Chapel tradition was back for new students, starting the academic year on an up note

After pause last fall during pandemic, gathering again in person last Friday was "joyful," President Sterritt tells masked evening assembly that kicked off orientation and a good first week of class

September 2, 2021
Mark Tarnacki
Staff Writer
out process

New students leave the Chapel after last Friday’s Convocation as “O-leaders” light candles. (photos by Alex Bertoni)

Freshly arrived first-year students from the Saint Michael’s Class of 2025, side-by-side together for the first time, filled most the Chapel of Saint Michael the Archangel at the New Student Convocation last week, August 27, after the pandemic kept it from happening last fall. The entirely masked assembly heard inspiring short messages of welcome and guidance from President Lorraine Sterritt along with faculty and student speakers, learned the Alma Mater song as is traditional, and pledged to “adhere to the highest standards of academic integrity, and strive for honesty and authenticity in all that we do.”

President Sterritt (top large photo behind headline) said that greeting the class in person was a great joy this year after last year’s limitations. “The circumstances under which you start this journey are challenging, and though our community and our world are moving in a hopeful direction, the challenges are real,” she said, adding that the Saint Michael’s community “is steadfast and it is ready.”  The president said these new class members have developed qualities under recent stressful societal conditions that are important for success: courage, resilience and hope. She exhorted them to follow the model of Saint Michael’s students who came before them, to do the best possible in their studies, to savor their education, and use it to do good in the world.

antonio

Antonio Finsterer speaks.

The traditional student welcome came from Antonio Finsterer ’22, Student Association president. He built his brief but focused and inspirational remarks on a single important word: “growth,” based on his own experience of growth since coming to the college – He offered his best piece of what he called “cliché advice” that is nevertheless valuable: “We were born with two ears and one mouth and that is the ratio we should listen and speak.”

“You now have the freedom to explore yourself in a new light … in a new place with new faces and opportunities,” said Finsterer, who wished the new class luck and health in the coming semester,  concluding that “we all have room for growth.”

Doyon

Steve Doyon addresses the class.

This year’s faculty speaker was Business Administration & Accounting Instructor Steven Doyon, MBA ’88, winner of the 2020 Joanne Rathgeb Teaching Award, who asked the newcomers to keep in mind what he called the “five C’s for success”: Consider, Communicate, Collaborate, Connect with the Career Education Center, and Commit to integrity. He spoke of the Edmundites’ ethos of service, and said faculty and staff “are ready to meet and work with you, to share knowledge, and to provide advising and support as you choose among enriching coursework, diverse opportunities for personal and professional growth, and work together to improve our campus and surrounding communities.” He advised them further to “Enjoy each class, give your best to each assignment, take one positive step and make one good choice at a time to achieve your goals and to make the most of your Saint Michael’s experience.”

The program also included music from Susan Summerfield, professor emeritus of music, at the organ for a processional and Alma Mater segments; Invocation from Fr. Brian Cummings, SSE ’86, director of Edmundite Campus Ministry, introduction from Vice President for Academic Affairs Jeffrey Trumbower, ceremonial “transfer” of the class from Enrollment & Marketing VP Kristin McAndrew to Dean of the Faculty Tara Natarajan, and a benediction from Campus Minister Anna Lester ’98, M’11. Seniors singing the Alma Mater were Emma Bisaillon ’22, Azriel Finsterer ’22 and Anna Witkowski ’22. Jane Viens of Academic Affairs organized the ceremony.

artsy view

An artistic and spiritually inspiring view of the New Student Convocation from the Chapel balcony.

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