Katie Chancellor spent her first days as a LaGrange College student climbing a mountain in North Carolina. George Cordova celebrated the beginning of his college career by speeding down a zip line over the residential quad.
Ringing in the new academic season on the local campus took on several unique forms this year, with events that culminated last week in the school’s first day of classes and the official opening convocation ceremony.
Passersby on Forrest Avenue couldn’t miss the elaborate setup for the second annual Spirit and Traditions Kickoff, featuring a 200-foot zip line, “robo surfer,” obstacle course and a showing of the film “The Avengers” on a 30-foot outdoor screen.
Cordova, a freshman from Tampa, Fla., was the first student to tackle the zip line, and admitted to being a little uneasy.
“I was a little nervous,” he said, “but it was fun. I went back and did it again.”
His other favorite activities were the surfing simulator and the pitching-radar booth.
Following the festive beginning, first-year students participated in a cleanup service project at West Point Lake. Later that day, the college’s faculty, staff and students went to a Beach Bash at Callaway Gardens, where they had access to the beach, Aqua Island, miniature golf, laser tag and other games.
Dr. Marc Shook, associate provost and dean of student engagement, said he was thrilled at the response to the events.
“The entire Student Engagement staff was enthusiastic about all the positive energy we saw from our students during First Week,” he said. “Our goal was to build community and a connection to the college – and to expose first-year students to the resources available to them here.”
Dr. Shook said more than 650 people attended the Spirit and Traditions Kickoff, and even more participated in the Beach Bash. There were so many students involved in the lake cleanup that four buses were needed to transport them.
“We saw a spirit of community that we hope will continue to grow,” he said. “It was a wonderful way to start the year.”
Katie Chancellor, a first-year student from Augusta, is one of the members of the inaugural class of the Leaders Inspired for Tomorrow program. LIFT allows a select group of 10 first-year students to take part in a yearlong leadership development effort.
The group began its experience with a four-day wilderness challenge led by North Carolina Outward Bound, returning just a few days before the start of classes. Students spent four days hiking the rugged terrain and rappelling mountainsides in the Pisgah National Forest, forcing many participants out of their comfort zone.
“This was a fantastic way to start off my college career,” Chancellor said. “Not only do I know I have a group of lifetime friends, but I also know that if I can survive the wilderness at its worst, then I can survive anything thrown my way.
“Overall, I learned that sometimes it is necessary to lean on others for support whether big or small because we cannot do everything on our own.”