The lights shined brightly on the Lamoni campus as alumni, friends, and current students gathered for Homecoming 2022.
Homecoming is a time for reconnection, reflection, and celebration, and for those who attended, the event provided an opportunity to make new memories with one another. Without a doubt, the Graceland Experience was in full effect for an unforgettable festival-style weekend.
The theme this year was Be Bold, Be Bright, and the Graceland community did not disappoint. On Friday night, several alumni were recognized for various awards, and some were immortalized in the Yellowjacket Hall of Fame (see p8). Air Band returned for the first time in several years, allowing alumni and friends to experience the newly renovated interior of Morden Center. The excitement in the air was palpable as everyone cheered on their favorite performances.
On Saturday, Head Football Coach Patrick Ross inspired those gathered for the Yellowjacket Pep Rally, while the Graceland Spirit Squad – the drumline, cheerleaders, and Gadets dance team – electrified the crowd. The football, men’s soccer, and women’s soccer teams all put together encouraging performances in front of the Yellowjacket faithful. Honor classes were celebrated on Saturday night which brought a feeling of nostalgia for those who participated. Food trucks and music concluded the evening with offerings from KB’s Island Flava, Hawaiian Grill Food Truck, Little Green Trailer, and Lolo Snow.
Alumni and friends were also treated to the Homecoming production, “The Play That Goes Wrong.” This hilarious hybrid of Monty Python and Sherlock Holmes was heavily lauded by the Graceland community. Both the Music Showcase — featuring the Graceland University Symphonic Band, Concert Choir, Chamber Choir, Harmonium, and Orchestra — and the Ergo and Friends recital brought a sense of revelry to the weekend.
On Sunday morning, former Graceland Campus Minister and newly-appointed Community of Christ Apostle Shandra Newcom ’90, provided the morning message, and Graceland Harmonium helped conclude Homecoming with their beautiful ministry of music.
Everett Graffeo ’58 served for 40 years as an appointee in the Community of Christ in a variety of assignments. During his time in French Polynesia, Graffeo received the Medal of Honor of Youth and Sports from the French government for his outstanding work with the youth of Polynesia. He went on to serve as an ordained apostle and directed the first International Youth Forum at the Community of Christ Temple in 1993. He was ordained as Presiding Evangelist and served in that office until retiring in 2000. In retirement, Graffeo served on the Shaw Family Foundation Board during Shaw Center’s reconstruction period.
Graceland Award of Recognition
Kent Bradford ’79 spent over 25 years in the telecommunications industry spanning various businesses and technical disciplines including network engineering, information systems (IT) development and strategic planning, and marketing product development. He worked for 10 years as a national account director for several international corporations, where he recommended and implemented software solutions for Fortune 500 strategic accounts. Bradford has spent the last two years working as the Owner’s Representative for the Morden Center renovation and is the day-to-day contact with the architect and construction teams.
Honorary Alumni Award
Rachelle Johnson came to work with Ken McClain ’79 (former Chair of Graceland’s Board of Trustees) over 25 years ago, both to manage legal projects and to support his efforts in the larger community. She helped in the development and management of The Chairman’s Scholarship Program, which was designed to assist students primarily from the Independence, Missouri, area to attend Graceland. The program encourages, challenges, and supports students to believe in the opportunities at Graceland, confidently invest in themselves, successfully complete their education at Graceland, and find their passions in life.
Yellowjackets Hall of Fame
Jim Reynolds ’78 was a Graceland University football standout from 1975-78, earning All-Conference, All-District, and All-American Honorable Mention honors. Even among these accolades, his most treasured honor was when his peers selected him as team captain two years in a row. After graduating, Reynolds began his career in the construction industry and started his own custom home building and development company. Through a lifetime of accomplishments, what he treasures most is his 35-year marriage to his best friend and partner, Helen, and their three kids — Callie, Rex, and Erin.
Mike Stowell ’98was decorated as a three-time Collegiate All- American during his time at Graceland. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the NIRSA Collegiate Club National Championship in 1998, when Graceland defeated the University of California, Berkeley to capture the national championship. After his time at Graceland, Stowell began coaching and in 2009, added another national championship, this time as the coach of KC Power 16-and-under team. In 2013, he was named to the USA Volleyball Heart of America Hall of Fame for meritorious service to the sport of volleyball.
Elizabeth Beckman Baethke ’94participated in basketball (4 years), softball (4 years), volleyball (3 years), indoor track and field (1 year), and tennis (1 year) at Graceland and graduated with 11 varsity letters. She earned All-Tournament (basketball), All-Tournament and All- Conference (softball), and was a conference champion in track and field. Coaching for 23 years at Urbandale High School, she has twice earned Coach of the Year honors (2000, 2004); District Coach of the Year (2013, 2017); and IGCA Senior All-Star Coach (2017).
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