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Moving in: University of Jamestown freshmen start orientation

John M. Steiner / The Sun Students and parents of the University of Jamestown were busy moving into dorms Thursday. Classes begin Monday at the university, and about 260 freshman students are expected.1 / 2
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The newest class of Jimmies arrived Thursday, and, along with buying textbooks, navigating campus and saying goodbye to Mom and Dad, the freshman students are also busy with orientation activities aimed at preparing them for class and helping them make friends.

"I'm a little nervous, but it's exciting," said Jeremy Wirtz, an incoming business administration freshman from Underwood, N.D.

Wirtz said the student orientation counselors and the planned activities were encouraging.

"I think it's a good ice-breaker," he said.

The students were put into groups of about 15 to 20 students, which are also their Journey 101 classes, said Lori Listopad, director of new student orientation. Journey 101 is designed to orient students to the University of Jamestown campus and to educate them on college life.

During the day Thursday, the about 260 freshman students milled around campus buying books, getting dorm keys, moving in and filling out various paperwork. The actual orientation activities began at 6:30 p.m. with a welcome convocation that Listopad described as "more like a pep rally."

"It's just a fun kick-off for the start of the school year," she said.

Other activities planned for the weekend include several games, various meetings to acquaint students with the professors in their majors and residence hall meetings for students to meet their resident assistants and fellow dorm-mates.

"It's our job to keep (the new students) distracted so they aren't missing home," said Grayson Leder, a resident assistant for Watson Hall, one of the campus' two freshman dormitories.

While student activities last all weekend, there were also parent orientation activities planned until noon today, Listopad said. One of the parent activities was a set of skits acting out "college life," she said.

Moving the new students in went well, said Blaze Culliton, Watson Hall resident director.

"It's been pretty steady all day long," he said.

One of the most interesting parts of student orientation is seeing the freshmen meet their roommates for the first time, Culliton said.

Students also said Thursday's move-in went well.

"It's good," said Bria Taber, an incoming biology major from Fargo. "It's easier than I thought it would be."

Some members of the basketball team helped Taber move into her dorm, since she'll be joining the team this year.

"That's really special," said Taber's mom, Jane.

Taber and her parents agreed that university staff were really nice and helpful.

"It's a great atmosphere," Jane Taber said.

New nursing student Elizabeth Bresson said orientation had been fun so far Thursday, but she was a little nervous for her first classes to start on Monday.

On the other hand, Bresson's mom, Jill, has "been through this before" with other kids, so she isn't too worried about Elizabeth.

Leder said he sees many different reactions from parents as they move their kids into the dorms.

"There are the parents who are happy to drop off their kids and get rid of them, to the helicopter parents, to the guy who's obviously a single dad and has to say goodbye to daddy's little girl," he said.

It's sometimes a challenge to help students say goodbye to their parents and get acclimated to the campus, Leder said, but that's why there is a weekend full of orientation activities.

Morgan Hersch, another new Jimmie from Fargo, also said the university staff was helpful.

"The first thing I noticed is that everyone is really friendly," said Hersch, who's majoring in nursing.

Hersch's mom, Kathy, said she appreciated that University of Jamestown has a small, friendly campus.

"I think she'll love it here," Kathy Hersch said.

Sun reporter Charly Haley can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by email at