Reinventing Welcome Weekend wonder

By Kait Bedell – News Editor

Orientation leaders group together for a photo during the sophomore boat cruise Welcome Weekend event. Photo courtesy of Sabrina LeBlanc.

Lasell kicked off the school year with an in-person Welcome Weekend after a year of COVID-19 changed how students engaged with the community.

This year’s Welcome Weekend looked different from last year as masks and social distancing were no longer required and in person events returned.

“Every Lasell Laser Welcome Weekend is designed to help create memories, connections, engagement, and make all new students (and this year, also sophomores) feel welcomed to Lasell, Newton, and Boston,” former Director of Student Activities Jennifer Granger Sullivan said. “I think the weekend serves as a tradition that all students look back on fondly.”

The weekend was a three day event from September 6 through 8 and included several different activities for first-years and sophomore students including a boat cruise in Boston as well as a karaoke and s’mores night.

Granger said she wanted to prioritize the inclusion of sophomores in this year’s Welcome Weekend since their introduction to the university last year was different than that of others.

Due to the pandemic, the sophomore class was the first class to not have the traditional boat cruise when they first got to school. In order to keep the 15 year old tradition alive, Granger said she made it a priority to make sure the sophomores got the experience this year.

“I wanted to make sure they were able to get settled, make connections, feel welcomed and or welcomed back, and get their own boat cruise,” Granger said. “Last year was such an unusual year, I think it was a great idea to have the new students and sophomores come to campus early.”

Granger said COVID-19 made the planning of Welcome Weekend more challenging than usual as her and other organizers had to deal with regulation changes and being short staffed.

“In general though, I think we over- came or figured out how to handle each of these challenges,” Granger said. “The weekend was successful and was fun and safe.”

According to Granger, planning for Welcome Weekend began in January when those involved began brainstorming about each of the various events.

Granger said the busiest months are April through September as the events start to come to fruition and the planners make everything come to life. “There is a lot of time and energy that goes into perfecting each of our orientation programs,” Granger said.

Students who attended the events said they enjoyed the weekend and they were excited to have a more normal experience than last year. “I loved the events and the fact that we get to be in person this year for almost all of them makes me so happy,” senior Resident Assistant (RA) Melaney Jenkins said.

Jenkins was an RA last year while the pandemic was at its peak and said she thought it was important for Lasell to have an active community this year.

“I think that Welcome Weekend al lowed not only first years to connect with one another, but also allowed the sophomores who have never been on campus to start to build their own connections as well.”

Granger said she is happy with how the event went this year and hopes the Lasell community can go back to offering the experience to the same level as pre-pandemic.

“I think the pandemic really showed us how to continue to evolve and be creative,” Granger said. “I think Lasell Laser Weekend has always served as a place to connect, engage, and feel welcomed.

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