Alma College chapel holds holiday service



On Sunday, December 4, Alma College’s Dunning Memorial Chapel held a holiday service, “Lessons and Carols”. 

Unlike the chapel’s normal services, the holiday service did not follow the traditional service order. Instead, the event featured Christmas carols and seasonal scripture readings. 

According to Associate Protestant Chaplain Katrina Pekich-Bundy, the chapel staff and volunteers put a lot of planning and rehearsal into the special holiday event. 

“I [played] in a trio for the service, [and read] a passage of scripture . . . Students [chose] hymns and scripture for this service, and we have many talented musicians who participate who are staff and students,” said Pekich- Bundy. “This is a service with many moving parts, so it is often rehearsed in advance.” 

Pekich-Bundy feels it is important for members of the campus community to be able to come together to celebrate the holiday season. 

“The Christmas season and story are important to Christians, and it is equally important we experience it as a community,” said Pekich-Bundy. “Some students have that community at a local congregation where they will go home over break, but some do not. This service allows the Alma College Chapel community to celebrate Christmas together.”

Regardless of the kind of role you want to play in the events, Pekich-Bundy believes there is a place for anyone who wants to get involved in chapel activities and everyone is welcome. 

“If a student is interested in chapel activities, we’d love to have you join us. Students can follow us on social media and request to be added to the Chapel email list,” said Pekich-Bundy. “There are many opportunities to use your gifts, such as musicians, liturgist, hospitality and more. Feel free to reach out to myself or Rev. Alissa Davis.” 

Elizabeth Vredevelt (’24) has volunteered at the chapel since her first year at Alma College. This year, Vredevelt is excited to be an official chapel staff member. 

“[I was] involved with the worship planning side of the service which [consisted] of coordinating musicians and rehearsing for the special occasion,” said Vredevelt. Vredevelt is grateful for the opportunities she has had through spiritual life at Alma College.  She feels these experiences have helped her through the challenges that can come with being a busy college student. “Through my time at Alma, being involved in chapel and worship has kept me grounded in my faith and helped centered me,” said Vredevelt.

“It’s easy to lose a sense of identity in college when there are so many changes and stress around us as students. Being involved in something like chapel encourages us [to] focus on something bigger than ourselves.” Vredevelt encourages other students to attend spiritual life events. No matter what you want to take away from the experience, Vredevelt believes these events are worthwhile resource for many students.

“Spiritual life at Alma is truly whatever you make of it and will meet you where you’re at. If you need to come and just be encouraged, you are welcome to observe and heal,” said Vredevelt. “If your cup is full and you’re ready to give back through volunteering or serving, opportunities abound. All are welcome at the table.”

Justice Cuddie (’25) has enjoyed the opportunity to work on multiple chapel related projects throughout their time at Alma College. 

“I have been involved with Chapel since day one here at Alma. I worked with the Interfaith program last year, I volunteer when it’s available and I attend services often,” said Cuddie. “I have led worship gatherings and was also a part of Rev. Alissa’s installation service here.” 

Cuddie believes that events like “Lessons and Carols” are good opportunities for students, even if they don’t have the time or desire to make chapel activities a regular part of their schedule.

Cuddie also feels it is important to emphasize that chapel activities are open to students of all religious faiths. 

“I believe chapel activities are worthwhile for . . . students because it’s a low-commitment way to have community and feed your soul. Even if you only attend chapel every once in a while, you are greeted with warm smiles and open arms to build your spiritual path,” said Cuddie. “. . . We have services and spaces available for students of many different faiths.”

David Zerbe inducted into Golden Thistle Society



David Zerbe, director of bands and percussion studies at Alma College, is the first ever non-Alma College alum to be inducted into the Order of the Golden Thistle.

The Golden Thistle Society is an acknowledgement of alumni loyalty and is typically an honor given to those that attend their 50-year class reunion at Alma College. For context, the thistle is a historic symbol and the national flower of Scotland. 

Alumni are seen proudly wearing their pins of the Golden Thistle post induction at campus events and throughout Homecoming weekends. 

