As they spelled out USC with 4,000 flashlights, the incoming class of 2013 created a unique class photo at the first “Light Up the Coliseum” rally.
This highlight of USC’s Welcome Week was organized by Orientation Programs and Student Activities to give new Trojans a preview of the USC game day experience and a chance to make new friends. And, said new students, it succeeded.
“The event was inspirational and fun and a good way to get to know a lot of people at one time,” said Carter Feuerhelm from Phoenix, Arizona.
“It was a great way to start the year,” added Jacqueline Smith from Vancouver, British Columbia.
The turnout far exceeded expectations. “We were expecting about 1,500 students, but prepared for about 3,000,” said Jessica Frey, student assistant for Orientation Programs and Welcome Week coordinator. In fact, the event drew almost 4,000 students.
Orientation Advisers, Campus Activities staff and others started the rally at Tommy Trojan by handing out pom-poms and hot dogs. When the Trojan Marching Band, USC Song Girls and Spirit Squad arrived, the crowd of students filed in behind and headed down Trousdale where, following game-day tradition, they kicked the light poles at Exposition before heading to the Coliseum.
There they charged through the players tunnel onto the football field, where they were treated to a Trojan Marching Band concert, led by Dr. Arthur C. Bartner, who rallied the students to cheer at just the right times. Trojan mascot Traveler trotted across the field to complete the performance.
“I loved, loved, loved the cheerleaders and the band,” said Jessica Hernandez from Los Angeles. “My favorite part was the man (Bartner) standing on the ladder. He made it so fun.”
Student leaders from Residential Student Government and Program Board welcomed the newcomers to the Trojan Family and members of the Trojan Knights led the students in the fine art of “card stunts.” Students watched themselves on the jumbotron as they spelled out “Fight On,” “We Run L.A.,” “SC” and “So Cal.”
“I really liked spelling out words with the cards. That was cool,” said Caroline Feda from Connecticut. “We didn’t have a lot of school spirit at my high school so this was really different.”
Moving beyond the game day experience, Fran de Leon of Playfair, an organization that provides team-building experiences, took the stage to lead activities designed to help students make new friends.
For many students, the exercises helped them move out of their comfort zones. “It was fun to meet new people, and the questions they asked made you step out of the box. It showed how you had similarities with other students, which I thought was pretty cool,” said Hernandez.
As their “game day” finale, the students then formed the letters USC and lit up the Coliseum with flashlights while their class photo was taken.
Summing up the rally, Lily Chowana-Bandhu, interim director of Campus Activities, said, “Our goal was for students to get a good experience in spirit and traditions. This exceeded our expectations.”