Wilkes freshmen start path to graduation with parade

By Mark Guydish - [email protected]
New Wilkes University students were welcomed to the campus by Wilkes staff and students who lined the Gateway cheering and waving pom-poms. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Staff and students of Wilkes University held signs of welcome, waved pom-poms and cheered as new students walked along the East Campus Gateway on the way to the Marts Center. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Wilkes University President Patrick Leahy follows the new students walking down South Franklin Street on the way to the Marts Center for a formal welcoming convocation. - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Wilkes University’s incoming freshmen were greeted by staff member Alex Reynolds as he high-fived them and waved a yellow and blue pom-pom over his head. - - Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Bagpiper Butch Modzelewski leads a procession of Wilkes University incoming freshmen along the East Gateway in a welcoming ceremony Friday. - - Fred Adams | For Times Leader

WILKES-BARRE — Butch Modzelewski warmed up his solo bagpipe act outside while the Wilkes freshman class gathered in McHale Athletic Center. The students would’ve been hard-pressed to find a finer example of a lifelong learner.

“I started playing it when I was 55,” Modzelewski smiled as he prepared to lead the students across campus to their welcoming convocation. “I’m 69 now.”

Modzelewski led a procession of students in what University President Patrick Leahy said he hopes will become an annual tradition: Walking the first-time students from McHale on South Main Street down the University “East Campus Gateway” toward the freshly upgraded Stark Learning Center and to the Marts Center on Franklin Street.

The walk mirrors what has become the procession for graduation ceremonies, held this spring for the first time at the McHale building. Students got to wear cap and gown promenading from Marts to McHale.

“Hopefully, it will be nice bookends to their time here,” Leahy said as he watched the students come down the gateway, nearly all of them sporting white Wilkes T-shirts — togs they didn’t have to pay for, exactly.

“We like to say they are not free, but they are included,” he laughed.

Upper classmen and faculty lined the gateway, some waving blue and gold pom-poms, most offering to high-five students as they walked by.

It may not have been pomp and circumstance, but it qualified as a warm welcome — though one male freshman could be heard commenting as he turned onto Franklin: “It feels like a Little League baseball game.”

Fear not, frosh, the best is yet to come, after you garner the sheepskin.

“It’s just me today,” Modzelewski said with a smile while waiting for the walk to begin. “For graduation, they hire our whole group.”

That would be the Wyoming Valley Pipe & Drum Band, some 25 strong. At a minimum of 120 credit hours for a bachelor’s degree, that’s roughly five credits for every bagpiper.

But you’ve got to earn them.

Classes start Monday.

New Wilkes University students were welcomed to the campus by Wilkes staff and students who lined the Gateway cheering and waving pom-poms.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_wilkes2_faa-2.jpgNew Wilkes University students were welcomed to the campus by Wilkes staff and students who lined the Gateway cheering and waving pom-poms. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Staff and students of Wilkes University held signs of welcome, waved pom-poms and cheered as new students walked along the East Campus Gateway on the way to the Marts Center.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_wilkes4_faa-2.jpgStaff and students of Wilkes University held signs of welcome, waved pom-poms and cheered as new students walked along the East Campus Gateway on the way to the Marts Center. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Wilkes University President Patrick Leahy follows the new students walking down South Franklin Street on the way to the Marts Center for a formal welcoming convocation.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_wilkes5_faa-2.jpgWilkes University President Patrick Leahy follows the new students walking down South Franklin Street on the way to the Marts Center for a formal welcoming convocation. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Wilkes University’s incoming freshmen were greeted by staff member Alex Reynolds as he high-fived them and waved a yellow and blue pom-pom over his head.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_wilkes3_faa-2.jpgWilkes University’s incoming freshmen were greeted by staff member Alex Reynolds as he high-fived them and waved a yellow and blue pom-pom over his head. Fred Adams | For Times Leader

Bagpiper Butch Modzelewski leads a procession of Wilkes University incoming freshmen along the East Gateway in a welcoming ceremony Friday.
https://www.timesleader.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/web1_wilkes1_faa-1.jpgBagpiper Butch Modzelewski leads a procession of Wilkes University incoming freshmen along the East Gateway in a welcoming ceremony Friday. Fred Adams | For Times Leader
Wilkes freshmen get big welcome

By Mark Guydish

[email protected]

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish

Reach Mark Guydish at 570-991-6112 or on Twitter @TLMarkGuydish