Wittenberg University is a community steeped in tradition. This year, First Year Seminar (FYS) classes are starting a new tradition that will begin with the current freshmen.
Titled ‘Illuminating the Class of 2024,’ this new event will take place at dusk on Wednesday, May 5, and feature luminary bags decorated with memories from the class of 2024’s first year of college. Students and members of the faculty and staff will pass a lighter to ‘illuminate’ each light in the bags, starting at the bottom of the hill near the campus seal up to Myers Hall until all luminaries are lit. President Mike Frandsen and his wife, Sharon Frandsen, will pass the first light to begin the ceremony.
“As Wittenberg's motto states, ‘Having Light We Pass It On To Others,’ yet there is no tradition of physically passing a light,” said Amy McGuffey, associate professor of education and director of FYS, who came up with the idea with assistance from Alyssa Hoofnagle, assistant professor of mathematics who also serves on the FYS Advisory Board. “We are both alumni and thought this would be a great tradition for the Class of 2024 to start. The luminary bags were selected because the students will be able to decorate them to represent the best parts of their first year at Wittenberg. Students will light their candle and then ‘pass the light’ to the next person. This is representing the culmination of their first year of college and how even during challenging times our light can shine, and we can share it with others.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this academic year has not been a typical first year of college for freshmen and McGuffey hopes this new tradition will give each member of the class of 2024 something special to remember.
“Throughout FYS, I have tried to incorporate activities that provide students with a glimpse of Wittenberg during a normal year,” she said. “I wanted them to know they are special and appreciated for enduring a less than perfect year. Their resilience is admirable. And, what better way to help them feel belonging, friendship, and connection than starting a tradition that will bring their first year of college at Wittenberg to a close in a positive light.”
All students and FYS teams will be wearing shirts that were made for them and specially designed by a student in the class of 2024, Owen McGuffey from Saint Paris, Ohio, who is majoring in business management and minoring in entrepreneurship.
“The FYS Advisory Board decided it would be great to have a physical memento so we came up with the idea of T-shirts that everyone could wear to the event. We thought it would be perfect to have someone from the class create it,” McGuffey explained, “so I asked Owen out of convenience, since he loves drawing and has been designing some shirts on his own. Owen sent me the design, I shared it with the FYS Advisory Board, and they thought it was great, so they decided it should be used. He did a great job incorporating the current Wittenberg themes of passing the light onto others and the Wittenberg Tiger in his shirt design, further connecting this new tradition with old ones.”
Leading up to the illumination event, all FYS sections have been ‘passing their light on’ by engaging in some form of service on campus the past few weeks. Each FYS group was able to choose what project they wanted to do. Projects included reorganizing offices in the Benham-Pence Student Center and writing notes to those who will be hired to fill the positions occupying the offices, planting saplings around campus, celebrating the Parkhurst Dining staff by making goodie bags and thank-you notes to distribute to them, planting a tree outside Hollenbeck Hall, working on the nursing simulation house, doing a Tik Tok video on why they chose to attend Wittenberg, sending thank you notes and goodie bags to the current student teachers, and cleaning up areas along the prospective student tour path for the Office of Admission, which includedweeding or mulching a flower bed, updating bulletin boards the tour passes, swapping around furniture, and writing welcome greetings in chalk.
Each FYS group made a short one-to-two-minute video about how they ‘passed their light’ on campus during their service experience that will be compiled into one larger video. Once the larger video is complete, it will be shared to campus.