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ND, SMC freshmen flood campuses

Meghan Martin | Sunday, August 22, 2004

A small gold helmet sits perched atop a shelf in Tim Gritzman’s dorm room, both a remnant from childhood and a symbol of the future. “I’ve had this thing since I was five,” said the Stanford Hall freshman as he picked up the replica of the helmet he will wear as a tight end for the Irish this year. Although he arrived on campus nearly two weeks ago to begin fall football practice, Gritzman moved into his dorm room Wednesday, just days before his fellow classmates are scheduled to arrive. And despite the jersey waiting for him in the locker room, Gritzman is eager to experience orientation weekend with the rest of the freshman class.”I’ve talked to my roommate about three times, but I’m looking forward to meeting him,” Gritzman said. “The only freshmen I have interacted with so far are the ones who have moved in recently that I’ve seen walking around the dorm. It will be nice when everyone gets here.”Breen-Phillips freshman Adrianna Stasiuk, a volleyball player from Park Ridge, Ill., agreed.”Now that people are starting to arrive, it’s getting more and more exciting,” she said. Stasiuk, who has been on campus since Aug. 9 for volleyball practice, said a certain amount of trepidation goes hand-in-hand with anticipation for newly arrived freshmen.”Being away from home for the first time is always intimidating,” she said. As of Thursday, Notre Dame’s Office of Undergraduate Admissions expected 1,991 freshmen to arrive on campus for the 2004-05 academic year. While the majority of incoming students hail from the Midwestern United States, 89 will converge under the Dome from locales abroad.One such student, Gritzman’s Stanford hallmate Hudson Sullivan, arrived on campus Wednesday after a seven-hour drive from Toronto.”I’m a bit nervous,” he said, echoing the sentiments of many of his freshman colleagues. “I was so excited, but we were in the car on our way here, and all these questions come up … and then when I saw the room, I thought, ‘This is so small’ -it’s smaller than my room at home!”Sullivan, an avid hockey player, already has plans to join his dorm’s interhall hockey team. A sports fan, it was the school pride he observed in the Notre Dame student body during his two campus visits that sold him on the university.”Everything was so intense down here. Everyone gets involved,” he said, remembering scenes of students across campus attired from head to toe in Irish gear.”It was that atmosphere that was really attractive to me,” Sullivan said. “I knew those were the kinds of people that I wanted to be around for the next four years.”In dorm rooms across campus, incoming freshmen will continue to run the gamut of emotions from excitement to apprehension this weekend in variations of the same scene over and over again.Across U.S. 31 at Saint Mary’s College, the feeling among freshmen is very much the same.”The best thing is watching them walk up to the dorm,” said Holy Cross Hall resident assistant Jill Vlasek, who spent most of Thursday morning behind the welcome table inside the dorm’s foyer. “You can see everything on their face. You can see all that they’re going through.”From 8 a.m. to around 5 p.m. Thursday, Saint Mary’s freshmen were greeted by orange-clad welcome staff members waving and blowing bubbles at the College’s stone-walled main entrance. They entered their new homes for the first time, meeting hall staff, roommates and the people with whom they will share their lives for the next nine months. “I’m really excited, because my roommate is phenomenal,” said Holy Cross Hall resident Rachael Schermitzler, a freshman from Buffalo Grove, Ill. “Both of us have clicked at once.”The first in her family to attend Saint Mary’s, Schermitzler said she is enthusiastic about beginning her year at the College. “My roommate is a legacy … I’m new and she’s old here, and that’s a great combination,” she said.McCandless Hall roommates Elizabeth Johnson and Anita Moo, both the first in their families to attend Saint Mary’s, were equally enthusiastic about their decision to join the College’s 351-strong class of 2008.”When I checked it out, it was just so pretty,” Johnson, a prospective nursing student from Fort Wayne, Ind., said.Her roommate agreed, adding that only hours into her arrival on campus, she was confident in her answer to the question her Saint Mary’s and Notre Dame counterparts will inevitably try to answer themselves. Becoming a Belle, she said, was the right decision for her.”It’s hard to know, but when you’re here, you just know,” Moo said.