THE Covid-19 pandemic has changed the way we celebrate alumni homecomings.
Even without the much-anticipated face-to-face interaction, host batches get creative, facing challenges head-on without sacrificing the special event’s essence.
For today’s feature, former SunStar Davao columnist and Davao Christian High School -C.P. Garcia campus principal Jocy So-Yeung shares how her DCHS Batch 1996 successfully hosted their recent alumni homecoming the new normal way: “Fifteen minutes before the start of Davao Christian High School’s first online Homecoming celebration last February 6, 2021, members from Batch 1996 had a virtual meeting.
There was relief amongst the group. After years of preparation, the day finally arrived. There was an outpouring of gratitude for how DCHS alumni and friends rallied to sponsor, support, and encourage the group. But there was also anxiety felt as unlike in the past when ticket sales predict the number of people showing up during Homecoming, this time everything was up in the air.
After the prayer, DCHS Batch 1996 members switched over to Facebook or YouTube to watch the show. How many will tune in? How will they react to the show? Will the first-ever DCHS virtual Homecoming be a success? These were the questions that kept everyone on their toes.
It turned out to be a success! With an estimated 1,000 viewers during the premiere night, plus additional 8,000 views on Facebook and YouTube during the succeeding days, DCHS Virtual Homecoming hosted by Batch 1996 exceeded all expectations. Even people who could not attend previous homecomings were able to take part.
For DCHS Batch 1996, all the congratulatory messages, the night’s success, and the chance to give back to the school that helped mold them to be the people they are today was a humbling experience.
With around just a dozen batch members meeting sporadically in 2019, to having the initial activity—a basketball clinic with Chris Tiu and TY Tang—scrapped due to Covid-19 lockdown March 2020, to not knowing what to do for a few months as the pandemic raged on, to finally meeting again around September of 2020 and pledging to push on with the Homecoming, it had been a trial of faith.
The pandemic meant that batchmates could not meet face-to-face. And, with batch members located all over the world, even agreeing on a good time to have a Zoom meeting was difficult.
Even creating one video proved challenging. With varying degrees of technological know-how and with batchmates scattered all over the world, it was hard to coordinate and even collate videos. As music video coordinator Patrick Yap said, it was hard to “teach 40-somethings how to upload and download videos on Google Drive.”
In late December 2020, the program was shaping up. Batch VP Jennifer Hao-Ang secured Richard Poon and batch 96 videos were created. Classmates from all over the globe-- Canada, UAE, the US-- pitched in. But it also took DCHS teachers and alumni to pull the program together.
From Stephenie Carreon (Batch 2013) who served as an overall video editor to Reyson Yap (Batch 1999) who invited Jose Mari Chan to be one of the special performers, to Maan Chua (Batch 2001), Steve and Krishelle Huang (Batches 1997 and 2011), Shawn Lim and Chloe Olmoguez (Batch 2021) who shared their musical talents, to representatives from different alumni batches singing in the finale song, it was the entire DCHS family that came together to make the virtual homecoming possible.
As batch president, RJ Ong said during the program, “Tonight was about focusing on DCHS, about celebrating not just our batch and our memories, but also celebrating the entire DCHS alumni family and giving back to the school that gave us so much. Tonight is also about telling our story, about acknowledging our limitations as human beings, about thanking God for the opportunity to still host a homecoming despite the circumstances.”
Blessed beyond measure
Last January, a month before the homecoming, Batch 1996 members were wracked with anxiety. Batch treasurer, Teri Chen, fretted about the slow inflow of funds. Videos needed to be submitted, some needed major editing.
But in that one miracle month, God provided not only what DCHS Batch 1996 needed, but also beyond what they expected. Aside from the success of the program on February 6, less than a week later, on February 11, Batch 96 president RJ Ong and vice president Jennifer Hao-Ang, met with DCHS board chairman Dr. Thomas Marquez-Lim and school president Arthur Brian Yap. In their hands was a check worth P1.6 million, equal to donating one classroom to the school’s CP Garcia Campus Phase 2 building project.
The success of DCHS’s first virtual homecoming could not be owned by Batch 1996. It was the combined efforts of various DCHS alumni and friends; from parents who when the basketball clinic was canceled donated their money to the school, to the sponsors who generously gave, to the friends and family who spread the word about Homecoming, and then watched the program with Batch 1996 on February 6, and most of all, to God from whom all blessings flow.”
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. To view more photos, please visit http://momabouttowndavao.blogspot.com/.