“Being inducted into the Golden Thistle Society is truly an honor. It is humbling to know that people feel so strongly about your contributions to the life of Alma College that they believe you [are] worthy of an Honor reserved for Alma Alumni,” said David Zerbe, the inductee. 

Zerbe was presented with the honor of being inducted into the Order of the Golden Thistle at the Kiltie Marching Band centennial celebration. Many of his accolades were mentioned, but above all, the description of his character is what stood out to most.

“I attended the centennial as an outside volunteer with the Student Advancement Association but listening to all of the remarks about Professor Zerbe made it very clear he was very deserving of this award,” said Ryan Gray (‘25).

“He has modeled exceptional qualities in leadership, dedication, kindness and compassion and just going with the flow. As I approach graduation and will be getting my own degree in teaching . . . Zerbe is somebody I look up to and hope I can be as impactful of an educator as he is,” said Kayla Keopf (‘23), student of Alma College and Senior Drum Major.

Along with being director of bands and percussion studies, Zerbe is also the Paul Cameron Russel Professor of Music. This is an Alma College prestige and an endowed professorship in honor of the late Paul Cameron Russel. 

Since starting his career at Alma College in 1988, Zerbe has earned many awards. He received the Outstanding Faculty Award for the Humanities in 2011. He was also the Faculty Barlow Award recipient in 2013. 

Not only is Zerbe a distinguished Alma College faculty member, but he is also a distinguished member of the music community outside of Alma College. 

According to the Alma College website, Zerbe is a founding member of the internationally acclaimed DMP recording group and the Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble and he has performed with many different organizations.

Although there are many, a limited number of these organizations include the Midland, Saginaw, Traverse City and West Shore symphonies in which Zerbe was a profound percussionist.

Furthermore, Zerbe is an active free-lance musician who has appeared with Aretha Franklin, Peter Ruth, Michael Feinstein and many other renowned musicians.

More about Zerbe’s accolades, accomplishments and directee groups can be found on the Alma College website. Additionally, it has been noted that Zerbe presents his students with amazing and unique musical opportunities.

“He . . . gave me the opportunity to cover the vocal part on saxophone for the song ‘Afro Blue’ for the Alma College Percussion Ensemble,” said Jack Letica (‘24), a student studying instrumental performance and vice president of Phi Mu Alpha, a music centered fraternity. 

“He has worked extremely hard in his care for teaching students. From the moment I met Zerbe, I could tell he had a great passion for music. I believe he understands and supports my efforts to go further into music and develop a career by giving me these opportunities,” said Letica.

It is clear that Zerbe has made an impact on the Alma College campus, community and beyond, and it is exciting to anticipate what will come next from the Alma College professor.

“I am looking forward to continuing to build on the strengths of our organizations to foster even more vibrant ensembles, ones that not only bring instrumental music to campus… but also [provide] a window for those not yet acquainted with Alma to experience what Scots can do,” said Zerbe.

Tips for Alma College exam week



As final exams draw near, students may find themselves indulging in late nights and stressing over final grades. 

From Dec. 5 to Dec. 9, students will have final exams in numerous forms. They may be essays, presentations, multiple choice or in other formats. Students are preparing for this time with ways they have found to both cope with stress and study material that leads to success on their exams. 

“To prepare for my exams I’ve been going through my notes and using a ton of notecards to lay out what I need to know. From there I usually move from what I’m confident into what I’m not and focus my energy there,” said Abby Haag (’25)

“As a future educator, I have seen people tackle exam week in numerous ways. From my experience in the classroom, I have noticed that the most successful students on exam week are those that prepared well in advance and worked with their peers in study groups,” said Marissa Luzac (’24).

Alma College does not have a universal grading system; instead, each professor sets their own grade requirements. These requirements are shown to students at the beginning of the year through the syllabus provided by the professor. Typically, professors declare a 93% and above is an A; however, some professors have pushed this requirement to a 94%. Some have even required a 95% to get an A. 

“The diverse grading scale can be frustrating when in exam season. In some of my classes, I am required to have a 90% to pass. In others, I need to hold a 93%. It is frustrating is some aspects where even if I get a 91% in the class it isn’t considered an A and my GPA goes down in response,” said Mackayla Pirie (’24)

The high weight of a final exam on students’ final grades is what primarily causes students to stress during this time of year.

