Back to School Fun at Welcome Back Week

October 01, 2019

Back to School Fun at Welcome Back Week

It’s uncommon that college and university students bound through the doors with childlike enthusiasm about the first day of term, playing gleefully and sharing snacks with new friends or classmates they haven’t seen all summer. Well, at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Traverse City they do. 

During the week of September 26th, well rested students were greeted by free gifts, giant Jenga, and costumed faculty at a Welcome Back Week event. Four afternoons in a row, students got to know faculty and fellow students, took pictures in the photo booth, and won prizes donated by local businesses. The community provided donations from local businesses for Welcome Back Week including wine tastings at Left Foot Charley or the Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail, five sessions at Yen Yoga and Fitness, lift tickets to Shanty Creeks as well as Amazon and fuel gift cards, and more.

“It helped take away some of the first day jitters,” one student commented. “I already knew one of my classmates going into that day, but instantly [both of us] became friends with two other girls in our class. We even took a cute picture together with the props!” 

Not only did the GVSU team break out fun first day outfits and bring enough snacks for the whole class, but the creative folks hosting Welcome Back Week engineered unique games to entertain students, and perhaps draw out the shy among us. Even in the age of tele-everything, when it’s entirely possible to not leave your house all week, who can resist the siren call of fake mustaches, a rubber band archery, and an office chair race?

“The more people that joined in, the easier it was to get to know everybody,”  Another student remarked that the games “definitely aided in getting to know my classmates better, a little friendly competition never hurt[s]!” 

It’s unclear from photos who dominated the ‘track’, but the fun being had is plain on the faces of the racers. The expressions of students and faculty are bright and unburdened, each having set aside ‘grown up’ concerns for a moment, delighting in the normally uncouth behavior of scooting down the office at top speed. Hosting some light hearted silliness in a setting that can be home to a few academic growing pains is a powerful thing, and sends an important message.

GVSU’s Traverse City Regional Center is uniquely devoted to a holistic approach to student success, expressing their hope that education fits the lives of their students and that they are happy in the present while they build their future. Real life is taken into account with every organizational decision, from remote options to winter commute schedules, and each student is recognized as someone with not only a bright future but a very real present. 

For more information about programs available at the GVSU Traverse City Regional Center please contact us at 231.995.1785 or

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Page last modified October 1, 2019