ELKINS - Sycamore Street may see a little more activity this weekend as Davis & Elkins College students make their way to campus for the start of the fall semester. New students arrive Saturday and upperclassmen return Sunday.
Various events – both new and traditional – are planned for students throughout the weekend and the community is invited to the Last Night of Summer Carnival on Sunday featuring live music, carnival games and concessions.
New students and their families will have a chance to see what the Elkins area has to offer as more than 25 vendors set up booths in The McDonnell Center for the orientation check-in and Welcome Fair from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
Once students check in, student-athletes will be available to assist them with moving into the residence halls. The entire campus will have an opportunity to get acquainted at the Welcoming Picnic from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in the Augusta Dance Pavilion. The picnic will feature live music by Neotronic, a three-piece band from Elkins that performs a mix of electronica, reggae, Latin and jazz music.
Highlighting the afternoon is the Davis & Elkins time-honored Matriculation Convocation in which members of the College Board of Trustees, senior administrators, faculty and staff welcome freshmen to the D&E community. The students will make a processional from Booth Library to Myles Center for the Arts Harper-McNeeley Auditorium, much like the walk they will take for commencement. The ceremony will take place from 2:45-4 p.m. and includes an address by retired Marine Cpl. Brandon Rumbaugh.
At the age of 18, Rumbaugh joined the U.S. Marines and after completing one tour in Iraq, he was deployed to Afghanistan. His life dramatically changed one day during a routine security patrol. As he attempted to aid a fellow Marine who was wounded from stepping on an improvised explosive device (IED), Rumbaugh triggered a second IED resulting in the loss of both of his legs. He spent nearly two years in extensive medical therapy before returning to his home in Uniontown, Pa.
Having dedicated his life to his country, Rumbaugh is now committed to serving his community through charitable works and inspiring others with his motivational story of perseverance, loyalty and faith. Davis & Elkins College Vice President for Student Affairs Scott Goddard said Rumbaugh is the perfect choice for delivering the address in conjunction with the New Student Orientation theme of Follow Your Heart.
“When you think about difficult situations, Brandon Rumbaugh has been there, done it and lived to tell about it, but barely,” Goddard said. “Every single day he fights, and works to motivate others to keep fighting whatever war they may be facing in life. Brandon’s presence radiates, and his story will resonate with everyone in attendance on Saturday, reminding all of us that no matter what we have been through or are going through, we can overcome it.”
Trustee and alumnus Robert Gregory, ’59, provided financial support for Rumbaugh’s visit. Gregory spent more than 27 years in the U.S. Navy, retiring as a captain.
After the convocation, new students, parents and family members are invited to the President’s Reception at Hearthstone beginning at 4 p.m. The event gives families a chance to connect with President Chris A. Wood and First Lady Lisa Wood, as well as faculty and staff members. The reception concludes at 5:30 p.m. with a new tradition in which the students and their parents will walk down the wooded path from Hearthstone to campus to go their separate ways.
That evening, new students will be entertained with the high-energy, fun-filled “Playfair: The Ultimate Icebreaker” and treated to s’mores.
On Sunday, new students will spend the day participating in the Follow Your Heart initiative, a series of interactive learning experiences designed to encourage students in thought and reflection about their purpose in life. Opening remarks will be given by Wood and Rumbaugh. The initiative is made possible in part by a grant from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) and the Council of Independent Colleges, with funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc.
Also on Sunday, returning students will check in at The McDonnell Center, and student-veterans and their families will be welcomed with a brunch on the Graceland veranda.
The opening chapel service takes place at 8 p.m. in Robbins Memorial Chapel. The kick-off event features upbeat music led by students and a message relating to new beginnings at D&E.
The public is invited to help celebrate the new academic year with the annual Last Night of Summer Carnival from 8:30-11 p.m. at the Outdoor Amphitheatre. The free event, presented by the Office of Student Life, Student Assembly and the Campus Activities Board, includes concessions, live music by Chris Jamison from “The Voice” and carnival games. Merging pop and blue-eyed soul, Jamison’s debut EP, “I Am Chris Jamison,” was released in August 2016 and peaked at No. 4 on the iTunes Pop Charts.
Classes for all students begin Monday, August 21 and various student-centered activities are planned throughout the week.
Related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Davis & Elkins College is located in Elkins, 2 hours east of Charleston, 3 hours south of Pittsburgh and 4 hours west of Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit the College website at www.dewv.edu or call 304-637-1243.