Congratulations, Odd Year!

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2020 Play – “Full House”
Coached by Melanie Burkhardt (’18) and Caitie Kieser (’18), twelve Even Year Play girls performed a play that combined both Hope College tradition and the popular 1990’s television show, Full House. DJ, the eldest daughter in her freshman year at Hope, is preparing to see her rambunctious family during Family Weekend. The Tanner household is no longer complete without DJ, and they are ecstatic for their trek to Holland, Mich. The family will finally be back together again.

With the Tanner family and DJ reunited, all is well at Hope until Michelle gets lost. The play follows the story of the family members, Kimmy Gibbler and other familiar faces as they work together to find the youngest. With the help of Olympic athlete Ally Raisman, a campus safety officer and the SAC director, the Tanner family finds Michelle happily eating her Hope cookie at Coffeehouse.

When DJ sees her family again, she is reminded how important they are to her and what life was like before coming to college. She is conflicted with staying at Hope or moving back home; she loves both places and can’t seem to make the right decision. She seeks advice from her father, as well as Uncles Jesse and Joey, and later decides that Hope is the best place for her. Several weeks later, when FaceTiming with the family, DJ shares that she is happy with her decision of staying at Hope and is excited for her future there.

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2019 Oration – “A Hallowed Mansion”
Jubilee Jackson (’19) wrote and performed her Odd Year oration titled “The Hallowed Mansion.” She was coached by Madeline Chapman (’17) and Gabby Gazall (’17). The theme of this year’s oration was “The Method to the Madness.” Jubilee used the metaphor of a mansion to discuss the portrayal of human lives. The exterior of the mansion is what we show of ourselves to others–our put-together, successful and driven selves. The interior of our mansion is how we really are–our true feelings, hurts, wants and burdens. Our external perfection leads to our internal emptiness. We are afraid to let others look in the windows of our mansion because this makes us vulnerable. By doing this, we are not living. Instead, we are simply existing.

Existing is not our purpose on this earth, because while others may see us in a “perfect light,” we struggle to keep it all together and live our best lives. We allow ourselves to be emptied, while we simultaneously fill up others’ perceptions of ourselves to ensure that they see us in the best light possible. When we do this, we build a house constructed of lies. Others do not see our true selves, and we are not true to ourselves. It is a lose-lose situation.

Our focus should not be on pleasing others and society, but instead on living confident in who we are. Because, after all, we don’t need to be a mansion; a house will do! Life is not about a method to the madness. It is about the method to God’s madness.

Jubilee’s inflection, personality, and stage presence all worked together to create a memorable performance that left the audience in awe. She told a message that Hope College, and society as a whole, needed to hear.

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2020 Song – “Girl Put Your Records On”
Coached by Maty Landman (’18) and Erin Caton (’18), the Even Year Song girls sang and put motions to the song, “Girl Put Your Records On.” Arranged in the traditional block pattern with just over 100 performers, these women were complete in their “nun-fits”–navy blue knee-length skirts, navy sweaters, white turtlenecks and black close-toed shoes. These performers combined their traditional Even Year hand motions with their props to make this song come alive. Stuffed in the women’s sweaters, sleeves and waistbands, the props included cut-out stars and diamonds, pom-poms and a variety of words and short phrases.

This song, however, did not come together overnight. The coaches and song girls practiced six days a week for two to three hours at a time during the month of October. Not only did they have to memorize the song lyrics, but also get down some intricate and perfectly-timed hand motions. Each of the props had to be strategically placed within the nun-fit, careful not to squish any of the other props in the process. Nykerk Song would not be complete without these traditional hand movements and props.

Nykerk Song would also not be complete without morale boys. The men morale multiple Song girls over the course of a month and leave candy, flowers and encouraging notes at their doorsteps. Of course, their identify is kept a secret until the much coveted “reveal night,” where each morale boy reveals his code name and presents each song girl with a rose. This tradition has been kept alive for the past 82 years because of the love, support and passion that these Nykerk members share for this beloved Hope College tradition.

