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Barton College welcomed its largest freshman class in decades on move-in day Thursday as new students arrived at the Wilson campus.
“We’re excited about the opening of the new year,” said Barton College President Doug Searcy. “Barton is welcoming the largest enrolling class since 1982.”
The private college, which started as Atlantic Christian College in 1902, has 325 first-year students this year.
“Last year at this time, it was 277,” Searcy said. “It is a significant increase in the numbers of students and that does not include transfers.”
For Searcy, what it says is that students love the Barton College institution.
“They recognize that they can join us here in Wilson and at Barton and receive a Class A education in an environment that welcomes them, loves them and helps them graduate,” Searcy said. “That’s what we do best. We care for our students and we make sure that the in-class experience and out-of-class experience is put together in such a way that is really meaningful. Students love the institution and it continues to show.”
All afternoon, cars pulled up to the school’s five dormitory buildings. Family members helped new students unpack pillows, bedding, clothes, computers and other items. Most were greeted at the curb by resident assistants and other students eager to help. Fast friends were made.
“The move-in process was very easy,” said Ty Kay, a freshman from Zebulon who is on the baseball team. “I got a lot of help from the football players and I am really excited to be here and looking forward to meeting some of these people here.”
Kay said he is pleased to hear about the growing freshman class.
“I think it is nice that there are more people coming in and more faces and more people I can meet and see where they are from and get their background story,” Kay said. “I am excited to be on the baseball team and looking forward to a good year.”
Gail Osbeck of Jacksonville helped son Justin Osbeck move into Wenger Hall.
“We are excited that Justin has the opportunity to be here at Wilson at Barton College and play baseball,” Osbeck said. “Of course, the academic side of everything here is something that we are very encouraged about and we are just ready for him to fledge his wings and go onto the next chapter of his life.”
Elmo Arimurti-Sager, a freshman from Cary, will be playing on the baseball team and majoring in sports management.
“It’s exciting,”Arimurti-Sager said. “I can’t wait for the future ahead of me. I am hoping for a fun year, but I am also trying to get good grades so I can get into the college honors program. That’s kind of the main goal for me right now.”
“It feels like home already,” said freshman Anton Popov of Raleigh. “It feels good on campus.”
“We are thrilled about our new and returning students who are coming here for the ‘19-’20 academic year,” said Chrissy Coley, vice president for student engagement and success at Barton College. “It is going to be an exciting year. They bring so much life and vibrancy to our campus and we are excited about having even more to offer this year that really helps them to connect the dots between what they are learning in class, outside of class and fostering these meaningful and engaging living learning environments that help to enrich their learning and their growth and development.”
The new students enrich life on campus, Coley said.
“We are really excited about the number of students we have living on campus this year as well as the exciting living learning communities and programs that we have on campus,” Coley said.
Jeff Tilson, director of housing and residence life, said this year, the college has the highest number of on-campus residents in decades.
“We are hovering just shy of 600 people on campus,” Tilson said. “About 60% of our students live on campus this year, which is amazing and awesome and a lot different than years past.”
The school has 21 resident assistants who are ready to help students assimilate into their campus homes.
“Resident assistants are live-in staff members who work on the floor, live on the floor and help build those communities with the students,” Tilson said. “They went through a week-and-a-half-long training where they learned how to make this building a home, and so that has been our real focus this year.”
In response to the higher number of students on campus, the college worked with the city of Wilson to add protected crosswalks with speed bumps on Atlantic Christian College Drive and Whitehead Avenue.
“I think as the volume and number of students increases on campus, safety is an imperative,” Searcy said. “We do have parking on the other side of that street and it is nice to have a way that conveys them safely and it lowers the speed so that students can come and go without any worry.”
A full slate of Welcome Week activities for Barton students is available online at www.barton.edu/pdf/orientation/welcome-week.pdf.