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Bethel’s first outdoor commencement mirrors speaker’s advice to open the world

Bethel College’s 115th Commencement was certainly the most colorful in recent memory.

A major factor was the setting, outdoors under a bright blue Kansas May sky on the artificial turf of Joe W. Goering Field, the first time since 1941 that ceremonies were not held in Memorial Hall and, as far as anyone knows, the first time Bethel Commencement has ever been outside.

Another reason was an unusually high number of students from Africa. The 2008 graduates represented seven countries other than the United States, all of them African, with six students from Nigeria, three from Kenya, two from Tanzania and one each from Cameroon, Ethiopia, Niger and Togo. All but two of the students graduated with degrees in nursing.

Nursing students wore the traditional orange stoles to signify their degrees and the Nigerian students had green and white stoles in the colors of the Nigerian flag as well. In addition, as has been the case for the past number of years, Bethel’s African-American Alumni Association presented every African-American graduate with a multi-colored Kente cloth stole.

The electronic carillon in the top of Memorial Hall played a peal of bells as the graduates took the traditional march around the Green and then headed past Mem Hall to Thresher Stadium. As they entered the stadium, Director of Church Relations Dale Schrag rang the bell that has marked the “opening of school” since the mid-1970s.

Commencement speaker Janine Wedel, a social anthropologist and a professor of public policy at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., echoed a theme from the annual Alumni Banquet of the night before in building her address, “Serious fun,” around life lessons to be learned from pranks.

Bethel students sweep 2008 Sider Institute competition

Bethel swept the seventh annual Anabaptist research paper competition sponsored by the Sider Institute at Messiah College, Grantham, Pa.

The first-place award of $500 went to Jordan Penner, senior from Reedley, Calif., for his paper “Gaining a voice: Hispanic Mennonites in North America.” Meredith Lehman, sophomore from Bluffton, Ohio, took the second-place prize of $300 for her paper “Poetry and politics: Gender-inclusive language in Hymnal: A Worship Book.” Peter Miller, senior from Partridge, won the third-place prize of $200 with his paper “Prophecy and pacifism: Mennonite response to the Arab-Israeli Wars of 1948 and 1967.”

Bethel is part of third annual Kansas private college week

For the third year, Bethel College joins 17 other private colleges across the state to mark the first full week of June with a special campus visit event.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius has declared June 2-6, 2008, Kansas Private College Week, celebrating the wide range of choices among the state’s independent higher education offerings.

Interested students and their guests are invited to spend time at any or all of the colleges and universities, which are participating in Kansas Private College Week by holding special campus visit events during that time.

“This is a great opportunity for high school students to begin to explore their opportunities in Kansas private colleges and universities,” said Bethel graduate and former president Doug Penner, who is now president of the Kansas Independent College Association, which organizes Kansas Private College Week. “For the student who hopes to combine outstanding academic achievement with a personalized, relationship-intensive college experience, we believe the private colleges are ideal.”

Buller repeats as national javelin champion

Bethel student-athlete Jeff Buller, senior from Inman, repeated his national championship in javelin, throwing 214’ 8’’ to take first place at the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) nationals May 22 in Edwardsville, Ill.

Buller completed his undergraduate track and field career as a four-time All-American. He graduated with a degree in physics and plans to study aerospace engineering at Wichita State University.

Buller’s teammate Garrett Hiebert, freshman from Goessel, placed 6th at the national championships with a throw of 194’ 7’’, which earned him All-American status as well.

David Daugharthy, sophomore from Iola, finished 9th at 190’ 5’’. The three finished the regular season on top in their event in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC) and at that point were ranked second, seventh and 13th, respectively, in the nation.

Bethel’s track and field coach is Tracy Tuttle, assisted by Travis Graber and Stacy Koontz. Koontz, a 1995 Bethel graduate, still holds the school and KCAC records in women’s javelin.

