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Seniors raise a toast during the Chris­tening the Quad event. MADELINE PELTZER | COURTESY

In the midst of Parents Weekend fes­tiv­ities, seniors took an hour out of their evenings to cel­e­brate the class of 2020.

The first event of its kind, Chris­tening the Quad invited seniors to gather in the Dow Hotel lobby on Friday night to mingle with friends, enjoy an array of hors d’oeuvres, listen to a live jazz band, and learn what their class gift would be. 

“This is very unlike past senior class gift announce­ments and was some­thing we thought would be fun and unique,” said Senior Class Pres­ident Adam Buchmann. “We wanted to make it a social event for the class.”

Fundraising Chair Lucy Meckler announced the gift: 10 large, live oak trees that will be planted on the quad between Christ Chapel and Central Hall before grad­u­ation in May. Meckler explained that the class officers decided on the gift after reviewing results from a survey they sent out to seniors over the summer. 60% said they wanted some­thing mean­ingful, lasting, and that would give back to the student body.

“We’re the only class who has seen the quad pre‑, during, and post-Chapel con­struction, which is kind of impressive because no other class will ever see that in Hillsdale College history,” Meckler said. “We thought it was only fair to bring back some of the quad that we knew when we were freshmen, and part of what that means is trees.”

Colleen McGinness, director of alumni engagement for the 1844 Society, and Erin Carroll, vice pres­ident of campus out­reach and events for the orga­ni­zation, urged seniors to make a donation to the alumni asso­ci­ation, either for the gift or toward the Ransom Dunn schol­arship, which sponsors stu­dents who could not oth­erwise afford to return to college.

“The original reason I joined the 1844 Society was because I was like, ‘Wow, I would be very upset if I couldn’t attend Hillsdale. What can I do to help somebody else be here and have the expe­rience I’ve had?’” Carroll said. “I think that’s the gist of giving back to your college:  giving back to what you love so other people can love it too. It’s the building of com­munity. It’s the reason why we’re all here.”

Seniors then made their way to the front of the chapel where Buchmann pro­posed a toast “to our last year being a good one.”

Senior Lauren Blunt attended the event and called the evening classy.

“It pro­vided a nice space to sit with my senior friends and hang out,” she said. “It was a good amount of time to get together and have fun with the people who you started out your college career with.”

She added that she appre­ciates the choice of gift, espe­cially because she remembers when the trees were cut down as chapel con­struction com­menced.

“My friends first semester freshman year would hang out on the quad all the time, and there are a lot of fond mem­ories attached to that,” she said. “The oak trees are some­thing that will last for a really long time. It’s not just an object but some­thing alive. It seems like a real gift that will further beauty in a way that’s very per­manent.”

Buchmann concurs.

“It’s sym­bolic,” he said. “We’re planting roots that we’ll not see the full devel­opment of.”