Opening Day for the Class of 2022 was Monday, Aug. 27, and the Bates community turned out in friendly force to welcome and guide Bates’ newest students.
Follow along as Bates Communications photographer Phyllis Graber Jensen, teaming with writers Doug Hubley, Emily McConville, and Jay Burns, captured the day in words and images.
Some of the first customers at Forage, a popular Lewiston coffee spot, were Belle Bernhoeft-Gutierrez ’22 and her parents, getting a leisurely start to what would be a packed day.
The family had flown in from São Paulo, Brazil, over the weekend, and Bernhoeft-Gutierrez, as an international student, was able to move in early.
“It’s the only time in life you feel so happy and so sad at the same time — and so proud.”
They’d tried to get their bearings on campus the day before. “People keep referring to things, and I just nod and smile for a little while,” Bernhoeft-Gutierrez said. They had marveled at the New England brick buildings, the Gomes Chapel, and the friendliness of the people.
“Everyone was really nice, from Security who helped me open my room to students that were walking by,” said Bernhoeft-Gutierrez.
As they ate Forage’s bagels and breakfast sandwiches and talked about the experience of dropping their oldest off at college, her parents, Carmen Bernhoeft and Gregorio Gutierrez, teared up.
“The best way I have found to describe it is, it’s the only time in life you feel so happy and so sad at the same time — and so proud,” Gutierrez said.
As family cars bearing new first-years pulled up at Chu and Kalperis halls, the high energy among the Opening Day student helpers got a bump from loud pop music from tiny speakers, Dunkin’ Donuts Munchkins, and well-stocked hydration stations.
Milan Lemon ’21 of Plantation, Fla., said that the new-student influx had started right on time at 7 a.m., and about 40 first-years and families had arrived since then. Progress was smooth and the new students “were excited to move in,” he said.
It was a dancing move-in next door at Kalperis. “I think I’m more excited than some of the first-years,” said Nellie Breen ’21 of Pasadena, Calif., who danced to Camila Cabelo’s “Havana” as she talked to an observer. “I remember how excited I was when I got here.”
The music, she said, “adds some character and makes me feel excited just to be standing here dancing.”
A few seconds later, there was a boisterous “Yay!” from student greeters as another family arrived. Half-a-dozen or so student, including Breen, descended on the arriving vehicle. The campus-wide goal for unloading each new student’s car was 15 minutes.
Another greeter, Alexia Sahue ’19 of Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, was fascinated by parents’ responses to the situation — “how nervous they are,” she said. (Coming from Africa, Sahue had first arrived at Bates alone.)
She recounted an exchange between one dad and the younger brother of an arriving first-year: “‘In a few years that will be you.’ The brother had the scaredest look on his face.”
Inside Commons, Stacia Poulin (right) of the college’s Dining, Conferences, and Campus Events office helped Gilleyanne Davis-Oakes ’22 of Vinalhaven, Maine, get squared away.
Her mother, Wanda Davis-Oakes, watched as Alex Campbell ’22 of Garden City, N.Y., waited his turn.
Nearby, Jenny Graves, business manager in the events office, reported about 30 students having signed in so far, from as far away as Hawaii and as near as the Maine towns of Falmouth and North Yarmouth.
Graves had started Opening Day greeting families as they pulled up outside Commons to drop off their students. One father told her, “Bates has been so welcoming today.”
Outside Commons on Campus Avenue, Bates President Clayton Spencer joined the Bates Welcome Crew — staff who help with Opening Day — greeting students as they were dropped off by family members.
She met Enrique Dolores ’22 of Hailey, Idaho, as he went to check in at Commons, joined by his godfather, Bob Knoebel. Dolores already had a good sense of where things were on campus — he’d been on campus for a week with the Bobcat First! program.
Bobcat First! supports first-generation students as they gain a sense of belonging and community on campus throughout their first year, starting with a pre-orientation program.
Dolores had especially enjoyed a ropes course, he said. “Besides that, we did a whole bunch of workshops, like time management. I thought that was really important, really helpful.”
Director of Admission Darryl Uy was part of the garnet-shirted Bates Welcome Crew on Central Avenue, outside Commons.
Central Avenue is the arrival spot for most first-years: They exit their vehicles, pick up IDs, and handle other check-in duties before rejoining their families (and gear) at their residences.
