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It’s that time of year. Students are back on campus at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh ready for another new academic year.

More than 13,600 new and continuing students were busy Tuesday making the University feel like home, just one day before classes began. For many incoming freshman, the day was spent exploring all that UW Oshkosh has to offer.

“I’m just going with the flow today,” said Blake Derks, a freshman from Kimberly, who spent Tuesday getting used to living in Oshkosh. “I’m trying to learn all about UWO.”

Derks was not alone in getting to know all that UW Oshkosh has to offer. Opening Day festivities were in full swing throughout campus to introduce students to their new environment. Taste of UW Oshkosh, held outside of Reeve Union, connected students to organizations and on-campus opportunities.

“I’m excited to join some clubs and find some volunteer opportunities,” said Sammie Atwell, a freshman from Oshkosh.

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While the sense of excitement is apparent though the laughter and chatter that makes its way through the dining area at Reeve, into the bookstore and down the sidewalks of campus into academic buildings, many incoming freshman admit they are also a little anxious for classes to begin.

“I came here really nervous, but it’s not as bad as I thought it would be,” said Mai Xiong, a freshman from Milwaukee who is living on campus this year. “I’m now looking forward to classes tomorrow.”

On campus Tuesday, it wasn’t just students who were prepping for the 2011-2012 academic year.

Chancellor Richard Wells and other University leaders welcomed faculty and staff members to campus during the annual Opening Day assembly. UW Oshkosh faculty and staff members were also recognized for their achievements and contributions during the assembly.

“This year marks the 140th anniversary of our founding…this assembly, this chance to address you and award and recognize your talent and achievement, has always reminded me that I work alongside hundreds of dynamic, diverse colleagues,” Wells said to faculty and staff.

Wells also spoke of courage, civility and the ongoing commitment to needed to confront challenges during his Opening Day remarks.

For students, though, perhaps the biggest challenge is finding their classes for the first time, they say.

“I’m very nervous about classes…about finding them,” said Cassy Bendorf-Powell, a freshman from Beloit.

Opening Day rounded out with the annual Chancellor’s Run/Walk along the Fox River. This year, the 20th year the event was held, more than 250 people participated.

Ali Tomczyk, a sophomore studying kinesiology, and Jordyn Bratel, a sophomore studying criminal justice and psychology, participated in the Run/Walk with their UW Oshkosh volleyball team. Both women were glad to be participating in the Run/Walk to show their Titan Pride, they said. They’re also ready for the excitement this time of year brings.

“The first few weeks of school are always really busy,” Tomczyk said. “I like coming back to school.”

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