It’s official. The 2015-16 academic year is off and running, and it started with a Welcome Week and Explorientation packed with unforgettable events.

Things kicked off with early move in Aug. 19, and the first members of the Class of 2019 trickling in. By Aug. 20, campus was bustling as the second largest group of students in the history of the New Student Pinning Ceremony packed into Launer Auditorium to participate in the campus tradition. That afternoon, 177 new students were officially inducted as Cougars while their families cheered them on.

Following the ceremony, a class photo was taken on Bass Commons before parents and students said emotional goodbyes – at least until Labor Day weekend. The students then adjourned to “Let’s Get it Started” in Southwell for a series of fun, high-paced adventure activities.

Students took in a performance by the Elysium Players Aug. 21 to learn about making good choices in the college environment before heading back to Southwell for an evening of karaoke, basketball, volleyball, crafts, Wii and board games, and a photo booth at “Chaos in the Cage.”

Aug. 23, the evening before the first day of classes, new students gathered with faculty and upperclassmen in front of Columbia College for the ultimate tradition: Storm the Gate. There was a feeling of autumn as the students rushed through Rogers Gate and onto Bass Commons.

The Welcome Back Bash Aug. 25 on Miller Lawn featured dinner, music, inflatable games and another chance for students to mingle and to get to know each other. Several fun activities for transfer and returning students rounded out a week that many students won’t soon forget.

Enjoy the video highlighting the week’s activities, and welcome to campus, Cougars!