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story.lead_photo.caption New students at Westminster College gather in front of the original columns of Westminster Hall, which burned down in a fire in 1909. The columns ceremony is the official welcome to the community at Westminter as this is the only time students will pass through the columns before their graduation. Photo by Quinn Wilson / Fulton Sun.

New students at Westminster College took part in tradition Saturday as they passed through the historic columns on campus.

During the column ceremony, incoming freshmen and transfer students are officially welcomed to the college community. The students pass through the columns from the original Westminster Hall, which burned in a fire in 1909, and they will not pass through the columns again until their graduation day.

"(New students) come in through the columns facing the college together so that when they graduate, they walk out through the columns as a class to face the world," said Lana Poole, Westminster College's vice president of strategic communications.

According to Poole and many other faculty and staff members, there is a superstition that anybody who passes through the columns before their graduation will ultimately not graduate. New freshmen had heard these similar rumors and were cautious to adhere to the tradition.

"I've heard the rumors, so I think I'm just going to stay away from the columns," said incoming freshman Sam Brown, from Greenbrier, Arkansas.

"I mean, I'm not going to pass through the columns, can't risk that," said incoming freshman Becca Zile, from St. Charles.

The new students were led by bagpipes and members of the faculty and staff out to the columns of the original Westminster Hall. Representatives from the college's "Skulls of Seven" honor society addressed the students with the significance of the columns and led the students through an introductory "Athenian oath."

"(The column ceremony) was definitely interesting. I haven't seen anything like that before," said incoming freshman Ezekiel Rogers, from Waynesville.

Two members of the incoming class of 2023 addressed their peers during the ceremony as well. Christa Gilman, of Auxvasse, echoed her classmates during her speech with her excitement to start this new chapter in life.

"I'm really just most excited to start over and to get to meet new people," Zile said.

The columns ceremony was followed by the convocation speech by alumni duo of physicians from Columbia, Dr. Matthew Roehrs and his wife, Dr. Misty Todd.

"I think it's really cool how they treat the freshmen with this level of hospitality and come together like a community like this," Brown said

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