Change defined the spirit of 2021 from the very first days of the year, with an unprecedented attack on the heart of American democracy and its repercussions , and the inauguration of a new president. Politics stayed on the forefront of life in Boone, as students engaged in town council elections, in protests , and with all levels of government, resulting in the introduction of anti-discrimination ordinances and the banning of anti-homeless architecture . Student-led organizations continued to work toward their goals, as Black at App State tracked progress toward their goals for the university administration, and ClimACT sparked conversations about environmental and social issues in Boone.
A year into a pandemic, the university and Boone community moved forward in exploring what life could look like six feet apart from one another . App State offered the first on-campus vaccination clinics in March, AppalCart transported patients to and from vaccine appointments, and the Hunger Health Coalition delivered supplies to those in need after the pandemic intensified food insecurity. The administration continued to “ build the plane as we fly it ,” according to Margaret McCoy, executive director of university events, as graduating students returned to the Holmes Convocation Center for socially distanced, masked and sanitized commencement ceremonies .
Tragedy forged stronger bonds in the community, as the lives of loved ones, family members and public servants were remembered. Chancellor Sheri Everts described her predecessor, John E. Thomas, who passed away at 90 in September, as the embodiment of a Mountaineer. Community member Lindsey Taylor described her daughter as the “number one joy” of her husband Johnny Bunton , an 18-year university employee who died due to COVID-19 complications. Law enforcement officers from across the state traveled to Boone to memorialize K-9 Deputy Logan Fox and Sgt. Chris Ward, who were killed in a standoff in April.
Though moments of tragedy affected our community, the moments of joy and success, big and small, helped us move back toward normalcy — the return of live concerts , crowds rushing the field at Kidd Brewer Stadium for the upset over a top 15 ranked football program, and the return of one of App State’s best known alumni after an 18-month delay. Students searched for Squishmallows and rode a double-decker bus across Boone. A local bookstore found itself in the national spotlight after a Stephen Colbert feature on Super Bowl Sunday. After paying for studio use for the first time ever, student Dylan Innes released his first album with help from Avett Brothers producer Doug Williams, and artists founded a new studio to hone their craft.
The changes that occurred throughout 2021 impacted us all in unique ways. Moving forward into the new year, these changes should not just be left behind. Learning from them, embracing them, will help prepare us as we continue to adapt to the world around us. In order to move forward, we must also take time to look back and embrace the change.
With classes online, Martha McGougan, a junior Studio Art major, has gotten used to “creating” in her own space by Feb. 15, but it’s not ideal. She and her friends came up with a word to express their experience: “surthriving.” ( Kara Haselton)
Deion Cooper, a bookseller at Foggy Pine, has been kept busy by the sudden influx of orders since the feature on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Feb. 8. “We’re struggling to keep up, but we’re trying our best. We actually came in early so we could get ahead of the curve a little bit and just trying to grind away,” Cooper said. ( Max Correa)
Adrian Delph, App State junior guard, lifts the Sun Belt Championship trophy for the fans in attendance at the welcome-home celebration Mar. 9. Delph recorded 22 points in the final versus Georgia State. This is the first-ever Sun Belt basketball championship win in school history. ( Andy McLean)
Medical workers bring supplies into the Holmes Convocation Center Mar. 11 on Thursday in preparation for the App State vaccination rollout. ( Jesse Barber)
Bailey Gardin (right) and DJ Evans (left) shake hands during their swearing-in ceremony Apr. 28. ( Kara Haselton)
Students shared their COVID-19 experience on a display on Sanford Mall throughout April and May. ( Jesse Barber)
The Watauga County Sheriff’s Department lost two deputies, Sgt. Chris Ward and Deputy Logan Fox, on April 28th. ( Max Correa)
A graduating student talks to family members in the stands at Holmes Convocation Center May 8. Per App State guidelines, students were limited to 2 guests, who were all distanced from one another in the seating areas. ( Max Correa)
Residence halls provide moving bins to new residents to ease the process of carrying belongings into dorms Aug. 12 ( Kara Haselton)
Matias Akers (far left), Cameron Greve (middle), Charles Traill (middle right) & Thomas Castain (far right) attended their freshman Black & Gold assembly in Kidd Brewer Stadium Aug. 13. ( Becca Bridges )
Sam Cheatham, a senior at App State and co-business director of Team Sunergy, gave a speech to supporters Aug. 20 after their win at the 2021 American Solar Challenge. ( Evan Bates)
Former App State student and country musician Luke Combs performed at Kidd Brewer Stadium Sept. 4, after 18 months of delays due to COVID-19. ( Max Correa)
Michael Weiss, leading ClimACT organizer, makes comments during the organization’s protest outside of the Sept. 24 BOT meeting in the Plemmons Student Union. ( Becca Bridges)
Boone saw a woman-only band music festival Aug. 26: Femme Fest. The festival was hosted by Draba, a local event platform, in partnership with local nonprofit OASIS. Half of the proceeds from the event were donated to OASIS. Everyone in attendance had to be fully vaccinated to attend the festival. ( Andy McLean)
Dalton George, an App State alumnus, was appointed to Boone Town Council Aug. 3, and kept his seat on the council after winning 24.15% of the votes in the November elections. ( Kara Haselton)
The AppalCart Pop 105 route featured a double-decker bus until Oct. 15, to test the new model’s ability to handle roads in Boone. ( Jesse Barber)
Student-led Planned Parenthood General Action protested recent anti-abortion legislation passed in Texas Sept. 13. ( Caroline McNair)
App State wide receiver Corey Sutton scores a touchdown against Coastal Carolina Oct. 20. The Mountaineers went on to upset the No. 14 Chanticleers 30-27 in App State’s second upset win over a ranked opponent, after the 2007 game against Michigan. ( Aldo Sarabia)
U.S. Senate candidate Cheri Beasley speaking to students on Sanford Mall during her campaign visit to App State Oct. 7. ( Maria Smith)
Kynda Bichara breaks into her solo during the Resilient Rho Theta chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority stepping performance at the Homecoming yard show Oct. 29. ( Jesse Barber)
Rusty Estes (left), owner of Peak Farms, looks at the 20-foot-tall Frasier fir bound for the White House Nov. 18 as his son Beau Estes operates the tractor to lift the tree. Rusty Estes has worked in the Christmas tree industry since 1979. ( Jesse Barber)