“It is a daunting task to complete an assignment that is worth almost a third of your grade. I know many students have difficulty taking tests because it doesn’t accurately display their knowledge of a subject,” said Pirie.

Exam week is also a factor in whether students will be eligible to continue their sport into the new year. All athletes at Alma College must have a 2.5 to be allowed to participate in their sport. 

“When it comes to exam week, it is stressful for me being a student-athlete because we must uphold a GPA of 2.5. Many of my professors weight finals either 20-35% of the whole class grade. Although I prepare for my exams through different methods of studying, it’s intimidating to know that if you do not do good one test your eligibility can be at risk,” said Jack Knoper (’26).

To counteract the negative effects exam week brings, students have found a multitude of ways to destress while studying.

“I try to take my mind off the exam in general. After a good amount of time during a study session, I go to the gym and listen to some music. Communicating with my family through FaceTime allows me to destress as I am able to talk to my family about topics other than the tests I am studying for,” said Kaylee Gray (’26).

“I try to create a schedule, so I don’t study for too long. I have found that if I study for more than two hours at a time, I tend to not retain information easily. Whether it be reading, using Quizlet or looking over notes, I set a timer to make sure I only study for one hour,” said Jon Beerbower (’24).

Overall, there are numerous ways to combat the stressful times that come with exam week. Preparing ahead of time, studying in groups and meeting with professors during office hours will give students the highest chance of success during this time of year. 

Local and travel Winter Alternative Breaks




With winter break coming just around the corner, Alma College students are deciding what their plans are after this semester ends. Alternative Breaks have been offered to students for a chance to engage in local and travel opportunities for community service and outreach. 

“It’s a great way to meet other students who are like-minded or care about the same topic you do,” said Carla Jensen, Director of Experiential Learning. “It’s a great way to connect with students you might not already know who share the same interests and passions.” 

Coming up, there are three Traveling Alternative Beaks for the month of December. Applications for these breaks have already closed. Each of the travel breaks will be happening from Dec. 10 to 17. There is also one local opportunity to help with Food Insecurity in mid-December. 

The Environmental Sustainability Alternative Break will be happening at Everglades and Biscayne national parks in FL.

Participants of this break will be working on trail maintenance, outdoor maintenance, and cleanup projects. Sophia Romain (‘23) and Ava Fredrickson (‘23) are the students organizing this break, and Tessa Williams is the staff organizer.

Christina Harbin (‘24) and Matthew Hanson (‘24) will be leading the Disaster Recovery Alternative Break with Brianna Harfmann as their staff organizer. This break will be working with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) in support of hurricane recovery efforts in New Bern. Participants will be helping with various projects led by PDA. 

Abby Wohlfert (‘23) and Dylan Kast (‘24) will be leading the Children’s Health Alternative Break with Brittany Luckett as their staff organizer. This break will be working with St. Judes’s Children’s Hospital and Serve901 in Memphis, Tennessee. It is in Partnership with Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE). 

The Food Security break will be focused on sorting food donations at local pantries, as well as assisting with food delivery programs at First Presbyterian Church of Alma and other locations. There are two date options for this alternative break. It is taking place on Dec. 12 and 13, or Dec. 14 and 15. Students may sign up for one session or both.

“Some of the planned activities include going to the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan in Flint, volunteering at homeless shelters and distributing food at local distributions, including the First Presbyterian Church of Alma just off campus,” said Katherine Garlock, AmeriCorps VISTA Member for Food Security. This Alternative Break still has spots open for any students that are interested.

The Alternative Breaks Club has been working with the Center for College and Community Engagement to prepare students for engaging within their communities.“With Alternative Breaks being supported by the Center for College and Community Engagement, there is a renewed focus on ‘how do we bring what we’ve learned back to our community?’” said Jensen. 

When students return from their Alternative Breaks, they now go through reorientation events that help establish how they can use this experience to positively affect Alma’s community and any community that they choose to work with.

