Name: Jennifer Burt
During Southern Utah University’s 2011-12 academic year’s Flight School, incoming students were welcomed and cheered on by SUU faculty, staff and students as they walked underneath the Carter Carillion bell tower for the first time on August 19. The next time they will walk under this prominent campus landmark will be their graduation day.
For the time being, it remains hallowed ground, reserved for those who hold an SUU diploma — the truest of T-Birds.
A tradition since 2009, SUU Director of Student Involvement and Leadership Keri Mecham says this is a unique opportunity for all incoming students.
Though on graduation day graduates walk east to west under the Carter Carillion, during Flight School the students do the opposite and walk west to east; almost like walking toward the sunrise, Mecham says.
“This idea is very ceremonial…This is the beginning of something new for these students,” she said.
Starting at the Centrum Arena, the incoming students walked with former students and SUU administrators up toward the Upper Quad. As they neared to the top of the stairs just west of the bell tower, the incoming students were welcomed by faculty, staff and current students, clad in red and cheering on the new Thunderbirds.
Juniors Nicole Roylance, an education major, and Logan Bunker, an economics major, are part of the first class that participated in this tradition. They both agree this is an amazing opportunity and were happy to participate in this tradition.
For Roylance, the opportunity was very welcoming. She added, “I felt like I belonged from the very beginning.”
Bunker said this tradition and even the presence of the Carter Carillion bell tower adds a lot of character to campus, defining the campus community and atmosphere from day one.
Since the tradition has only been around for three years, Mecham and SUU Coordinator for Student Engagement and Orientation Sheena Kauppila recognize not all students on campus have had the chance to participate in this tradition since their arrival on campus. However, they still encourage upper-classmen not to walk under the bell tower until their graduation day.
Kauppila says she can tell this tradition is something very near and dear to the students who participated and she added that those who have participated will often ask upper-classmen not to walk under the bell tower.
With a smile, Mecham adds, “After they get that diploma, they can walk under the Carillion all they want.”
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