The Goshen College student population flooded into Sauder Concert Hall Saturday night to see for themselves if “Goshen’s Got Talent.” With 15 acts involving more than 30 people, this statement was an appropriate theme for Kick-Off 2017.

This essential part of Goshen College culture was emceed by senior Kevin Florentin and junior Alia Byrd. These two, along with the other members of the Campus Activities Council (CAC), did the planning for the event, beginning even before the school year started.

“From the theme to every decoration detail, to the acts themselves and every transition in between, CAC along with ITS Media and other volunteers put on a show for the school,” Byrd said. “A huge part is also the acts. Without people who have auditioned and are willing to put themselves out there, there wouldn’t be a show, just CAC walking around stage telling bad jokes.”

She explained that this year was special because the students were the judges of the acts. This let the audience take part in the show and have a voice.

Audience members voted for their favorite acts by scanning a QR code and selecting their favorite act. Third place went to senior Caleb Liechty, junior Josh Liechty, and senior Sohail Das as “Violet Showers” for their performance of “Purple Rain.” Second place went to the senior ASL students for their interpretation of “Lose Yourself” by Eminem. First-year Hugh Birky, “the Great Hughdini,” took first place and was one of several acts to receive a standing ovation.

Birky first heard about Kick-Off at New Student Days and thought that it sounded like a great way to show a lot of people his new-found passion: card tricks.

“I first started getting into card tricks midway through the summer when my friend from Singapore visited for a week,” Birky said. “I love performing for family and friends, but this was my first performance in front of more than eight people.”

It was also the first time Birky did his tricks in a specific order building up to his final “signing trick.” This trick consisted of both him and his volunteer signing their respective card and then folding it and placing it in between their teeth. When the volunteer took his card out of his mouth and unfolded it, it was Birky’s signature that revealed itself instead of his own. Though Birky seemed calm and confident, he revealed that wasn’t quite how he was feeling on the inside.

“The main thought process while signing my card was ‘don’t mess up don’t mess up,’ and I was shaking like crazy,” he said. “Then when they were announcing third and second place and neither were me, my heart raced twice as fast as it was before, and I could hardly believe it when they called my name.”

Many of Birky’s tricks came from YouTube videos. But as for how he does his tricks, don’t expect an answer unless you’re a family member or friend. He especially likes to keep the intricacies behind bigger tricks to himself.

“I maybe drop some hints to keep people interested though,” he added.

Other acts included poems like the one shared by Shanie Smith-Wright, dancers such as the hip-hop group Neon Fire, and various musical performances. The performers were a diverse group of students, especially when it came to age.

Some seniors were on the Kick-Off stage for the final time; many first-years were up to the challenge of performing.

“I know that you have to be good to get into the show,” junior Hannah Miller said. “And that would really take guts to do, especially as a first-year.”

CAC also hosted an after-party in the Music Hall lobby which involved snacks, music and time for photos and socializing.