Student leaders and Bates staff teamed up on a gorgeous Opening Day, Aug. 31, to help the members of the Class of 2027 get settled in their campus residences. Here’s a look, hour by hour.
7:09 a.m. Set the table
Bookended by two student Orientation leaders, Brenda Pelletier, associate director of conference and campus events, readies a table in the arcade of Commons. Soon, first-year students will flow through, picking up their room keys and Bates IDs.
7:14 a.m. Ships ahoy
A fleet of five canoes, 1,200 water bottles per canoe, and a world of ice. That’s what goes into the iconic water stations on Opening Day and other big Bates events. Billie Coburn, the board plan manager in dining, conferences and campus events, drives the canoes out in a Bates pickup truck to place them beside birch trees near Commons, and chain them up there.
Launched, so to speak, several years ago, the canoe tradition is the brainchild of Christine Schwartz, associate vice president for dining, conferences, and campus events. The festive yet rustic outdoor decor spices up the lawns around campus, while keeping folks hydrated on busy Bates days.
The outdoorsy water stations have holes in them to allow the melted ice to drain out, which lightens the canoes when it’s time for removal.
They’re tethered to trees to keep hi-jinks minded students at bay. “Two years ago, students dragged them into Lake Andrews. It must have been at Commencement, when there was mischief making. They’re not easy to get out of the water,” said John Lajoie, associate director of dining services.
7:42 a.m. Gotta scoot
Zooming along Alumni Walk, Molly Newton ’11, senior associate dean of students, sports a Barbie-pink skirt complete with a bright pink Jetson Jupiter Jumbo light-up scooter — a stunning fusion of premeditation and serendipity.
Newton, well known for using a scooter to move about campus for her work, had the outfit selected for some time, but the new scooter was last-minute addition to the ensemble, thanks to Suzie Nattress, who manages the college electronic access system and who bought the scooter and brought it to Newton’s office the day before.
7:53 a.m. Tick tock
Cal Dagner ’27 of Crozet, Va., watches an early morning football practice on Garcelon Field, flanked by her parents, Anne and Donovan.
They were just killing time, they said, waiting for the 8 a.m. opening of Commons for first-year student registration. Cal Dagner will be rowing for Bates, but she’s most excited for the snow. “I’m looking forward to learning to ski!”
7:56 a.m. Wishing wall
Waiting outside Commons for first-years passing by en route to their residences was a free-swag raffle and a Wishing Wall. The Bobcat swag raffle used to be a one-and-done event, but this year the raffle continued throughout orientation weekend to be more inclusive.
The Wishing Wall invited first-years to share their aspirations for their first Bates year, such as: “Friends,” “Have work/life balance,” “Make memories,” even the boast: “Become a billionaire.”
“Everyone comments on that one,” said Kate Schulze ‘26 of Hudson, Ohio, who helped run the early shift at the information table.
From left are Sadie Kriegler ’24 of Greenwich, Ct., Audrey Esteves ’26 of Cranford, N.J., Sophie Man-Hudspith ’26 of New York, N.Y., Julia Jeong ’24 of Clifton, Va., and Aydan Gedeon-Hope ’25 of Norton, Mass.
8:01 a.m. All keyed up
The routine on Opening Day is that first-year students — like Brendan Kelly ’27 of Dallas — get dropped off on the Central Avenue side of Commons, walk inside to get their IDs, keys, and some Bates swag, and depart on the Alumni Walk side.
For many first-year students, this is their first moment on their own as a Bates student. But they’re not alone for long: outside Commons, a cohort of student Orientation students leaders staff an information table with candy, maps, stickers, and even a raffle chance.
8:15 a.m. Great day to be a bobcat!
A buoyant President Garry W. Jenkins and his husband, Jon Lee, greet Alex Appleton ‘27 of White Bear Township, Minn., as he arrives on campus on Opening Day. Jenkins and Lee came to greet new students outside Commons.
8:22 a.m. Traffic control
Bates staff are stationed on Central Avenue, outside Commons, to greet and guide incoming families.