The second that Michael and Carolyn Obel-Omia of Barrington, R.I., pulled up to Kalperis Hall, a group of student helpers, including junior advisor Milan Lemon ’21 of Plantation, Fla., swarmed the vehicle and grabbed gear, including a bike, to carry up to son Jackson’s second-floor room.
Jackson arrived from check-in a few minutes later, his newly issued Bates ID on a lanyard.
After moving in, he planned to get ready for his late-week AESOP trip on the Grafton Loop Trail, see if he could change a course or two, and dive into his studies — maybe psychology, maybe sociology, maybe a natural science.
Of all the colleges he toured, Obel-Omia remembered Bates as the one that was the most “together.”
“The main thing was just the one dining hall — that’s how I distinguish it,” he said. “It was the community.”
Next door to Obel-Omia, Anna Landgren ’22 of Boxford, Mass., had pretty much finished decorating her side of the room, with the help of her brother Anders, 15, and her sister Lizzie, 8.
Asked what her favorite things about the room were, Lizzie pointed out a three-tiered rolling cart and two avocado-shaped pillows.
When Landgren first visited campus a couple of summers ago, she immediately thought, “This is where I want to go to school,” but her parents figured that would change after seeing other colleges. “But I was like, ‘Nope, this is where I’ll go to school.’ Truth be told, here I am.”
That didn’t preclude a little sibling sadness over leaving home for the first time. Lizzie said she was “half on the good side, because she’ll be close, but half on the bad side because she’s going to be gone on my birthday.”
“There’ll be lots of FaceTime, lots of letter-sending,” Anna said. “But I can’t wait to be here. I’ve been waiting for a long time.”
As he assembled a storage cart in the hallway of Chu Hall, David Dimond identified himself as the father of, “and contractor for,” his daughter Olivia Dimond ’22 of Henrico, Va.,
“Everyone’s very excited,” said Molly Newton ’11, assistant dean of residence life and health education, as she made the rounds.
Predicted temperatures that could hit 90 played a role in her planning for welcoming the new students, Newton said. “There’s plenty of water, we gave everyone the hydration talk, and we’re giving the greeters extra breaks.”
For Newton, Opening Day is its own reward.
“We put in so much preparation. And when the first-years and families finally start showing up, the campus comes back to life, and it reminds us why we love this work.”
On the second floor of Chu Hall, Opening Day helpers, first-years, and parents darted back and forth between rooms, elevators, and staircases.
“I get so pumped, so excited, because the kids have so much to offer.”
Up came bedding, boxes, and storage containers full of belongings, mini fridges, and, in the case of Peter Philbin ’22 of Bedford, N.H., a double bass. Inside rooms, students made beds, hung up posters, and met roommates.
Philbin’s roommate, Noah Pott ’22 of Great Barrington, Mass., brought a keyboard to the room, complementing Philbin’s double bass. “It worked out well,” Pott said.
Nearby, Chu custodian Max Payne stood by a large container, happily greeting students and accepting their broken-down boxes.
“I get so pumped, so excited, because the kids have so much to offer,” said Payne, who’s worked at Bates for 16 years. “I want to see them reach their goals. I want to see them come in safe, healthy, happy, and I want to see them go home the same way and do whatever I can to encourage them.”
Ashley Cleary ’19 of Albany, N.Y., a junior advisor in Chu, pointed out that things were calmer than they had been a few hours ago.
“I was telling one of my friends, ‘It’s like Christmas morning when there starts to be less presents under the tree, and you’re, like, no, I want it to last longer!’” she said.
Amanda Becker ’22 (left) of Brooklyn, N.Y., had an extra set of hands to help her move into her room in Chu: her “Bates mom,” Hannah Palacios ’21 of West Vancouver, B.C.
Becker stayed in Palacios’ room last October as part of Prologue to Bates, which flies in students from underrepresented backgrounds and introduces them to campus for three days.
“She’s a huge reason why I chose Bates.”
Becker and Palacios became fast friends, seeing each other at Bates twice more and once at Becker’s home. “She’s a huge reason why I chose Bates,” Becker said.
Becker, whose high school graduating class was about 40 students, was excited to meet new people and, she said, to learn for learning’s sake, diving deeply into her chosen subjects.
“I’m excited to do that with very specific classes rather than just, here’s 100 years of history you have to go through,” she said.
After getting everything squared away at his room in Page Hall, Nathaniel Badger ’22 of Edwards, Colo., and his father, Lance, stopped by the bookstore to pick up a T-shirt for his little sister.
