Yesterday, September 3rd, Grace kicked off the 2015 – 2016 academic year with the arrival of our new students – both freshmen and transfer students. These students came from all over the country to complete their final paperwork, obtain their student ID, and if they are resident students, to move in to their dormitory housing. Many of them had to work through excitement and nervousness as they began their day – some arriving as early as 9:00 am. They were greeted by our enthusiastic Residence Assistants (RAs) as they entered the Aldrich Athletic Center. As the made the “circuit” around the gym, they met with people from all areas of the College – from the nurse, to the IT department, financial aid, community life, and the business office. The last stop was the Alumni Association table, where all received a laundry bag as a gift.
The weather was unpredictable – starting out sunny and warm – which is a plus! But before long, clouds moved in, and the humidity gave way to rain – and heavy thunder and lightning! As our RA’s worked to assist students with moving their belongings into the dorms, they were often held up by heavy rain and delayed by having to continuously dry off the moving carts.
The new students and their parents showed considerable patience through the weather changes, and the hot conditions in the gym. Many fans were blowing to move the air around, and there were water and Gatorade stations around for all to refresh themselves and combat the heat.
By 3 pm, most of the students had checked in, and the sun peeked through the clouds and remained steady through the afternoon. As the students began to unpack and get situated in their rooms, our amazing kitchen staff began preparing some fantastic food for the afternoon’s cookout. Students and their parents, as well as faculty and staff enjoyed the hamburger and chicken barbeque and began to meet each other, packing the student commons, recreation room and the dining room.
At 5:30, all moved to Baker Chapel for a welcome from President Kemper, and an introduction of faculty, staff, and administrators. After a short time together, the students left the chapel to be gathered into small groups. Time was spent to get to know the others in their group, as they will complete a class together, and will be responsible for several projects as a team this semester. The parents were able to spend more time with the administrators of the College, and ask any questions they desired. Following this, students and parents were given time for their farewells and last minute “goodbyes.”
The night was ended by a powerful chapel event for students. Campus Pastor, Rick Pilieci shared about “Who Are You?” and spoke about our deceptions and distortions of ourselves, reflecting upon our past and looking forward to the hope of our future. Small groups gathered again to talk through some questions and pray together. After that, there was a great spread of snack food for the students – including personal pizzas, mac and cheese bites, jalapeno poppers, and onion rings – to stave off their late night hunger.
We are so thankful for our new students safely arriving, and pray that the orientation weekend will be a great success. Now we look forward to the arrival of our returning students to join us early next week.