A successful move-in day

Move-in Day 2019 features great weather and spirit

August 24, 2019
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer
Michael Cunniff carrying a minifridge

Directly above, Trustees Chair Michael Cunniff ’67 pitches in carrying a refrigerator into a residence. Images below show, variously, more move-in scenes from the Quad, a crowded afternoon Mass, activity in Ross, and President Sterritt and her husband, Bert at the free luncheon in Alliot with Rosemary of the Sodexo staff at the front desk. (Photos by Lauren Read, Caitlin Lei, Mark Tarnacki and Br. Thomas Berube S.S.E.

When Saint Michael’s College President Lorraine Sterritt said during her remarks at Friday night’s New Student Convocation in the Chapel that it “takes a village” to get Saint Michael’s ready for its new arrivals, her audience members, fresh witnesses to this year’s efficient and high-spirited Move-In Day that had been unfolding since 9 a.m., took her point fully on vivid evidence.

Earlier that morning, Sterritt said, she had observed the new chair of the College Trustees, Michael Cunniff ’67, spontaneously pitching in to carry a student refrigerator up to a room in one of the first-year Quad residence halls. Cunniff’s “all-hands-on-deck” spirit was evident in all corners of campus Friday on what was happily a perfectly cool and sunny August day stirring the range of emotions from excitement to bittersweet partings among the new families.

President Sterritt said late Friday after the Convocation ceremony that “numerous students and parents have commented on the warmth of the welcome, the beauty of the campus, and the sincerity of the interest demonstrated over and over again by faculty and staff members all across campus. The joyous spirit in the Chapel at Convocation last night was a beautiful demonstration of the heart and soul of the College, and Joan Wry’s poetic address was a wonderful tribute to Vermont.”

orientation leaders helping new students move inWry of the English faculty, winner of last year’s main teaching award, was faculty speaker at the evening assembly, offering a touching and eloquent five-minute poetic expression evoking sense of place and the beauty of Vermont. Applying the words of the recently late Toni Morrison to what Wry called “the energy of this sweet air” in Vermont with its lakes and islands and mountains, she shared (from Morrison), “If you surrender yourself to the air, you could ride it.” Wry concluded that, “As Thoreau promises, if you move confidently in the direction of your dreams, you will live the life you have imagined. All of us here at Saint Michael’s can hardly wait to see you do exactly that.”

Other highlights of the day were free lunch in a renovated Alliot Green Mountain Dining Hall, a Mass in the Chapel at 4:15, a class photo and photo of alumni parents with new students, a barbecue for students on the library green after Mass, a reception with Edmundites for parents in Dion at the same time, followed by the 7 p.m. Convocation with most faculty processing in in full regalia and the new class packing he pews..

Here, chronologically, are some snapshots of Move-In Day leading up to the Convocation.

