North Park Staff and Volunteers Connect with Students at CHIC

By Stan Friedman

KNOXVILLE, TN (July 19, 2012) – North Park University has a long tradition of investing in the CHIC experience, but this year’s contribution far surpasses any previous involvement.

The school is participating in just about every aspect of the triennial event that has drawn more than 5,000 high school students this year, says Mark Olson, dean of enrollment and director of church relations. Overall, at least 75 people connected with the school are volunteering.

As in the past, the school sponsored the welcome party that extended throughout the first day, offered a volleyball clinic, presented a college seminar, and held a luncheon for incoming university freshmen.

All of the students have had an opportunity to learn from North Park professors who are leading seminars. Brad Nassif, Boaz Johnson, and Dan Hodge led seminars on topics that ranged from biblical interpretation to human trafficking. Staff members Marcus Simmons and Alison Burkhardt also have led educational components.

Judy Peterson, campus chaplain, was the Main Stage speaker Wednesday night.

In addition to helping ensure that attendees have an opportunity to grow in their faith, CHIC also provides a chance for the school to make itself more widely known. “Covenant students can get a feel for the quality of our faculty and staff, and interact with some of our current students, which is always the best way for prospective students to evaluate any university,” says Olson.

For the first time, about 45 university students are representing North Park as they staff a variety of volunteer positions. “They’re not doing it for any credit at school but just because they love to serve and love high school students,” says Megan Gilmore, who coordinated the contingent.

The group has worked primarily on behind-the-scenes tasks to help with jobs that are less glamorous but necessary. “We arrived early on Saturday morning to help with the set-up, especially of the Hub and CHIC store,” says Gilmore. They worked throughout Saturday and Sunday before youth started to arrive.”

Most of the volunteer group sing in the university’s Gospel Choir and were the foundation of the CHIC choir. They helped teach songs to the roughly 200 teenagers who showed up at rehearsal and then led the Main Stage gathering in worship on Wednesday night.

Gospel Choir directors Stephen Kelly and Helen Hudgens, associate professor of music, led and directed the choir. After Tuesday’s rehearsal, two students told Hudgens that they wanted to change their college plans and attend North Park.

The school is making a difference around the world by selling North Park-branded t-shirts. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to Thursday night’s offering to benefit Covenant Kids.

The university is also promoting VIVE, an outreach initiative in which North Park works with churches that have significant high school student populations who would be the first generation in their family to attend college.

Three coaches offered a football skills clinic. Track and field and cross-country coaches led students on morning “fun runs” at 7 a.m.

If any student gets sick or is injured during the week, they might interact with nursing faculty member Heather Duncan. She is volunteering with the medical team.

Just as in Chicago, the school has made sure to serve students mind, soul, and body.

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