As students arrive at Waynesburg University in August, the New Student Orientation Leaders are some of the most visible people on campus. They’re the students who help out with the games and numerous activities that take place during orientation the weekend before classes begin.
However, the planning for that weekend starts well before the leaders know what they will be doing. Along with Pat Bristor, associate dean of students, there is a group of nine people planning that weekend, known as the New Student Orientation Board.
This year, board members went through an interview process in early March after applications were posted on myConnect in mid-February.
According to Michelle Keith, a member who is now going on her second year of being on the board, the group has already met three times in preparation for the new batch of Waynesburg students. The exact responsibilities of the board extend a decent amount.
“We meet with [Bristor] several times before we even meet with the rest of the leaders, and we detail out what exactly is going to be happening each day,” said Keith. “We plan the theme for each night, the activities, games, and once we get that all figured out, we meet with all of the leaders to give them the agenda and let them know what they’re doing, detail the expectations for them, and then we arrive a day before the leaders in August.”
The group still has one more meeting before they divulge their plans to the student leaders.
According to Keith, some of the theme has already been decided, and it will likely be a throwback theme—which will focus on music, candy and games that were popular around the time of students’ childhood.
“We think of themes for the individual events, if there is one,” said Keith. “This year, we’re going to be doing a throwback Thursday, so like 90’s nostalgia type stuff. We’ll get candy like Fruit By The Foot and Gushers and stuff like that. We’ll have childhood games and music from the 90’s and early 2000’s.”
While there are individual themes for specific events, Keith emphasized that the overall theme of orientation week remains as the mission of the university.
“The theme every year is faith, learning and serving, but that’s more of the day activities,” said Keith. “Thursday, there’s matriculation and moving in and stuff. Friday is learning, so that’s when you meet with your academic departments, and then Saturday is service, which is the big service project. Sunday is faith again because we have the big Chapel service on Sunday.”
Once the planning is complete, the work does not end for the orientation board. When they get back to campus, it is their responsibility to get packets ready for incoming students, prepare the games and activities, divide tasks amongst the leaders and help with check-in duties.
While much of the work may not be as center-stage as being a leader—as that job requires much more student interaction—Keith said that she decided to be involved with the behind-the-scenes work due to a good experience with a Fiat Lux supervisor.
Keith wanted to become involved with the board due to one of her Fiat Lux supervisors during her freshman year, now-senior Taylor Garrett. Keith appreciated Garrett and learned of her looking into getting involved with the board, and Keith was inspired to do the same.
“I absolutely adored [Garrett],” said Keith. “She was going for board last year, and I said ‘oh this looks really cool.’ She had such a great impact on me that I wanted to do the same thing.”