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Bates rolls out the garnet carpet for the Class of 2020

Story by Bates College September 2nd, 2016

Hello, It's me

On Opening Day, Aug. 29, as vehicles arrived at campus residences from Frye Street to Bardwell Street, the scene was the same: red-shirted upperclass students descending, greeting, and emptying them far quicker than they’d been filled.

Leaving their home in Medway, Mass., just before 6 o’clock, the family of Sarah DiPillo ’20 arrived at Bates by 8:30 a.m. and were instantly helped by those red-clad students at her 55 Campus Avenue residence.

They brought an older daughter to nursing school the week before, and that helped them prepare for the Bates trip. “We learned the importance of prior organization,” said her father, Paul DiPillo. “Double-check and triple-check, and don’t stress too much.”

He said, “I’m feeling very happy to see Sarah taking the next step, the next chapter in life. She’ll meet a whole new community of people from different walks of life, different states, different countries.”

“That will help shape her.”

Malcolm Delpeche '17 greets Melanie Binkhorst '20 of West Hartford, Conn., with her mother Karen, as she moves into 55 Campus Ave.
AESOP trip leader Wade Rosko '17 of Dillon, Colo., moves a first-year student's refrigerator into 65 Campus Ave.

New Digs

The two new residence halls, at 55 and 65 Campus Avenue, loomed large on Opening Day.

In front of the new residence at 55 Campus, one recent arrival had what seemed like a typical assortment of luggage piled on the esplanade: five soft bags including two sizable duffels; one durable plastic case, plus bedding and other loose accessories; two slat-sided wooden crates; and a Magic Chef compact refrigerator.

55 Campus Ave. is busy as a beehive as students and staff assist first-year students in moving in.

Rising to the occasion

The dozens of students working on Opening Day represented a confederacy of various Student Life programs, all working under one umbrella to greet the incoming class.

Close to 200 student leaders were on campus to greet the incoming class. One hundred and eight were part of AESOP, the annual outdoor and excursion program for incoming students, and 65 were residential-life leaders, either Residence Coordinators or Junior Advisers. Another 25 are here as OWLs, Orientation Week Leaders who run activities and programs for the new students.

Ebullience was the norm. At one point, a young woman in pigtails and clothes of many colors zoomed on rollerblades past 55 and 65 Campus Avenue, trailing a thick wake of soap bubbles and calling, “Welcome to Bates!”

Emma Jarczyk ’17 of Boston and Matt Phillips ’17 of Acton, Mass.
Kurt Niiler ’18 of Freedom, N.H., and Gina Ciobanu ’17 of Gurnee, Ill.

Arrived but not settled

Felicia Page ’19 of Farmington, Maine, joined the cause this year as an Orientation Week Leader, helping to run activities and programs for the new students.

Recalling her own orientation last year, she says she was “very overwhelmed,” she she wants to help this year’s newbies cope with the newness of it all, not to mention the beginning of a different kind of a relationship with parents and siblings.

Jenny Serrano '20 of Miami shares a laugh with Emma Soler '20 of Bethesda, Md., as Emma's parents Larry and Sue help her set up.
Roommates Caroline Kerrigan '20 of Falls Church, Va. (left), and Nubia Beasley-Bartee '20 of Chicago get settled.
Willam Nelligan '20 of Standish, Maine, meets his roommate Jay Gorayeb '20 of New York City in their 65 Campus Ave. room.

'This is who we are'

The various Student Life deans are charged with nothing less than the satisfying and smooth settling-in of the Class of 2020, and all day their demeanor never changed.

Their colleague Erin Foster Zsiga, associate dean of students for residence life, talked about why it’s important to get this day right. “This is the beginning,” said Foster Zsiga. “The first day of their experience at Bates is what they’ll remember on the last day as they graduate. These are the memories that they’ll call up.”

She added, “This is who we are. We’re here to help, we’re here to be a resource, we’re people who care about you.” It’s about the Bates community: To parents, “it sends the message that their students aren’t alone.

Carrie Murphey '06 and Molly Newton '11 of Student Affairs were two Opening Day linchpins.

Keep Calm and Keep Carrying

Karly Oettgen ’19 of Wellesley, Mass., a Junior Advisor at the college’s residence at 280 College St., talked about giving the new students some space in their first few minutes on campus.

While she and other leaders are trained to be helpful, “we’re trying to be really mindful about coming up to you and knowing everything, and you don’t know anything. We’re trying to be there for them, but a little distanced so we’re not overbearing.”


A Storied beginning

The new College Store, located in the new student residence at 65 Campus Avenue, was a hopping place.

Roxanne Lindgren shops in the College Store for Bates gear for her and son Jonathan Lindgren '20 of Plainville, Conn.
Michael Hogue '20 of Chicago decides on a Bates shirt with the help of his godfather Tracy Hogue.

Check It Out

Helped by student leaders of AESOP, the annual outdoor and excursion program for incoming students, members of the Class of 2020 check out gear for trips that would begin in two days.

Maya Church '20 of Atlanta heads off with some Outing Club gear she checked out for her AESOP trip.

Thumbs Up

In Gomes Chapel, Claire Deplanck ’20 of Manila, Philippines, plays a thumb-wrestling icebreaker activity with the closest audience member, Anu Yadav, mother of Vid Yadav ’20 of Laguna Niguel, Calif., during the session “Your Student’s Transition to College” led by guest speaker Mike Weber.

Claire Deplanck ’20 of Manila, Philippines, and Anu Yadav, mother of Vid Yadav ’20 of Laguna Niguel, Calif.

The Final Welcome

Students and families of the Class of 2020 gather on the Historic Quad to hear welcomes from Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Leigh Weisenburger and President Clayton Spencer.

Spencer’s charge to the students was that it’s time to shed their high school mindset and be open to change.

“Since we’re in Maine, let’s consider the lobster. In order to grow he has to shed his outer, hardened shell,” she said. “Unless each of you dares to step outside your own armored-up ways of being and open yourself to your own uncharted inner terrain, you will miss the chance to develop deep and authentic connections with others.”


goodbye...For now

Dave and Cathy Biggert were among the many parents saying goodbye by day’s end, and the notion that distance makes the heart grow fonder was, too soon, poignantly true: They’re from Mbabane, Swaziland, 30 hours of flying time.

It had been a good day. Dave reported that Jayde “did a lot more research choosing a school than we did, and I can see now why she chose this one — the ambiance of the place, the people, the scenery, all that kind of stuff.”

Asked about how they felt, Cathy made a sad face, and Dave said, “I‘m very happy with the choice she’s made. It’s our second child here in the States studying.”

Then Cathy broke in. “This is our baby,“ the youngest, she said. “It’s just that I‘m going to miss her terribly. It’s very far away.”

Sharon Lane walks her son Max Rolnick ’20 of Los Angeles back to Rand Hall after President Spencer's welcome and reception.
Ally Leahy '20 of Cohasset, Mass., gets a hug from her mother, Gina.

Community nourishment

In the evening, the new students had another of their many first-day firsts: their first meal in Commons.


It's not an ending...

As Opening Day drew to close, the Class of 2020 watched the sunset from atop Mount David.

Footnote: Produced by the Bates Communications Office, with photography by Phyllis Graber Jensen and Josh Kuckens and reporting by Doug Hubley