Ahh, the fall is here! A new semester has begun and welcome week has come and gone. And what a welcome week it was! As many students of Merrimack noticed, there was an assortment of activities to take part in and lots of swag to grab. From a hypnotist to the student involvement fair to dueling pianos, there something for everyone to enjoy. With 1,400 new undergrads, now that aiming to please!
To kick off Welcome Week there was the annual Academic Convocation and Mass. Father Raymond Dlugos, Vice President of Mission and Student Affairs, had a big part in planning these events and was more than eager to share the meaning of the events.
“The purpose of a Convocation is gather all the separate parts of the College, all of which can seem to operate independently of each other, to come together in one place to have one common, shared experience.”
The fact that Merrimack College is a Catholic institution founded upon Augustinian values is something the school wants to embrace. It helps distinguish the college from others, and also welcomes those from outside of Catholicism to embrace the community Merrimack holds so dear.
“While there a lot of ways that we need to make that vision a reality, it seemed obvious to me that being Catholic does mean having Catholic celebrations and rituals like Mass. That can be tricky because it is easy for people who are not Catholic to feel excluded,” says Father Ray.
He continues by saying, “The Mass is the ultimate expression of community, that word that Merrimack prides itself on, and so I thought that we could celebrate Mass in a way that would bring everyone who believes in Merrimack together regardless of our spiritual or religious beliefs.”
As an individual that grew up in a household with no specific religion, at Convocation andMass I have never felt obligated to be there. Itwaswelcoming; you could feel that the school wanted to embrace you to become a part of the community.
Senior, Nicole Engrem, enjoyed Convocation. “I would suggest everyone be a part if they weren’t already. The procession of the seniors and freshman … saying goodbye and hello at the same time was cool.”
Convocation and Mass turned out to be a huge hit, word was spread around campus and many organizations got involved. The campus was well represented during the events; athletic teams, clubs and organizations, Greeks, and RAs all made sure to represent their involvement in the campus.
Due to the rain it was moved to the Rogers Center, but that didn’t stop anyone from attending. Father Ray mentions that some 700 people were fit in the building and another 200 were told there just wasn’t room for everyone that showed interest.
“From what I heard, people liked it very much, Catholic or not, religious or not. I think they like all being in one place and seeing how many different people contribute to our one mission and purpose and that none of us could do what we do without every other person.” That’s what is great about Merrimack, everyone coming together and creating a positive experience for the school year.
The Merrimack Programming Board (MPB) had a big part in creating a fun atmosphere once everyone was moved in on campus. President of MPB and Senior, Andrea Yavarow mentions what a big part Warrior Welcome has become, “It happens at the beginning of both semesters in which MPB brings large scale events to welcome its students back to campus.”
Sophomore Sarah Connelly is on the Merrimack Programming Board and has only positive things to say about Welcome Week. “I think it benefits every student in campus because it helps them get back into the swing of things after a long summer.”
And it’s true, after three months of summer break it’s tough to jump right into classes. Having those fun activities going on around campus definitely livens things up. But there’s a bit more to Welcome Week than we think. Sarah says, “The main goal of getting involved on campus is to not only get your name out there but to give back to Merrimack because Merrimack, I believe does a lot for us.” The same message given to students at Mass and Convocation.
The variety of events on campus was unbelievable, old favorites were brought back such as the infamous hypnotist act. Augie’s pub was now open for a fall semester with new activities that were introduced for welcome week.
At the yearly Student Involvement Fair, there was swag galore. Tables were handing out candy, shirts, pens; the Beacon even had gym bags and post-it notes. Junior Brittany Desmond said the gym bags were a hot item; someone even tried to grab hers! “I was like ‘ahh, no that’s mine actually.’” To be honest, if I had to opportunity to snag someone’s bag I probably would have too!
The year I started at Merrimack, the hypnotist show was amazing! It was a fan favorite that once again returned to campus. Sarah Connelly was one of those up on stage and she even remembers what happened.
“He made us do things I would never do in public, like smacking people’s butts, swear, etc. I thought it made my Merrimack experience better because I took a risk.”
And the dueling pianos made a return! For those of you that don’t know what dueling pianos are, it’s two pianos and a drum set with a set of updated songs to play, they even took requests. Pat Bradley, junior, mentioned they were a huge success, “we had them here for senior week and brought them back due to the popularity and they didn’t disappoint.”
Senior AJ Andreucci cannot wait for their return, “I really enjoyed the dueling pianos because they do awesome songs and it just creates a fun atmosphere. It’s a really good time.”
Other activities that took place were Big Prize Bingo, Red Sox Game shuttle bus and $15- tickets, photo bottles, opening up Augie’s to students to watch the Pats game and more.
“Welcome week this year has really stepped up and shows how fun campus can be,” says AJ.
With all the amazing things Merrimack had in store for us when we returned from summer break has us wondering, what else is there?! It will definitely be interesting to see what’s up for the upcoming year.
To keep up what’s going on with MPB, be sure to follow them on twitter! @MPBtweets