“By Tanja Staben”
On the weekend before school started, Rocky Mountain College welcomed their new students and offered them a broad program to help them get settled in. Tracy Mouser and Tim Lohrenz, with the help of many other faculty members and students, scheduled events so that new students could get to know each other, the Rocky community, and the campus.
On Sunday, Sept. 1, students had the option to either go to a two-day camp or to stay on campus. While the camp offered fun events like paintball, team bonding challenges, bonfires, and water pond activities, students on campus could get free coffee and donuts as well as participate in organized fun and events like pizza and bowling. Later in the afternoon, students had the opportunity to bond with each other in the Grand Escape Room and enjoy a nacho party at 9 p.m. in the SUB.
Students could jump into the new week with a free breakfast buffet, coffee, donuts, and organized fun on Monday, Sept. 2. A picnic lunch was offered at noon at the Veterans Park near the Soccer Field so that students could fuel up for their afternoon activities. The students could choose to head out on their own if they wanted to go shopping, explore the Billings Zoo, or test out an escape room. In the evening, new students had the opportunity to watch Jumanji and Central Intelligence at the Arthouse Cinema and enjoy dinner from Buffalo Wild Wings as well as a variety of popcorn.
The last day, Sept. 3, was the important Academic Day. The mandatory Academic Success Sessions started at 9.30 a.m. in the gym and informed the crowd about Services for Academic Success, the Academic Resource Center, the Leadership, Engagement, and Achievement Programs, and about the Writing Center.
After that, students met and ate lunch with their academic advisors. In the afternoon, Amber West Martin and Precious McKenzie introduced the freshmen to the First-Year Experience Program. To close Orientation Weekend, staff, faculty, and returning students were welcomed back with a BBQ on the Green.
Melodie Snyder, one of the team leaders for orientation, helped plan throughout the summer and worked “all day every day to make sure the logistics were right.”
But without many of the volunteer leaders, orientation would not be possible.
“We had a great turnout this year for orientation leaders,” said Snyder, “which made the weekend that much more easy and fun. The volunteers are just there to help guide students to their various locations and to help with anything that is needed. They are a huge part of orientation.”
Overall, she viewed Orientation as a success but also has improvements in mind. “Orientation went really well,” said Snyder. “We simplified things a lot compared to previous years so it made it easier for everyone working for orientation. It was the first year that we took new students to camp, so we definitely learned a lot from that and we can improve on a lot of logistics for the trip.”
Melodie hopes that the orientation leaders “learned to open up and be vulnerable with new students to help the new students’ transition to college a little easier. I also hope they learned patience and empathy, especially during challenge activities and forced fun.”
Relating to the new students, she explains her motivation to be a leader, “I wanted to be the team lead because I genuinely believe orientation can make the transition to college so much easier. Making connections and finding your community is essential in transitioning to college and being on your own. I think if new students make at least one friend they are more likely to stay at Rocky Mountain College.”
In the end, even though orientation was a lot of work for all of the volunteers and leaders involved, it was worth the positive experience and takeaway for the new students.