New Student Orientation’s fifth year brings biggest crowd yet

In black shirts, freshmen pose for a class photos with their Lion Leaders, wearing orange shirts, sprinkled in the crowd at Playfair on Thursday night.
Photo used with permission from Angie Royal.

Lion Leaders get pumped to welcome freshmen students to Playfair, an event that uses games and activities to have students meet new each other. 

Video taken by Dacoda Scarlett

KAYLA DRAKE | Video Content Manager

More than 675 students participated in everything from a bonfire to an ice cream social during New Student Orientation this past week.

A majority of the students were freshmen, but a small amount were also transfer students. 

Over the course of five days, Student and Academic Support Services, Housing and Residential Life, Student Involvement, the administration and several other departments contributed to hosting more than 20 events.

The events included the traditional Playfair, Block Party, bonfire and NSO Unlocked, but also incorporated new events such as a “Minute To Win It” themed scavenger hunt, Academic Deans Welcome and a Diversity Ice Cream Social. 

Director of First Year Programs Sarah Leassner said the orientation was a collaborative effort and the participants were more present than in past years.

“The common theme was they showed up, and they were active,” she said. “From the group sessions to the social events, there was a feeling of ‘this class is all in.'”

In total, First Year Programs employed about 80 upperclassmen, called Lion Leaders, to lead freshmen activities, help with move-in day and be a welcoming face to new students. 

Sophomore Jordan Peters, who was a Lion Leader, said she really loved the experience because it pushed her out of her comfort zone. 

“I remember when I was a freshmen I was so nervous and scared,” she said. “My Lion Leaders really made me feel welcomed, so I wanted to be that for someone else.”

After the last day of orientation, Peters said she asked for all of her students phone numbers and snapchats in her group.

Freshman Nohea Uluave said she was not even expecting an orientation, but after going through this week she is more excited for school. 

“All the games and events gave a glimpse of how our freshmen year could be if we went out and did all the activities,” she said. 

The best advice Uluave said her Lion Leaders gave her was “this year depends on us and how we make it.” 

From left, freshmen Taylor Kirwan and Jada Burke heave to win tug of war for the black team at Pride Wars on Saturday in Evans Commons. 
Photo by Don Adams, used with permission from Angie Royal.
Freshmen Nick Dygert swings the oversized hammer up to win the carnival game at the Block Party on Friday night. 
 Photo by Don Adams, used with permission from Angie Royal.
Reynolds Community Adviser, Jami Clark anxiously watches as the gold team races to complete an obstacle course at Pride Wars.
 Photo by Don Adams, used with permission from Angie Royal.
Campus Activities Board workers TJ Tipton and Tara LeClere make cotton candy for students at the Block Party. 
 Photo by Don Adams, used with permission from Angie Royal.
Freshmen Valeriia Mamleeva attempts to climb the rock wall set up at the Block Party.
 Photo by Don Adams, used with permission from Angie Royal.
Freshman Nadia Maddox lifts up her hands in apprehension as the seconds count down and her team tries to build the tallest free-standing structure. 
 Photo by Don Adams, used with permission from Angie Royal.
Lion Leaders welcome freshmen to Playfair by screaming, clapping and giving out high-fives.
 Photo by Don Adams, used with permission from Angie Royal.
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About Kayla Drake 141 Articles
Kayla is our multimedia producer, so basically all things video and podcasts. She prefers to cover human interest stories because she believes we learn best by hearing personal testimonies of grief, passion, tribulation and activism. When Kayla is not editing or writing, most likely she is either hiking or eating. And by eating she doesn’t mean fast food, college grub, but the St. Louis restaurant scene (which is to die for). She is a proud St. Louisan and is passionate about being a part in the city's redemption. Look for the girl with the stickered out water bottle on campus and say hi.