While applications for winter Alternative Breaks have closed, aside from the Food Security break, Spring applications are opening on Monday, Dec. 5 at 7:30 A.M. 

The applications opening are for Housing Security with Habitat for Humanity, Animal Welfare with Horse Creek Animal Sanctuary and Environmental with Joshua Tree National Park. Applications can be found on the Alma College website.

Football team ends historic season



The Alma College football team wrapped up a historic season on Nov. 26, ending 11-1 after a loss to Aurora University in round two of the NCAA Playoffs. 

Despite losing 48- 26, it was still a record- breaking season that will not be forgotten any time soon. The team won its first MIAA Championship since 2004, earned its first ever NCAA Playoff win and made it to the second round of playoffs for the first time in program history. 

“I’m thrilled with our 11 wins but certainly sad over the result of our last game,” said Jason Couch, head coach for the Scots. “I’m so proud of our players and coaches. They worked extremely hard and I’m happy they saw the hard work pay off.” 

Couch believes that the success of this season can be attributed to “player buy-in and senior leadership. We had 28 seniors determined to make this season special.” 

This season was different from years past by the “large senior class and… underclass willing to follow those leaders,” said Couch. 

“We were Coach Couch’s first recruiting class,” said one senior and linebacker, Odin Soffredine (‘23). “He had the motto [of] ‘Kiltstyle,’ and it took us four years to build everyone up to follow that same motto.” 

This year, Soffredine was named to the First Team All-MIAA and awarded MIAA Defensive Player of the Week. “Those awards are always nice to get, but winning is always the goal for me,” he said. “I would rather [have] the season we had this year than win any of those awards. Winning is everything.” 

Although the season was largely driven by the leadership of the seniors, it would not have been possible without this year’s incoming freshmen. The freshmen brought both determination and talent to the Scots. 

“Coming into the season, my goal was to get 1000+ yards rushing and 10+ touchdowns… being able to accomplish both my goals and put my name in the record book is just pretty great,” said Eddie Williams (‘26), a running back for the Scots. 

Just a freshman, Williams broke the Alma College record for rushing yards in a season. “Doing this during my freshman year just means that I have to keep getting better and better from here because the work is never done… I always have to keep moving forward,” said Williams. 

Williams said this record would not have been made possible without “my o-line and my coaches.” Williams was also one of two freshmen to be named to the First Team All-MIAA, alongside the quarterback for the Scots, Carter St. John (‘26).

“It’s a great accomplishment to have, but the best one is being an MIAA champion,” said St. John, who w as also named MIAA Offensive Player of the Week two weeks in a row. “No player is able to be recognized for such great achievements if their team doesn’t play well together.” 

“It is hard to be anything but excited. While ending the season on a loss is not what anyone ever wants, that doesn’t take away from the incredible season we were able to put together. Being able to win 11 games in a row is a very challenging task and it sets the program up for future seasons,” said St. John.

The Scots also had several players nominated to the Second Team All-MIAA, including kicker Josh Hernandez (‘25) who broke the MIAA record for the longest field goal. 

“It felt amazing [to break the record],” said Hernandez. “The field goal unit as a whole was ready to do something special like that… and it just felt like another field goal.”

“[I am] proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish… [Even though] there were a lot of ups and downs, our coach told us to ‘Just keep climbing,’” said Hernandez.

Prior to the season, predictions were not in favor of the Scots’ success. However, they quickly proved themselves to be a force to be reckoned with. Coaches and players alike are looking forward to continuing to break records and make history in the years to come.

For more information about Alma College football, visit the Alma Scots webpage.

Alma College holds annual Festival of Carols



On Dec. 3 and 4 Alma College celebrated the beginning of the holiday season with the Festival of Carols. 

For many years, the Festival of Carols has been a tradition on campus. 

It is a time where the Alma Choirs and Chamber Orchestra come together and open the doors of the Remick Heritage Center for the entire community. 

The Alma Choir has worked on Festival of Carols months in advance and this w as their fourth program this semester. 

The performance began with the song “O Come, All Ye Faithful ” followed by a few other well-known songs such as “Away in a Manger,” “Hark the Herald Angel Sing” and “The First Noel.” 

