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Today, it was Francis's turn to start his own lifelong connection with the William & Mary family. He joined about 1,400 other freshmen and 115 transfer students as they moved into the College's residence halls this morning as part of Freshman Move-In Day.
Cars began lining up before 7:30 a.m. around the campus' residence halls as parents and new students unloaded boxes, clothing, bedding and more.
About 228 move-in volunteers from the William & Mary community donned blue shirts with "Sweating For You" on the back. They quickly put those words into practice as they lugged everything from suitcases to fishing rods in the 90-plus degree heat.
Ericca Dent ('11) and some of her Delta Sigma Theta sorority sisters were among those who volunteered. Dent said they just wanted to show their faces to the new students -- to welcome them to their new home.
At the dorms, 163 students from residence life checked students into their rooms and provided directions and other guidance. Another 192 orientation staff members joined the effort and assisted students and families.
Like Francis Dejonckheere, John Donehey ('10) had a sister attend William & Mary before he did. Donehey is serving as an orientation aid for the second time this year. It's a role largely inspired by his sister, he said, because she helped him become familiar with the College. At the time, she was a senior and he was a freshman.
"She really gave me a link," he said. "I hope to do the same for the new students."
The morning began especially early for Kyrstin Mackrides ('13) and her parents who left their home outside of Philadelphia at 3 a.m. Despite the long trip and early morning, Mackrides' mom said that the moving-in activities had recharged them.
"We're energized now," said Shelby Mackrides, Kyrstin's mom.
Kyrstin will play lacrosse at William & Mary, and her lacrosse stick was included among the things she brought to the College with her. She also brought a plate of baked goods for her new roommate, whose birthday was today. Like many of the other new roomies on campus, the two met on the social network Facebook prior to meeting in person.
Though Shelby will miss her daughter, whom she called her "right-hand woman," she knows the family will be back often to visit.
"We love it down here," she said.
William Langhorn and his daughter Olivia ('13) will have their first reunion a little sooner than most of the other families. They will meet up again in a few weeks when William & Mary football takes on the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va., on Sept. 5.
Though Olivia has a family connection to UVA, she said she always wanted to come to William & Mary. Having gone to a small school in Roanoke with only 30 people in her class, she was looking for another small, close-knit community for her college years.
"I knew this is where I wanted to be," she said.
After the morning's moving-in activities, the new students and their families gathered in William & Mary Hall to be officially welcomed to the campus and community by President Taylor Reveley and Williamsburg Mayor Jeanne Zeidler. Other campus officials such as Vice President for Student Affairs Ginger Ambler and Associate Provost for Enrollment Earl Granger also addressed the crowd.
Reveley reminded students of William & Mary's unique place in history as the nation's second oldest college and also the beauty of its picturesque campus. But the president also said that William & Mary's "most precious inheritance" is a legacy of values.
"And among these crucial values is the ideal of service - and of leadership - the firm expectation that every member of this community, by joining with us as you have, also commits for a lifetime to share something of herself or himself with others," he said.
The new students even got a little taste of the history they have inherited. During the opening event, campus officials called out hall and room numbers of notable William & Mary alumni, including Pittsburg Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin ('95) and Jon Stewart (‘84), the popular comedian and host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show."
Reveley concluded his welcome by introducing the students to one of William & Mary's many traditions, leading the crowd in cheering "William" and "Mary" three times each.
The students then shouted their class year three times before the College's choir led the new members of the Tribe in singing the alma mater - their alma mater.