A sweet tradition

Every year around the month of October, college students living in Stegenga Hall and Fern Smith Hall get excited for trick-or-treating. At the start of October, and sometimes even earlier, students begin planning out matching costumes with their roommates and estimating how much candy they should buy.


For what, you might ask? On Halloween, these two dorms are open to kids and their parents for one hour, typically from 6 to 7 p.m., for trick-or-treating. Hundreds of children from Orange City and the surrounding area trek up and down three flights of stairs as candy is handed out.

Two minutes before the start time, the Fern residents hear, “THEY’RE COMING!” Following the signal is an uproar of cheering from the women of Fern. Trick-or-treating in the dorms is like rush hour–wild.

Even though everything is crazy and chaotic, I love getting to see children of all ages running up and down the halls bursting with excitement and bright, joyful smiles. They come and go quickly in order to hit every wing in both dorms.

Very rarely do I see two kids with the same costume. They come up with some pretty clever costumes, which sometimes give us ideas for our costumes the next year. It’s also fun to see familiar faces. NWC’s professors and resident directors walk through with their little ones as well. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to see them dressed up in costume with their families, which gives the college students something fun to talk about before class the next day.

This year, many women on my wing participated in one way or another. About a half-hour into trick-or-treating, Fern’s second east resident assistant, Zoe, turned on her speaker and we jammed to the “High School Musical” soundtrack. As kids and their parents came up the stairs, the first thing they saw were college students jumping around, showing off their outstanding dance moves. The women of Fern Smith Hall are always finding ways to have fun with their wingmates.

At the end of the hour, everyone’s bowls are empty and the halls go quiet again. It’s always nice to take an hour break from studies to hang out and hand out candy to the kids of the area. Their pure smiles and precious laughs are the reason I look forward to trick-or-treating each year.  

Grateful Raiders

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In this season of gratitude, we asked our Red Raider bloggers: What are you most grateful for at Northwestern?

I am thankful for the wonderful professors at Northwestern. They invest so much in all their students and it is evident they care greatly about their students succeeding. Olivia Vander Ploeg

I’m thankful for all of the opportunities we have to be involved. I am involved in so many things, and through those experiences, I’m growing and learning more about what I love to do. From extracurricular activities to resume building opportunities, the number of things to be involved in is endless! Abigail Moody

I’m grateful for the many opportunities here at Northwestern to grow in my faith, whether that be through chapel, retreats, Discipleship groups, mission trips, or praise and worship. Brandon Kjonegaard

I am thankful for my roommate and the ladies on my wing who I not only get to live with, but get to call my friends. We not only have fun together, but we share our daily experiences and lives with each other. Allison Wheeler

I’m thankful for the Ngage series, which are lectures and conversations for students about interesting topics in our culture. I’m grateful for Northwestern’s commitment to fostering a Christian community that discusses hard issues and continually challenges and stretches me. Anna Perrenoud

I am thankful for the opportunities and new experiences Northwestern has provided me with. Never would I expect to travel to Chicago for conferences, but through the school, I was able to enjoy something new and exciting. Jonathan Johnson

I am beyond thankful for the sense of community Northwestern truly embodies. Along with being able to connect on a high level with various different people on campus, I'm also thankful for personal relationships with my professors. Northwestern does a great job of providing us with a staff that loves us and are willing to invest in our lives outside the classroom. Bree Hodnefield

I am thankful for my work-study position in the advancement office. I have gotten to know the wonderful people in the office who contribute so much to Northwestern. I have also perfected the art of wrapping gifts which will come in handy for Christmas! Allison Wheeler

I’m thankful for the theatre department. It may officially be a department, but it’s much more like a family. The professors’ doors are always open, and I’ve had some of the best conversations with theatre faculty. Plus, every Tuesday and Thursday, we get to spend 90 minutes with everyone who is heavily involved in theatre. There’s an amazing amount of community here. Abigail Moody

I’m most grateful for the guys in North Suites. I’m thankful I can call these guys my brothers and that I am able to grow in my faith alongside them. Brandon Kjonegaard

I’m thankful for the RSC workout facility. It’s open early in the day until late in the evening, so I can get a workout in whenever possible. Anna Perrenoud

I am thankful to be a part of the Symphonic Band and the opportunity we have to make wonderful music together while glorifying God. Olivia Vander Ploeg

I’m most grateful for the professors who truly care about their students and their academic success and faith. Brandon Kjonegaard

I’m thankful for my job at The Beacon, our student-run campus newspaper. We have such a fun time writing stories to share with the student body. Anna Perrenoud

I am thankful for extracurricular activities such as the Red Raider Athletic Band and the theatre department's one act plays that allow me to be involved on campus and have fun. These activities have led to great friendships while I pursuing hobbies I love. Allison Wheeler

I’m thankful for Common Grounds. As a college student, I frequently live on coffee, and the coffee they serve is pretty great. Plus, if you’re not into coffee, they also have fantastic smoothies, and there’s always plenty of people to chat with around the coffee area. Abigail Moody

A supportive team

My first year-and-a-half here at Northwestern has been filled with both fun times as well as challenges. Midway through my freshman year of basketball, I suffered a knee injury. Doctors ruled that three months away from basketball should prove to be enough time before getting back out on the court. The next three months were very hopeful as I continued workouts that required little movement or stress on my knees. 