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2019 Play – “The Trial”
Originally written, directed and cast by coaches Sarah Carpenter (’17) and Nancy Benda (’17), the Odd Year play, “The Trial,” was performed by fifteen Hope College sophomores. This play takes place on the campus of Hope College. The problem arises when the future Bultman Student Center is filled with pianos, a tragedy to everyone on campus. Witnesses are called to the courtroom to state what they saw at the time of the incident. The characters of Hammock, Train, Hope and Calvin Dance Marathon participants, LJ’s and JP’s baristas, Durf and his friend Hope and the student center construction workers are all asked to testify in the courtroom. The Campus Safety Officer and Ben Rector are also there to give their input. Three Hope ghosts, John Nykerk, Wynard Wichers and Albertus Van Raalte, are all there to give their opinions.

Judge John Nykerk is in charge of the courtroom and pleads that someone give an answer to the crime committed on campus. No one appears to be guilty, and they have run out of witnesses. However, everyone realizes that Judge John Nykerk was unaccounted for at the time of the incident. Both he and Wynant Wichers seem suspicious. Long story short, the truth comes out and Nykerk and accomplice Wichers worked together to fill the Bultman Student Center with pianos. They did so because the new student center took the place of their Nykerk building. In the play, Nykerk stated, “By filling the Bultman Student Center with pianos, I was simply making an artistic statement.” Nykerk and Wichers did not want to be forgotten.

The Odd Year Play girls stuck with tradition and performed with large, crisp motions, making sure they worked with all levels onstage. This play truly embodied the Hope community, and when asked about it, coach Sarah Carpenter (’17) said, “We tried to incorporate a variety of characters that represent different aspects of our Hope College community. We thought it would be interesting to show that we remember the Nykerk music building and had this thought of ‘What would John Nykerk have to say about this?’”

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2020 Oration – “When We Collapse”
Sophie Awad (’20) was the Even Year orator, representing the Class of 2020 with poise, truth and bravery. Lead by her coaches and “mamas” Cassidy Bernhardt (’18) and Gianna Ramirez (’18), she took the stage on Saturday night to tell her story, “When We Collapse.”

Her own personal story is mirrored with that of a dancer. The character dances to the beat of a tempo, yet she finds herself quickly unable to keep up with the music. She cannot seem to get the dance down just right and appears to be falling further and further behind. Paralleling the dancer, Sophie spoke of her own experiences and how she felt like she was spiralling out of control. In high school, she found madness manifesting within her, yet was unable to voice what she was feeling. She was “struck by a madness equivalent to that of a tempo.” Sophie kept walking through life pretending she was okay and was unable to voice the two words, “Help me.”

Her mother finally confronted her, and she was able to go get help. A counselor told her she was clinically depressed. With that diagnosis, she had an answer to the feelings of unknown madness that had been creeping into her life. Having this diagnosis made her feel as if she were vulnerable against the world. But she learned that madness manifests itself in different ways. Everybody has their own “madness,” and it looks different for each individual. Sophie’s just happened to take the form of depression.

Sophie spoke of her experiences in high school and how she got to where she is today. She had her support system to help her along her journey of healing. She spoke to the importance of having a support system when dealing with madness. Her speech finished with the profound words, “Madness is no match for the human race.”

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2019 Song – “Boy Bands Through the Ages”
The Nykerk Cup Competition finished with the medley song performance of the Odd Year Song girls. This group of women was lead and coached by Elizabeth Tally (’17) and Bethany Redeker (’17). Choosing the theme of “Boy Bands Through The Ages,” these two coaches compiled a variety of songs that captured the essence of boy bands. The 2019 Song girls sang selections from popular boy bands, including “I’m a Believer,” “Bye Bye Bye” and “Here Comes the Sun,” to name a few. These women were also dressed head to toe in their nun-fits and were situated in the block formation with white gloves on hand.

Amidst singing the variety of boy band songs, these women made the songs effervescent by pairing the lyrics to motions as well as proudly displaying props. In typical Odd Year fashion, traditional hand motions such as the pepsi chill made their appearance throughout the medley. Some of the many props seen throughout the medley were leis, paper airplanes and glow sticks.

Just like all of the other performances, this song took extra work and dedication because of the medley aspect that is brought upon sophomore year. Extra time and attention needs to be spent learning and memorizing the songs. On top of this, the hand motions and props need to be taught and properly “stuffed.” A lot of work is involved, but there is plenty of time for fun. The morale boys help end every practice with unique and funny skits, and various days of practice are dedicated to pajama day, red hot day and so on. This tradition brings the Hope community together to create a product each individual is proud of as well as create something that can entertain the local Hope and Holland communities.

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