Above, students Jennifer Baker (far left) and Trae Floyd (far right) pick up trash in downtown Banner Elk. Below, students work at the Habitat for Humanity house that Lees-McRae is building with Abordale and Banner Elk Presbyterian churches.
April 21, 2005
BANNER ELK – Keeping with its motto of “in the mountains, of the mountains, for the mountains,” Lees-McRae College held a campus-wide day of service benefiting the campus and the community Thursday, April 21.
Approximately 270 students and employees participated in the first “Mountain Day of Service,” collectively logging 1,104.5 hours of work.
The tradition of Mountain Day at Lees-McRae goes back to the school’s founder, the Rev. Edgar Tufts. Each fall, Tufts would surprise the school during chapel by announcing, “it was a good day to climb Beech.” Following the proclamation, the entire school would set off up the mountain. When they reached the end of the five-mile climb, a feast of potatoes and corn and sandwiches would be waiting on the group.
Mountain Day was renewed during the early years of the 21st century, more than 100 years after Tufts founded the school. It became a semi-annual tradition, though the hike was limited to Wildcat Lake via the Hemlock Trail.
This year, however, Mountain Day organizers decided to try a different approach. Though the fall Mountain Day will again be a day of rest for students and employees, complete with a picnic and games, the spring Mountain Day was dedicated to community service.
“We are excited about what we hope will become a new tradition,” said Dr. David W. Bushman, president of Lees-McRae. “In the fall, we will continue to celebrate the campus community with Mountain Day and in the spring, we will celebrate the surrounding community.”
Participants were enthusiastic about the change.
“It was all awesome, doing something that I can stand by and admire, as well as knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life,” said freshman Jamie Swinson, who volunteered at Habitat for Humanity.
Lees-McRae is a four-year, co-educational liberal arts college affiliated with the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., located in the mountains of western North Carolina in Banner Elk. The college is dedicated to service learning and offers majors in 24 fields.
For more photos of Mountain Day of Service, click here
Photos by Natalie Serianni, Sunny Townes, Dr. Michael Joslin and students in the communication arts program