HANNIBAL —If you passed by the gates of Hannibal-LaGrange University (HLGU) on Aug. 22, most likely you witnessed the arrival of many of the newest editions to the 1,200 students enrolled. The school’s enrollment now includes students from 26 states and 29 countries, with more than 800 served on the Hannibal campus and approximately 500 residing in campus housing.
As anxious new students and sentimental parents drove onto campus, they were greeted by HLGU President Anthony Allen, and his wife, Stacy, handing out cookies and bottles of water. From there they were led to their residence halls where they were welcomed with music, cheers and eager returning students – the “Swarm Squad” – ready to unload their cars and get them moved into their new home. Swarm Squad has been a Welcome Week tradition at HLGU for more than seven years. Their motto “we move so you don’t have to” fits their service.
Once settled into their dorm rooms, the new students and parents had free time to explore the campus and finish up any last minute paperwork. Mid-afternoon the new HLGU students gathered in the Mabee Sports Complex where they met with their New Student Orientation (NSO) Team Leaders and played icebreaker games in an effort to meet new friends and bond with their team. Meanwhile, parents were gathered in the Roland Fine Arts Center where they met a few of the faculty and staff of HLGU and received information about Homecoming.
At 4:30 pm parents, family, Swarm Squad members, NSO Team Leaders, along with faculty and staff of HLGU, lined the sidewalks from the Roland Fine Arts Center to the HLGU arch in preparation for the Walk of Honor. A bagpiper led the new students along the path of cheering spectators, encouraging each student on their new journey.
After each new student passed through the HLGU arch, Allen and his wife welcomed them again, this time with a handshake and a smile. Students then gathered around the Trinity Tree, located between the L.A. Foster Student Center and the Burt Administration Building, for a final word of encouragement, the alma mater, and a prayer of dedication.
On Aug. 23, the new students traveled to Camp Jo-Ota in Clarence, where they spent the day bonding with their new classmates while participating in a challenge course, climbing walls, and other activities meant to help foster the new friendships.
HLGU’s Welcome Week Saturday (Aug. 24) activities included time for freshmen to meet with their professors, various meetings, a scavenger hunt in downtown Hannibal, and a semi-formal Matriculation Banquet. On Sunday, (Aug. 25) the students started their day by choosing an area worship service to attend. The rest of the day was filled with time to meet and greet transfer/commuter students and enjoy the HLGU Activity Fair. This special event allowed the new students to find out more about area churches, activities, and clubs they could choose to become involved with on and around campus.
On Aug. 26, HLGU students took part in the annual Hannibal’s Helping Hands, a series of community service projects. This year, close to 200 students went out into the Hannibal community and performed more than 400 hours of community service. This community-based missions project provided support to 19 businesses and churches, including: the American Red Cross, Douglass Community Services, Hannibal Parks and Recreation, the YMCA, NEMO Humane Society, and Mark Twain Home & Museum.
On the morning of Aug. 28 Jeff Brown, director of campus life and spiritual formation, welcomed all students back to campus and to HLGU’s annual Convocation Chapel. Allen addressed the students with a message that focused on wisdom and making right decisions.
Allen referenced Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and emphasized that the road one chooses to follow will make all the difference.
“There are two gates, two ways, two destinations and two groups of people; two kinds of trees and two kinds of fruit; two groups at the judgment and two kinds of builders building on two kinds of foundations” Allen expressed. “Today I challenge you to take the gate that leads life, the road less traveled, build a foundation that will weather the storms of life and as we begin again a new school year that you consecrate yourself to God,” said Allen.
In closing, Jane Griffen, Music Department chair, led the congregation in singing the Alma Mater.
Other Welcome Week activities included a s’mores roast, a late night movie, dorm parties, and Capture the Flag. The activities concluded with a sand volleyball tournament.