Kicking off a new year

Various cultures bring in the new year with various customs: Spaniards eat twelve grapes at midnight, the Dutch fuel bonfires with Christmas trees, and people in the United States sing a rousing chorus of “Auld Lang Syne.” But Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary kicks off a new academic year with verve as members of the seminary community pelt one another with dodgeballs.

Nearly 500 Southwestern students, faculty and staff, along with their families, joined in an evening of fun and food to celebrate the beginning of the new school year during the 2011 Fall Kickoff at the RAC, Aug. 26. The kickoff featured a dodgeball tournament, with 15 student teams and 3 faculty teams. This year the RAC team prevailed and carried home the golden dodgeball trophy, championship T-shirts and other prizes.

The kickoff offered something for all participants, including dollar pizza slices and free drinks provided by the Naylor Student Center. Children joined in the fun by playing in bounce houses and on a Velcro wall. The Fall Kickoff also provided an opportunity for campus organizations to broadcast upcoming events and opportunities in an exhibition area.

College student Jared Witt promoted the Southwestern Apologetics Club, announcing the club’s next meeting and giving away prizes throughout the evening.

“It was great just to be able to have a large portion of the student body and new students all get together and hang out and play dodgeball,” Witt said. Students were able to see many of the opportunities available to them at Southwestern, a benefit to both students and campus organizations. “It was great for us. I think we doubled the number of contacts we had from the semester before.”

According to Donald Kim, assistant professor of Bible in the College at Southwestern, the Fall Kickoff augments the excitement that is spreading across campus as the new school year begins.

“I really like the setting” of the kickoff, said Kim, who joined the college faculty’s dodgeball team for the evening. “It just sets the tone, and you sense a lot of energy in a place like that. And I think it is helpful for students when they’re coming to a new place. … I think that it sends out a message that there is a lot going on and that the institution has a lot to offer as a training ground.”

Similarly, James Williams, assistant director of Student Life, observed that new students at Southwestern have entered the year with excitement, “ready to begin their seminary training.”

“We see this year’s Fall Kickoff,” he said, “as a tremendous success.”

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Established 1908 Fort Worth, Texas