August 14, 2001

Contact: Sarah Ray
Posted: August 14, 2001

Middlebury College students participate in the Middlebury Outdoor
Orientation program (MOO) in the Saranac Lakes region of New York.

MIDDLEBURY, VT - The 515 expected members of the Middlebury College class of 2005 will begin arriving on campus on Sept. 3. Coming from 40 foreign countries, 47 states and the District of Columbia, the students will bring a wide range of experiences with them as they undergo a week of orientation events and trips that include outdoor activities, volunteer projects and seeing some of Vermont's sites.

"We are looking forward to the arrival of the class of 2005, an outstanding group of young people drawn from a record-breaking pool of more than 5,400 applicants," said Mike Schoenfeld, dean of enrollment planning.

The new class's members include students with a wide range of talents, from a karate expert who earned a black belt by age 13 to a student who has toured the country for three years with the performing group Circus Smirkus as a professional clown.

Another member of the class, Jonathan W. Stuart-Moore of Chapel Hill, N.C., counts among his talents the ability to produce music by playing glasses-water goblets-often with his mother. He appeared on PBS' "Scientific American Frontiers with Alan Alda" in 1998.

Aleksandra Vasilyuk came to San Francisco from Russia in 1996. Vasilyuk, who speaks four languages, founded a Russian language magazine, Transit, for Russian youth émigrés. As part of this effort, she secured funding, added several staff members, and served as editor of what has evolved into a successful publication.

Joannah M. Opot was born and raised in Nairobi, Kenya, where she served on the interim committee of the Kenyan National Students for Peace organization. The committee established and ran country-wide training programs designed to educate teachers and students about peace building, conflict resolution and human rights. She then moved to India, where she was a volunteer teacher in Mahindra, working with children from surrounding villages and training other volunteers.

With the theme "celebrating community," Middlebury College's orientation week for the new class begins Sept. 3 and focuses on academic activities, such as meetings with faculty advisors and an introduction to computer facilities.

Several gatherings will introduce new students to the commons system, which divides the campus into five groups of dorms housing approximately 400 students each. Students play key leadership roles in the commons, contributing to the cultural and intellectual life of the College community by organizing a variety of events.

Social opportunities, ranging from a barbecue hosted by Middlebury's president to a nighttime square dance, encourage students to get to know their new classmates.

Later in orientation week, three activity programs will relieve the stress students often encounter as they make the transition to college: MOO or Middlebury Outdoor Orientation, This is Vermont, and Volunteer Preview. The events give students another opportunity to get to know fellow classmates and experience life beyond campus¾ both in the local Middlebury community and beyond.

Now in its 14th year, MOO is a student organization that was founded by members of the Middlebury College Mountain Club. MOO leads student groups on overnight trips in Vermont and in New York's Adirondack Mountains. The expeditions feature a number of outdoor activities: trail maintenance, canoeing, rock climbing, fly fishing, backpacking and mountain biking. Each group consists of eight first-year students and two experienced student leaders. As part of the MOO program, students will hear an expert on the raptors of Vermont give a presentation that will include five live birds. The trips develop among the new class an immediate appreciation for Vermont's beautiful countryside as well as the opportunity to gain useful wilderness skills.

This is Vermont offers students who wish to become familiar with the Green Mountain state the chance to experience local culture and sites. Beginning with an overnight stay, storytelling and music at Middlebury's Bread Loaf campus in Ripton, Vt., the program continues with a day exploring the city of Burlington, cruising Lake Champlain on the "Spirit of Ethan Allen II," and feasting on a traditional New England barbecue. Students will conclude their adventures with the trip of their choice to Lake Dunmore, downtown Middlebury or Manchester, the Killington/Pico Adventure Center or the Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury.

Those participating in the third program, Volunteer Preview, work daily on local community service projects. Tasks include trail maintenance in cooperation with the United States Forest Service and the Green Mountain Club, reconstruction of playgrounds for area childcare centers, home renovation for affordable housing, and painting the gazebo on the Middlebury town green. The College's Web site declares, "Volunteer Preview seeks to provide work sites that help meet local needs, are fun, and provide participants with a sense of accomplishment, contribution and teamwork." In the evening, students will enjoy cookouts, hiking and various social activities. With over half of all Middlebury students volunteering at some time during their college career, Volunteer Preview offers an early glimpse into the real world concerns of Addison County.

On Sunday, Sept. 9, after students have returned from their trips, they will line up for the traditional convocation procession from Old Chapel to Mead Chapel. Following the ceremony, which formally marks the class's entrance into the College, they will gather for a class photo.