Palm Beach Atlantic’s Student Development team has reimagined Welcome Week to create a safe, meaningful experience for incoming students.
Students will move in to their residence halls by appointment in the three days leading up to Welcome Week. Each residence hall will have its own Sailfish Start check-in, and students will find t-shirts and goody bags waiting for them in their rooms. Light nightly programming will help students settle in to their new home as their hall-mates move in.
“We want to make sure they’re set up for success and plugged in at PBA,” said Natalie Johnson, Student Activities, Involvement and Leadership director.
Welcome Week is Aug. 13-16. All activities will follow CDC and Sailfish Safe guidelines, including masks and social distancing, Johnson said. Students will participate in Welcome Week within their Fish groups: small groups of first-year students led by upperclassmen buddies. The incoming class will be divided into 70 Fish groups of no more than 10 people, Johnson said. The intimate groups foster authentic connections, she said.
“That really is the best way for new students to engage in a small group,” Johnson said.
Opening festivities will be broadcast to multiple classrooms, where students will watch with their groups. The Spirit Week challenge – in which groups compete in fun activities to earn the most points – will continue in a physically-distant way, Johnson said. Activities include a TikTok challenge and “Ready, Set, Sail,” an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt across campus. Staff coordinated the scavenger hunt in such a way that student groups will not cross paths, Johnson said.
Upon arrival, as is tradition, each student will sign a Class of 2024 banner furnished by Alumni Relations. Students will pose for a photo with the banner with their Fish groups, and the photos will be turned into a collage.
Students also will participate in Workship, the University’s long-standing community service program, by making blankets for a nearby senior-living community.
A First Year Experience class via Zoom will help students adjust to collegiate life. Students will hear from Ann-Marie Taylor, chief of Campus Safety & Security; Dr. Bob Lutz, vice president for Student Development and Kara Wenger, director of Residence Life & Student Accountability. A virtual panel will coach parents on what to expect when the semester begins.
Photo: A student waves a sign greeting a new class of PBA students during Welcome Week 2019. Please note: This photo was taken prior to COVID-19.