By Maggie Bessell, Director of Student Engagement, Orientation and Intercultural Activities
It is fitting that the Fall Fest of our 250th year brought back Salem Spirit with a bang. Our campus life has been through a lot over the pandemic. Building back community is such an important aspect of our student life and a huge focus of our Student Affairs team here. Our Co-Chairs Sophia and Alex were adamant about making Fall Fest something to remember and helping new and returning students understand the importance of the tradition.
Salem is unlike any other institution. It is unique in that it encourages students from different majors to collaborate outside of the classroom to build something larger than themselves. Fall Fest is where that collaboration turns into siblinghood.
Every year students pick a theme to work together on. This year the theme was board games! Each of our classes showcased their creativity and their own unique perspective of Salem College with individual class themes. Seniors led us through a Salem Land Candy Land and landed on green, pink and blue for their colors. Juniors gave us a twist on Clue using purple and brown colors. Sophomores showed us what it means to find home in their red and orange rendition of Sorry! To wrap, the First Years took us on a wild yellow and gray ride through Jumanji.
We saw edible displays, conspiracy charts, a full cardboard cooktop and a rather impressive archway (shoutout to our first years) decorating the refectory early Fall Fest morning. Chants and Cheers were enthusiastically kicked off by our seniors with a very special rendition of Happy Birthday for our newest Fall Fest judge AJ Mazaris, Salem’s vice president for equity, diversity and inclusion, who was celebrating their birthday with us.
Morning and Parade skits had a strong showing from our classes and community members as faculty and staff gathered to watch our classes compete. There were conversations about front runners, excitement over possible future faculty collaborations and speculation on who would be each class’s walk-on (First Years: President Summer McGee, Ph.d., Sophomores: KateLynn Hodgkiss, Juniors: Steven Grinnel and Seniors: Wendy Hawkins and Victoria Burgos).
As the rest of campus took a nap or scurried around making last minute adjustments to their finale skit, local alum gathered on Clewell patio for some refreshments before the evening’s show. Stories were told of Fall Fests long ago and class ranks were shared. We had alums from the class of 1998 to the class of 2017 in attendance and are excited to incorporate this new tradition into future Fall Fest celebrations.
As the evening skits progressed, we saw high drama from our First Years, dedication from our Sophomores, showmanship from our Juniors and the Seniors pulled at our heartstrings the entire time. Our alums lead those gathered in old Fall Fest chants in between skits helping to bring back some beloved traditions.
We had record breaking participation in this year’s celebration and our classes set new standards for participation and really showed what it means to be a Salem Sibling.