Gaston & Catawba

Hickory benefits from college's freshman orientation program

Welcoming what will be the first class of freshmen during its changeover to university status, Lenoir-Rhyne College last weekend held Prologue, a three-day program of orientation, bonding, hard work, relaxation and commitment to what it means to be a Bear.

As a big part of Prologue, 25 teams of young people last Saturday took part in “Hands on Hickory” – going out into the community to perform service projects at locations ranging from schools and nursing homes to local nonprofits.

One such group was led by L-R senior Kevin Watkins and sophomore Katie Withrock. The 16 young people and their leaders spent more than two hours working alongside families and staff at Hickory Day School . The new L-R students painted some 20 doors, plus door and window trim and benches.

A three-time Prologue team head, Watkins said he signed up to be a leader after his own good experience as a freshman.

The importance of giving back to your community is a key lesson of Prologue, Watkins said.

“‘Hands on Hickory' is probably my favorite part,” he said. “For the Prologuers, it's their best bonding experience. At the beginning we do all these ice-breakers and games, but there's something about working together that really brings people together.”

Prologue teams also stay together during their first semester, meeting with a professor to discuss this year's assigned Freshman Read book and to take LR 101, a required introduction to college life.

“They'll not only discuss the book in their LR 101 class ... but it's also like a support group as well as an academic environment,” Watkins said.

“Our goal is that by the time the upperclassmen come, (the freshmen) will be familiar with the campus, with each other and with some of the professors,” Watkins added. “Over the first semester they're staying plugged into the community as well as getting to stay with each other.”

Kate Adair, president of the Hickory Day School Parents' Association, really appreciated students' efforts. “They all had such nice attitudes,” Adair said.

“They were just getting started in their semester and some were tired – this was one of the first things they had to do – but all were eager, interested and polite,” Adair said.

Janice Dollar, Hickory Day's head of school, said it was the school's first year to work with L-R's Prologue program but that she looked forward to seeing the freshman students again.

“We're going to look for opportunities to continue our relationship with this class,” she said. “We hope that throughout this year, they might come out again, and that it's a relationship they might like to have,” she said.