By Isaac Clark
Cool November winds carried the sounds of laughter and excitement across the Tarpon Springs Campus courtyard. The smell of barbecue wafted through the air, mingling with the musk of sweaty flag-football players and gymnasts pulling back-flips and handsprings across the lawn. A bright sun reflected brilliant hues of blue and yellow and green. Teenagers danced, and friends took a moment to relax in the beauty of the afternoon. There was a distinct feeling of team spirit as students and faculty alike basked in the energy of the event.
November 1, 2018 was the kickoff of the first ever SPC Homecoming Event. The next three days were to be filled with free, family-friendly fun for the whole campus, including an Avengers movie night with popcorn and drinks, and a 5k run with free water and snacks. Unfortunately, due to weather issues, the movie night was postponed indefinitely. However, the Kickoff was still a huge success, and the 5k had an impressive turnout. Spirits are definitely high thanks to the festivities, and it feels like an eventful way to wind down before a long Fall Break.
The enthusiasm of the administrators involved in organizing the event was as palpable as the mid-afternoon sun that peeked through the trees. As I strapped on my camera, I was greeted by warm smiles all around me. Students gathered in front of the Epsilon building, garbed in their new yellow SPC shirts. I heard the sound of Latin pop music and friendly conversation reverberating throughout the courtyard. Big inflatable hamster-balls were racing down a short track, bouncing and rolling like acorns down a sidewalk. As the brave contestants in the Tug O’ War celebrated their hard-earned victory, a giant vanilla cake was divided among the eager students, who were finishing up their barbecue chicken and pulled-pork sandwiches. It was a heartwarming atmosphere where I felt welcome in every sense of the word. One found it difficult to resist the temptation to go up and say “hi” to someone or shake to the rhythms booming from the DJ’s speakers.
Shortly after a large group of athletes moved across the lawn to start a game of flag-football, it came time to announce the winners of the vote for homecoming King (Joshua Graham) and Queen (Karlina Denise Griffith). The music quieted, and the air became heavy with anticipation. As the candidates clustered together, there was a visible sense of comradery among them. There was no ill will, even at the end of the drum roll, when the provost, Dr. Rod Davis, crowned the two lucky students who would hold the illustrious role of SPC Royalty. It hardly felt as though there was real importance to who came in first or second. In the end, all the runners-up received their fair share of recognition, and the audience was simply happy to cheer on their courageous representatives. The moment contained that same essence of unity that permeated the whole event.
The feeling around the afternoon perfectly captured the beauty of attending SPC, and the depth and variety of people one can meet here. I myself was approached by two young women who noticed my photojournalism and proceeded to invite me to the newly-made photography club. I also met a man who was performing some incredible gymnastics during the event, and we shared a wonderful conversation. The feeling I left with was simply one of acceptance, and the urge to become more involved with the people behind this amazing college.