The program was recorded professionally Dec. 1 in a private rehearsal as well as on the days of the actual performances themselves. The Alma College YouTube page has recordings from these performances as well as ones from previous years. 

The Chorale and the Alma Choir rehearsed from three to five days weekly for multiple songs including the latter for their hour performance to end the semester. 

“I like to perform, but I really love to rehearse, and I love spending time with the singers, so I never get tired of rehearsal,” said Secrest Professor of Music Will Nichols. 

Additionally, the Choir needed to focus singing on unison despite their numbers. 

“They know all the notes and rhythms, we are just trying to polish the performance which can be a challenge with forty or fifty people singing all at once. The Marching Band does that in their marching and we are trying to do the exact thing with our words and the music we are singing,” said Nichols. 

Out of these holiday songs, “this music is to give a bit of peace because we’re not singing super energetic songs, we want them to have enjoyment because that’s the kind of holiday season, it’s about enjoying this time and celebration of faith and togetherness, however, you want to interpret them,” said David Troyer (’24)

Celebrating the holiday season is not only about experiencing joy, but also sharing that joy. 

“These songs showcase that because of our combined efforts, our combined musicality: instrumental and vocal. We also are singing songs from different cultures where we have a French carol, an English carol and songs that people know really well and some songs that they probably never heard before. We want to also show the inclusivity of the season as well,” said Troyer.

The Chamber Orchestra has also been rehearsing alongside the Alma Choirs with equal efforts. With the help of Co-Conductor Takeshi Abo, those like Abigail Skerik, a violinist and following concertmaster, have gotten the chance to work in collaboration with the Choirs to celebrate the holiday.

“I have really enjoyed rehearsing both with just the other strings and also the experience of getting to play with the choir and some wind instruments for the first time in a while,” said Abigail Skerik (’23)

The Alma Choirs and the Chamber Orchestra’s collaboration has brought new experiences and the aspiration to bring joy to start the holiday season.

“I just hope the audience enjoys the performance and that all the carols get everybody in high spirits for the holidays coming up. I think it will be very exciting to show everybody what we have been working on and I hope the audience enjoys the entire show,” said Skerik.

Indoor athletics facility to come in fall 2023



On Nov. 3, Alma College athletics announced that, with the help of donors, a new indoor athletics facility will be added to campus in fall ‘23. It will feature an indoor track, turf field, weight room, and locker rooms for the soccer and baseball teams.

The building will be located by the baseball and soccer fields, in what is to be called the “Greg Hatcher Athletics Campus”.

This state-of-the-art facility will provide student- athletes with a leg-up in training and competition, as it will allow teams to continue practice in harsh weather conditions and host more sporting events.

This facility will be a “game changer for Athletics, Alma College, and our community,” said Sarah Dehring, athletic director at Alma College.

“This facility will provide a quality space for teams to train year-round, as well as provide locker rooms and athletic training space for the outdoor venues at the Greg Hatcher Athletics Campus,” said Dehring.

“We are expecting to break ground in early 2023 and open the doors in the fall.”

This facility would not have been made possible without the generous support of donors. One such donor is Greg Hatcher, the most substantial alumni donor in Alma College history.

During his time at Alma, Hatcher played soccer, baseball and wrestling. “The things I learned on the sports field translated into business. When I left, I knew how to work a little longer and harder than most people,” said Hatcher.

“When you build better facilities, you attract more coaches and more athletes to the school… and when that occurs, [teams] win. And when they win, they develop confidence. And when they develop confidence and get used to winning, then they’ll win when they leave Alma College,” said Hatcher.

While this space will be utilized by multiple sports including the Kiltie Marching Band, one sport is particularly excited about the new addition to campus: track and field.

Matthew Chovanec, head coach for both cross country and track and field teams, is looking forward to the “growth” that the facility will potentially bring for the team.

“It gives us a building that we can show off in terms of recruiting,” said Chovanec. “Overall, we’re really excited about the possibilities and what it does as far as opening doors for the program, as well as the whole school.”

