Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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SIU Honors Assembly hosts annual Moonlight on the Lake

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Libby Phelps
Brenda Sanders (middle) talks to freshman Iga Antoniak (right) and junior Katrina Stanley (left) as they paint pumpkins at Moonlight on the Lake Oct. 24, 2023 at Becker Pavilion in Carbondale, Illinois.

After months of preparation, the Southern Illinois University Honors Assembly hosted its fourth Moonlight on the Lake event on Oct. 24. It was a night of fall festivities for students and families alike.

“I think it’s really fun,” said Honors Assembly president Sarah Lukavsky. “It brings a lot of people together that aren’t in the honors program and that are, so it’s a chance for other people to learn about what the honors program is and just a really fun way to relax after midterms and celebrate a fun holiday.”

The event kicked off at the Becker Pavillion near Campus Lake at 5 p.m. Snacks, games, crafts and music all contributed to the lively atmosphere.

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“I loved the variety of art opportunities available, like the painting pumpkins and coloring sheets,” honors student Ashlyn Edmonson said. “Everything was very cute and super fun to work on with friends.”

The University Honors Program is an undergraduate program that provides SIU students with service opportunities, mentors and the chance to take seminar-based courses in place of the core curriculum.

“The core curriculum usually is [taken] in those big lecture hall classes that have lots of people…but in the seminars, there’s only fifteen students, professors love what they teach, they get to know each other, they get to know the other honors students in the program as well, and so it’s like a family. It’s great,” said UHP Assistant Director Brenda Sanders.

The Honors Assembly, on the other hand, is a registered student organization run by the student body of the UHP.

“We’re a group of honors students that are here to represent any honors students’ needs, as well as plan fun events for people in the honors program, and [we] really are kind of just the voice for you guys,” Lukavsky said. “So anything an honors student needs they can come bring in to us, and we’ll do our best to help you guys out.”

The Halloween-themed occasion has been in the works for about two months now. Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Carmen Wilder said the assembly started the process by reviewing what went well the previous year.

“Because it was such a hit last year, we increased the amount of pumpkins and apples that we got and just were really anticipating another fun night,” she said. “We met biweekly to discuss what we would purchase and how we would go about it.”

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Inside the boat house, students were able to unwind for the night by completing coloring sheets and enjoying fall-inspired refreshments, such as caramel apples, candy and hot chocolate. Outside, students played cornhole, Connect Four and Jenga. Pumpkin painting was a popular activity.

“My favorite thing about this event is definitely painting pumpkins,” assembly Vice President of Commerce Natalie Eves said. “I loved it.”

Eves said she applied for the UHP last year because she liked what was offered by the program and thought it would be a good way to get ahead with classes. She showed up to a meeting for the Honors Assembly and was given a leadership position, despite only being a freshman.

“We plan the events together, really,” said Anna Rodgers, assembly Vice President of Event Planning and Promotion. “We’re all vice presidents because we do everything together.”

Moonlight on the Lake was also an opportunity for a local nonprofit and SIU to unite. Y’all Rock, a musical organization for women, transgender and gender non-conforming youth, provided live music to the crowd.

Lauren Stoelzle, the UHP’s office support specialist, is involved with Y’all Rock.

“We thought it was an excellent opportunity to provide instruments so that people could come and do [things] like open mic,” she said.

A drumset, bass guitar and keyboard were available for use. Many students stepped out of their comfort zones, performing songs for their peers.

“I think right now, my favorite part about this event is just seeing college students and a nonprofit like Y’all Rock come together,” Stoezle said. “It’s a way for honors students to learn about service opportunities, and it also helps college students see, ‘Oh, wait, there’s a kid doing this. Like, that’s pretty cool. Maybe I should break out of my shell’…It’s kind of nice just to see people push themselves, break free and enjoy the moment.”

Stoezle hopes there will be more opportunities for community organizations to come together with the SIU student body.

“I think it takes us coming together to really help Carbondale and southern Illinois have a really good experience and grow,” they said.

For those who could not make it to Moonlight on the Lake, the Honors Assembly has several upcoming events in the works.

Lukavsky said there will be a Disney Trivia night in mid-November, before Thanksgiving break. An Ugly Christmas Sweater Party is also being planned for the end of the semester as a way to relax and study together for finals.

There is no deadline for students to join the University Honors Program. The application and information regarding eligibility can be found on its website. To join the Honors Assembly, you can reach out to any of the members.

“It’s so much fun to be in. And I find it [the Honors Assembly] really rewarding,” Lukavsky said. “Because you just build really close connections with the faculty and people around you. And I find that I meet a new person at every event that I probably never would have met, and they’re all really great people. So it’s a lot of fun.”

For more information regarding the Honors Assembly RSO, follow @siuchonors on Instagram.

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