This fall semester at Waynesburg University has been a semester of adapting. Adapting to COVID-19 regulations, adapting to courses, adapting events on campus and so much more. Despite the changes, students, staff and faculty have worked together to persevere through it all.
Douglas G. Lee, President of Waynesburg University, has made it a priority to give the campus community a sense of normalcy by providing campus the opportunity to celebrate the holiday season together.
While normally students would be on campus well into December, students will be having their last day of in-person classes on Nov. 20. Instead of not decorating campus for Christmas, Lee decided to get the decorations up early and allow the campus community to experience this holiday season together.
“I want to get those decorations up in time for us to begin to think about the holidays and celebrate this great community that we have together,” Lee said. “Instead of giving up the holiday traditions that we always look forward to, let’s continue to celebrate them. And let’s not let the pandemic stop us from doing that.”
Amongst the business of the semester, Lee has been able to reflect on what is important to him.
“I can tell you what is important for me and all of us here is this strong sense of community,” Lee said. “ [I] think that a strong sense of community binds us in so many different ways together. The opportunity to celebrate that community in this moment and not let it pass because of the pandemic is important.”
While those involved in decorating are pressed for time, this year’s decorations will not be scaled down by any means.
“We did not scale back at all this year,” Laura Lawrence, executive assistant to the president, said. “President Lee and the senior staff team all felt that, in this time where not much is normal, it was very important that we show the student body how much they are appreciated by keeping this Christmas season as grand as it would be in any other year.”
The decorations will be showcased in the Light Up Night event Nov. 13. The event will begin at 5 p.m. and will be compliant with social distancing guidelines and COVID-19 restrictions.
Light Up Night will start with many student activities including ornament decorating and music from Waynesburg University’s own radio station, the Hive. There will also be fire pits for s’mores, along with hot chocolate and cookies.
At 6 p.m., there will be a tree lighting ceremony, which will begin with a blessing of the tree by Josh Sumpter, instructor of biblical and ministry studies and University Chaplain. Following Sumpter, Lee will be giving his remarks.
“I plan to give the message of hope,” Lee said. “There is a future for you. And the future is bright for all of you because of who all of you are, and the great ideas that your generation represents. And that’s the meaning of Christmas… hope.”
Although the semester was full of restrictions and social distancing, Light Up Night will wrap up the Fall 2020 semester with holiday spirit and a sense of togetherness.
“Despite the fact that this has been uncomfortable in some ways, in many ways, maybe it’s brought us closer together. Even though we’re six feet apart, in our minds and in our hearts we’re closer together,” Lee said.