The Bibro family of Cornish, Maine, were making good strides on unpacking, and all three — Camden ’22, mom Sandy, and dad Ed — helped make his new bed.
“At first, I always wanted to go to technical school,” says Camden. “But then I started looking at liberal arts schools — it was only like last year, during my senior year, and I had a teacher who went to Bowdoin.”
After interviewing at Bates last year, he “just fell in love with everything that was offered. It just seemed to fit my character. That’s why I chose Bates.”
Marissa Bale ’19 (right) of Northford, Conn., and fellow helpers carried gear up the stairs at Parker Hall. “The first-years seem super-excited to move in,” said Bale. “It’s pretty high-energy, which is nice.”
Lucy Faust ’19 of Piedmont, Calif., agreed. “People have been buzzing around campus since 7 a.m. sharp., and it’s a really fun day to be a Bobcat.”
The pair were impressed by the smooth flow of first-year intake at the other end of Alumni Walk, in Commons. “Very organized, streamlined,” said Faust. “Well-oiled machine,” Bale agreed.
“You get your IDs, and your mugs, which we didn’t have freshman year,” said Faust.
She added, “Some dad told me that this wasn’t his first rodeo, and this is the best move-in experience he’s ever had.”
“It’s a major opportunity to savor my final lap.”
Helping newbies move in got Faust and Bale thinking about their own arrivals at Bates.
“We moved in near each other freshman year, so it’s kind of full circle now,” said Bale. She was feeling a little nostalgic. “I’m remembering all the excitement and nervousness of freshman year, and now we’re going into senior year. It’s pretty crazy.”
“It’s a major opportunity to remind myself how fast those three years have gone by,” Faust said — “to savor my final lap.”
Opening Day features a resource fair in Pettengill Hall’s Perry Atrium. There’s no cotton candy at this fair, but instead a suite of information about various Bates offices programs.
Soaking in the new information were, from left, Yueh Qi Chuah ’22 of Petaling Jaya, Malawi, Mathieu Moutou ’22 of Vacoas, Mauritius, and Ognyan Simeonov ’22 of Novi Pazar, Bulgaria.
The buffet lines weren’t the only things moving swiftly during the Family and New Student Barbecue.
As 1 p.m. approached, international students and families filed into Commons’ Fireplace Lounge for a welcome session with James Reese, associate dean of students for international student programs.
There, Reese greeted Biruk Chafamo ’22 of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, as Ella Fischer ’22 (second from left) of Raleigh, N.C., and Niharika Tuladhar ’22 of Kathmandu, Nepal, waited their turn.
Joining Reese in greeting the first-years were Francesca Biondi Morra ’20 of Santa Ana, Costa Rica, and Ahimy Soto-Garcia ’21 of Trenton, N.J.
The pair directed the first-years to pick up a sheet of paper with the Concord Coach Lines schedule and a recommended cab company. Members of the International Club, they had been helping Reese welcome the international students since yesterday.
“It can be very overwhelming with a new culture, new country, new everything,” Biondi Morra said. Her goal was to help the new people “settle in and see some familiar faces, and know that if you have any questions, we’re the people you can come to.”
Lacrosse head coach Peter Lasagna does something similar every year. After the Athletics Welcome for prospective Bobcats and their families, Lasagna gathers his new players for a heart-to-heart outside Alumni Gymnasium.
While their sons listened to their coach, Tim Farrell and Michael Kim, fathers of John Farrell ’22 and Maxwell Kim ’22, chatted on the side. They had met over the summer at a lacrosse tournament in Massachusetts, to which the first-years were invited.
The team’s involvement of new students and parents impressed and reassured the dads — particularly Farrell, whose three older children were athletes at other colleges.
“That’s the beauty of a smaller school.”
“Having a built-in infrastructure and having an adult that’s coached at Brown and coached here for 18 years — he’s got experience,” Farrell said, referring to Lasagna. “I’m really happy about that.
“I’ve been looking forward to this meeting. It was nice of the athletics department to let you know what’s going on right away. I have not had that with any other school.”
“That’s the beauty of a smaller school,” Kim added.
Outside the Chase Hall headquarters of the Bates Outing Club, Peter Griffin ’20 of Beverly, Mass., an AESOP assistant coordinator, helped distribute loaner gear to first-years in preparation for the annual three-day, student-led outdoor trips.
AESOP leaders handed sleeping bags, mats, plastic dishware, and other gear to students lined up on the loading bay of Chase Hall.
“I love Bates so far, and I’m very excited.”
