The Columns

Leading the Way

— by on September 3rd, 2009

About 150 entering Washington and Lee first-years dropped their belongings off in Lexington on Sunday and joined up with 40 upperclass leaders to head out on The Leading Edge, the University’s pre-orientation program. Leading Edge has two tracks: Volunteer Venture and Appalachian Adventure. In the  case of the latter, students are either backpacking or backpacking and rock climbing on the Appalachian Trail and around Goshen Pass. The Volunteer Venture has five different venues with  varied emphases. The sites are Roanoke, Lexington, Charleston, W.Va., Washington, D.C., and Greensboro, N.C. The voluntary pre-orientation program offer students a chance to get to know other first-years who share similar interests and to develop leadership skills. According to Dave Leonard, dean of first-year students, demand for the program has always been strong but requests to participate spiked this year. One interesting piece of trivia: in five days students in the Appalachian Adventure program consume 125 pounds of cheese, 30 lbs. of butter and 500 bagels. In Roanoke, more than two dozen of the students are working for the 10th year with Total Against Against Poverty or TAP. A story in Thursday’s Roanoke Times provides a glimpse into what the students are learning, quoting Laura Gronauer of Winchester as saying: “It was really surprising to see how little some people are making do with.” In addition to the Roanoke Times, the TAP students were also featured on WDBJ-TV. Leading Edge participants return to Lexington for the regular orientation program that begins on Saturday with move-in day.