KEARNEY – The start of a new school year is always an exciting time at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
This year will be no different.
UNK is kicking off the fall semester with its annual Blue and Gold Welcome Week, a signature event that celebrates new and returning Lopers while giving incoming freshmen and transfer students a chance to familiarize themselves with campus before classes begin.
“This year, more than ever, I think the students deserve to be celebrated,” said Makenzie Petersen, a UNK senior from O’Neill and coordinator of Blue and Gold Welcome Week.
Many incoming freshmen missed out on their high school graduations or proms because of COVID-19, Petersen noted, and returning UNK students are back on campus after finishing the spring semester remotely.
Blue and Gold Welcome Week represents a return to normalcy.
“I know a lot of these students are anxious to be on campus and meet new people, and we’re going to give them so many opportunities to do that in a safe environment,” Petersen said.
Blue and Gold Welcome Week begins Friday (Aug. 21) and continues throughout the month. The event, organized with an “Embrace the Space” video game theme, features a mix of in-person and virtual activities that connect students, staff, faculty and the community.
One of the highlights of the week is the Blue and Gold Showcase scheduled for 4:45-8 p.m. Friday.
A longstanding UNK tradition, the showcase features live entertainment, product giveaways, a free meal and other fun activities. About 100 exhibitors are expected to attend the event, giving students a chance to learn more about local businesses, services and employment opportunities, as well as UNK organizations and academic programs.
Country artist Luke Mills will perform on the stage near the Bell Tower, and UNK Dining is serving barbecue chicken and pork with sides, dessert and bottled water.
Blue and Gold Showcase is open to UNK students, faculty and staff. This year’s event is not open to the public. A UNK ID is required for the meal.
The layout of this year’s event will promote physical distancing, with booths and activities spread out across a larger area on campus – from the Nebraskan Student Union to Bruner Hall of Science between the Fine Arts Building and Warner Hall. Face coverings are mandatory and foot traffic will flow in one direction to reduce crowding.
At 9 p.m. Friday, Loper Programming and Activities Council (LPAC) is hosting a drive-in movie – the 2019 version of “The Lion King” – in Lot 14 north of the College of Education with free soda and popcorn. It’s a drive-in, so bring a vehicle and blankets.
A special “Good News Lopers” video will also be shown. There will be a fireworks show at 9:15 p.m.
LPAC is also hosting an outdoor movie – “Onward” – at 8:45 p.m. Sept. 4 on the Copeland Hall south lawn with free soda and popcorn.
Other Blue and Gold Welcome Week events include Campus Roam scavenger hunts for new students, professor conversations and virtual Playfair activities.
New students who participate in most Blue and Gold Welcome Week events, and check in on Presence, will be entered in a drawing for $250 in books from the Antelope Bookstore. Multiple winners will be selected.
Face coverings are required during all in-person events and social distancing will be promoted.
UNK’s fall semester classes begin Monday (Aug. 24).
BLUE AND GOLD WELCOME WEEK SCHEDULE
Friday, Aug. 21
1-3 p.m. – Campus Roam scavenger hunt for first-year students
3-3:30 p.m. – Commuter student social (Nebraskan Student Union Antelope Room)
4:45-8 p.m. – Blue and Gold Showcase (Campus Greens near Bell Tower)
9-11 p.m. – Outdoor movie, “The Lion King,” and fireworks show (Lot 14 north of College of Education)
Saturday, Aug. 22
8:30-10 a.m. – Breakfast for first-year students (Foster Field)
10:30 a.m. to noon – Swift Kick’s Kick A** virtual event with Tom Krieglstein (Zoom)
Noon to 2 p.m. – Lunch and professor conversations (Herd classrooms)
8:30-10 p.m. – Virtual Playfair activities (Zoom)
Sunday, Aug. 23
1:30 p.m. – Transfer student orientation (Zoom)
2-5 p.m. – First Year Ready orientation for first-year students (Herd classrooms)
4 p.m. – Class Roam for transfer students
Monday, Aug. 24
Fall classes begin
Tuesday, Aug. 25
3-4:30 p.m. – Health Sciences welcome social (Fine Arts Building amphitheater)
Wednesday, Aug. 26
1-4 p.m. – Student Employment Fair (Sign up for virtual event on Handshake)
5:30-8 p.m. – Catholic Newman Center welcome-back barbecue (Newman Center, 817 W. 27th St.)
Friday, Aug. 28
8:30-11 p.m. – Bonfire Bash (Newman Center, 817 W. 27th St.)