WINONA LAKE — Grace College students and staff engage their creativity as they seek to stay connected and maintain the unique Grace community from their homes.
Student Involvement, Residence Life, and Athletics have worked hard to keep the campus, residence halls and athletic teams unified during this time, said a news release from Grace College.
“We are not dialing back. Students need ways to connect now more than ever,” said Grace Student Involvement Director Kearstin Criswell. “We are implementing weekly lunch-and-learn sessions, Netflix viewing parties, and other special events for students to enjoy,” said Criswell.
Every week, Criswell releases an involvement calendar. This week includes the “Grace College CRIBS” event which allows popular Grace faculty and staff to give a tour of their homes. Also on the calendar is “Deans in their Homes,” a Google Meet for students to hear updates from Grace College deans and ask questions. Criswell works with a team of students to come up with new and engaging ideas each week.
Student leaders in Residential Life have stepped up as well. Lane Faulhaber, a junior resident assistant, took the initiative to connect his residents from afar. “When Residence Life asked the RAs to bring forward creative ideas to connect our communities and encourage togetherness,” Faulhaber said to himself, “‘I didn’t spend all those years in high school playing video games for nothing.’” He called his best friend. They worked on renting a server “that would host everybody who wants to play,” said Faulhaber. The Minecraft server now brings students together from Ohio to Colorado.
“The server has been a great way to connect,” said Faulhaber. “And the chat channel allows for free communication between players. It’s been a great way to ask how everyone is handling the break and share what life is like for each of us right now,” he said.
Another Grace resident assistant Natalee Cross has also prioritized her hall community during this time. Cross invites her residents to watch the live chapel services together, eat lunch together, and play games together each week, just as they would if they were on campus.
Cross checks in on her residents in smaller group settings as well. “My favorite virtual interaction so far was the call I had with the seniors after we found out we wouldn’t be returning,” said Cross. “We were able to process the disappointing news together, cry together, and encourage each other,” she said.
The Grace community is also reinventing itself in athletic realms.
What began as the Grace men’s soccer team’s 48-hour run to raise funds for pandemic relief with a $10,000 goal, concluded as an all-inclusive, week-long marathon that raised more than $12,000. The marathon invited other Grace athletic teams, students and administration to join the cause and run a leg of the event.
The marathon brought together Grace’s global community as over 75 runners participated in the run from New Zealand, England, Portugal, Brazil, Germany, and coast to coast in the United States. “We are so thankful for the outpouring of support in our community and across the world for this event,” said head coach Arron Patrick.