August 29, 2011

Here comes the Class of 2015

A string of spirited orientation events caps off two days of move-in

In a synchronized swirl of activity, members of the Class of 2015 checked into the Homewood campus last week to begin their college adventure.

Cars, trucks and vans, all stuffed with cargo, lined up in caravan fashion on Wednesday and Thursday as the freshmen moved into Johns Hopkins residence halls. It was a tale of two days: one sunny, one decidedly damp. Just days before Hurricane Irene was expected to knock on the mid-Atlantic’s door, heavy rains hit the area on Thursday, causing move-in volunteers to don clear blue ponchos and wield large sheets of plastic to protect the precious cargo from the elements.

Nearly 360 upperclassman volunteers, among them representatives of 25 student groups, helped parents unload the vehicles as students checked into their housing and took in their new surroundings.

In a nod to the 1990s dance tune popularized by the Madagascar movies, the volunteers all wore versions of “I Like to Move It, Move It” blue T-shirts, some sporting the initials of the student groups. President Ron Daniels, who also wore a “Move It, Move It” T-shirt, welcomed students and families on Wednesday morning. He darted from vehicle to vehicle, meeting as many new faces as he could.

The big move-in kicked off a whirlwind four-day period for the 1,245 new students, who begin classes today. After settling in, they took part in a string of orientation events, including campus tours, a movie night (Madagascar, of course), an ice cream social, open houses, and the frenzied and interactive Playfair, an orientation tradition now in its second decade at Johns Hopkins.

For Playfair, the entire freshman class filed shoeless into the O’Connor Recreation Center gymnasium to first make a human tunnel. With music pumping, RA’s screaming and the Johns Hopkins Blue Jay dancing, the tunnel got increasingly larger until the master of ceremonies, Newton Kaneshiro, asked the freshmen to turn the tunnel inside out, forming a sort of human millipede that snaked around the gym floor. What followed was a series of quick icebreakers and activities—including a massive game of rock, paper, scissors—that allowed the incoming class to get better acquainted and feel some school spirit.

A Deans Assembly for the entire class was held on Friday, a busy day for the new class that ended with a semiformal Blue Jay Ball on Levering Plaza.

The freshman class was selected from a record-setting 19,388 applicants. The group hails from 46 states plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and numerous foreign countries. The new class is Homewood’s most diverse ever, with 18 percent coming from underrepresented minority groups, including 136 Hispanic/Latino students and 94 African-American students. Among those enrolled are 14 Baltimore Scholars, students from Baltimore City high schools who receive free tuition from the university.