The end of the school year comes with all kinds of “lasts” –last meal at the cafeteria, last homework assignment, last class, last chapel credit, last exam. For most students, these “lasts” aren’t really “last lasts,” but just “postponed until next semester lasts.” For graduating seniors, these “lasts” serve a bittersweet reminder that the end of the “lasts” always comes sooner than you think.
For the guys who have called Heemstra Hall home, every one of them not only faces a last “last,” but a final goodbye.
The closing of Heemstra Hall has been a difficult and pressing issue throughout the year and with the end rapidly approaching, the guys have come together to celebrate their beloved community as they share how it has influenced their lives.
“Being a member of the Heemstra community has been one of the highlights of my life,” senior Jared “Buzzsaw” Schmidt said. “It’s been a beautiful experience being a part of a group that loves you for exactly what you are and nothing less.”
As a community built on love, Heemstra is known for its acceptance of all kinds of people.
“I think the thing that really sets Heemstra apart is the idea that anyone is welcomed and accepted here,” senior David “Dutchie” Gutsche said. “It has definitely taught me to live with people that I normally would have judged and avoided, and to see past small doctrinal issues towards the larger center of love and grace.”
Freshman Alex “Weaselbucket” Boston, having only been a part of the Heemstra community for one year, has also been significantly influenced by the accepting atmosphere of the dorm.
“You don’t even have to know a person in Heemstra to talk to them and relate with them on some level and have a good time,” he said.
The guys are definitely going to miss those wacky traditions that define Heemstra – El Gato Negro, the annual trip to “Heemstra Peak” in Colorado, wearing togas around campus, off-the-wall nicknames, Gourd Week – but what they will truly miss reaches far deeper into their hearts than the mythology of the return of spring and running from muskmelons.
“I will miss having 80 of the most honest and open men I have ever known living within a hundred feet of me,” senior Peter “Bottlerocket” Boscaljon said.
The men of Heemstra are more than just a group of guys living together, they are a family.
“What Heemstra has given me are brothers that I will miss more than I could ever imagine,” Schmidt said.
As far as what the future holds for Heemstra, the guys believe that the community of Heemstra will not be lost to the changes that lie ahead. Many of the guys agree that the transition into Colenbrander Hall will have positive results for the NW community as a whole.
“The future looks brighter than I thought it would last semester,” Gutsche said. “I think the guys moving to Coly next year have a chance to continue the positive things about Heemstra while joining a larger community.”
Sophomore Tyler “Meerkat” McKenney is optimistic about the future of Heemstra as well, but also stresses the importance of accepting and balancing the changes ahead.
“I think the future holds many great opportunities for the Heemstra community to continue,” he said. “It is my hope that the guys will keep the traditions going, but also keep in mind that they are joining another community as well and to hold those two in balance.”
The closing of Heemstra has been especially hard on the guys, but because of what Heemstra represents they are able to keep their focus on the love that binds them together instead of the building that will be lost.
“Heemstra is more than just a building,” Schmidt said, “it’s an idea that lives in not only my heart, but the hearts of men who have lived here before me and those that live with me now.”