BETHANY, W.Va. – Bethany College will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Valentine’s Day Poetry Reading with a series of virtual events Feb. 12-14.

Dr. Elizabeth Hull, professor of English, introduced the event in her early days at Bethany as a way for the campus community to come together in Phillips Hall to share a love of poetry.

The Valentine’s Day reading is a low-key event during which participants share their favorite love poems and/or song lyrics, Hull said.

In 2016, many alumni traveled to campus to celebrate the event’s 15th anniversary. Initial plans for 2021 envisioned a similar event, but COVID-19 restrictions forced organizers to reimagine the tradition.

“Hopefully, this will be an all-generations event,” Hull said. “The nice thing about remoteness is that alumni who might not be able to travel can still participate.”

Alumni Rachel Halko Starr ’04, Annalese Duprey ’06, Sam Vuchenich ’07, and Khristian S. Smith ’17 have worked with Hull to organize the event.

The Weekend of Love will kick off from 5 to 7 p.m. Feb. 12 via Zoom with a Toast from Home. Alumni are invited to reconnect and share their stories of love at Bethany.

At 1 p.m. Feb. 13, alumni are invited to read their favorite love poems, original or otherwise. In addition to Hull, readings also are planned by Dr. Jessie Janeshek, associate professor of English; Dr. Gary Kappel, professor emeritus of history and political science; Dr. Larry Grimes, professor emeritus of English; Professor Adam Fletcher, associate professor of mathematics; and Professor John Cole, who was among the readers at the first event.

Interested alumni are allotted five minutes to share their poetry selection. Video of alumni reciting Shakespeare sonnets will also be shown.

For couples looking to add to the romance level, Grimes will perform vow renewals via Zoom at noon Feb. 13.

The weekend wraps up with the official 20th annual Valentine’s Day Love Poetry with students and faculty in Phillips Hall at 1 p.m. Feb. 14 with masks, social distancing, and other COVID-19 precautions in place. Alumni are invited to view the event via Zoom.

Click here to register for any or all of the Valentine’s Day events. Note that some of the poetry may contain mature themes.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.