St. Johnís welcomes class of 2017
Annapolis President Christopher Nelson referenced Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland during his welcoming speech on August 21 to the freshman class, undergraduates, parents, faculty, and staff. He likened Alice’s fantastic journey in which she had “become detached from herself and was looking at that self in wonderment” to students’ journeys in a liberal education during the next four years and beyond. “Along the way, you will likely find yourself in some rabbit hole and may discover a whole new world beneath you that you will have never imagined before,” says Nelson. “It is this exercise of the imagination and this recovery of the power of wonder that will set you free.”
Before the afternoon ceremony got underway, freshmen arrived with their families early in the morning – with books, blankets, guitars, and mini fridges in tow – to gather their room keys, settle into their dorm rooms, and get acquainted with their fellow classmates and new surroundings. For Gabrielle Feliciani (A17), coming to St. John’s has been a journey that was years in the making. “I first came to St. John’s in 2011 for the Summer Academy, and I immediately fell in love with it here,” says Feliciani. “After the program finished some of the other participants and I kept in touch through a book club that we formed, which met regularly via Skype.” By 4 p.m. Feliciani and her classmates donned their gowns, ready for the academic procession to Convocation.
At St. John’s, Convocation is rich with traditions that symbolize what it means to be part of this community of learners. The Convocation ceremony began with the academic procession, led by tutor David Townsend, from the steps of McDowell Hall to the Francis Scott Key Auditorium. There, each freshman was called on the stage to meet President Nelson, sign his or her name in the college’s register, and receive an Ancient Greek lexicon as a gift from the college. This year, the Annapolis campus welcomes 124 freshmen from throughout the United States and 12 foreign countries, including Israel, Korea, Chile, Turkey, China, Nigeria, Columbia, Spain, and the Republic of Georgia, among others.