculty, families and alumni ventured to some of the many events put on by AU.
If you visited the street fair or catch a football game, the options were vast and the school spirit was high.
Throughout the week, students took part in Homecoming traditions such as the lighting of the luminaries. Paper bags filled with candles lined the walkways of campus and shined positive messages for everyone who passed by.
Key rivalry sporting matchups flooded the weekend lineup as well. Saturday night also marked the 2019-20 school year debut of Encore, a student music show put on by the Avanti Boosters.
Another important event during Homecoming week is the announcement of Homecoming court nominees. This year, Boris Sitnikoff and Sarah Klene were crowned king and queen.
“Homecoming is a wonderful tradition,” said Sitnikoff. “It has its roots in British cultures and stuff like that with educational institutions. I’m very supportive of those kinds of things.”
Sitnikoff explained that he appreciates the multi-generational aspect of Homecoming.
“It’s definitely really an integral part of what makes an institution great,” he said. “How all these generations can meet together and fellowship together, especially at a Christian institution, for the glory of God.”
As a senior, Sitnikoff was honored to be voted Homecoming king.
“I’m very blessed and very thankful for all the support and everything,” he explained. “It means a whole lot and I really appreciate how people have responded in light of certain situations and responded to what is the truth.”
Sitnikoff explained that he is still in awe.
“I’m still fully fleshing out the whole meaning of it all,” he said. “It was pretty surprising. A couple minutes after coronation I’m thinking, ‘Oh, I’m Homecoming King.’ So, I’m very blessed for this opportunity. It’s wonderful and I really hope that this can be part of the transformation that is ongoing throughout the whole world, including AU.”
The theme for Homecoming this year was “reAUnited.” AU chose to highlight alumni from the past with reunions and awards given to them during Homecoming weekend.
During the football game, several alumni were given awards for their contributions to the school and accomplishments in their respective professional lives post-graduation.
One award-winning alumni, Ben Orcutt, graduated from AU in 2011 with a bachelor’s in fine arts. Orcutt weighed in on the tradition of Homecoming at AU.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “We come back on campus every year and show my son around and walk around. It’s a good time. I don’t get to come back to campus very often, even though I live here, so it is definitely nice to come back and see faculty and folks from years past.”
Scattered around the football field were tents assigned to decades of alumni. Students of the past huddled around them labeled 1960s, 1970s and so on, exchanging memories and experiences they encountered while attending AU.
“I used to sing here,” reminisced Cheryl Hurst-Hill, a graduate in 1972 with a major in Social Work and a minor in Music. “I still sing. Now, I have four children and nine grandchildren.”
What keeps her coming back to AU for Homecoming is her love for the university.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s great. In fact, this year is good because they reconnected us with some things and that’s good, all the alumni. That’s good and I liked that.”
Not far from her stood her husband, Jim Hill, another 1972 graduate who majored in history.
“I live here, too,” he said. “That helps. I met my wife at college and we’ve been here ever since.”
Students, faculty and alumni alike attended the football game. Parents cheered on their student-athlete children from the sidelines as the football team fought diligently against rival Rose-Hulman.
Homecoming continues to be a stand-out event in the AU community. With the uniting of alumni, the conjoining of student and faculty and the bravado of school spirit, Homecoming boasts an enjoyable experience to all.