HOUGHTON - To mark the start of a new academic year and the arrival of a fresh group of students, the incoming freshman class and their parents celebrated with a welcome picnic at Michigan Technological University Sunday evening.
Long tables occupied the lawn in front of the Walker Arts and Humanities Center and a large crowd of new students and proud parents - many already proudly sporting Michigan Tech apparel - enjoyed their food. For many, this weekend marked their first foray into the area.
"I'd never been this far up in the U.P.," said Marci Abel, mother of incoming freshman Cooper Abel. "We got over the bridge at Mackinaw and I thought we were almost here!"
Meagan Stilp/Daily Mining Gazette
Parents and incoming freshmen gather for a welcome picnic at Michigan Technological University Sunday evening. A total of 1,312 freshmen are expected to enroll this year, with the majority having moved into the dorms over the weekend.
The Abels are from Farmington, Mich., near Detroit, and had not been to the area until Cooper attended Michigan Tech's Summer Youth Programs last summer.
"An alum got me interested in the geological engineering program here," Cooper explained about his decision to attend Tech.
"I came up to the youth program last summer and loved it."
Although it is a bit of a drive from Farmington, the Abels are excited for their son and plan to visit throughout the year.
"We are just so excited for him to be up here for this experience," Marci said.
"We plan on making it up for our first Winter Carnival," Fred Abel, Cooper's dad, added. "As long as we don't get snowed out."
This year, Michigan Tech is expecting 1,312 freshmen and 202 transfer students by the end of this week, as well as about 320 new graduate students. Over the weekend many of the new students moved into the dorms for the first time.
"It went really smoothly. Having students help move people into the dorms has been a big plus so families have more time to spend looking around and enjoying the summer," said Glenn Mroz, Michigan Tech president.
"It takes a lot of stress out of the move-in weekend for students and their families."
Starting Sunday and running until Sept. 7, Michigan Tech will host Welcome Week activities for all students as classes begin for the fall semester.