College Spotlight: Gettysburg College
Freshman Year Update
By Abigail Winston
“Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth, upon this continent, a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” While most people know these famous first lines of the Gettysburg Address, many people don’t know that there is an amazing college just a few minutes away from where this iconic speech was given!
My name is Abby Winston and I am a “first year” at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Gettysburg College, founded in 1832, is a small, private liberal arts college (2,600 students) located just feet away from Gettysburg National Military Park. Gettysburg College is also home to the Sunderman Conservatory of Music, to which students are admitted by an audition done in addition to their application to the college. Gettysburg accepts about 40% of applicants. I am already a declared Music (Voice) Major and am declaring my History major and Public History minor next week.
Being a history nerd, living in Gettysburg and being surrounded by history is a dream. It is incredible walking around town and seeing a historic site wherever I go. Our main administrative building, Pennsylvania Hall, was even used as a field hospital during the Battle of Gettysburg. The campus is supposedly haunted and it is not uncommon to see ghost tours trekking through campus and around town on the weekends. My friends often walk around the battlefield and into town, getting midnight breakfast at Lincoln Diner, getting burgers at Blue and Grey (the burgers come with Union/Confederate flags on them!), and laughing at all of the ridiculous souvenirs in the tourist shops. The amount of history nerds on campus often lead to some fun events, like a birthday party for Abraham Lincoln where we played Civil War parlor games and ended the evening hitting a pinata decorated to look like Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth.
As a music major, I am very involved with the arts scene at Gettysburg. I take private voice lessons for an hour every week, and sing with the Gettysburg College Choir, Gettysburg’s premier choral ensemble. My favorite music activity, however, is being a vocalist for the Gettysburg Jazz Ensemble. One of my favorite parts of the week is walking down the street to the Majestic Theater where we rehearse and perform. The Majestic Theater, now owned by the college, was originally opened as a silent movie theater in the 1920s and was frequented by President Dwight D. Eisenhower while he lived at his Gettysburg farm. Singing with the jazz band has been so incredible, and has presented me with so many opportunities, including performing with the band at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival on February 13th. Being able to do all of this as a freshman is what the liberal arts experience is all about. Fewer students means more opportunities!
Traditions are also very important at Gettysburg. Though Commencement and Servo Thanksgiving are notable, my favorite tradition so far has been the Twilight Walk. The Twilight Walk happens right after first-year students return for second semester. We put together a class scrapbook, then walk together to the steps of Pennsylvania Hall to present the scrapbook and sing the Alma Mater to our president, Janet Morgan Riggs (lovingly referred to as JMR). The Twilight Walk was especially beautiful this year because it coincided with the huge blizzard that hit campus in late January. Sledding down the steps of all of the academic buildings on campus is by far my favorite memory of Gettysburg so far.
Gettysburg College is the perfect place to explore current interests and develop new interests in subjects that you may not have even known about before college. I am so grateful to be part of the Gettysburg College community and highly recommend students who are seeking a well-rounded, challenging, and incredible education to consider getting your own “Gettysburg Address.”