Among the staff is Jeremy McFarland, a counselor with Admission. The Admission team spends a better part of a year getting to know prospective Bates students through their application materials. “It’s so great to be part of this exciting moment for students,” he said. “It’s so nice to see some familiar faces and get to meet the students who I’ve been reading and talking about.”
8:43 a.m. Three degrees
Jenkins greets Sophia Levine ’27 of Charlottesville, Va., as she moves her gear into Kalperis Hall.
Sophia’s parents, Alison Levine and Stephen Levine, are graduates of Haverford Colllege, as is Jenkins. “We didn’t know each other in college,” said Alison, who had just learned that Jenkins is “a fellow ‘Ford.”
The Levines weren’t expecting to see the new Bates president as part of their move-in experience, but then, mirabile dictu, Jenkins “walks into my daughter’s first year dorm room, which was just kind of sweet.”
8:46 a.m. Team effort
The family that makes a bed together, stays together. The Smiths of Essex, Mass., show how. From left, Claire, Chris, and Annie Smith ’27.
8:49 a.m. Rolling out the welcome mat
Owen Gammill ’26 of Seattle, an AESOP trip leader, assists first-year students moving into Kalperis Hall by carrying a rug in from Campus Avenue.
9:13 a.m. Wipe out
Facility Services staff wipe down the rows of chairs set up on the Historic Quad for the annual welcome by President Jenkins and other college leaders later in the day. With 850 chairs to tackle, it’s a team effort.
9:52 a.m. Leap into a new era
Three student Orientation leaders welcome new students under the skybridge at Gillespie Hall. From left, Maddy Ewell ’24 of Ridgewood, N.J., Kendall Jones ’25 of Plymouth, N.H., and May Whelan ’25 of Bristol, R.I.
10:08 a.m. (Not) all by myshelf
New Bates parent Amanda McGovern and her young son, Liam, sit on the floor of a common space in Gillespie Hall putting together a bookshelf for Amanda’s older son, Jack McGovern ‘27 of New York, N.Y. Amanda holds the pieces steady while Liam pushes bolts into holes and screws them in.
“It gives him a little extra storage,” she says.
10:44 a.m. Sing out loud
On a high-energy day, several student orientation leaders take a breather from moving to bust some dance moves on Alumni Walk. From left, Rylee Eaton ’25 of Little Deer Isle, Me., Livia Bernhardt ’24 of Salisbury, Vt., Rosina Makwabe ’26 of Arusha, Tanzania, Verina Chatata ’26 of Lilongwe, Malawi, and Hope Stafford ’26 of Mountain View, Calif.
10:54 a.m. A telling hug
A fun fact about James Reese, who joined the Bates Student Affairs team in 1977, just after graduating from Middlebury College: some of the students he knew back in the 1970s now have grandchildren at Bates.
Which is to say that Reese, who came to Bates the same year Apple debuted the Apple II computer, knows a lot of alumni. Here, Reese greets Benny Bogyo ’27 of Redwood City, Calif., the son of Matt Bogyo ’93 and Becky Allen Bogyo ’94.
We asked Reese to share what it feels like to observe a new generation of Bates students arriving with their alumni parents. This is what Reese said:
Within the joy apparent in the graduate family, there is a noticeable rush, akin to a ripple or a wave — a flow of feelings and emotions that is quite detectable going back and forth when I meet grads who are dropping off their now college-aged children.
The younger family member shows a duality, facing a welcomed mystery in this place that they have heard so much about across their lives from the parent(s) and friends.
The feeling from the parent(s) is palpable. Clearly the adult really wanted the child to be here (often sharing with me their tough challenge of having to stay quiet while the decision was being made). The hug from the parent to me often feels like it contains the joy of the child’s decision.
There are smiles; postures of pride; and immense optimism about the learning, the experiences, the associations, and the discoveries that will come — all familial in a Bates way.
11:05 a.m. Big day, big lift
Andy Wilson of Medfield, Mass., hauls a mini fridge through Page Hall for his daughter Lara ’27.
11:14 a.m. Words to live by
Otis Caron ’24 of Lewiston, Maine, shows the tattoo he got to honor his late father, David, with an acronym for his dad’s advice, “think before you speak,” and the one got to honor his mom, Bates senior visual designer Tammy Caron, with a reminder of her advice: “Patience is a virtue.”
