This year, students enrolled in the Theatre and Dance Department at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point prepare for another rigorous course load, but not without kicking off the year with a picnic.
Gary Olsen, the department chair of the Theatre and Dance Department, knows just how demanding the program is. The purpose of the orientation, held in the Noel Fine Arts Center, is to inform students of the expectations and how
they can flourish in their majors.
“The hope is to provide the students with tools and information to be successful,” Olsen said. For Olsen, it is important that the students to know exactly what the expectations are and the steps they can take to meet those expectations.
At the beginning of orientation, the students split up into smaller groups based on their majors. Afterward, all the theatre and dance majors come together to discuss important issues for the upcoming year.
“We have guest speakers talk to the students,” Olsen said. “We also have representatives from the counseling center and the Tutoring and Learning Center come in.”
The guest speakers help inform the students of the resources that are available to them if they find they require those services. During orientation they also identify LGBTQ+ friendly organizations on campus as a resource.
Following the orientation, students and professors reconvene at Iverson Park for a picnic. This picnic gives students and professors an opportunity to socialize and get to know each other.
Senior musical theatre major Abbey Imner has attended orientation and the picnic for four years. Imner said she finds it helpful for new students to meet professors and become familiar with the department.
“The picnic is a great way for us to socialize and ask questions about the program,” Imner said.
Ruth Daniels been doing administrative work for the Theatre and Dance department for eleven years. She offered her take on the department’s tradition.
“The picnic helps the freshman get acquainted with the faculty and students,” Daniels said. “It is very low-key and relaxed.”
The students will work together on dances and shows all year, therefore it is important for them to form good relationships with one another. The relaxed environment the picnic provides makes it a good place for the students to form those relationships.
“It helps the freshman when the upperclassmen take them under their wing,” Daniels said.
Daniels believes it is important for students in the program to get involved, and the upperclassmen can help encourage the freshman to do so. In the eleven years that Daniels has worked for the theatre department she has seen it grow and become more well-known.
“The students that come here really have a passion for theatre and dance,” Daniels said.
The orientation and picnic are there to help these passionate students start their journey toward success.
New students especially benefit from the orientation and picnic because it helps them become acclimated with the program. It is important for all students in the program to have good relationships with one another and be well-informed of their expectations so they can be fully prepared for their future endeavors.