After another unconventional semester in Happy Valley, students are finally starting to see a sliver of normalcy return to college life — but that’s not without undergoing a couple of months of pandemic life.
Here is a recap of some of the major news and events from the semester.
Wellness days created
Rather than flocking to beaches for spring break, students had three “wellness days” — Feb. 9, March 11 and April 7. No classes were held on these days, and students were encouraged to focus on different aspects of wellness.
Palmer Museum reopened
Students were able to visit the Palmer Museum once again beginning Feb. 10, which had been closed since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The on-campus space for art and culture is available for students to experience again, though advanced registration is required.
First virtual THON held
Penn State wouldn’t miss a year of THON — not even due to a pandemic.
THON, the world’s largest student-run philanthropy, was held virtually this year, raising $10,638,078.62 for pediatric cancer.
Though THON was held through a livestream, there was still the traditional line dance with dancers standing for hours on end. Quinn XCII and Louis the Child performed during the 46-hour event.
Homecoming 2021 theme revealed
At this year’s virtual THON, Penn State Homecoming revealed its 2021 theme: “Together, State Prevails.”
3/20 Coalition held events to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the death of Osaze Osagie
The 3/20 Coalition held “10 Days of Action” starting March 12 to commemorate the two year anniversary death of Osaze Osagie.
Osagie was a 29-year-old Black State College resident who had autism and a history of schizophrenia. He was shot and killed by State College Police officers on March 20, 2019.
When three officers arrived at Osagie’s apartment to serve a mental health warrant, Osagie allegedly ran at the officers with a knife. After an unsuccessful attempt to deploy a Taser on Osagie, he was allegedly shot by Officer M. Jordan Pieniazek.
New men’s basketball head coach named
Shrewsberry has never held a Division I Head Coaching title, but he has coached for the NBA and the NAIA.
President Barron announced in-person graduation
On March 17, President Eric Barron announced that seniors will have the option to attend in-person or virtual graduation commencement ceremonies this spring.
The in-person commencement weekend will take place May 7-9, regardless of weather.
Graduates are allowed two guests, and the ceremony will be livestreamed. Tickets are necessary for both graduates and guests.
To students’ dismay, HUB-Robeson Center announced it would replace the Chick-fil-A with a Slim Chickens — a fast food chain from Arkansas.
The Creamery returned to hand-dipped ice cream
To students’ and locals’ delight, the Berkey Creamery began offering hand-dipped ice cream again on March 22.
Although, those who still prefer buying ice cream by the pint to finish in one sitting still have that option, of course.
Old Willow fell
On a more somber note, the “Old Willow” tree that sat on Old Main lawn succumbed to strong winds on March 26.
The cuttings from the third generation tree are being saved for a new tree to be grown so students in the years to come can continue to partake in traditions surrounding the tree.
New UPUA president, vice president elected
On March 31, Erin Boas and Najee Rodriguez were elected as undergraduate executive president and vice president, respectively.
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Kane Brown to visit BJC
Finally, after a year of silence within the Bryce Jordan Center, music will return in the fall.
American singer-songwriter Kane Brown will perform at the BJC on Nov. 6 as part of his “Blessed and Free” tour.
General public ticket sales opened on April 16, and Penn State students received a discount.
Penn State announced most fall 2021 classes will be held in-person
On April 13, Penn State announced 96% percent of classes will be held in-person in the fall at University Park.
Tom Wolf lifted certain coronavirus restrictions
On April 14, Gov. Tom Wolf lifted some restrictions on bars and indoor dining and increased gathering limits across Pennsylvania.
The new mandates removed the alcohol curfew and increased indoor capacity to 75%.
Penn State opened vaccination clinics
As vaccinations roll out across the country, Penn State’s BJC and Pegula Ice Arena administered student coronavirus vaccinations through clinics.
The BJC began vaccinations on April 9, and Pegula offered vaccinations from April 22-24. Operations at the BJC briefly halted following a pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Currently, the facility offers both the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
Chumley’s, a gay bar downtown, reopened its doors on April 14 after being closed for renovations — right in time for Penn State Pride Month.
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State College Police open hate crime investigation after defacing of MLK mural
State College Police opened a hate crime investigation after the defacement of the Martin Luther King Jr. mural at 131 South Fraser St. on April 16. There was later a silent vigil denouncing the defacement.
Mount Nittany named among best hospitals in the world
Newsweek Magazine named Mount Nittany Medical Center a “World’s Best Hospital 2021” and was one of 350 hospitals chosen from the U.S. 15 of the honored hospitals are in Pennsylvania.
Freshmen and seniors experienced final football practices
Students were unable to take part in the usual football traditions at Penn State this past fall including tailgating, singing the alma mater and decking out in blue and white.
However, freshmen at University Park were able to enter Beaver Stadium for the first time as a class for the football team’s rendition of the Blue-White game on April 17 with a spring practice.
Seniors were also given one last hurrah at a special spring football practice on April 23 that was eventually opened to the general public to attend.
Movin’ On to be held virtually — for the second year in a row
Penn State’s annual music festival, Movin’ On, will be held virtually Friday.
Performers will include rapper Flo Rida, singer Pink Sweat$ and student band Flooringco.
Arts Fest canceled
The Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, an annual event in July, was canceled again due to the pandemic.