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By Will Wright | Assistant News Editor
As students and their families pulled up to campus Friday, UK President Eli Capilouto leaned into car windows, smiling as he welcomed students to their new lives at UK.
Students and parents then hauled clothes, lamps, Pillow Pets and everything else from their cars to their dorms with the help of Residence Life.
About 5,000 students settled into campus this weekend with the start of K Week, the program that welcomes new and transfer students to campus. Students attended events such as Big Blue U, Campus Ruckus and the Student Center Spectacular.
On Saturday, the class of 2017 gathered in Commonwealth Stadium for Big Blue U, learning the cheers and callbacks for football games, led by Carl Nathe, the public address announcer for UK Athletics, and Dawn Walters, UK dance team head coach.
Capilouto along with men’s basketball head coach John Calipari, Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart and football head coach Mark Stoops urged the new students to support student athletes and attend the games.
“We need your help,” Stoops said to the crowd. “You will make a difference.”
Biology freshman Jennifer O’Hagan said Big Blue U got her excited for the upcoming year.
She said she already bought season football tickets.
After the event ramped students up school spirit, they then went to Campus Ruckus on Saturday night to learn how to get involved with organizations. Students could throw water balloons at an event called “Stoning an Atheist” put on by the Secular Student Alliance, then have their fortune told by the Gaming Club.
Theater freshman Abby Schroering said Campus Ruckus was her favorite event.
Schroering decided to go to the first soccer game of the year after her experience at Big Blue U and Campus Ruckus.
In addition to Saturday’s events, students could volunteer through organizations like Students Helping Honduras or UK Fusion.
“UK Fusion is the biggest day of service in Kentucky,” said Fusion adviser Jillian Pyatte.
In all, more than 900 students participated at 75 volunteer sites, said Burhanuddin Johar, director of Fusion and biology senior.
Psychology junior Alec Manuel said it is a great way for students to serve the community.
“We affect so many lives in so many different places,” he said.
Psychology senior Atanas Golev said his group spent their time painting a barn and main building at the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center, a group that rehabilitates and retrains former racehorses.
“You have to focus on yourself sometimes while in school, but you can find time to give a hand,” Golev said.
It’s a good way to create relationships with the university and community, he said.
Other students volunteered for organizations working to do things like clean up public parks and help the elderly.
Multiple campus organizations participated in Fusion as well as other events during K Week.
In its annual tradition, members of the Christian Student Fellowship reached out to students by cooking free pancakes throughout K Week.
Storey Morris, a recent UK graduate who works for CSF, said more than 1,200 people came to get pancakes on Saturday night as well as hundreds more each day of K Week at noon and midnight.
“We don’t want to be an organization that shoves Jesus down people’s throats, but we want to provide an environment where we can be hospitable and loving,” Morris said. “We feel like the pancake ministry provides a great opportunity to be relational and loving towards God’s children.”
While some students use K Week as an opportunity to serve the community or learn the secrets of college from their K Crew leaders, many just want to make new friends and connect with their new classmates.
“It seems like everyone knows everyone, but no one from my school went to UK,” secondary education freshman Hunter Richardson said. “I just want to meet more people.”