Following those three months, I did not find myself to be any better than when I started. I sought more medical advice when I returned home for summer break. Upon my arrival, doctors found there to be a more severe tear than previously expected. I was then told that I would need to get injections every 14 to 16 days for eight weeks. Similar to my first treatments, not much difference was made in my healing process. I then returned to my doctor, who instructed that I need to have my knee surgically repaired in December.


I tell this story in order to highlight how supportive my team and coaches have been throughout this journey. I have remained a part of the team through a team manager position which allows me to serve as a player/coach. Through all of my pain, my family found through basketball has assured me that they have my back and are looking forward to my return. The people in my life, like them, motivate me to work each day in preparation for my upcoming surgery. They continuously show me love in this challenging time. This support system has made me excited for the moments in which I can do the same. 

I would be lying if I said it was or is easy. Being around one of my biggest passions and not being able to invest as much as I want into it hurts me every day. I came to realize that my love for the game spurs from the love and passion that emits from everyone participating. My teammates and coaching staff allowed me to remember why I love basketball so much. They reminded me that life isn’t always easy or fair; however, God places us in positions that he knows we can be successful. We just don’t always know what He defines success as. With the help of my family in Northwestern basketball, I view my injury as a minor setback for a major comeback. 


Rommate adventures

When I arrived at Northwestern my freshman year, the thing I was most worried about was having to room with a complete stranger. However, my roommate, Emma, and I became fast friends. If we hadn’t been selected as roommates, I may have not met Emma and I would not have many of the wonderful memories that I have of my time at Northwestern. Here are three of the many adventures we have had together:

Getting lost our first weekend here (and many more times)

The Sunday afternoon of orientation weekend, Emma and I decided to go on a walk to downtown Orange City. I was certain I knew which direction to go, so I led the way. As we started walking, we were slightly confused to see more space and fewer buildings. After traipsing about halfway through a grassy field with nothing but construction around us, we realized we were going in the wrong direction and we had absolutely no idea where downtown really was–so we returned to Fern and played some card games. That was just the first of many times we somehow managed to get lost in Orange City. (Most people don’t get lost. We just both happen to be terrible with directions.) It might sound like a nightmare to get lost in an unknown town, but it is actually one of my favorite memories. First, we were never lost in the sense that we didn’t know how to get back to campus; we just didn’t know how to get to where we wanted to go. Second, it was a great bonding experience right away freshman year and it allowed for many good conversations as we walked around Orange City for far too long before realizing we should have turned around many blocks earlier.

Getting ice cream at 11:30pm

Late night conversations are the best–especially when ice cream is involved. The conversations are either ridiculous ones that we laugh at the next day, or they are really deep, vulnerable conversations about real life problems. Emma and I have had many of both these kinds of conversations over a bowl of ice cream. One night we ended up getting into a long conversation. A little after 11:20 p.m., we both started craving ice cream. The Hub (one of the places on campus to eat that also has a lot of snacks) closes at 11:30. We put on our coats and boots, sprinted to the Hub, got some ice cream, and returned to our room to finish our conversation. We got a few weird looks, but the ice cream and the memory were totally worth it.

Decorating our door for Christmas

During our freshman year, our wing had a door-decorating competition. Emma and I went all out. We walked to the craft store downtown (we didn’t get lost this time) and got a bunch of materials. We then spent an entire Saturday listening to Christmas music, talking, and decorating our door. We didn’t win, but we formed some wonderful memories.


Even though it was really scary going into freshman year not knowing what my roommate would be like or if we would get along, I wouldn’t trade the experience I had for the world. Emma and I have made some many wonderful memories that will continue to make me smile for many years to come.

Our wing is like family


They’re goofy, fun-loving, sometimes loud, and always supportive. They’re my wing mates and friends. We call the south wing of the third floor in Fern Smith Hall, also known as Fern 3S, home for nine months out of the year. Not only do we share a living space with each other, but we share our lives and college experiences. There are 17 ladies on the wing, and we’ve gotten to know each other by making memories together. Sometimes we simply sit by each other on someone’s futon and do homework in silence. On the weekends, we put aside our homework and have movie nights. Every Tuesday night at 5:45, we have wing dinner at The Hub where we laugh and talk about everyone’s day. Sometimes there are random dance parties in someone’s room and it usually spills out into the hallway. We sit by each other in Christ Chapel every Tuesday and Friday to worship God and listen to his Word together. We recreate our favorite Vine videos with each other. Our doors are kept open most of the time to invite each other to come in and hang out.

Our resident assistant, Liesbeth, also plans wing events for us about once a month. We went to Blue Bunny in Le Mars to get ice cream one Sunday afternoon. Liesbeth planned a spa night where we painted our nails and put face masks on to take some time and relax. We recently visited Pumpkinland to conquer the corn maze with our brother wing from Colenbrander Hall. To celebrate Thanksgiving, we’re going to have a potluck style Thanksgiving dinner together. We’re there for each other if someone needs a listening ear or someone to eat lunch with. We go to various campus events and activities to support each other’s interests and talents.

Our wing really is like a family and Fern 3S is our home away from home.