On Tuesday, Sept. 4, the University of St. Thomas class of 2016 was welcomed by the campus community at the 12th March Through the Arches. Members of this year’s freshman class gathered on Summit Avenue, passed through the Arches and were met with applause from administrators, faculty, staff and upperclassmen as they made their way to Schoenecker Arena for the interfaith blessing for the new school year.

There are 1,460 students in this year’s incoming class. Among them are 37 international students, 29 valedictorians and six National Merit Scholars. They come from 429 high schools in 30 states.

March Through the Arches is a Tommie Tradition that began in 2000. It was the brainchild of St. Thomas Dean of Students Karen Lange, along with two of her student leaders, who came up with the idea on the trip home from an orientation conference. “We heard from a lot of other schools at our conference about the traditions they had for their incoming students each fall,” said Lange. “We thought this would be a meaningful way to gather our incoming students and send them to the arena for the convocation.”

According to Lange, the first March Through the Arches looked a little different than what took place on Tuesday. “When we first started, we lined the sidewalk across part of the quad. Now we line it all the way across, several-people deep,” she said. “It’s clearly become an important tradition for faculty and staff, as well as upperclassmen who participate.”

Tommie pride was in high supply as well. According to Lange, “It was Tommie Tuesday, so there was a sea of purple. It was also fun to see the cheer team and the student athletes taking part.”

As to whether the tradition leaves an impression on students, Lange has first hand evidence that it does. In the words of a student orientation leader, “This is one of my favorite days of the year.”