The cold never bothered them, anyway. Though the sun never peaked through the clouds, thousands still flocked to the university’s campus to see what Maryland Day had to offer.
The annual event draws thousands – alumni, members of the community and prospective students – each year. All of the university’s different programs and clubs set up tents around campus to advertise.
Instrument Petting Zoo
In one of the choral rehearsal rooms, two tables of instruments waited to be demonstrated. A cello, violin, clarinet, trombone and trumpet were displayed across the tables. Cleaning solution, paper towels and spare mouthpieces laid among the instruments.
Children approached the tables and picked up the instruments that interested them. University students helped the children accurately blow into the trumpets and properly play the cello.
The room filled with contrasting sounds as both the experienced and inexperienced tried their hands at the instruments.
Tracy Sahlr of Salisbury, a 1988 graduate of this university, brought her daughter and two members of Girl Scout Troop 980 to experience Maryland Day.
“We’re referred to as the Arts Troop,” Sahlr said. “Whenever given the chance, these girls will act, dance and sing.”
Sahlr, an advocate for the arts, said she is fighting a constant battle promoting funding for the arts as opposed to STEM programs.
“For some kids, the arts light them up,” Sahlr said.
Dances for Dogs and People Who Walk Them
Music blared from speakers while Maryland Day participants fawned over dogs in red jackets that read “Adopt Me.”
Terp Animal Program brought in dogs from the Prince George’s County Animal Shelter. Those in attendance could play and dance with the dogs, while also being encouraged to adopt them.
Senior English major Hannah Mahon is one of the students who created the Terp Animal Program. She and her classmates in Do Good Now organized a semester-long project to make a difference in the community.
“We wanted to raise awareness to adopt animals,” Mahon said. “We thought that bringing people around dogs would encourage them to adopt.”
Participants paired up with dogs and participated in a choreographed “dance.” The participants were led in different steps and walked the dogs around in circles.
“It’s going really well,” Mahon said. “Someone already asked about adopting [one of the dogs].”
Heighten, Then Fortify
Spectators spread out in front of the stairs outside the main entrance of The Clarice. They watched in awe as three students took turns using the staircase as a stage.
For their composition class, dance majors Jasmine Watkins and Ira Hill were assigned a site-specific task. They were told to use these stairs to give a performance and decided to do a duet.
“We each have solos,” Hill said. “But we’re breaking them up by performing in unison.”
“We wanted to explore and take time to ourselves,” Watkins said. “I think it made our performance stronger.”
Sophomore dance and biology major Christina O’Brien also performed on the stairs. Her performance differed from Watkins and Hill’s in that O’Brien incorporated music.
O’Brien climbed all over the walls and railings and walked down the stairs on her hands to the beat, extracting gasps from those watching.
“This was another opportunity to perform,” Watkins said. “There are so many families here today so we can show them that this is what Maryland is.”
Cafritz Foundation Theatre was dimly light. Audience members filled the room and a spotlight shone on the stage in the front of the room.
Approximately 72 hours prior to the event, composers drew an ensemble out of a hat. The composers had the next 36 hours to compose a new piece for their ensemble, and then the ensemble had the following 36 hours to rehearse it.
Audience members constantly bustled in and out, but everyone became quiet and respectful when performers took the stage.
Scott AuCoin, a university alumnus and the choir director at Marriotts Ridge High School, composed a piece titled “Loud Patterns.”
“I don’t have a lot of free time,” AuCoin said. “I wrote this when I was in my office. It’s based off the tie I was wearing.”
As the day went on, temperatures dropped and the sun continued to hide. However, crowds still occupied campus even as the end of the day neared.
Maya Pottiger is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.