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"Febs" celebrate mid-year graduation

February 1, 2011

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – As Middlebury College’s winter term wound to a close, 110 students also celebrated the closing of their undergraduate college careers this past weekend. The students will earn bachelor of arts degrees from Middlebury upon the mid-year completion of their academic requirements, officially on March 1.

The congratulatory weekend for the mid-year graduates began on Friday, Jan. 28, with a reception for the graduates and their families hosted by President Ronald D. Liebowitz at the Mahaney Center for the Arts. Joining the president was Christopher “Kit” Wilson, professor of humanities and a member of the faculty since 1979, who offered remarks.

On Saturday morning, the mid-year graduates convened at Mead Chapel where Will Bellaimey, a member of the graduating class spoke and President Liebowitz delivered an address. Zachary Bourque '01, president of the alumni association, presented the customary replicas of Gamaliel Painter’s cane to the graduates. (Painter was one of the founders of the college.)

President Ron Liebowitz addresses the mid-year graduates on Jan. 29 in Mead Chapel.
Feb graduates and their families enjoy a welcome reception at the Mahaney Center for the Arts on Friday evening.
Dean of the College Shirley Collado and President Ron Liebowitz present the Jason B. Fleishman Award to graduate Pier Lafarge.
Febs celebrate at the ski down at the Snow Bowl on Saturday.

In a funny and poignant talk, Bellaimey shared his thoughts about the unique camaraderie that develops among the Feb class. "I have several theories," he said. "One is that taking some time off, time away from that endless treadmill of academic achievement that we use to turn our best and brightest into sleep-deprived zombies with perfect SATs, taking time away from all that puts things in perspective. Whether you spent your Febmester teaching in a dirt-floored classroom halfway across the globe or waiting tables at the Greasy Spoon diner on the corner, we arrived here with a real appreciation for how blessed we are to get to spend four years in this place."

At noon, the graduates met at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl in Hancock for the annual “ski-down” procession in cap and gown.

Following the custom initiated by mid-year graduates more than two decades ago, many students – expert skiers, snowboarders and beginners alike – participated in the ski-down event, which is a festive procession on the slopes. Led by a Middlebury College standard-bearer, the midyear graduates rode the chairlift or hiked up the mountain to make their way back down in a make-shift procession to be met by the cheers and congratulations of family, friends and college faculty and staff waiting below.

The college offers admission to students twice each year, in September and again in February. Since the 1970s, February admissions have allowed some first-year students to begin their college studies in the spring semester after high school graduation instead of starting immediately in the fall. As these “Febs” complete their undergraduate careers, the college honors their accomplishments at the mid-year celebration.

The graduates are invited to return later this spring, when they can join the class at the official commencement ceremony on the main campus on Sunday, May 22.

For more information prior to the event, contact the Middlebury College Alumni and Parent Programs Office at (802) 443-5183.

Photos: Todd Balfour