Anyone who has attended the state’s oldest university should participate in the many traditions surrounding Ohio University’s commencement this weekend.
I will write about a few that are common, but I’ve always seen Athens as a place to define and redefine one’s self. Students come in thirsting for knowledge and leave as young adults ready to conquer the world. And I’ve always felt that a Bobcats’ time spent at OU and Athens echoes an eternity.
It has been a long tradition to walk under the gate toward campus as a new student and again away from campus after commencement. This tradition is a must – walking under the Alumni Gateway, which was gifted by the Class of 1915 to mark the 100th anniversary of OHIO’s first graduating class. On the side that enters campus, it reads, “So enter that daily thou mayest grow in knowledge wisdom and love.” Upon exit it reads, “So depart that daily thou mayest better serve thy fellowmen thy country and thy God.”
One can make a strong argument that the Alumni Gateway is a good place to take a cap and gown photo, but others would suggest College Green, perhaps in front of Cutler Hall.
Another tradition – maybe take a long walk on the rail trail by the Hocking River and say hello and goodbye to the Cherry blossoms, as their blooms symbolize the arrival of spring in Athens. They were given as a gift in 1979 by Chubu University, located in Kasugai Japan, in honor of OHIO’s 175th anniversary.
While I’m not sure I want to mention this tradition, it’s one that more than a few seniors have embraced for decades. I’m not sure what it is called, but for point of reference, I will call it the pub crawl – that’s where you drink an adult beverage at each bar downtown. To be candid, I didn’t make it very far up Court Street, but that’s OK.
Maybe start out with a beer at Tony’s Tavern, then a Bloody Mary at Casa Nueva, then whatever at the J-Bar followed by a beer at the Pub. After that, it really doesn’t matter what you drink at the CI or Pawpurrs, so on and so forth. Drink plenty of fluids – water – along the way. Looking back, the money and brain cells lost could’ve been better spent.
Here’s another tradition – make your own tradition.
Seniors – have that last cup of coffee at Donkey Coffee. Embrace the shop’s quirky and eclectic style – that can’t be duplicated no matter where your travels take you. Trust me, at some point ahead many of you will wish you could have a morning cup of coffee at Donkey while talking to friends and people watching at the front tables outside.
By all means go to Brenen’s Coffee Café too – great Highlander Grog and place to people watch and say goodbye to folks you know.
Dip your feet or wade in the Hocking River, sort of an unofficial baptism of sorts when you first arrive, so say goodbye to the river with one last dip.
Bike around the brick streets – that’s a unique experience.
Maybe make plans to train for the annual Athens Marathon – oldest in Ohio.
Get an Avalanche Pizza or any one of Athens locally owned pizzas – that’s a taste that you’ll miss.
Say goodbye and stay in touch with professors and people in town. You’ve made lifelong friends and you will be visiting Athens time and again. While graduation may signify a goodbye for some folks, many will return for Halloween, Moms’ Weekend, Dads’ Weekend, Alumni Weekend, Sibs’ Weekend, etc.
Read the Athens News and Athens Messenger to keep on top of the latest happenings in our town.
To soon-to-be OU graduates – congratulations! Athens will miss you and you are always welcome back! Go Bobcats!
Miles Layton is Region Editor for APG Ohio.
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