By Madeline St. John and Sophia Hancock
On September 2nd , Goucher gathered in the sunshine to welcome new students and staff members, and to reconnect as a community.
The opening celebration has changed over the years, shifting in the early 2000s to become less formal and speech-filled and more like the event that it is today. After a colorful procession of students in class colors and short speeches by Chaplain Cynthia Terry and President José Antonio Bowen, new Provost Leslie Lewis and Bowen presented each class with their community principle and key-chains made by women in South Africa who have HIV positive children.
Following the noise-making competition between the classes (won by the proud class of 2018), the more formal portion of the event concluded with Chaplain Terry’s announcement that the food would soon be ready.
It was quite a spread—barbeque, mac and cheese, and red velvet whoopie pies were among the options. A new addition was a tent by the Appalachian Brewing Company, serving ginger, root, and birch beer. While some noted that the mac-and-cheese may have been watery or the bread too dry, many students expressed enthusiasm about the food. “This is my second helping,” said Max Graviano ‘19, digging into a s’more-like dessert.
As well as being scrumptious, the food served its purpose of encouraging people to stick around. Although it was humid—“More lemonade would have been good,” suggested Sam Kenney ’16—groups of students and faculty dotted the grassy lawn long after the speeches had ended. Quite a few faculty children and some pups also enjoyed the picnic, and a game or two of Frisbee started up.
According to Terry, this visual representation of the Goucher community is her favorite thing about this event. “There are all these little groups of people just sitting, just sitting and talking, and I love that … just the relaxed sense of people being together,” Terry said.
While there were many people there, attendance could have been better. Of course, not everyone was enthusiastic about the heat or their class color.
“Yellow is the worst color,” said Siobhan Dempsey ’16, although she came decked in it anyway.
There was also a little confusion and lack of knowledge about where, when, and what the event was.
“I didn’t really realize it was happening,” said Olivia Kobrel ’19. “I didn’t know what to expect.” Kobrel seemed pleasantly surprised, however, and said she liked that Goucher has a lot of events.
For this event, a lot of work happened behind the scenes. Bon Appetit and Facility Management Services faced the tasks of setting up the quad and preparing all the food. The committee that planned the event tried to think about what had worked well in the past and what had not.
For future celebrations, Bowen mentioned bringing back the use of different languages that was part of the ceremony last year. A drum circle may also be added. While the celebration is a long-standing tradition, the changes serve to make it even more enjoyable for the Goucher community.
The event certainly has the potential to create happy memories. “My favorite part was walking in, because I was late,” said Graviano. “So I was the only one walking through. And at first, no one was cheering, but then a couple of my professors saw me and said, ‘Hey, look, it’s Max!’ and then everyone started cheering.”