With just a few days of classes completed, Carroll Community College students gathered with book bags, burgers and Bob Marley on Wednesday afternoon at the school's celebratory Welcome Back Picnic.
Students had the chance to say goodbye to their summer vacations and look forward to a new semester of classes with free food, constant reggae music and a chance to catch up with friends at the picnic, held a few days after the fall semester's start on Monday. Much like the new solar panels next to the patio area hosting the picnic, students soaked up some sun during their brief lunch breaks before heading back to hit the books.
Sarah Solomon, a Westminster student focusing on pharmaceutical studies, said she's already looking forward to next year's summer vacation, but the picnic — and free food — took the sting out of having to return to classes.
The gathering spot on campus provided an opportunity for friends to meet up after a summer apart, as many hugged next to the grills and caught up on the vacation adventures.
Jacob Soyland, a returning student from Mount Airy, said he's glad to be back and ready to start up another semester of learning. This year, Soyland said he's trying to expand his schedule to try his hand at some new topics and discover his passion.
"I'm trying out new classes and specialized classes for the first time this year," he said. "I'm trying to get into more artsy kinds of classes because it's something I've always been interested in."
His friend Solenn Orozco, of Mount Airy, said that kind of exploration is exactly why she first decided to attend Carroll Community. Though studying engineering now, Orozco said her first year, she wasn't sure where she wanted to end up.
"When I first got here, I had no idea what I wanted to do," Orozco said. "I wasn't going to waste money on a four-year college without knowing, so I decided to go to Carroll."
The picnic didn't signal a change of the seasons for all of the students though, as Brenda Covell, of Hampstead, and Mackenzie Smith, of Manchester, returned this week after only a weekend break from their summer semester of classes.
Covell said the thing she's looking forward to the most this year, is spending time in the classroom with Smith.
"We're both taking chemistry this year," Covell said. "It's really exciting to be in the same class together. It's always nice to have a study buddy."