Homecoming weekend at Plattsburgh State is to celebrate the return of visiting alumni and presence of current students. The Office of Alumni Relations is expecting approximately 300 alumni to make connections with current students and reminisce about their time spent here on campus.

This year’s two-day event is predicted to be a huge improvement from past years. For the first time in PSUC history, a bonfire and banner showcase will be incorporated into the lineup of events and will take place behind Memorial Hall near the soccer field tonight at 8:30 p.m.

What started out as an assignment for a public relations campaign class has turned into an event the campus has never seen before. The group was enlisted to develop a new plan for homecoming — one that would increase attendance and participation and become a signature event for students to look forward to and embrace.

PSUC Public Relations Assistant Professor Michelle Ouellette said the project was part of a plan two semesters in the making.

“I am tremendously proud. The students have worked and fought hard,” Ouellette said.

Students in the public relations class are also excited to see their work pay off at the bonfire.

Public relations student Patrice Grande said the event is different than what students may be used to, and she predicts a large turnout from fraternity and sorority life and sports teams.

Along with the bonfire, the group also developed a banner showcase competition. Groups around campus, including sports teams, Greek organizations and residence halls, have decorated large 6 feet by 2.5-feet banners to be judged by alumni at the bonfire. All banners will be displayed for the duration of the fire, with the judging taking place around 9 p.m. There are expected to be between 35 and 50 banners featured in the competition.

The winning group is awarded $250, while second and third place are awarded $150 and $100, respectively. The first-place banner will be hung in the Angell College Center for the remainder of the fall semester.

Ouellette said the bonfire gives students a chance to make a mark on the college and that it has been a way to get a student group involved in helping plan Homecoming Weekend alongside the Alumni Relations office.

“There is no better form of communication than peer-to-peer recruitment and energy, and they (public relations students) have done that,” Associate Director of Alumni Relations Kerry Chapin-Lavigne said.

With this is a new event, Chapin-Lavigne said getting the students involved with it and the weekend is a step in the right direction.

“The concept has always remained the same, and that is to keep alumni connected to the college. That has never changed,” she said.

She also said even though the concept of the weekend has not changed, programs featured throughout the weekend have changed over time.

“What works, you keep, and what doesn’t work you have to change. You have to change with the times and the generations. Homecoming has become a program that attracts some of our younger alumni,” Chapin-Lavigne said.

Aside from the bonfire and banner showcase, there will be several other events throughout the weekend:

• Five alumni will be inducted into the Cardinal Athletic Hall of Fame on Friday, and all alumni are welcome with advance registration.
• On Friday and Saturday PSUC men’s soccer will be playing at the Field House. Along with that, several pick-up games will be held on various fields around campus throughout the weekend that alumni can participate in.

• Cardinal Kid’s at the Arts will be held in PSUC’s Art Museum and will offer a variety of hands-on activities for children and families Saturday. No early registration is required. There is also an open-skate with Burghy Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at the Field House.

• Saturday also marks the opening ceremony of the Department of Communications Studies’ new Video-Audio-Digital Media Production Studios and Facilities. Now that renovations are complete, the events will feature a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Yokum Communications Hall to commemorate the new equipment, television and sound studio and editing labs.

• The Alpha Phi Alpha Stroll Show will take place Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Giltz Auditorium in Hawkins Hall. It is a competition where fraternities and sororities can showcase their talents. The event is open to students, faculty and alumni. Admission is $7 with student IDs.

• The weekend of events comes to a close on Saturday night at The Monopole with the Homecoming Welcome-Back Social. It is a way for students and alumni to socialize at an off-campus setting while enjoying live music with friends. Those with a homecoming name tag can score free wings from 8:30-9:30 p.m.
While Homecoming Weekend features staple events as tradition, this weekend will be one to remember, especially with the addition of the bonfire and banner showcase.

Those planning on attending the bonfire are advised to bring a blanket or a lawn chair. The first 200 to attend will receive a free T-shirt.
For more information, visit the hashtag #BONDfire or “Homecoming Bonfire 2015” on Facebook, both created by the public relations class in cooperation with plattsburgh.edu.

Email Marissa Russo at marissa.russo@cardinalpointsonline.com

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<a href="http://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/marissa-russo/" rel="tag">Marissa Russo</a>