“I love to dance,” Iris Snow Mustang said. “They must have known I was coming!”
Across the room a resident flashes his phone through a soda bottle making an impromptu strobe light, and heavy bass echoes off the walls.
A glimpse through the gaping glass windows of the multipurpose room in the Kenai Peninsula College Residence Hall Friday night left a few scratching their heads. Mustang was one of a handful of dancers padding around the room in a knee-length cotton nightshirt and pajama pants.
“It’s not normally this loud,” said Leslie Byrd, laughing. The Residence Life Coordinator was wrangling her fellow employees, residents and a handful of High School and GED graduates giving college life a 24-hour trial run. Byrd had her hands full, but a didn’t bat an eye at the shoe-less partiers.
This year the second annual Advice and a Slice fair at the Kenai Peninsula College offered prospective students the chance for an overnight stay in the brand new residence hall, organized by Tammie D. Willis, Associate Director of Residence Life.
Byrd lives full time in the building she also manages, and she too is often shuffling around the building in socks. Once the group managed to quell some nerves and send off their parents, Byrd walked them through some typical pastimes for KPC residents.
The tables were full of chips, soda and pizza, and if they wanted some variety the upstairs vending machine had some microwave dinners. The machines are stocked regularly, but easily run out, Byrd said.
Complete with questionable diet and dance party, the high school students got to spend time lounging in front of a screening of “Harry Potter,” and shoot some pool. Byrd spent her time getting to know everyone and making sure they were comfortable.
Bryd said she wanted the group to experience KPC as a safe, educational campus. Students living there have their own space and independence, and her staff aims to make it more than just a place to sleep.
“I don’t want them to think the only place to learn is the classroom,” Byrd said. “So much of life is experiential.”
Byrd and the residence assistants are on call 24 hours a day, and the building stays locked at all hours, she said. Members of the KPC community are very invested in campus activities, she said.
Hours earlier, the fair portion looked something like a fun house closet. In front of the lab-coat-clad Toby Long, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, a clear tube spewed wispy fog, and Paul Perry, EMS/Paramedic Coordinator, stood beside a stretcher supporting a life-size manikin.
Kenai Central senior Jacy Marston said all day staff and faculty had been extremely eager and open to her inquiries. She said she would definitely be attending KPC next fall.
“Its fun to learn with people who are engaged with what their teaching,” Marston said.
Marston’s friend Crystal Dauwe said she wished she had brought more friends to stay over night in the residence hall with her.
“I don’t question if I will make friends, and if I’ll be happy here,” Dauwe said. Dauwe won a three-credit voucher during the Advice and a Slice Scavenger hunt.
Chris Stuive, Assistant Professor of Counseling, came up with the scavenger hunt after some tables experienced low traffic at last year’s pilot event.
Stuive organized Advice and a Slice as a way to engage future students in the college’s resources. She said she tried to pull staff from every discipline and area of study taught at KPC. One professor even called in on Skype for the event, she said.
With such an involved community everyone got really creative this year, and even a little competitive. She pulled out and started reading from a copy of the scavenger hunt.
“So gold, Ag, walks into KPC and sees his friend Silver and says what?” Stuive said. “Ay You! (Au)”
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at Kelly.Sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.