Northland College welcomed one of the largest classes of students in celebratory fashion. Under blue skies and sunshine, Drummer Stevie Matier led 215 or more new students across Fenenga Bridge to the campus mall. Students each carried a stone embossed with their name in their hand—many gathered during their Outdoor Orientation trips in previous weeks—to drop into a basket.
Just as the stones have been shaped and polished by nearby Lake Superior, the greatest of the Great Lakes, students will collect their rocks upon graduation in 2023 having been shaped by their experiences and education at Northland College.
Under a white tent, Director of Alumni Relations Jackie Moore ’05, Chief Operating Officer Karl Solibakke, Interim Dean of Students Melissa Harvey, Associate Dean Wendy Gorman, Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator Ruth de Jesus, Northland College Student Association leadership, and President Marvin Suomi welcomed students.
“When the first leaders marched down Ellis Avenue and laid the cornerstone at Wheeler Hall more than 125 years ago, it was a statement and a commitment that continues today—this college keeps an open door to people of all races and all genders,” President Suomi said.
“[In the 1970s], the curriculum was extended to the environment—it is now the lifeblood and the commitment of this College. I hope you will understand it and embrace it during your four years here.”
With a round of cheers and applause, it was time for the Everybody Party, hosted each year by the Northland College Student Association. Students, faculty, and staff streamed out of the tent and onto the mall, following a long line of tables set up around the rim by campus clubs and organizations. The Sailing Club had their sailboat, the Mino Aki Gardens crew sliced fresh cucumbers, and the Society for Creative Anachronism dressed in Medieval garb, of course. There was also badminton, corn hole, frisbee, slackline action, and general revelry.
The community then feasted on Sixth Street Market brats; Ashland Baking Company buns and cookies; Hermit Creek Farm, Great Oak Farm, and Mino Aki veggies; Spirit Creek Farm sauerkraut and kim chi; and corn and watermelon from Wheatfield Hill Organics, the family farm of Danny Simpson ’18, assistant manager of the Hulings Rice Food Center.
“The energy and enthusiasm students brought to food preparation was contagious and seeing values of local, ethical, and sustainable food reflected in a meal added flare to the festivities,” Simpson said. “Community feeding community is about as good as it gets.”
The evening proceeded with the music from the student band, Bad Columbus, and concluded with grooves from the Chequamegon People’s Orchestra, with lead singer and Instructor in Environmental Science and Math Specialist Jodi Supanich.
“It was magical to witness everyone dancing, singing, and having so much fun together under the tent, under the stars on a perfect late summer night, there was such a feeling of joy and love that permeated the whole evening,” Supanich said. “It was honestly probably the best gig the band has ever had.”