Last Friday, more than 250 Kenyon seniors shared drinks, camaraderie and post-collegiate aspirations with their peers and professors at Fandango — a celebration of the senior class that marks 100 days until graduation. Following a college experience that was largely shaped by the uncertainty and upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the current graduating class embraced the opportunity to gather and reminisce with those who have occupied their residence halls, classrooms and lives for the past four years.
To match the formality of the traditional spring event, students donned cocktail attire and roamed throughout Gund Ballroom, where they enjoyed banter, catered cuisine and champagne. Unlike Senior Soirée — which featured games like poker and roulette — the focal point of Fandango was conversation, Senior Class President Prince Adablah ’23 explained in an interview with the Collegian. According to Adablah, Fandango provided a rare chance to catch up with peers from different social spheres and academic disciplines all at one time. “It’s one of the only times where you see all of your senior friends in one space at the same time, reminiscing and being present and having conversations,” he said.
As students discussed upcoming opportunities including gap years and graduate schools, they took commemorative photos and snacked on the seasonal fruit and cheese platters, empanadas and chicken potstickers served by AVI Foodsystems. Throughout the evening, attendees also heard several short remarks from the Senior Class Committee and faculty — including the long-awaited reveal of this year’s Commencement speaker, Colette Pichon Battle ’97 H’18. Pichon Battle, a 2016 White House Champion of Change for Climate Equity and founder of the Gulf Coast Center for Law and Policy, will return to the campus to share parting remarks with the senior class during the graduation ceremony on May 20.
Fandango’s most distinguishing feature, however, was the opportunity for professors and staff to show their support for the emergent members of the professional world. According to Adablah, over 80 faculty and staff members were in attendance this year — including Assistant Professor of German Paul Gebhardt, who was thrilled by the opportunity to meet his students’ close friends and hear about their plans for the summer and beyond. Above all, Gebhardt revelled in the chance to enjoy a lighthearted evening with the students outside of the rigidity and structure of the classroom. “It is fun to be adults together, and, as such, goof off and have fun together!” he wrote in an email to the Collegian.
As Fandango’s high turnout suggests, the Class of 2023 has entered their final semester with enthusiasm for traditional senior events and optimism for what the future holds. According to Gebhardt, the opportunity to enjoy time with students before they embark on new paths is unparalleled in its value — and as his evening at Fandango reminded him, he has nothing but hope for what this year’s graduating class will accomplish. “When I think of the Kenyon Class of 2023, I have so much hope for the future, it makes me sublimely happy! Seriously,” Gebhardt said.