Students at Missouri State University-West Plains (MSU-WP) took full advantage of this year’s Welcome Week activities to make new friends and learn more about the campus.
Held during the first week of the fall semester, Welcome Week includes a variety of activities and events designed to bring students together to make new connections and learn more about the campus. In the past, activities have included picnics, dodge ball tournaments, water games and scavenger hunts.
“Overall, we had an awesome turnout from the student body at this year’s Welcome Week events,” said Jared Cates, coordinator of student life and development.
“The students really enjoyed themselves, and it was great to see them forming new friendships and building a sense of community on campus.”
This year’s Welcome Week schedule included a free concert by vocalist and musician Noah Hoehn at the amphitheater, a Build-Your-Own-Grizzly-Bear Workshop, student organization fair, “Sample West Plains” featuring booths by local businesses and organizations, a diversity mixer and a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
An estimated 675 students participated in the activities, Cates said.
“This year, we switched up the logistics of the Student Organization Fair and Build-Your-Own-Grizzly-Bear Workshop. Instead of hosting these events separately, we decided to combine them into one event and witnessed more student participation, as a result,” Cates explained.
“Traditionally, the Student Organization Fair has been held in the Student Recreation Center; however, we thought it would be more fitting to host it within the Carol Silvey Student Union this year. After all, student organizations are a big part of what unites our campus community,” he added.
“Overall, we had over 200 participants walk through the fair, and, as an added bonus, they had the opportunity to make-and-take their own stuffed Grizzly bear, too.”
Activities were slightly modified due to the ongoing pandemic, with masks being required at some indoor events, but that didn’t seem to take away from the fun.
“This year’s Welcome Week was GRIZZ-tastic! Although masks played a part in our events, it didn’t stop students having the time of their lives, making new friends, and starting off the year with great experiences,” said Student Government Association (SGA) Vice President Sophie Burns, Granite City, Ill.
The week concluded with the New Student Convocation at the West Plains Civic Center theater. Guest speaker was Missouri State University System President Clif Smart, who gave students some words of encouragement for the new academic year.
Students also signed the Book of Grizzlies, a symbolic activity of becoming an MSU-WP student and a Grizzly.
Since last year’s convocation was canceled due to the pandemic, students who were freshmen in fall 2020 were invited to sign the book this year, as well.
A total of 160 students signed the book this year.
“After foregoing convocation last year due to the pandemic, it was wonderful to have our new students - those who were new last year and those who are new this year - sign our Book of Grizzlies. It has become a rite of passage for our students, letting them know they belong here, and they will forever be a part of our campus,” said Dr. Michael Orf, dean of academic affairs.
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