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First-Year Students Refresh Painted Street

Photo by Allyn Benkowich | Staff Photographer

First-year students and their Peer Mentor/Academic Consultants repainted the heavily chipped Painted Street during Welcome Week, applying a fresh coat of blue, a few giant paw prints and the slogan “Drake Together” in white.

With the cancellation of the 2020 Drake Relays, the annual Painted Street tradition was canceled as well, leaving the previous year’s designs to further chip away.

Wednesday through Friday of Welcome Week, each First-Year Seminar group went to Painted Street to paint their assigned squares during their 45-minute time slot. Members of the Student Activities Board and Peer Advisory Board stationed themselves nearby to assure the groups were social distancing.

SAB started planning Welcome Week activities at the beginning of the summer and thought that painting the street right away with the first years would be a good introduction to Drake.

“It would be a really cool way to introduce first-year students to a really cool Drake tradition,” SAB President and peer mentor Reilly Atkins said. “It’s something that makes Drake unique and builds community among first-year seminars.” 

SAB worked with the Communications and Marketing Office to create the design. The PAB joined in on the scheduling and helped them split up the design throughout all the squares and assign them to the PMACs and their groups.

All groups planning the event wanted to make sure students were bonding and building relationships, but they made sure to keep everyone safe through social distancing.

“We scheduled everyone in such a way that we didn’t want to have three groups all working on the same squares right next to each other for distancing purposes,” senior PAB member Carson Reichardt said. “So usually there would be someone towards the end of the street, someone in the middle and someone towards the other end.”

Even though the street was just painted, Reichardt believes the tradition should continue as usual during Drake Relays this spring. 

While the SAB did have discussions about potential backlash from having first-years paint the street rather than current sophomores, Atkins said they felt the pros outweigh the cons and expected that returning students would understand because of the unique circumstances. 

“It’s not the usual street painting … it was more like each FYS putting the puzzles together to create something bigger,” Atkins said.

One of Atkins’ FYS students, Kaylee Ostdiek, was excited to participate in a school tradition right off the bat.

“It was cool to see the finished product … We did it Thursday afternoon so all day on Friday I was just waiting for somebody to post the finished product,” Ostdiek said.   

Overall, the event did what it was always meant to do–bring students together.

“Honestly, it felt like filling in a part of campus that was missing because that’s such a huge tradition every year. Having that taken away from so many students who were really looking forward to it was a huge letdown,” Reichardt said. “So being able to fill it back in with vibrant new color now felt like a welcome back to campus for everyone.”

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