Homecoming Week officially began Tuesday at the Marriott Center as students were welcomed by the Cougar Marching Band. Remarks were given by President Cecil O. Samuelson and his wife Sister Sharon Samuelson, Chad Lewis and Jimmer Fredette.
Chris Feinauer, president of the BYU Alumni Association, and Ryan Greenburg, BYUSA student body president, gave an overview of the activities available this week.
The theme of Homecoming, “Hold High the Torch,” comes from an early BYU founder.
“One aspect of Homecoming that deepens the experience for me is the emphasis of an early founder,” Feinauer said.
President Samuelson and Sister Samuelson introduced Gerrit de Jong Jr. as the 2011 honored founder.
De Jong, who passed away in 1978, helped organize the original College of Fine Arts, where he served as dean for 34 years. He had a variety of interests and was distinguished in multiple fields, Samuelson said.
The Homecoming theme came from de Jong’s address to graduates of the College of Humanities in 1966.
“Be a living example, not just a theoretical advocate of enduring human values. Hold high the torch,” de Jong said.
President Samuelson extended the invitation to students to be torch-bearers in every walk of life.
“We have been given so much — including a BYU education,” President Samuelson said. “Let us use those gifts to light the world around us.”
This year’s Homecoming theme was also used for the George H. Brimhall essay contest.
Joseph Groberg, representing the Brimhall family, presented the awards for this year’s essay contest.
First place went to Alyssa Herzinger, a senior majoring in French studies. Herzinger read her essay, titled “Torches and Periodic Tables: The Legacy of Gerrit de Jong.” Herzinger received a $1,000 check for her essay.
Second place went to Travis Washburn, a graduate student from Nampa, Idaho, with third place to Greta Ballif, a junior from Fallbrook, Calif.
After the essay contest presentation, students heard from Chad Lewis. Lewis is a BYU alumni, a 1996 Academic All-American and recently retired from a career with the Philadelphia Eagles. Lewis is part of BYU’s athletic administration while also serving as an NFL ambassador to Southeast Asia.
Lewis spoke of the excellence and hard work put forth by BYU students in a variety of fields.
“We too can hold our torches high and light the way in a sometimes stormy world,” Lewis said. “The important thing is that each of us resolve to be life-long beacons of achievement, opportunity and hope, gathering light as we go.”
Following Lewis’ remarks, students watched a video of Fredette addressing them about his time at BYU and his love for Homecoming week. Fredette also encouraged students to hold the torch.
“You excel in many more ways than you can count,” Fredette said. “Together we can truly be collected light around the world. Go for it Cougars.”
Men’s Chorus performed following Fredette’s comments. After the opening ceremonies students were treated to a free lunch at Brigham Square. The line for hamburgers extended all the way to the Smoot Building at one point.
Activities for students included a balloon dart throw, getting a soccer ball past soccer players and playing with science equipment. Students ate free popcorn as they waited in line and listened to music, enjoying the spirit of Homecoming.
With all the many events going on for Homecoming Week, President Samuelson encouraged students “to take full advantage of the activities and experiences that are available to you during this special week.”