Homecoming Weekend puts a new spin on tried-and-true traditions

On the weekend of Sept. 21-23, current St. Olaf students, families and alumni will gather on campus for the annual Homecoming Weekend. Over the years, Homecoming Weekend has been a highlight of St. Olaf’s fall semester. Homecoming offers a welcome break from the bustle of the first few weeks and a time to celebrate Ole pride. This year’s theme, “Kicking it Ole School,” brings a retro feel to the Homecoming festivities and draws a connection between St. Olaf’s history and its campus today. Fitting the “Ole School” theme, this year’s lineup of events features a combination of Homecoming staples with several new events that showcase the college’s direction for the future.

Past Homecomings at St. Olaf were marked by events like pep rallies, worship services, bonfires and the annual crowning of the “Queen of Oledom.” While we no longer have some of the events that were once commonplace in the Homecoming agenda, many events have become tradition.

Homecoming Weekend will begin with an opening breakfast on Friday, Sept. 21 in Stav Hall.

Other events for Friday include a sneak peak of this year’s dance department choreography, titled “First Glimpse,” a hilarious “King of the Hill” men’s talent show and the annual bonfire behind Thorson Hall.

On Saturday, students can wake up bright and early to participate in a 5K at 7:15 a.m. Later that day, as they do every year, students donned in black and gold will flock to the football game to cheer “Um! Ya! Ya!” in support of our team. This year, the Ole team will face off against Gustavus Adolphus College at 1 p.m.

While many events have remained the same, this year’s Homecoming also includes events that highlight the campus’ new features. If they have not already seen it, students and alumni have a chance to explore the new Piper Center for Vocation and Career. On Saturday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., people can meet the Piper Center staff and hear about the new programs the center will offer students as they plan the course of their academic and career paths. They will also offer insight into what it means to have a “vocation,” and they will facilitate a discussion on the topic.

Another addition to this year’s Homecoming centers on sustainability. Students and visitors have the opportunity to gather at the newly built Art Barn down in the natural lands to learn about St. Olaf’s relationship with the green movement. Visitors will hear about the new student-driven sustainability initiatives launched this year around campus. A tour of the natural lands area will be followed with a discussion of how the college protects and uses the natural space. The theme of sustainability will carry into lunch that afternoon – a “zero-waste” event. Locally grown and prepared foods make up the menu, and the utensils and supplies will be compostable. This year’s emphasis on sustainability showcases St. Olaf’s mission to create a greener campus and represents the college’s focus on becoming a leader for environmental awareness in the future.

Homecoming Weekend will end with a worship service on Sunday, followed by brunch and a choir concert. These events, like many in the Homecoming lineup, are traditions created decades ago. The weekend features many events that commemorate the college’s history and heritage and allows past and current Oles to bond over their shared college experiences. However, the new events, such as the seminars that prepare students for a career or teach them how to live more sustainably, emphasize how far St. Olaf has come since its founding in 1874 and celebrate the college’s vision for the future. In blending old and new, this year’s Homecoming will enliven current students and alumni alike as they ring in another school year on the Hill.