Most of us think we know what to expect from college: a comprehensive education that will equip us for a changing workplace, a chance specialize in a field of study to prepare for entry into a specific career or graduate school, and to become critical thinkers and effective problem solvers. At Lyndon, we also want you to learn what it means to be part of an active, caring community, in hopes of developing a life-long habit of service to others. We also want new students to form ties early on in their studies with new classmates and other members of the Lyndon community.
On the third Friday in September, first-year students travel to dozens of locations on- and off-campus to participate in Lyndon’s annual Community Service Day. The activity is coordinated by the College’s director of first year experience with the assistance of many members of the College’s staff and faculty, who take a day off from their regular duties to work alongside students in the field.
A small sample of Community Service Day activities includes helping in disaster relief after Hurricane Irene, bundling clothing donated by Carhartt for needy Vermonters, painting and cleaning at numerous local nonprofit organizations, working with orphaned pets at local animal shelters, power washing the grandstands at the county fairgrounds, painting sets at the Vermont Children’s Theater, clearing trails at Kingdom Trails and the Northwoods Stewardship Center, volunteering at Northeast Kingdom Youth Services, working on the College’s disc golf course, and harvesting produce at the St. Johnsbury Community Garden for the town’s food shelf.
Lessons learned by Lyndon’s students as part of the Community Service Day tradition are designed to broaden the scope of their college educations—all while helping countless Vermonters who are now their neighbors.
One of the campus’s iconic pieces of architecture is here only four months out of the year, and is both a shape shifter and a piece of extreme playground equipment.
The water fountain in the pond that straddles the space between the library, dining hall, Harvey Academic Center, and Wheelock Hall runs year ‘round, resulting in a column of ice and snow that reaches 35 feet in height during the depths of winter. When conditions allow, members of the Lyndon community can practice their ice-climbing moves on Wednesday afternoons. Novices can get instruction, words of encouragement, and equipment from the College’s ever-enthusiastic adventure coordinator.
This celebration of the return of warm weather to Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom is held on a weekday in late April. The arrival of the day is signaled by the raising of a massive 48-star American flag—a flag that belonged to T.N. Vail, the founder and first president of ATT. (The Lyndon campus sits on the site of his former country mansion, Manor Vail.)
The big fun starts at noon. Live bands play in the campus interior, and the College’s food service caters an outdoor barbecue for all. There’s cotton candy, snow cones, popcorn, an ice cream social served up by the College’s deans, and beer for those of age.
Other activities around the campus might include disc golf competitions, ropes course challenges, slip and slide bowling, tie-dye T-shirt making, new games, and paddling with stand-up boats on Library Pond.
The day ends with the entire college community pitching in for a spring campus clean up.
Good, clean fun… for a good cause
The annual Spring Dip is held the first week in May. Yes, it may be spring, but the temperature in the water of library pond is just beginning to climb past 40 degrees. And that’s where our intrepid “dippers” are headed.
For Spring Dip, faculty, staff, and students solicit pledges from other members of the college community to sponsor their icy plunge in the pond. Proceeds go to fund student scholarships. Costumes recommended, shoes mandatory! Then at 12:30 p.m., at the count of three, the group sprints to the edge of the pond… and just keeps going. Brrr.
The days leading up to commencement ceremonies make for a week of celebration for our soon-to-graduate students. One of the highlights of the week is the robing ceremony, a chance to celebrate accomplishments and shared experiences in a more leisurely, less formal event than the actual commencement.
At robing graduating students come together to collect and try on their caps and gowns, then assemble in the Alexander Twilight Theatre for stories, some speech making, awards, and a chance for the faculty to impart some final bits of wisdom—always heartfelt and often humorous—with the students they’ve grown so close to in their four-year journey. Afterwords everyone gathers for a social and group photo of the graduating class. It is one of the sweetest days of our year.