Scene on Campus: Day Four

It’s 8:05 a.m. in Ross Dining Hall.  A  young man enters and looks around nervously. He smiles in relief when a first-year counselor waves. “It’s Ben, right?” she asks. He nods, gets his food, and joins her group. At another table, a girl and guy sit together but a chair apart, not speaking. She opens up the yellow booklet with the first-years’ orientation schedule and bends her head over it.

By 8:35, the tables hold groups of six or eight students; some kids are quiet and look around awkwardly, others talk loudly, and smile and laugh. More kids stream in as they try to get breakfast before their 9:00 Commons meeting.

At a table of girls, one looks at her watch and the four rise in unison. They deposit their dishes on the conveyor belt and push through the doors into the warm sun.

Over in Bi Hall, Room 216 is still filling up.

It’s 10 minutes after 9.

Some kids are talking to their neighbors. Others sit waiting, fingers twisted together.

Wonnacott Commons Heads Will Nash and Deb Evans stand in the front of the room, facing the group, and with a few clearing of throats, the meeting begins.

Nash and Evans talk about the Commons as a community, a neighborhood.

Commons Coordinator Brenda Fizur invites students to her office where she always has home-baked chocolate chip cookies. Commons Dean Matt Longman ’89 talks about the history of the name Wonnacott.

James Tresner ’09, the Commons Residential Adviser, stands up, holding a wooden carved squirrel.

“This is Wonny, our mascot. Some interesting facts about Wonny: he has his own Facebook page and he lost an ear in a skydiving accident.”

The group laughs.

Now it’s time to become acquainted.

Each student stands up, holds Wonny, says his or her name and hometown, then states an interesting fact.

“I took a gap year and got my pilot’s license.”

Ooos and ahhhs.

“When I was five I jumped off the roof to see if I could fly.”

Laughs and groans.

“I once convinced someone that if they married a twin they’d have to marry the other twin too.”

Big laugh.

“I can touch my nose with my tongue.”

The group yells, “Do it!”

She does and everyone cheers.

By 10:15 the meeting is over.

Will Nash tells them to take a break; there are snacks in the hall.

In half an hour they’ll reconvene and, as a group, take care of the first bit of business of being a student at Midd for the next four years. They’ll learn about—and sign—the Honor Code.

Seems like the first-years are on their way.

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