The whole family turned out to help first-year student Ella move into her room.
11:17 a.m. Doggone great crew
Visiting dogs get welcomed on Opening Day, too.
On the lawn behind Page Hall, student Orientation leaders Wyatt Holder ’26 of Wilmette, Ill., Chase Buzzell ’25 of Saco, Maine, Ingrid Lam ’26 of Portland, Ore., and Sofia Hahn ‘24 of Tuxedo Park, N.Y., welcome Hrothgar, named after the ruler of the Danes in the epic Beowulf, on campus with David Hermanson ’27 of Cambridge, Mass.
11:35 a.m. The halls are alive
In Gillespie Hall, Eric Preisig ’27 of North Falmouth, Mass., takes a break from putting together his room to tune his cello. He’s been playing for 12 years, and is excited to find places to play on campus.
2:06 p.m. Sharing and caring
International first-years and their parents gather in the Fireside Lounge in Commons on Opening Day to listen to Reese explain how, as the associate dean of international student programs, he will watch over their children, help them in any way he can, and be a friend to them.
3:15 p.m. Welcome to Bates
Bates’ newest families gather in front of Coram to hear welcomes from three college leaders.
Leigh Weisenburger, vice president for enrollment and dean of admission and financial aid, speaks of the pride she and her team felt in helping the new students find their college.
Dean of Students Erin Foster Zsiga follows with warm words about entering a brand new community. “Be kind to yourself, particularly when you may experience moments of self-doubt. It takes time to build your life in a new place. If no one has told you yet, let me be the first: You are here for a reason. You belong at Bates.”
President Garry W. Jenkins closed the afternoon welcome, telling the students, families, and loved ones that they are all joining a special, kind, and committed community. “Be open to newness, find deeper connections with people whose experiences and backgrounds, and taste in music, may be different from yours,” he said. “I guarantee you, you’re going to be enriched by the process. My college friends are still among my closest friends and confidants in the world.”
3:45 p.m. ‘It’s lived here’
Mya Hicks ‘27 leans on her mother, Monica Hicks, while sitting beside her dad, Tyrone Hicks. The family from Ann Arbor, Mich., was sad to say goodbye. But after hearing Jenkins’ remarks, Monica and Tyrone both said they knew their daughter was in a good place.
“We are super excited. We are a family of color and to have a president of color so interested in the students, the community, and in welcoming all sorts of people of different genders and races, it drives it home, he means it,” Monica Hicks said of Jenkins’ welcome. “Other people say those things, but it’s obvious it’s lived here. You can see it on a college website but to be here and hear that, it is the culture here, it’s important to know that.”
Tyrone Hicks added: “What resonates with me is that I had a college experience, but I never had a college community. That’s what I want for my daughter. Everyone says this is a community.”
3:55 p.m. Brotherly love
Noah Faragher Houghton ‘27 and his 10-year-old brother, Arlo, of Monroe, Maine, had a tearful goodbye on the Historic Quad as Opening Day became a bittersweet closing. “I’m excited. And I’m sad,” Noah said. “I’m going to miss him.”
Noah tried to convince his younger brother that they wouldn’t be that far away from each other. (Located 80 miles northeast of campus, Monroe is home to a population of 930 in Midcoast, Maine.)
Their mother, Kate Faragher Houghton ‘91, comforted Arlo as he teared up and hugged his brother. “You’ll come visit,” she told Arlo. “You’ll lay on his bed like you did today. He’s been a great brother. He’s still a great brother. He’ll still help show you the way.”
4:05 p.m. Farewell, but not goodbye
Jake Podgurski ‘27 of Canton, Mass., didn’t hold back his tears as he said goodbye to his mom, Lori Jablonski ‘88, who also was crying.
As Jabolinski sat with her son, daughter, Liv Podgurski, and her ex-husband, Paul Podgurski, all sandwiched together on a bench by the Mouthpiece, Jablonski said they were united in their sadness as they said farewell to Jake, even though “ironically we’re divorced.”
“We’re getting the band back together,” Jake quipped.