One of the things that set Warren Wilson apart from other colleges is its annual Work Day – a day in which the campus community pitches to work on a variety of outdoor projects. Classes aren’t held on Work Day. Instead, students report to their usual work crews in the morning, in some cases to do service projects at nearby locations such as Animal Haven as the library crew did again this year. After lunch, students, faculty and staff gather outside Gladfelter Student Center before fanning out to various campus locations to work on a diverse collection of projects.
WWC Dean of Work Ian Robertson likens Work Day and its celebration of work to the Fourth of July in April, and this year the weather certainly felt like it. Unlike 2009, when the day began with a dusting of snow and temperatures struggled to reach the 50s, Work Day 2010 featured temps well into the 80s after an unusually harsh mountain winter. By Thursday morning, rain and cooler weather had moved in.
A new wrinkle this year was beginning and ending Work Day activities at Morris’ Community Pavilion. For many years the pavilion and its lawn have been the site of the community picnic at day’s end. This year, it also was the location for the Work Day panoramic photo, shot as usual by Asheville photographer Benjamin Porter. The lawn filled up quickly with the several hundred students, faculty and staff who were directed there via Robertson’s bullhorn before scattering to the work locations across the 1,100-acre campus.
One thing that didn’t change this year was maintenance at the Warren Wilson Cemetery being one of the work projects. Senior Raya Cooper enjoyed every minute of her final Work Day as she helped with cemetery cleanup.
“I love Work Day,” she said. “Every year I look forward to helping out and keeping our campus beautiful.
“This year I worked with Rodney Lytle (alumni relations), mowing in the cemetery. It was good work, but every now and then I’d step on someone’s grave and I’d ask Rodney their name so I could apologize. Rodney knows everyone’s name in that graveyard.”
Freshman Alice Steinkraus, who did river cleanup on her first Work Day, said the day was “a really mind-opening experience. I learned how the welfare of our community depends upon our individual efforts.”
One of the most dramatic Work Day makeovers occurred at the Facilities Management and Technical Services (FMTS) building. After sporting a fading blue for many years, the building was transformed to an attractive light brown on Work Day. “Long overdue,” as paint supervisor Jason Lackey observed, not to mention somewhat ironic considering the extensive work FMTS does on buildings all over campus during the calendar year. At last, the FMTS home base received a little love of its own.
Anyone who makes the rounds to various locations on Work Day cannot help but be impressed by how many beautiful spots there are on campus amid the forests, fields, streams and gardens. And Work Day invariably leaves the campus looking even more beautiful at the end of the day.
There’s also the reward of a picnic and music when the work is completed. Senior Lauren (Fox) Trowbridge admitted that the barbecue is her favorite part of Work Day. “It rewards us for a hard day’s work and allows us all to bond as a community,” she said. And that’s always been a big part of what Warren Wilson is all about.