Students share Lees-McRae and Banner Elk bucket list items at 100 Days Until Graduation event

Old issues of the Lees-McRae Ontaroga yearbook decked the tables, symbolizing the next step for the seniors who filed into Evans Auditorium on Thursday, Jan. 26 for the college’s annual 100 Days Until Graduation event.

The start of this countdown prompts students to begin looking toward their graduation ceremony in May and beyond, but this is also a time for many of them to give thought to how they would like to cherish their final 100 days as a college undergrad. The 100 Days Until Graduation event was the perfect time to reflect on these goals, and many students posed for a photo with Wily showing off their pre-graduation ambitions.

Here are 10 things the Class of 2023 plan to do in the next 100 days:

In the next 100 days, I will...

1. Ski and snowboard

Flanked by Beech Mountain Ski Resort and Sugar Mountain Resort, Lees-McRae draws in students who love winter sports. For other students who have never hit the slopes, attending Lees-McRae is the perfect opportunity to try their hand at skiing and snowboarding.

Both Beech and Sugar Mountains offer discounts to Lees-McRae students, and with the winter season in full swing, now is the perfect time to take advantage of this location-specific opportunity and check it off your Lees-McRae bucket list before graduation.

Learn more about the value of experiencing snow sports at Lees-McRae from sophomore Makena Vosberg

2. Tube at Hawksnest

Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only snow sports this area has to offer. Snow tubing is another popular activity for Bobcats during the winter months, and Hawksnest Snow Tubing just down the mountain in Seven Devils, North Carolina is a great place to start.

Snow tubing is typically much cheaper and requires less prior knowledge and skills than skiing or snowboarding, making it the perfect experience for graduating seniors to add to their bucket list during their last snowy winter in Banner Elk.

3. Win a Conference Championship

Playing a sport at Lees-McRae is a great way to build strong relationships with coaches and teammates, hone an athletic skill, and gain Bobcat pride. Many student athletes hope they will have the opportunity to see their hard work and dedication realized with a National or Conference Championship win before they graduate, and the college’s softball team plans to do just that.

At the 100 Days Until Graduation event, a group of Bobcat softball players posed with Wily, proudly displaying a sign declaring, “In the next 100 days I will win a conference championship.”

Learn more about softball at Lees-McRae

4. Perform "James and the Giant Peach"

A group of senior Theatre Arts students reflected on what will be their final major performance with the college in their bucket list item, “do ‘James and the Giant Peach.’” The larger-than-life musical will be the perfect show to round out their time in the theatre department at the college, and many of the seniors are taking on principal roles and leadership responsibilities in the show’s production.

Even non-Theatre Arts students should add a Lees-McRae theatrical production to their college bucket list. “James and the Giant Peach,” which opens on Thursday, Feb. 23, is the perfect chance for seniors to catch a show before graduation.

Learn more about “James and the Giant Peach”

5. Ride the Alpine Coaster

The Wilderness Run Alpine Coaster is one of many fun experiences that make the High Country special. Snaking through the mountainous landscape near Sugar Mountain, right outside of Banner Elk, the Alpine Coaster offers riders an adrenaline rush and beautiful views at the same time.

The coaster, which can reach speeds of up to 27 miles perhour, is a popular tourist stop and a must see for many Lees-McRae students as well. In the inaugural Student Affairs High Country Experience Series in Fall 2022, a group of students enjoyed the alpine coaster and brought rave reviews back to their peers, solidifying this experience as one to hit for seniors graduating in the next 100 days.

6. Explore the Virginia Creeper Trail

The High Country Experience Series is a great way to explore all the High Country has to offer, and this semester’s series will hit a popular bucket list item from the 100 Days Until Graduation event, the Virginia Creeper Trail.

Known for its 17-mile downhill bike ride, the Virginia Creeper Trail offers all kinds of outdoor recreation opportunities along its 34-mile stretch from Abingdon to Damascus, Virginia. In addition to biking, the trail is a great place to hike, run, fish, birdwatch, and simply enjoy the views of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains.

Students who hope to cross this experience off their list within the next 100 days will have the perfect opportunity through the High Country Experience Series. The experience, scheduled for Saturday, March 25, will be offered for free to students.

This semester’s series will also include a zip-lining trip with High Gravity Adventures and a white water rafting excursion with the Nantahala Outdoor Center. These are experiences that can only be found in the mountains, so be sure to add these unforgettable opportunities to your graduation bucket list.

Sign up to ride the Virginia Creeper Trail

Read about last semester’s High Country Experience Series

7. Hike the Beacon Heights Trail

2023 is the Year of the Trail in North Carolina, so be sure to explore some of the High Country’s amazing trails in the next 100 days. A popular expedition among students is the Beacon Heights trail, which provides jaw-dropping views of Grandfather Mountain from its peak.

The entrance to the trail, which is just under a mile round-trip, is located off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Grandfather Mountain, a natural wonder with long and strong ties to Lees-McRae.

Learn more about Beacon Heights Trail

8. Visit Apple Hill Farm

This local alpaca farm has long been a favorite destination for Lees-McRae students, and the farm’s involvement with the college’s Appalachian Heritage Week is always a big hit. Although many students may have already met some of these cute creatures in this setting, taking a tour of Apple Hill Farm is an even better way to learn about the animals on their home turf.

A tour of Apple Hill Farm, which typically lasts between 45 minutes and one hour, explores far more than just alpacas. Visitors will get to meet all the farm’s residents, including cows, llamas, horses, pigs, and chickens, and learn about running a working farm in the 21st century.

Book a tour of Apple Hill Farm

9. Get a job

Often one of the most daunting parts about graduating college is the transition into the professional world of whichever field you have been dedicated to pursuing over the last four years. For many Bobcats, however, the challenge of finding a job is one that they want to tackle head on.

Students at the 100 Days Until Graduation event said that they hoped to use these next 100 days to find post-grad employment and have already begun hunting for positions and filling out applications.

It’s not always easy to know where to start in the hunt for a job, so be sure to make an appointment with Career and Life Planning in the next 100 days to learn more about making the transition into professional life.

Read the Lees-McRae Career Guide

10. Graduate

At 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 6, the Lees-McRae Class of 2023 will process across the stage on Tate Lawn, turn their tassels, and make their transition from students to alumni. This is an exciting time for graduating seniors who will enter a new phase of life, but this is also a time to reflect on relationships, experiences, and lessons from your time at Lees-McRae. Make the most of these next 100 days, Bobcats!

Visit the 2023 Commencement page

By Maya JarrellJanuary 30, 2023
AcademicsCampus Life