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Drury's Freshman Orientation Puts Students to Work

Monday marks the start of the 2012-13 school year for students at Drury University.  Starting college as a freshman usually includes moving into a dormitory, saying ‘good-bye’ to mom and dad, and getting ready for classes.  But, at Drury, part of the freshman orientation tradition involves taking a “Service Plunge.”  Before freshmen ever step foot in a classroom, they get to work in the community. KSMU’s Theresa Bettmann has the story.

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That is the sound of hedge-clippers as a Drury student is trimming some of the shrubbery at the Victim’s Memorial Garden at Phelps Grove Park.  It is a beautiful late summer day with temperatures in the lower 80’s, the skies are bright blue and there is a nice warm breeze.  Weather like this can make it difficult to sit in a classroom and study.  However, these Drury freshmen have the advantage of spending their first day of class outdoors, cleaning up the park.

Each year incoming freshman at Drury must participate in the CORE 101 program as part of their orientation and curriculum.  The program puts students to work around the community doing a variety of community service tasks.  Charles Taylor is Vice President of Academic Affairs at Drury University, and says the program is designed to get students engaged from the start.

“The premise is that a well-rounded student is not simply someone who understands theoretical and practical material.  But also understands that part of our responsibility, as students and educators, is to leave the world slightly better than we found it,” Taylor says.

Taylor says the program started in 1995 as part of the general education curriculum for freshmen.  He says it teaches students lifelong learning practices and puts them in touch with their surrounding community.

“Our experience is that the students really find this to be exceptionally valuable.  They will always look back on it, when they graduate in 4 or 5 years, as one of the highlights.  Because they’re creating significant relationships now that will probably be as important when they graduate, as they are today,” says Taylor.

But what do the students think?  Here is what Garrett Pohl, Kelsey Emerson and Thomas Louzader, all Drury students, had to say.

“I actually think it’s a pretty great thing for Drury to do.  I mean it’s a way for students to get involved in the community just a little bit more.”[Pohl]

“I actually really enjoy it.  I’ve been involved with community service projects at Drury.  I’ll be a junior this year.  So, I’m excited really excited to keep being involved in the community, it’s a really good thing.” [Emerson]

“I really enjoy helping out.  It gets you involved in the community, and you get off your rear end and you do something useful.” [Louzader]

The students say the CORE program is also a fun way to meet other students, and help ease the transition into a new school year.  For KSMU News, I’m Theresa Bettmann.