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Seniors making a (literal) mark on campus.

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AS AT OTHER SCHOOLS, FRESHMEN AT ROANOKE COLLEGE (VA.) HAVE the chance to formally mark their entrance into the college community during an induction ceremony where they "sign in" to a book. President Michael Maxey and his wife, Terri, revived a tradition this year that also allows graduating seniors to sign off--by burning their names into the wood on a floor-to-ceiling bookcase in the president's home.

During the bookshelf burning party in the house, held days before graduation, most or all of the 150 students in attendance made their way down to the basement family room to sign. Students were first invited to burn their names or initials and class year into the bookcase (or into an entrance or closet door, if they preferred) back in 1976 when the house was occupied by President Norman D. Fintel. The tradition continued until his tenure ended in 1989. President Maxey describes the symbolism in this way: "It reminds us all that Roanoke makes a mark on our students, and our students make a mark on Roanoke." And if those marks ever take up all the available room on that bookcase, as they may within a few years, there's space in the room to add more, confirms Teresa Gereaux, director of public relations.

Here's how some other institutions help graduating seniors make their mark:

* St. Olaf College (Minn.) gives students the opportunity to sign their names in chalk inside the tower of the school's Old Main building, which is 110-feet high.

* Trinity University (Texas) also uses its tower in this way, with seniors who have made a gift in the amount of their class year ($20.08 for 2008) being allowed to write their names on a brick in the 166-foot Murchison Tower.

* Southwestern University has a similar Texas tower tradition, with graduating seniors who have contributed to the senior class gift invited to climb a narrow spiral staircase to sign their names on the Cullen Building's tower room walls.

* Scripps College (Calif.) has let graduating classes since 1931 sign their names around a logo or image on the aptly named Graffiti Wall on campus.

* University of California, San Diego, asks almost-grads to sign a commemorative class plaque before it's installed permanently along Library Walk, the campus's main drag.

* Dominican University of California seniors present a painted "shield" to freshmen. Until 1961 the designs were turned into stained glass art; today they become wood carvings.

* Whittier College (Calif.) sells inscribed bricks (usually with name and year), which are placed in the Founders Walkway, to graduating seniors.

* Warren Wilson College (N.C.) gives a hemlock sapling to each of its graduating seniors, who may plant them on campus (which has 600 acres of forests) if they wish.

* Saint Vincent College (Pa.) seniors active in theater can sign the backstage wall in the Robert S. Carey Student Center, a custom started more than 50 years ago.
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Title Annotation:BEHIND the NEWS
Author:Ezarik, Melissa
Publication:University Business
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2008
Words:483
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