Maggie Flanagan/Staff Writeremail@example.com
This August, the traditional orientation schedule was shaken up in an attempt to give first years more time to themselves. Orientation leaders greeted new students with energy and support, continuing a longstanding St. Michael’s tradition.
Kerri Leach, the director of Student Activities said many were not fans of the crammed pace of three days of orientation. The idea was to slow things down and give students more free time.
“Post COVID, students are different students,” Leach said.
Leach and colleagues agreed that replacing the forced icebreakers with optional low-stakes activities was a positive, well-received change.
Leach said, in response to the Class of 2026’s recommendations, faculty extended orientation from three to four days. They designated a day entirely to move-in. This meant that all 53 orientation leaders had to maintain their enthusiasm for four days.
Libby Rossi ’26 was a first time orientation leader. She experienced orientation last year, before changes were made.
“Yes, it was less overwhelming, but it got tiring because we did it for so long over so many days,” Rossi said.
For that reason, “Fun for All,” an event where leaders dress up and put on a show for the students, was canceled. Instead, orientation leaders dressed in their costumes and brought ice cream to the dorms.
“It was way more inclusive to the first years,” Rossi said. “They were able to participate in it and enjoy ice cream.”
In addition, orientation leaders took their groups on personalized tours instead of the group “Empathy Walk.” Although the change was last minute due to weather and timing, it was a more personal way to connect with nervous students.
First-year student Ava Decamillis enjoyed her orientation experience. She said she felt her orientation leaders cared about her and worked hard to make connections. Although it was tiring by the end, she felt the schedule was spaced out nicely.
“I wouldn’t say it was better or worse, I think it was just different,” said Declan Wlochowski ‘24, a repeat member on the Orientation Board.
First-years Zoe Devine and Phoebe Hussey said their orientation experience was positive.
“The O-leader’s energy stuck around,” said Devine. Hussey agreed that the orientation leaders were welcoming.
In years to come, the Orientation Board, along with St. Michael’s students and faculty will continue to reexamine their methods and meaning behind orientation week.
Leach said, “It doesn’t seem like I can ever just copy and paste and do what I did last year. We have to constantly be rethinking it.”