Opening weekend features games, gatherings and masks

President Joe Manickam speaks at Hesston College’s Opening Celebration, Hesston Mennonite Church, August 13.

Hesston College students, faculty and staff returned to campus to participate in gatherings and games, all while masking indoors to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The college marked the return of students to campus with an opening celebration on Friday evening, August 13. The event, which featured music from Bel Canto Singers and reflections from staff and students, focused on the 2021-22 theme verse from Ephesians 4:2-3, which speaks of “bearing with one another in love.” This year’s event returned to the sanctuary of Hesston Mennonite Church. Masks were required and every other row of pews was left empty to combat the spread of COVID-19.

“When we look at this grand universe that God created, which way is up, and which way is down?” President Joe Manickam asked, pointing to an image of an upside-down map projected on the sanctuary screen. “My challenge to you is: Are you ready to see the world in a slightly different way, bearing with one another in love?”

Faculty, staff and students at Hesston College had looked forward to a school year with fewer COVID-19 protocols in place. But with the rise of the delta variant and a sharp increase of cases in Harvey County, college administrators followed the guidance provided by the Harvey County Health Department. Hesston College employees, students, and visitors to campus are required to mask indoors when in common spaces, regardless of vaccination status. New and returning students provided proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test.

Opening weekend events continued with student registration, an outdoor community-wide picnic and the long-standing tradition of Mod Olympics, where groups of students who live together on campus compete in outdoor games while wearing theme costumes.