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Tears and Cheers Accompany Class of 2017 as They Become Men of Morehouse

           Thursday night during Parents’ Parting Ceremony, Nicole Livingston did what other parents and families of Morehouse’s newest students did – she cried a lot.


            It wasn’t just because her son, Bryan, became a member of the class of 2017.  It was also because she remembered the words of his father, Leonard, who is in a nursing home in Upper Marlboro, Md., where he has been in and out of a coma.


            “He was like, ‘Take care of my son,’” she said.  “’Tell Morehouse, I said thank you.’  I’ve cried because he couldn’t be here.”


            Her tears were also tears of joy, she insisted, just like the hundreds of the other family members who were bidding their sons farewell as they become Morehouse freshmen during the parents’ final day of New Student Orientation.


            The students – hailing from places such as Detroit, Los Angeles, Seattle and the Virgin Islands – were finishing the final day of the three-day New Student Orientation.


            It’s a class Terrance Dixon, the College’s associate vice president for Enrollment Management, is excited about.


            “The average scholar in the class has about a 3.5 grade point average; they are about 550 students strong, representing 38 states and eight countries,” he said. “And they are pretty diverse. There are 13 students classified as international, but there are also several different types of nationalities and races in this class who come from various parts of the country. They are eager and they’ve heard some great things from President [John Silvanus] Wilson and they are charged up and ready for the semester.” 


            The students arrived on campus Tuesday morning.  For three days, they learned from faculty, staff and their new brothers everything about what it means to be a man of Morehouse.


            “I’m thinking about what it’s like going into a new environment and being away from my family,” said freshman Samuel Buchanan of Milwaukee.  “This is a different experience.”


            Tuesday, Mark Issacson and Kathi Petrotta watched as their son, Devon, finalized paperwork.


            “We’ve taken him as far we can, given him all the love and support we could give as parents, and now we’re turning him over to Morehouse,” Issacson said. “It’s pretty emotional.  We’ve been with Devon since he was three days old.  Now it’s his first steps in being on his own and his own steps to becoming a Morehouse Man.”


               By Thursday night, it was time for the Issacsons and other parents to let those young men go.


         “In order for these young gentlemen to learn self reliance and to be sent like arrows, swift and far, you – the guardians and parents – must depart,” said President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. ’79. “Fathers and mothers must separate from their sons, temporarily, so that our freshmen may learn the crown values of accountable vocation, the beloved community, international justice, non-violence and divine right and order.  This is the Morehouse way to preparing your sons to be reintegrated back into responsible civil society.” 


             After a rousing ceremony where students pledged to work hard and parents promised to allow them to go on their journey independently, the class of 2017 walked through the main gates of campus.  Those gates closed and the parents and families watched from the other side, with tears in their eyes.


            “He’s going to be okay,” said Ramona Palmer of Hampton, Va.  The single mother was going to miss her only son, Marcus, but she was comforted by the fact that he would be at Morehouse.


            “God places people… and I know God placed him here,” she said. “I am the happiest mother here.  This is the proudest moment I’ve ever had.”


     To see photos from the Parents Parting Ceremony during New Student Orientation, go to https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151807035349311.1073741832.316502514310&type=1.