Tuttle was named NAIA Region IV Coach of the Year for 2008. He is an assistant professor of physics and a former decathlete and All-American at Fort Hays State University.

Kauffman Museum to host lecture, artifact sale

“Petals of the Sunflower: The Garden of Bernhard and Justine Harder, Immigrants from West Prussia” is the title of Kauffman Museum’s Sunday-Afternoon-at-the-Museum program scheduled for June 8 at 3:30 p.m. Museum board member Melvin D. Epp, Whitewater, will tell the story of his great grandparents, who emigrated to Kansas in 1876. On the Kansas prairie, Bernhard recreated the garden he had nurtured in West Prussia for 44 years. The program is co-sponsored by the Newton Public Library as part of their 2008 Garden Tour. The lecture is free and open to the public. For more information contact Kauffman Museum, (316) 283-1612.

On June 21, the museum will host a one-day sale from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. in the receiving area west of the building (delivery entrance). Antiques being taken out of storage to sell include “orphan” artifacts such as antique farm implements, an old carpet loom and an 1890s brougham carriage. Also available for purchase will be a collection of 200 Beanie Babies (TM) from a friend of the museum. The final list of items will not be available until the day of the sale. To volunteer as set-up assistant, cashier or bake sale helper, contact museum director Rachel Pannabecker, (316) 283-1612, rpannabe@bethelks.edu.

Fall Fest to feature kick-off events to Bethel’s 125th anniversary

In 2012 Bethel College will be 125 years old, and that’s reason to celebrate. This year’s Fall Fest will already include several events to kick off five years of special activities leading up to the anniversary. Bethel was incorporated May 23, 1887. This year’s Fall Festival fair is Saturday, Oct. 4, with Taste of Newton Thursday, Oct. 2, and additional Fall Fest activities Oct. 3 and 5.

The 120th anniversary of the laying of the cornerstone of Bethel’s historic and beloved Administration Building -- more often known as the “Ad Building” -- will be the focus of special features at this year’s festival.

Everyone attending Fall Fest is invited to a birthday party for the Ad Building from 2-2:30 p.m. Saturday at the center of the Green.

Robert W. Regier, professor emeritus of art, and Keith Sprunger, professor emeritus of history, are preparing an audiovisual presentation about the Ad Building titled “A Castle on the Prairie: Bethel’s ‘Old Main’ in Word and Image.” It will be shown at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, and at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 5.

On Saturday, Ad Building memorabilia will be displayed in the lobby of the Fine Arts Center. The Bethel community is invited to lend items featuring the building for this one-day display. Contact Rachel Pannabecker at Kauffman Museum, (316) 283-1612, rpannabe@bethelks.edu.

Other special events related to both the 120th birthday of the Ad Building and quasquicentennial of the college may be offered, as well. The usual array of Fall Fest features will round out the weekend.

Bethel announces 2008 athletics hall of fame class

The athletic department has announced its 2008 Hall of Fame inductees -- the 1975 football team and women’s basketball standout DeAnn Dick Huxman of Moundridge.

The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place during Fall Festival Saturday, Oct. 4.

The 1975 football team is known as the “uncrowned 1975 KCAC champions.” On the field, the Threshers rolled through their conference competition with an 8-0 record, ending the season with a blow-out win over the nationally ranked St. Mary of the Plains College. However, due to an ineligible player of which the college was unaware until six games into the season, the Threshers had to forfeit their first six games. Although the Threshers were victorious on the field, they were denied the KCAC title due to the forfeitures.

Huxman has been recognized as one of the best ever to wear a Thresher women’s basketball uniform. During her playing career, 1991-1995, she broke 17 individual game, season and career records and still holds 16 of them. Most notably, Huxman owns the single-season scoring record with 560 points and the career scoring record with 1,891 points.

Huxman was a four-time all-conference selection and was an NAIA All-American following her senior season, the first women’s basketball player at Bethel College to earn that distinction.