Seven Traditions That Made Me Love St. Lawrence

Elizabeth Palmer
Class of: 

Pub cookies, candlelight and the alma mater. These are the things that come to mind when I think back on the many events and traditions that I have attended as a Laurentian. The St. Lawrence community is as tight-knit as they come and I believe that part of what makes our connections so strong is the experiences we’ve shared. Whether you graduated decades ago or have just finished your first semester at St. Lawrence,  you probably remember what it felt like to march off with your FYP at Matriculation, light your neighbor’s candle on the Quad or dance at your first Fall Fest. It is with the memory of these traditions that students bond with alumni and friends reminisce over brunch at Dana. The following seven traditions make up some of my most prominent St. Lawrence memories and have made me truly love being a Saint.

1.       Matriculation

After a summer of dorm shopping, planning classes and nervous anticipation, you’ve finally made it to Move-in Day. Maybe your new dorm is decorated to perfection, or maybe you still have half unpacked suitcases scattered around the room. Either way, your Orientation Leader will stop by to gather you for Matriculation. Your family trots over to Creasy Commencement Commons with the rest of your FYP and waits for your soon-to-be induction into the Laurentian community. The bagpipes play, President Fox welcomes your class, and when your FYP is called, you say goodbye to your family and walk off into the Enchanted Forest with people who are now strangers, but will soon be your family away from home. Matriculation is a day of anxious excitement and it marks the beginning of an opportunity-filled, lively adventure that you will embark on during your next four years at St. Lawrence.

2.       Theme Dinners

Everybody has their own preferences when it comes to Dana Dining Hall. Some of us count down the days to Chicken Tender Night while others light up when they see the Stir Fry Station. All of us can agree, though, that theme dinners bring us some of the best meals at our home away from home. Each theme dinner offers a different allure, like binging on chicken wings at the Pre-SuperBowl Dinner or trying local foods at the Adirondack Dinner. My personal favorite is the Thanksgiving feast we get to enjoy twice a year. As if one Thanksgiving wasn’t enough, St. Lawrence lets us celebrate the holiday twice by preparing a huge dinner in celebration of both the Canadian and American Thanksgivings!

3.       Candlelight Experience

Any college student can probably remember their first night away from home, but each Saint's memory of their first night at St. Lawrence have a special element thanks to the Candlelight Experience. After a somewhat stressful, but incredibly exciting day of moving in to your dorm and meeting lots of new people, you end the day surrounding the quad with your fellow class members. President Fox’s voice booms through the summer night air and your future friends' and classmates' faces are slowly lit up as the candles you hold are illuminated one by one around the quad. I can clearly remember standing next to my classmate, and now best friend, listening to the chapel bells ring nineteen times to signify our Class of 2019 as we lit our candles. The Candlelight Experience is a tradition every Laurentian experiences once during their time at St. Lawrence and remembers fondly for years to come.

4.       SLU Vs. Clarkson Hockey Games

If you aren’t a hockey fan when you come to St. Lawrence, you definitely will be by the time you leave. My favorite weekends tend to begin with a trip to the concession stand for a Pub Cookie and a good seat in the student section of Appleton Arena. The excitement surrounding the cold ice of the hockey rink is always present, but adding an intense rivalry to the mix makes for an atmosphere like no other! I never considered myself a fan of any sport, but singing “When the Saints Go Marching In” over the sound of a particular green and gold Pep Band can sway any Saint into being a devoted hockey fan. Our rivalry is longstanding and passionate, and it makes for some of the best St. Lawrence experiences!

5.       Candlelight Service

Not to be confused with the Candlelight Experience, the Candlelight Service takes place every holiday season. Finals are approaching, the campus is typically covered in snow, and Saints find refuge in Gunnison Memorial Chapel to celebrate the season of giving. We listen to speakers from a variety of faiths and beliefs, sing songs and, of course, light candles. The Candlelight Service is one of the traditions that I felt most tied to my fellow Laurentians after attending. The memory of singing the alma mater along with the University Chorus surrounded by candlelight, friends and professors is a noteworthy part of my experience at St. Lawrence. Whether it’s the Candlelight Service or Doggy De-stress Day, some of the best St. Lawrence traditions take place under the wacky, stained-glass windows of our chapel.

6.       Fall Fest and Spring Fest

Do these really need explaining? The perfect end to a long week is a huge, on-campus concert, and once a semester we get that perfect end to our week! The week leading up to Fall Fest and Spring Fest is filled with energy. When the day finally comes to put on the outfit you’ve been planning for days and trek down to the Intramural Fields that are now the host of an enormous stage, it’s easy to dance the night away in the atmosphere of great live music and even better company. Whether you choose to dance in the heart of the crowd or celebrate with a picnic on the hill overlooking the festivities, Fall fFest and Spring Fest are always a perfect, momentary distraction from the stress of classes.

7.       Moving-up Day

Moving-up Day is one of the last big events of the spring semester, and I was lucky enough to participate in this tradition as a first-year student! During Moving-up Day, the academic departments hand out awards to students who excelled in their studies over the school year. As someone who had just finished their first year of introductory courses and was still trying to figure what path to pursue academically, listening to what my peers had studied and accomplished was a huge inspiration. I listened to professors speak proudly about their students who had been accepted to graduate and professional schools, written papers so good they were being incorporated into the class’s assigned readings, or had demonstrated a profound dedication to the study of their subject in various ways. As I listened to my peers' accomplishments, I realized how much opportunity there was for me at St. Lawrence. The Moving-up Day ceremony was a motivating experience that made me genuinely proud to be a Saint.

When I look back on the experiences at St. Lawrence that made this place so special to me, I remember the traditions I took part in that many students have done before me, and many more will after me. For me, these traditions bring back memories of warm Pub Cookies overlooking the chilly ice in Appleton Arena, the light of hundreds of candles surrounding the Quad and the singing of the alma mater with my friends and fellow Laurentians. Whatever those memories are for you, I hope you remember them with fondness and pride for St. Lawrence.