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Virtual homecoming keeps Woods community connected

News | 10.08.2020

With their Spirit Boxes in hand, students, alumni and friends were ready to celebrate Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC) HOMEcoming on Oct. 3, beginning with a special message from President Dottie L. King, Ph.D. Virtual events allowed for participants from all over the country, due to it being from the comfort and safety of their homes.

A virtual rendition of the Ring Song wowed viewers on social media, bringing a flood of nostalgia with it.

“So familiar and comforting at this time,” Christine Stremel ’71 commented on Facebook. With the use of technology, Woodsies from all ages had the opportunity to record themselves singing the Ring Song. The SMWC Music and Theatre Department then used a special software to blend them together for a unique, yet memorable version.

A team competing in the bed races
The 2020 HOMEcoming Spirit Week competition culminated with a bed race on The Avenue Friday.

While virtual communication took over much of Saturday, in-person events were held for students the week leading up to Homecoming. Running along The Avenue with beds, walking around the lake at dusk with glow sticks and testing their trivia skills were only a few of the activities Campus Life organized.

While students couldn’t meet face-to-face with alumni and friends to connect and share their experiences at The Woods, they did the next best thing – recorded what homecoming and The Woods means to them.

Five students were featured telling their favorite spot on campus. This ranged from The Grotto to athletic fields. Each student explained why it is their favorite spot, and alumni were able to engage in conversations on social media.

Jilliann Reese, a junior at The Woods, chose The Grotto as her favorite place due to its sereneness. She can count on going there to “pray and get away from everything” that could be stressful.

SMWC alum Mary Kintz Hanifin ’82 said she agreed, connecting with Reese on Facebook. “The Grotto was my place of peace and comfort when I was at The Woods…still my favorite place on campus.”

Because a tent wasn’t set up to greet alumni, a few special measures were taken to make them feel as if they were at their Woods home. A virtual lunch-in allowed alumni to see familiar faces – without masks. Spirit Boxes were also offered to purchase, which featured SMWC HOMEcoming gear including a branded t-shirt, mask, stadium cup and hand sanitizer.

Homecoming day also featured women’s soccer and a Western equestrian show, where spectators wearing masks were admitted. Although many could not make it to campus, they could view much of the day’s events from their homes. “Through good times and bad, and the unpredictable changes to society and daily life, our Woods finds a way to adapt, to inspire and bind us with love,” Gloria Kirwan Gick ’69 said on the SMWC Facebook page.