  • For the first time in more than a century, no activity was evident at Founders Hall as it stood silent witness to one last Move-In Day before a scheduled demolition of the worn-out iconic building later this fall. A banner on the nearby chapel across the parking lot welcomed new students; chairs and tables were set up for an afternoon student barbecue, and O-leaders ran cowbells and DJs cranked music in the distance awaiting the first families shortly before 9 a.m.
  • Fr. Lino Oropeza ’11 of the campus Edmundite community was walking across campus in his clericals, ready for a busy day mingling with parents and new students — and at encouragement of some O-leaders he knew, he busted some impressive good-natured dance moves, to cheers.New student convocation
  • A table facing Lyons and Joyce in the first-year residential quad had WWPV station manager Cameron Smith, a senior double-major in art and environmental studies from Yonkers, NY, and a friend with sound equipment set up to play a selection of upbeat numbers requested by various students for Move-In Day, representing eras from the 1970s through today.
  • Trustees Chair Michael Cunniff and his wife, June, jumped into the move-in fray by lending a hand with families unpacking on the Quad when they stopped by the area with President Sterritt.
  • Kaylie Kneland arrived with her mom and dad and a friend from nearby Hyde Park, Vermont at Ryan Hall — so the ride over was easy compared to a lot of these families, her dad said. Across the Quad, Janice Coulther said her son Ryan is moving in to Lyons and plans to major in business. It’s a mix of sadness and excitement for her. “We drove this morning from our home in Vernon, New Jersey, just me and him, starting at like 3:30 a.m.” She said. “We’ll stay overnight, then say goodbye and get on the road.”
  • Another family arrived in a minivan from the Bronx, NY. “We just came from Italy where we do an annual vacation since my wife was born there – this is my only son, Antonio, who is going to major in political science,” says Antonio’s dad. Antonio says he is looking into possibly doing Saint MichaMichael Cunniff with group of student orientation leaders el’s Fire and Rescue, and that he and his roommate already had spoken on the phone.
  • The Juarez family had come up from South Carolina over recent days, and dad Eddie and mom Laurie were helping their daughter, Anna, move into Lyons 305. She’s already met her roommate, and they hit it off. “I’m majoring in environmental science since two years ago I did EpSCOR here as a high school student and really enjoyed it,” said Anna, who is thinking of pre-med as a possibility.
  • Mom Kelly Hanley from Ithaca, NY, drove over last night and stayed overnight before bringing her first child, LouKaiya, to college. “I’m not having emotions yet since there’s so much to do, and all of a sudden it’s going to turn off like a faucet and I will turn on like a faucet!” she says. LouKaiya already had connected before coming on social media with her roommate.
  • From West Newbury, MA came the D’Aquila family. Dad Dan said his daughter Leah was the first-year who they are moving in today, “but my older daughter Gretchen graduated a few years ago here and now is in biomedical sciences.” Gretchen was a varsity Purple Knight swimmer. The move-in drill therefore is “totally familiar,” says mom Patrice. Gretchen is along helping with the move-in, and clearly remembers moving into Ryan Hall as a first-year, though years ago. “This is bringing me back,” says Gretchen, who now is getting a master’s at Brandeis in public policy. “St. Mike’s prepared me well.” Her mother proudly notes that Gretchen lived in Hungary for a year after graduating, and while a student, went to India and Japan. “She took advantage – it’s a great school,” Patrice says.
  • Another arriving family from Saco, Maine, includes mom Valinda Bottin with new-student Jenica moving into Lyons third floor, joined by sister Katelynn. Jenica plans to major in psychology and minor in crime and justice, and will play varsity softball as a catcher. Nearby, the Shive Family had one of the shortest drives from Charlotte, right down Route 7 from campus. “We moved from Maryland a year ago to Vermont,” said the dad of Faith Shive. “She’s our fifth and last coming to college but the first time at St. Mike’s, and first time we had a welcome committee like this, and we’re liking it!” said Faith’s dad. “I’m super excited for her and a little sad, but it’s a good happy-sad because she’s where she needs to be.” Faith wants to study psychology and be a social worker. “She just wants to make good meaningful friendships,” her dad said.students and parents holding hands during mass service
  • All the way from Maryland had come the Clem family, with new student Shaun moving into Lyons – he’s the “first and one and only we’re sending to college, so it’s emotional,” says his mom. Shaun’s dad likes the welcoming committee that is unloading their vehicle, saying “I thought I was going to sweat today!” Mom says “It feels good to have my child come here and he’s taken care of from the very beginning so I appreciate that.” Shaun wants to major in neuroscience and become a surgeon, and he’ll walk on for lacrosse, his parents say. Later in the day his parents update that Shaun had a good meeting with the lacrosse coach and was encouraged. He attended Catholic high school in Maryland and the family skis in Vermont, with a family friend alum putting St. Mike’s on their radar, they say.
  • Over in Ross Sports Center, as usual, families arrive shortly before 9 and trickle in through the day to get keys to residences and learn about the main programs and services available to students. Ken O’Connell of the Mistudent athletes help new students move inlitary Family Service office said one of his new students stopped by “so I was happy I’d walked him through the process before he got here so he didn’t have to wait in line.” That student, Brennan, is a National Guard member and living in new veteran student housing in Boutin Commons 100s townhouse. Some other veterans include one who was a medic and so wants to major in premed. Another Marine veteran will start classes Monday too, O’Connell says.
