October 15, 2021 | NEWS | By Riley Prillwitz | Photo by Colorado College
Homecoming weekend: a college tradition that has existed since the 1800s and has remained an integral and popular convention for alumni. This event, like so many others during 2020, was postponed or cancelled on college campuses across the country last year.
Colorado College was no different. They, too, cancelled in-person homecoming weekend because of the COVID-19 risks it posed. There were specific events held virtually, but nothing occurred on the campus itself.
In addition to homecoming weekend, family weekend is an important annual event on campus that allows parents and family members to visit students and see campus life for themselves. With homecoming weekend unable to take place and so many students not on campus, family weekend in 2020 was simply not a possibility either.
This school year, the CC administration felt that it was in a safer condition regarding the pandemic and decided to move forward with hosting these two events. Since vaccinations are required for students, staff and faculty, and asking for proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test from campus guests was standard practice, the administration excitedly announced the return of in-person homecoming and family weekend.
But this year, there was an extra surprise. The two celebrations would be held during the same weekend.
Homecoming weekend and family weekend have not been held at the same time on campus for seven years, according to Director of Alumni and Family Relations Tiffany Kelly.
This year, both CC alumni and family of current CC students were invited to attend special events, both separate and combined, on the second weekend of second block.
This may have seemed like a feat too large to handle, but accommodating the number of attendees was not a worry for the school — making sure everyone remained safe took precedence.
“I would say what’s made it most challenging is the pandemic,” Kelly said. “I think under normal circumstances, yes, it would be double everything and we’d be planning for a lot of people, but I do think that COVID presented unique challenges because again, we are all here for you students, and that’s our priority.”
Kelly stated that the Alumni office begins its planning for the weekend sometime around January or February of each year “under normal circumstances, when there isn’t a pandemic.”
They start with recruiting alumni volunteers, move onto planning and scheduling what events will take place to put in the directory, and then spend a good amount of time working out catering and food arrangements.
The school must also get permits for all of the tents used around campus. In some years, CC has had the city aid in closing Cascade Ave. for part of the weekend. In the last two weeks of preparations, everyone works hard to decorate and make campus look inviting.
“There are a lot of months [of planning] and a lot of moving pieces,” Kelly said.
There was a plethora of activities for students, family, and alumni alike to participate in from Thursday, Oct. 7 to Sunday,Oct. 10. For alumni classes celebrating a special reunion year ending in a 0 or 5, this homecoming weekend was especially exciting.
The classes who missed a notable reunion in 2020 also received special recognition. Each class gathered together at some point during the weekend for an evening reception with their classmates to reconnect and reminisce.
For the classes of 1970 and 1971, this year’s homecoming weekend marked a particular reunion date. The classes were inducted into the “Fifty Year Club,” as it was their 50th college reunion this year and last. Both classes had their own induction ceremony where they received recognition for graduating 50 years ago.
Barbara Brett ’70, Nancy Guild ’70, and Joan Johnson Mast-Loughridge ’70 were all in attendance for their 50th class reunion, which was in 2020. They spent the weekend attending different events on campus and catching up with old friends from their college years.
“I must say we’ve all been impressed with the students and their interest in old people like us,” Mast-Loughridge said. “I mean, it’s not like, ‘oh, look here come the old people.’ I think really everybody’s just been delightful.”
The three alumni were also impressed with the progress CC has made towards inclusion of all students and making sure there are accommodations for everybody.
During a lunch they attended, they sat with Student Body President Deksyos Damtew ’22. “We adore him,” said the three alumni, and loved hearing him speak on the sobriety house that exists as an option for students on campus.
“I think it’s a real tribute to inclusion, diversity and acknowledgment that not everybody’s the same, nor should they be,” Brett said. “We’ve been just duly impressed with everything and glad we came to all the events,”
When asked if it was strange to be celebrating their 50th reunion when it was technically their 51st, they simply laughed. “It’s all numbers,” Guild said. “Thank god we lived long enough to get back, and we want everything to be safe.”
In addition to class-specific reunion activities, there were also events that welcomed anyone on campus to attend. The convocation and alumni awards ceremony was held on Saturday morning and brought in students, alumni, and family alike.
It officially welcomed everyone to campus and awarded eight alumni, four from 2020 and four from 2021, with the Louis T. Benezet Award, the Gresham Riley Award, the Lloyd E. Worner Award, or the Spirit of Adventure Award.
Chris and Debora Laidlaw, parents of Ben Laidlaw ’23, were some of the visitors to attend the convocation ceremony. They took advantage of being welcomed to campus and all of the events that were taking place. Still, they were most excited to see their son and take him out to lunch.
“Our son is a junior, and… we’re actually originally from England,” Mrs. Laidlaw said. “Obviously we couldn’t come last year because of COVID, so we thought this was a great option this year to come.”
Other available activities included sporting events, such as two men’s hockey games, rugby, and club soccer. There were also multiple speaker events and panels that were open to all who were interested. The weekend opened with a tour of the new Ed Robson Arena and ended with a Sunday brunch and family skate on the ice.
At the end of the long weekend, CC had hosted more than 2,000 visitors. Family, friends, and alumni were able to reconnect with each other in person, and after more than a year of uncertainty due to the pandemic, it was a bittersweet reunion that felt more special and more heartfelt than in years past.
In an email sent out to all CC students, staff, and faculty the following Monday, President Richardson deemed the weekend an “enormous success.”