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On August 17 TOTEMS began. Purple-shirted upperclassmen, faculty, and staff greeted incoming freshmen with warm welcomes and offers to help the new students’ cart their belongings to their dorms. The weather was ideal with bright sunshine and low humidity as students from all over the country and beyond spent the morning moving in.

Afterward it was on to the Ryan Family Student Center for a delicious lunch. Once again, the local favorite, Clem’s BBQ, set out a spread of pork, chicken, vegan sausage, beans, potato salad, fruit, cold water and soda. Classrooms along the lower floor of Deike looked more like restaurant banquet rooms as groups socialized and gathered around the table clothed classroom tables.

At 2:00 p.m. students boarded buses for Raystown Lake in nearby Huntingdon County. Parents and family members waved as the blue Penn State busses drove the new recruits off for a fun-filled three days. TOTEMS is a unique program at EMS designed to welcome freshmen, give them a chance to meet faculty and staff in a casual setting, and help make new friends.

Just before the buses departed, some parents were reaching under their sunglasses dabbing tears. One mother whose voice was wavering turned to another and said, “Now that our jobs are done, I think we parents should get to go to a lake for some fun too!”

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