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St. F.X. welcomes its next generation of students to Antigonish

A mere segment of the massive crowd of chanting, excited students that congregated outside the Keating Centre on Sept. 1, during the orientation day events at St. F.X.
A mere segment of the massive crowd of chanting, excited students that congregated outside the Keating Centre on Sept. 1, during the orientation day events at St. F.X. - Sam Macdonald

St. F.X. was a busy, boisterous place on the Labour Day Weekend. Spirits were high during the orientation weekend at St. F.X., and campus echoed with the sounds of wild, enthusiastic cheering from the newest group of students to embark upon their Xaverian journey.

Students were introduced to their new home for the next four years and officially introduced to the spirited Xaverian culture during orientation day activities that lasted throughout the day on Sept. 1.

This year, a group of more than 1,500 students made their way for the first time as students to campus – a group that lined up Saturday morning to be personally greeted by president Kent MacDonald.

MacDonald, in a speech to students, and their families and friends, quoted Irish poet Brendan Kennelly, stating, “if you want to serve the age, betray it,” adding, “that is our job. Not to allow people to just go through and get training … they’re coming here to be educated, in the strange, complex world we’re in today. That’s our job, and the staff and faculty are up for it.”

“Give some thought as to why you are here at St. F.X.,” MacDonald said in a speech to the new students, their families and friends on Saturday afternoon. “We encourage to you remember you’re sitting on a campus entering its 166th year.”
MacDonald exhorted students to explore their new home for the next four years, referencing the dedication of the Sisters of St. Martha in maintaining Wellspring, the storied history and Celtic traditions held within the Hall of Clans and even the beauty of spaces like Confusion Square.
MacDonald recounted an emotional moment to the new students, referencing when he dropped his son off to start studying at St. F.X. in 2008.

“Maybe some of you have had those same emotional moments,” MacDonald said, addressing the family and friends of the new students in the audience, “but something happened…and I started to give some thought, and realized this is exactly what we were supposed to do. We’re supposed to prepare our children for this moment when we set them free.”

MacDonald noted the coming four years will be a time of growth for the students about to start at St. F.X., adding, “it’s our job not only to educate in the classroom, it’s our job to try and prepare them to become caring, thoughtful, independent adults.”

MacDonald spoke highly of the environment on campus, noting that because of the small community and class size, “you know you’re surrounded by people who actually care about, and know you. That’s what happens at St. F.X.”

Students spent the day getting accustomed to their surroundings, learning about campus through tours and being handed their frosh kits amid a litany of cheering and enthusiastic chanting.

St. F.X. student union president Rebecca Mesay expressed her excitement to see the next generation of students, and condoned the desire for change that compels people to seek out higher education.

“It’s a daunting concept, but it’s why we are here today. The opportunity to change our lives, and the chance to achieve our fullest potential. Whether or not you accomplish this is up to you – after all, each of us are the drivers of our own experiences here,” she said.

Mesay encouraged the first-year students to not to let go of their fears, but to, “have courage and take one step at a time. Keep doing so in spite of you fear and reservations.
“Perhaps most importantly, I’m asking you to embrace the light within yourselves,” she said. “It may seem hard, but if you were standing where I am right now, looking out at everyone in this room…you’d never have before seen a room filled with so much light.”

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