Oliver Barrera ’22 of Waukegan, Ill., picked up a sleeping bag and mat for his upcoming trip to Nezinscot Farms. He and his fellow AESOPers would participate in farm life and eat Nezinscot’s popular homemade food.
Barrera was also gearing up to explore his interests in rhetoric and film, including his First-Year Seminar, “Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin: Young, Gifted, Black, and Queer,” taught by Charles Nero, Benjamin E. Mays Distinguished Professor of Rhetoric, Film, and Screen Studies.
“I love Bates so far, and I’m very excited,” he said.
And there was time to just sit and relax on the Historic Quad, outside Hathorn Hall.
Besides leading one of the AESOP outdoor trips later in the week, Jake Atwood ’19 of Natick, Mass., is an assistant for a First Year Seminar, “How Do You Know That?” taught by Benjamin Moodie, a lecturer in sociology.
Preparing for his work, Atwood found a shady spot in the Historic Quad to read The Knowledge Illusion: Why We Never Think Alone, by Philip Fernbach and Steven Sloman.
The Gomes Chapel porch affords a view of the comings and goings on Opening Day.
With Opening Day moving toward its close, Margaret Flynn ’22 of Gambrills, Md., sat with her parents, Tonya Flynn and Roger Flynn, on a bench on the Historic Quad.
Mom and Day said that it was a “few last moments” to spend with their youngest child. “Who’s going to take care of us at home?” they said with a laugh.
“It’s easier now than when I’ll be home, close the door, and pretend he’s still there,” said Afton Disunno as she, her son Dylan ’22 of East Hampton, N.Y., and husband Chris Disunno took seats on the Historic Quad for the traditional college welcome. “But we know he’s in a great place.”
Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Leigh Weisenburger kicked off the college welcome, held in front of Coram Library. “The record-breaking Class of 2022 has arrived,” she said, prompting cheers and applause.
The Class of 2022 was selected from a record number of applications, 7,685.
“We are so proud to welcome you and to support you as you learn and grow,” she said. “Congratulations from the entire college: faculty, staff, students and alumni.
“You should be very proud.”
Alixandra Zabin ’22 of Milford, Conn., sits between parents Amy and Steve Zabin as they react to President Clayton Spencer’s welcome address.
“I love this moment,” said President Spencer as she took to the lectern in front of Coram Library to welcome students and families of the Class of 2022. “You bring such energy and excitement to campus. It makes up for the end of summer!”
Opening Day, she continued, “is when humans emerge from admission statistics. It’s been a long chrysalis period, and now the butterflies are right here. It’s our own butterfly effect here at Bates.”
Some parents were seeing Bates for the first time on Opening Day. Others, like Steve Brackett ’85, were returning to the embrace of alma mater.
Steve and his wife, Kathryn, are the parents of Stephen ’22, and they were accompanied on Opening Day by their younger children, Maeve and Michael.
An active Bates alumnus and volunteer, Steve has been back to Bates dozens of times since his graduation.
Judging by tears welling in his eyes as he and Kathryn said their goodbyes to Stephen, this was a lot different.
In fact, the tears came because he felt something familiar. “It just keeps reoccurring. A feeling of comfort,” he said. “Now, it’s the feeling of comfort knowing that my son belongs at Bates.
“It’s hard to let go. It’s going to be tough heading down the turnpike. But I know Stephen is with family.”
The president’s welcome concluded, it was time for families to say their goodbyes, and time for Neeshi Hullavarad ’22 of Fairbanks, Alaska, to get a big hug from little sister, Esha.
Jamari Amrham ’22 of Richmond, Calif., had his eyes on his mom, Cherie Hill, as she took a selfie. She planned to be in Maine for two more days, looking forward to the quieter pace of Maine in late summer.
Stella Santucci ’22 and her younger sister, Chloé Santucci of Falmouth, Maine, hugged and laughed as they said goodbyes.
Their parents, Jacques and Patricia, are Mainers by way of France, settling in the Portland area in the early 1990s.
They noted how the French language, once spoken widely in Lewiston by residents who had emigrated from Canada, was making a comeback thanks to recent immigrants from French-speaking African countries.
For Emily Dewey ‘22 of Sudbury, Mass., next up on the schedule was dinner with her Frye House residents and their junior advisor. Then a walk up Mount David to watch the sunset. Then fun class events until late in the evening.
But first things first: hugs for her father, Will Dewey ‘88, and her mother, Susan Luther Dewey ‘88.