Behind the scenes with Welcome Week 2012

May 12, 2012 | 9 a.m.

It's only May, but the Welcome Week committee is already planning to greet freshmen next fall

News | Abby Stocker

Behind the scenes with Welcome Week 2012

Laura Lambert and Lauren Berfeldt lead new student orientation in the Loft. | Jared Johnson

Every year has a word or phrase that frames the welcoming of an entire class of new freshmen and transfer students to a new year, new school and new life.

In 2010, they were “Seeking.” 2011 was “Pursue together.” And for 2012, the Welcome Week crew has chosen a word that they hope will inspire the entire Bethel community for the 2012-2013 school year: “Vitalize.”

“Galatians 2:20 talks about how it’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” said Nathan Freeburg, the associate dean of leadership and community development. “So ‘Vitalize’ . . . as you’re coming into Bethel, we want this to be a life-giving experience for you.”

The Welcome Week faculty and staff have been working since the middle of November to plan for this fall’s big bash.

Just before Thanksgiving, Freeburg and Heather Richards, the assistant dean of student programs, hired three student coordinators for Welcome Week 2012. This year’s leaders are Stephanie Skoog, Rene Kowlessar and Paul Moore. This team selected seven student committee heads, filling out the student leader positions and allowing the team to begin planning for the mid-year welcome in January.

In February, the student leaders, Freeburg and Richards, conducted interviews for the 65 student staff positions. “My schedule looked something like this: interviews, class, interviews, work, interviews, track, interviews, homework,” said Skoog. “Once everyone was hired we had an all-staff retreat, which was a time where the Welcome Week team was split up into their committees.”

There are seven committees of Welcome Week staff, and each one has a specific role. Visual Impact creates videos and takes photos. Community Development promotes “overarching unity,” according to Freeburg, mostly by writing and directing The Show. Team Development conducts core group training and organizes two Welcome Week events. The Transitions committee takes care of transfer and commuter students. Spiritual Development does Koinonia and spiritual support. The Service Team coordinates move-in logistics and a day of service during Welcome Week (called “Branching Out”).

Freeburg said that so far the Communications and Marketing committee has had the most work. They’re the ones responsible for the theme, graphics, colors and web layout. This year’s Welcome Weekers are sporting charcoal-gray shirts with white lettering and a graphic of a tree in Bethel gold. All committees will continue to do prep work until finals week, when they’ll essentially take the summer off before moving in about a week before Welcome Week officially commences on August 23.

But Welcome Week extends far beyond just the days in August when new students swarm Bethel’s campus. It involves much hard work and long hours throughout the year.

“Going to college is a hard transition, and I really appreciate everything that Welcome Week did my freshman year to help make that transition easier,” said Skoog. “I love being able to give back and hopefully impact someone else the way I was impacted.”

Freeburg noted that the week’s impact is largely due to the dedication of the students involved. “We really give them a lot of responsibility, and it never ceases to amaze me how they rise to that. I mean, they are really the ones that make or break that experience . . . . Year in and year out, I just see that they do a really good job of welcoming students into Bethel with the love of Jesus Christ.”

Seven committees and ten student leaders have 104 more days to prepare for the hundreds of incoming freshmen who will be welcomed to campus in August.

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