This past weekend, Denmark Technical College held its annual homecoming celebration, with a few alterations to their usual plans.
“We usually have a full week of in person activities for both students and alumni alike. This year, with COVID-19 still having a strong grip on the county, we scaled back on our plans and offered a hybrid homecoming with both virtual and in-person events,” said vice president of student services, Dr. Lamar White.
The week kicked off with a student paint and pour event where students were led with step by step, professional instruction on how to paint a panther paw canvas to adorn their living quarters, followed by a game night and several other small-scale activities.
“The students had a lot of fun, got to socialize and expanded their creativity with these activities. We were able to make sure everyone stayed safe by imparting the same protocol we have for our classes in our extracurricular events. Students are tested weekly for COVID, required to wear masks and socially distance, have their temperatures taken upon arrival to each building and are educated on safety measures,” said student activities coordinator, Taylor Helton.
In place of some usual in-person events, a schedule of virtual events was offered for participants who wanted to remain home due to COVID-19 concerns. Videos of a welcome from the college president, a virtual parade and a closing service were placed on YouTube for DTC community members to enjoy and an alumni day party was held via zoom which brought alumni from near and far together for a trip down memory lane.
“This was only one of a handful of homecomings I’ve missed over the last fifty years. Although it was disappointing not to be able to attend in person, it is worth missing one to help ensure I’m around to attend many more in the future. The virtual events helped to ease the sting of not being able to be there in person and it was a lot of fun to connect with old friends and members if the DTC community online. I’d like to commend Dr. Todd and his team for putting on such an enjoyable homecoming that was inclusive of everyone who was unable to attend in person due to the current COVID-19 crisis,” said James Bowden, president of the Denmark Technical College National Alumni Association.
One event that was noticeably missing from the calendar was the annual scholarship gala, a black-tie event that is held on the Friday before homecoming each year to raise funds for both academic and need-based scholarships.
“It was a tough decision, but we decided, given that we are living in a COVID culture, it would be best to postpone the event until it is safer and more people have had the opportunity to be vaccinated. We’re planning to hold the gala in late spring during our presidential investiture,” said Dr. Willie L. Todd, Jr., president and CEO of Denmark Tech.
The week culminated with the traditional homecoming basketball games and tailgating.
“On top of our usual COVID restrictions, we put extra safety precautions in place including the spacing of vehicles for tailgating, cutting off ticket sales at 25% capacity, checking temperatures at the gate and halting concessions sales in the venue,” said Todd.
This year, the DTC Panthers took on neighboring rival, the Voorhees Tigers. The Lady Panthers claimed victory, 83-68. During halftime, Dasia Harden and Jordan Blanding were crowned Homecoming King and Queen. The Panther men put up a good fight, but in the end fell to Voorhees, 79-88.
“This is a young team with a lot of heart. They are working hard and improving every day. Although we came up short this time, I foresee a bright future for these talented young men,” said Andre Payne, athletic director and men’s head coach.
“Realizing the importance of Homecoming to HBCUs, in the midst of a pandemic, we were able to welcome our alumni home to DTC and provide the homecoming experience while focusing on the safety and wellbeing of our community. We look forward to many more elaborate homecomings in the future, when the pandemic is behind us,” added Todd.