Apple Day defines and strengthens Mary Baldwin during rapid change in higher ed By Dawn Medley / Photos by Woods Pierce and from MBC archives
Mikhaila Moynihan ’14 laughs every time she thinks about watching her friends lumber toward each other wearing giant sumo wrestling suits at the Apple Day carnival. Angela Weck ’89 remembers the sophomore class bursting into the dining hall to announce the start of festivities. Polly Aun, a 2005 graduate, credits the tradition with initiating her commitment to community service. Heline Harrison ’48 returns to campus almost every year to share her early Apple Day memories of picnicking and revelry. Apple Day is the tie that binds generations of Mary Baldwin College alumni. In a period of brisk change in higher educa-
tion, Apple Day — like decades-old traditions at so many colleges and universities — is even more significant. Traditions create stability and shared history. They distinguish one college from another. And they are fun, providing diversion from the rigors of studying and planning for an uncertain future. “Traditions are as meaningful as they are entertaining,” says Penn State Professor of American Studies and Folklore Simon J. Bronner. “They create family-like bonds between students from very different backgrounds, they forge shared experiences that can be built upon, and they connect current students with the history of the institution.
“The sweep of vocationalism and a move toward a la carte studies in higher education are threatening the sense of campus community. Strong, established traditions work against those forces,” explained Bronner, who explored how students shape the American college experience while writing his 2012 book, Campus Traditions: Folklore from the Old-Time College to the Modern Mega-University. “Every institution has rituals that have deeper significance than an individual action or an individual day,” said Crista Cabe, MBC vice president for public relations. “There’s no other school that does Apple Day. It feels like a unique part
The Mary Baldwin College magazine, Fall 2013