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Homecoming mixes in-person, virtual festivities

(February 16, 2021) - Homecoming at Clayton State looked quite different this year as students, faculty, staff and alumni traded the smell of barbeque, the upbeat sounds of the Montell Jordan classic “This is How We Do It” and lots of laughter for a computer screen, social distancing, and necessary mask-wearing.

Different homecoming activities

Hosting the university’s annual celebration of Laker family alumni during the COVID-19 pandemic could have presented many obstacles, but organizers found unique ways to make homecoming a fun, socially engaging week.  

“Homecoming is a time where alumni essentially “come home,” said Michael Little, director of Alumni Engagement and Alumni Giving. “We want to make sure alumni know that we are alive and operating, it might be different, but we are trying to still have fun.”
Between Feb. 8-13, Clayton State’s homecoming week was filled with various in-person and virtual events to engage students, faculty, staff and alumni both on and off campus. Each event was tailored to meet social distancing requirements.

The homecoming s’mores event hosted by the Department of Recreation and Wellness included a firepit surrounded by social distancing decals and individually wrapped graham crackers, marshmallow and chocolate so students could get together and make their own personal sweet treat. 

“The weather is perfect for this event, I’m really glad the campus event council allowed us to do this and gave me and my roommates a chance to escape our room,” said junior Gabriela Lopez.

The homecoming court were recognized at the Student Choice Awards. Donning masks and sitting a part, Harvey Lee Carson and Zhareia Smith were crowned Homecoming King and Queen.

The Campus Events Council hosted Mask Up CSU, which gave students an opportunity to make a custom mask and help promote safety protocols for the campus. The council made sure to let love flow with its annual Build A Bear event. While students weren’t able to stuff their own bears, they were able to take home a pre-made bear.

The Alumni Association held a number of virtual events including a “Where Are They Now?” podcast on Instagram Live where former alums shared their homecoming experiences. The association also hosted a virtual yoga session and a lively DJ party online for alumni to share a night of music and dancing.

COVID-19 did affect Saturday’s homecoming basketball games after an announcement went out Friday evening cancelling both the men’s and women’s games against Columbus State University due to the virus.

In spite of an abrupt end to the festivities, homecoming proved to be a successful week of good times, laughter and smiles through masks.

“Our focus for homecoming every year is to create programs and experiences that will enrich our students' collegiate experience. Transitioning to virtual events did not change our focus, it just changed our delivery,” said Campus Life program coordinator LaShanda Hardin, “Mainly, we wanted to make sure students knew that although Laker Homecoming may look different, we were still going to celebrate.”

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