  • Chatting nearby are Dawn Ellinwood, Student Life VP, who is lauding a “beautiful day and smooth transition for these students – our staff planned well and we’re doing what we have to do today.” Jonathan D’Amore and Tim Mackin from Academic Affairs said they have gotten everyone into classes and ready to go, with any glitches quickly settled. “This is a fun day and I find it exciting and kind of endearing to see the students,” says Mackin. “It’s a season of new beginnings,” adds D’Amore, who starts this year in a new role himself as Chief of Staff to President Sterritt after some years as associate dean.
  • Doug Babcock, director of public safety, stands by a table with his crew “trying to make sure kids know about opportunities and services like Livesafe, the app they can download to contact us 24/7.” He says with satisfaction that “between signage and proven traffic patterns and working with O-leaders and residence life, we’ve got the actual move-in down to a science.” The absence of congestion on the Quad outside testified to that.
  • Other offices talking to families included Student Financial Services which gamely handled a huge line at 9 a.m. that had died down within an hour: Mary Masson of the Bergeron Wellness CenterOrientation leaders in Ross gym  said “we just want to make sure students feel comfortable knowing where we are and how to access us if they don’t’ feel well”; some families had wondered already about flu shots, which are coming in October, she says.
  • President Sterritt was greeting families in Ross too during the first hour with her husband, Bert, who was wearing a T-shirt identifying him as “husband of president.” The president said the rhythms of the day were more familiar than when she was a brand-new arrival last year, since “I’m a sophomore this year!”
  • Mike Stefanowicz, director of Admission, chatted with St. Mike’s staffer Julie Luck and her daughter, Jaida, who is a first-year exploratory major and also works at the Early Learning Center where Stefanowicz’ s young son happens to be a client. Stefanowicz touted the Nominate a Knight Challenge, “President Sterritt’s signature initiative to encourage members of our community to send forth names of students who would really flourish here at Saint Michael’s.”The contest started August 23 — students vs students by class and the same for alumni. A table in Ross encouraged families to share names for the contest.
  • Fr. Michael Carter ’12 said he was a “free agent” representing the campus Edmundites by wandering about campus chatting up new families. Some he’d met already during summer student retreats at Saint Anne’s Shrine. Eben Widlund of the Adventure Sports Center staff was busy sharing about “all kinds of outdoor opportunities available – a great discounted ski pass to Sugarbush, and for first-years we have exclusive programming the first weekend of classes with hiking, rock climbing, sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking, whitewater rafting and mountain biking.” He said a big reason to be in school in Vermont “is that it’s so beautiful, and we’re the way to get outside and enjoy that.”
  • Laura Neville of the Career Education office touted an online platform called Handshake used to post campus student employment opportunities and other jobs and internships, and to access career coaches and job-related information.
  • The veteran O-leader students at the main campus entrance, about a dozen, had unflagging enthusiasm for hours as cars turned in, trucks and cars honked, and they waved signs and rang cowbells. Maddie Harrington of Bedford, MA, a rising senior biology major, said “We LOVE Saint Mike’s!” which kept them motivated.
  • Classics and Philosophy Professor Ron Begley was on campus as were many faculty, putting finishes touches on course syllabi. He’ll be teaching two sections ofPresident Lorraine and Bert Sterritt with Rosemary  Philosophy 103, “Pursuing Wisdom,” plus level Latin courses and elementary Latin. He spoke of a recently late Jesuit author he admires who asserts the importance of putting together a personal library and “cultivating a higher type literacy” while in college. “It’s not that one has to read a large number of books so much as read a small number of important books really well,” said the veteran classicist.
  • During the evening Convocation, which lasted almost an hour in the chapel, music was by emeritus music professor and organist Susan Summerfield, Interim VPAA Jeffrey Trumbower presided, Fr. Lino Oropeza and Anna Lester offered invocation and benediction respectively, Dean of the Faculty Tara Natarajan formally and ceremonially received the new class from Admission Director Stefanowicz; the students learned the Alma Mater; and Katelynn Briere ’20, Student Association president, drew wild applause from O-leaders who know her. Recalling her own move-in-day three years ago, she said, “I challenge you to reflect on what you want out of the next four years here …. I invite you all to be part of bettering our community,” however different that might look for each individual; she advised class members to “balance seriousness with careless laughter – and take care of yourselves.”

President Sterritt at the Convocation delighted in telling about Trustee Chair Michael Cunniff’s help with move-in, leading by example with his service; she urged students to seek help when they need it and to get enough sleep; she spoke of Edmundite charisms and traditions, and thanked parents for “entrusting us with your children for the next chapter of their lives.” Her main message to students, a favorite theme for the president, was that she hopes at Saint Michael’s they will learn to “do well and do good.”

Follow us on social.