Our Strength is in Our Union
As Colby-Sawyer's incoming students pack their cars with extra-long sheet sets, laptops and more clothes than will fit in a residence-hall closet, the excitement of heading off to college is mixed with anxiety about the adventure ahead.
Fear not, Class of 2011, for Colby-Sawyer and the town of New London welcome you as they have welcomed students in 169 classes before you. When those sheets are finally on your new bed and your favorite posters are on the wall, take a moment to ponder the last two centuries of students.
One of these students was Lura M. Dean, Class of 1896. In her day, the institution was known as Colby Academy, then a co-educational college preparatory high school. The academy was struggling financially after the devastating fire of 1892, which destroyed the main residence and classroom building known as the Brick Academy on the new upper campus.
All that remains today of the old campus is the former Colby Academy building on the town green, now home to New London's town offices.
With her high collars and curly hair, Dean looks like a kind, earnest person. She likely would have lived in the girls' residence hall, the long-vanished Heidelburg, which housed 40 students and the female teachers as well as dining areas.
Dean, from New London, was the president of Colby Academy's Society of Religious Inquiry, an all-female organization that met weekly. She was also a poet.
In her 1897 poem Colby, Dean contemplates the future of the academy, as well as the students who had struggled bravely with their studies and the trustees who worked hard to keep the academy alive.
by Lura M. Dean
Many eyes have looked upon it,
Many feet have crossed its threshold;
Many minds have struggled bravely
With its mysteries and its problems.
Many youth have trod its pathways
With uncertain, eager longings,
Looking forward, looking backward,
Sighing o'er the fleeting present;
And their hopes and aspirations
Have grown brighter as they journeyed,
Till they bore away the laurels
In the world's broad field of battle.
Many storms have beat upon it,
Fire and flood have raged against it,
Yet it stands as firm as ever,
With a truer, nobler aspect;
Stands to be a grand reminder
That our strength is in our union,
That the right and truth must conquer
Till their foes are crushed forever.
Many hearts have thrilled with pleasure
O'er its progress and advancement,
Many prayers are still ascending
To the throne of the Eternal
Prayers of earnest, fond entreaty,
Prayers that rise from deep affection
That a grand and glorious future,
Full of peace and sweet contentment,
Full of influence, pure and Godlike,
May be held in store for Colby.
As Colby-Sawyer has grown over the centuries, so will you grow in your time here on the hill. You may struggle bravely, as Dean did, with all the mysteries of college life, but that's part of the adventure. Take advantage of good opportunities, roam the campus, talk with faculty and staff members, and explore all the possibilities of your new world. Let your hopes and aspirations grow as you journey, as Dean encourages in her poem. Your future can be grand and glorious full of influence, and it starts here and now. Welcome, Class of 2011.