Scooter the Cougar leads new Columbia College students through Rogers Gate during the annual “Storm the Gate” event August 27.
(Photos by Kaci Smart)

New Columbia College students lined up, one by one, in Southwell Complex to shake the hand of Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs David Starrett and receive the pin that would serve as a tiny, metal microcosm for their higher education experience to come.

The pin features Rogers Gate, the large stone archway leading onto Bass Commons, through which the students run the day before classes start in their first fall semester during the “Storm the Gate” event. Ivy is another prominent feature on the pin, the vines that Columbia College students drape themselves in on the morning of graduation day for the Ivy Chain ceremony, which has been a tradition at the college since 1900.

“This pin is to remind you of the commitment you’ve made to yourself, your classmates, the institution and the community,” Starrett told the 223 new students who took part in the Columbia College Traditional Pinning Ceremony on August 24. “It will be a memento for you to remember this first day, this new beginning, when you stood with your classmates, embarking on your journey full of enthusiasm or excitement over the unknown.”

The new student pinning ceremony kicked off this year’s Explorientation festivities at Columbia College, a series of more than 30 events beginning the week before the start of the fall semester (August 28) and ending with homecoming weekend (October 7).

At the pinning ceremony, after receiving their pins from Starrett, new students advanced to a line of the 10 department chairs, where the faculty affixed the pins to their shirts and the students started putting faces to the names of their instructors.

Student Government Association President Daymond Dollens, a junior, told the crowd that he likened a student’s path through school to riding a bicycle.

“Today is the day the training wheels come off,” Dollens said. “Free to ride without the assistance of your parents, they still remind you to wear your helmet, watch for traffic and give lots of other pieces of advice, but you’re riding on your own. All the efforts by your parents and teachers helped you build a strong reputation and a solid foundation. The way you ride that bike, who you ride it with and the decisions you make along the way will determine how safe you are and how far you will ride.”

Family and friends got the chance to take pictures with their new college pupils and wish them a fond farewell as they embarked on a new journey at Columbia College.

Check out the photo gallery below for images from move-in day at the dorms, the pinning ceremony, the “Let’s Get It Started” fun and games and Storm the Gate.