A new school year kicked off at Hesston College August 18 with the annual Opening Weekend celebration.
The college community of students, faculty and staff gathered in the Hesston Mennonite Church sanctuary on Friday evening and were welcomed to campus by President Joseph Manickam, Vice President of Student Life Michael Smalley, Bel Canto Singers and theatre scholars.
Smalley introduced students to a common Hesston credo in the spirit of Ubuntu, a Swahili phrase which roughly translates to “I am because we are.” Smalley related this to his personal experience, “Transitioning into this new position has been scary for me,” he admitted, “but I realize I don’t have to be fearless, because I know that there are people who will help me along the way.”
“You belong here just as you are,” said Manickam as he addressed the community. “It’s not the buildings that make Hesston College – it’s us,” he added, “you, your roommate, your teammates, your classmates – that is Hesston College.”
Four returning students introduced the 2023-24 theme verse from Luke 4:18-19 by calling students to “proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor” in different languages. These verses call us to “proclaim release to the captives” and “let the oppressed go free.” Manickam reflected on these calls to action and called upon the students to “create space within yourself.”
The festivities resumed throughout the weekend including student registration, student life and academic orientations, a community wide picnic at the Larks Nest and concluded with the annual Mod Olympics on Sunday, August 20. The Mod Olympics are a series of games where groups of students who live together on campus compete against each other while wearing themed costumes. This is a long standing tradition at Hesston College, but this year it began with a special treat.
Manickam addressed students as he introduced Hesston’s mascot, now a physical presence on campus. “Clark the Lark, accompanied by the HC Dance Team, took his first steps on the court in Yost Center as the crowd cheered. It was a historic moment for Hesston College and a great way to start a new school year.