“It’ll hopefully put us in a better position to compete for MIAA titles down the road. If you have depth and quality, you have an opportunity to win league titles at that point. That’s the big thing we’re looking for,” said Chovanec.

The track and field athletes are equally as excited to get in the new facility. “I’m excited about the fact that, over the winter, we’ll have somewhere other to train than the outdoor track because it’s always freezing cold. I believe it’s going to make our runners better by being able to train indoors,” said mid-distance runner Justin Kissling (‘24).

As of right now, the indoor track and field team practices outside through the snow and freezing temperatures, which can limit performance. The new facility will provide a major solution to that.

In addition to not having to practice outside, the facility will give the team advantages in both competing and recruiting. After it is built, Alma will be the second out of nine schools to have an indoor track in the MIAA conference.

“This will open up the opportunity for more high schoolers, especially those who run indoors, to come and see the campus,” said sprinter/hurdler Andrea Taghon (‘24). She hopes it will “bring more students to campus” and help grow the team.

In addition to hosting collegiate indoor meets, the college will be able to host high school meets and bring prospective students to the campus. The facility will give current athletic teams heightened training opportunities and boost recruitment possibilities.

Mental health resources at Alma College



Alma College is welcoming back the old tradition of therapy dog and rescue kitten events. Students can now also schedule light therapy, Let’s Talk sessions and use of a massage chair through the Wilcox Health Center.

Mental health concerns have been on the rise and many college campuses are seeing the impacts. Luckily, Alma has increased their resources and has a variety of therapeutic options for students.

“The Wilcox Health Center has a Wellness Room with a Light Therapy box. Light therapy has been found to be an effective method in treating Seasonal Affective Disorder,” said Anne Lambrecht, Associate Vice President of Student Life and Director of Counseling and Health at Alma College.

“The process is easy and the benefits great. The individual sits in front of a light box for a specific amount of time, usually 20-30 minutes. Response usually starts in a few days and by two weeks the symptoms usually improve, and most people need to continue light therapy throughout the winter,” said Lambrecht.

Another option is to schedule a low-commitment appointment with one of our counselors. “Let’s Talk is a 15-minute meeting with a Mental Health Counselor,” said Lambrecht.

“Counselors can listen to specific problems, help explore solutions and introduce you to what it’s like to speak with a member of our staff,” said Lambrecht. This is a great way to test out counseling and gain a listening ear.

Many students were especially excited to hear about the animal events returning. “Being away from home is extremely difficult for some students, and part of the reason is being away from the pets/animals that they have at home,” said Taylor Stenger (‘24).

“I wanted to attend because I love how playful kittens can be, and they are just loving creatures,” said Sydney Rudolph (‘24).

“I think that the event was very beneficial for students across campus. Everyone that attended seemed to be in good spirits and knowing that we were bringing joy to animals really makes the experience that much better,” said Stenger.

“For me personally, it was a nice reason to leave my room and get out of my own head a little. As far as an actual stress reliver though, I found more enjoyment from the therapy dog events,” said Adam Short (‘24). Whether you are a cat or a dog person, there is an event available for you.

“Studies have shown that a person holding or petting an animal will cause a lowering of blood pressure, the release of strain and tension and can draw out a person from loneliness and depression,” said Lambrecht.

While these new additions and returning events are great, students also have ideas of other events that could be held.

“I think more events focused on practicing coping skills could be a great way to bring people together, remind them they are not alone and allow students to leave with practical skills they can continue using,” said Short.

“I think if we did music therapy, a lot of people would attend as long as it is well advertised,” said Rudolph.

“Zumba nights or yoga nights would be super beneficial for students,” said Stenger.

There is another, new, upcoming event planned. “Wednesday, November 16th from 5:00-6:15 pm at the Wilcox Health Center: Grieving Through the Holidays is an educational and support group for those struggling with grief and loss through the holiday season. This group is free and open to students experiencing any type of loss or grief. Please sign up by emailing Molly Pocsi at pocsime@,” said Lambrecht.

Students can sign up for light therapy or massage chairs by visiting: https://titanium. The password is almaCWC.

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