What a great weekend we had for Panther days. Lots of high school students checking out the school as well as alumni here for the President's Council. This year's Songfest was a phenomenal show and a great success.
This semester at the President's Council, we asked a few students to come and informally answer questions and interact with alumni. The intent was to show alumni that the "York Experience" was still intact, in spite of a different current culture and much more diverse student backgrounds.
I noted today that Jake Sola has been named baseball player of the week in our conference (KCAC). Jake is a transfer who came to us in the fall. He is one of those who immediately fell in love with YC and started to get involved. He was baptized last semester and actually spoke in split chapel last week. Quite a journey in a short amount of time.
It has been a pretty amazing week at YC. We are headed to the first round of the conference playoffs in basketball, won the conference wrestling meet with 5-7 wrestlers headed to the national tournament, and today we announced in chapel that we had 22 all-Americans in track with three national championships and numerous second place finishes.
LaRee follows several of our former students on Facebook after they graduate and move on. Last week she received a reply that made me think more about life here. I often think about what makes this place different than other colleges, including ones that I have worked for. The York Experience that we like to talk about is unique because our small size requires that we reinvent the culture in some ways every year. You don't come to fit in at YC, you come to help create what that experience is going to be each year.
Today I had lunch with a couple graduating seniors in the cafeteria. Not planned, just sat down at their table. One was a transfer, the other came as a freshman. They talked about their time at YC. They really have nothing in common except friendship. They met each other through activities and events on campus and eventually became close. The transfer talked about friends she had before, who she now sees as acquaintances because she never experienced the depths of lifelong friendships that she gained here. I was reminded of recent posts I read on Facebook of alumni sharing moments that led them to friendships here.
It has been an interesting year, to say the least. As I sit in my office and enjoy the quiet of Christmas break, I already miss the students and wish they were back. However, with temperatures hovering in the single digits, it's probably best they aren't here right now.
Each year is different at York College. I shared with the students in opening chapel this year that one of the unique qualities of York College is the fact that you don't come to York to adjust yourself and fit in to the culture, we recreate it every year. Because of our size, each person here makes a difference as to how the year progresses. That difference can be an influence for good or not. There have been disappointments this year. Students who have made poor choices that impact not only them, and their friends, but the entire campus. But God has also blessed us with those who step up and make a change for the better and help to transform this place. Even the things that are not positive can be transformed by God into a blessing, and He has proven that again and again.
I know I tend to say something about this every year, but hearing the students sing for the first time each year in praise chapel does something to me. On Fridays I prefer to sit in the front and let the sound wash over me. Today was also special in that they sang one of my favorite songs, "The Greatest Commands."
Yesterday was "move in" day. It is always exciting, fun and emotional as parents and kids move into their rooms and say their goodbyes. I am amazed at the new students and the energy they bring to the campus. YC is unique in that students create the culture each year. It is never static and because we are so small, every individual makes a difference. I am as optimistic about our campus this year as I have ever been.
Two things stood out to me this year. First was the number of parents who commented on how friendly and helpful every staff member was to them. It certainly makes me proud to be a part of such a great group of servants.
This time of year is always bittersweet. We experience the last week in chapel, the last baseball game, student project presentations and activities across the campus. We are so proud of our students, but we may never see some of them again. Some are graduating, some going on to other opportunities. At times I reminisce about close friendships I have formed with students and wonder what they are doing now. I often brag that we have the best students of any college. I miss all those whose paths have crossed mine over the years and appreciate what they have added to my life.
I was late for a meeting this morning. The reason I was late; the ladies at the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women who are in our associate degree program asked the teachers and a couple administrators to come out for a short ceremony. They wanted to show their appreciation for the opportunity they have been given to get a college degree.
I got emotional as each got up and made a statement about what this program means to them. They all knew our mission and related to the idea of transformation. God has blessed us with outstanding spiritual faculty members who have touched these women's lives in ways we will never comprehend.