Showcase in a Showdown

Written by Kate Vanderstelt

One of the biggest nights of the year at Hillsdale College is one the Student Activities Board recently dubbed on Instagram: “truly the best day of the school year.” What is this fantastic event that has campus buzzing with excitement weeks in advance? It’s Centralhallapalooza—and it is special for more reasons than just an end-of-the-year celebration.

Centralhallapalooza, or CHP, has been a tradition at Hillsdale since 2006. The evening starts with a carnival like atmosphere of games, good food, and music, and culminates in a guest artist. The event originated out of a desire to showcase talented students who attend Hillsdale—an aspect of the event that has been maintained and cultivated. Thirteen years after the event’s debut, CHP Showdown is still an occasion that is near and dear to the main course. The showdown previews the end-of-year celebration, gets students excited for what is about to come, and allows student bands to compete for the main event’s opening spots.

I park my Ford Escape on the grassy hill and walk with my friends up to the doors. It’s a Friday night in early April, and students from the college pack the fairgrounds just a mile from campus. Grange Hall is exploding with laughter and lights and music, and we are all gathered here to cheer on our favorite student bands in hopes that they will earn one of three coveted spots to perform at CHP at the end of the month.

We walk into Grange Hall, decorated by SAB for the night, and shuffle toward the food at the back of the venue. While eating pizza, we mingle and wait for the next band to take stage. Familiar faces from campus surround us, but everyone looks a little more lively tonight. The energy is in the air—the crowd clearly loves watching their friends perform.

We inch our way to the front and find ourselves right by the speaker and the stage. Music blares as my science classmate sings his heart out in front of the student body. He doesn’t realize how talented he is, and his band brings even more energy to the students.

As I stand in the crowd and watch laughter flood over faces and listen to people sing along to songs they forgot they love, I realize that this is what Hillsdale is all about. Attending Hillsdale is about studying hard and gaining knowledge, but it is also about learning how to experience life to the fullest. A liberal arts education cultivates the individual. Our Student Activities Board recognizes the importance of a well-rounded student body and sees the talent that Hillsdale draws in. CHP Showdown gives this a space to develop, and CHP gives it a space to be celebrated.

Kate VandersteltKate Vanderstelt, ‘20, studies English and chemistry. She is an athlete on the Cross Country and Track and Field teams and a member of Chi Omega Fraternity.

Published in July 2019