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Today is the first day of classes, so last night the campus community gathered for the opening convocation. There is a new tradition here for the opening of school, which I hope will endure for many years to come. As a part of the first convo, our first-time freshmen students (class of 2011!) are invited to walk across the stage in a symbolic act that prefigures their eventual graduation from Bethel in four years. Not only is this a way of introducing new students to the rest of the community, but also a formal way of welcoming each of them into the community as important individuals. The ceremony concludes with a ringing of the bell and a walk around the green. This “walk of welcome” involves two circles: one involving returning students, faculty, and staff and moving clockwise, the other including any new faces to campus and moving counterclockwise. As everyone files out of the auditorium, the two lines move in opposite directions and eventually meet in front of the administration building where each new person is greeted by each returner. Once everyone has shaken several hundred hands, the ceremony is over and the school year has begun!
This ceremony was especially fun for me last night because, as an admissions counselor, the new students are often the ones I know the best. It was great to greet them one by one, call them by name, and officially welcome them to Bethel–their new home! It was a moment that I have anticipated all year as I have individually greeted so many prospective students and parents in hopes of bringing them to Bethel. Now everyone is here and the fun can begin!
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