WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (KAIT) - Homecoming at Williams Baptist University will look a bit different due to the pandemic.
Reunions and alumni events coming up next week have been canceled, but officials have gotten creative to make sure homecoming will still take place.
“We’re actually changing the emphasis of Homecoming Week," Amber Grady, WBU Dean of Students said.
Grady says it was difficult to not have alumni activities on homecoming weekend. With COVID-19, having a large group of people on campus was out of the picture.
However, Grady says the school wanted to give students a bit of normalcy during this time.
“The students just simply expressed to me, ‘Mrs. Amber, we’d love to have festivities,’" Grady said. "So as we saw declining on-campus [COVID] numbers, we were eager to offer this opportunity.”
And the opportunity involves restructuring Homecoming Week to ‘Spirit Week.’
The pandemic has also impacted Spirit Week for WBU students, traditionally held the week of Homecoming, but many activities are still planned that can accommodate social distancing. Dean of Students Amber Grady said evening activities planned include a bonfire, a 5K “glow run” and a pizza party. The events culminate with a parade through the Williams campus on Friday.
“One of the challenging realities of this pandemic was that we could not bring our alumni together this fall due to the health risks that would present," Dr. Stan Norman, president of WBU, said. “However, we are finding ways to celebrate some of the enjoyable aspects of Homecoming that will highlight many of our talented students.”
WBU music and drama groups who would ordinarily perform as part of Homecoming festivities will instead be featured on video. The presentation will feature the Williams Singers choral group, the WBU concert band, the praise/worship team, and the bluegrass/country ensemble.
The Cast drama team will also be a featured part of the video.
The video will be presented on the Williams Baptist University channel on YouTube.
The university’s drama department will stage the “WBU Radio Theatre” Thursday and Friday, Nov. 5 and 6. The production is a compilation of dramas from the golden age of radio, and it will be presented at 7 p.m., both evenings in Startup Chapel.
The audience at the production will be spaced to allow for social distancing, and masks will be required.
WBU’s men’s & women’s basketball teams are still scheduled to play Baptist Bible College on Saturday, Nov. 7.
The games were originally scheduled to be a part of Homecoming festivities, but will now be played according to the university’s COVID protocols, with only WBU students and family members of the Eagles' players in attendance.