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Warm Welcome

New students greeted by friendly reception on move-in day

There’s nothing like new beginnings. On Aug. 17, around 600 new students found theirs at Ohio Northern University.

Move-in day marks new students’ first official day as Polar Bears, and it’s only fitting that they are greeted with a reception just as special. As vehicles come cruising to campus, first-year students and their families are met with student volunteers waving dozens of signs with messages such as “Welcome Home,” accompanied by enthusiastic whoops and shouts. It’s a day of excitement, with an energetic buzz penetrating the entire campus.

For first-year students and their families, there’s bound to be some nervousness for this new experience. Mixed emotions well up inside them, and they may be anxious about this change. To reassure them, the ONU community goes to great lengths to make sure they extend a warm welcome.

The new students and their parents may feel overwhelmed when they arrive, so we do our best to overwhelm them with welcome,” says the Rev. David MacDonald, ONU’s chaplain, who has helped with move-in day for the last six years. “We want to help ease any fears or frustrations they may have about moving in.

Veteran students also remember this feeling all too well, and that’s why everybody does their best to ramp up the excitement, encouraging newcomers to shake off those nerves and look forward to what lies ahead.

Monica Coupe, a fourth-year pharmacy student and resident director of Founders Hall, dances as keys are distributed to freshman students.“I just love seeing the new students and families match our energy,” says Monica Coupe, a fourth-year pharmacy major and Residence Life member. “When we’re excited, then they get excited, and it just starts off a good weekend. Everyone here is super excited about wanting them to have the best experience at ONU.”

There are also plenty of helping hands to assist with the move-in process, aka Klondike’s Crew, comprised of volunteers from every walk of student life. Almost as soon as the family driver hits the brakes, Klondike’s Crew rushes up to the vehicle to carry belongings into the residence hall. The task is simple to do, but it’s an incredible relief to students and their families.

“I love everybody who helps and makes our lives easier,” says Kathy Woodruff, who dropped off her daughter Sabra on move-in day. “They come and help you get everything out of your vehicle and then make it magically appear in your room, so it’s fabulous.”

Ohio Northern University freshman Jenny Ellerbrock says goodbye to her father Mark Ellerbrock of Columbus Grove, Ohio.Overall, it’s a big day. For new students, it’s the day they truly become Polar Bears. For parents, the day signifies an important turning point for their students. Written all over their faces is the excitement that comes with starting a new adventure.

And move-in day is just the beginning, serving as a great kickoff to Welcome Weekend, one filled with fun activities to celebrate new beginnings at ONU, as well as a community service day throughout Ada and the surrounding communities.

"Welcome Weekend is packed with activities and energy throughout the four days of programming, and we want our new Polar Bears to feel that excitement from the minute they step foot onto campus,” says Jennifer Lambdin, director of the Office of Student Involvement. “The activities throughout Welcome Weekend are meant to help students integrate into the campus and Ada communities and become part of the Polar Bear family."

There are so many different pieces to move-in day that give it that special touch, from the colorful welcome signs to the personal messages written on the whiteboards outside of every residence hall room, and all of them have a way of saying “Welcome home, Polar Bears.”