The Class of 2016 at Northwestern University performed the ritual “March Thru the Arch” Friday to begin their four-year residency (more or less) in Evanston.

Most of them had just moved into their dorm rooms on Thursday before participating in a spirited kickoff of their college career, starting with a weeklong “Wildcat Welcome” orientation program.

The 2,000-plus students represent “the most diverse and academically gifted class” in the school’s 161-year history, according to university officials.

Family and friends line up early at the arch on the corner of Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue.

Willy the Wildcat entertains the crowd as they wait for the class to cross onto the main campus.

The famous Rock is repainted for the event.

NU President Morton Schapiro leads the procession across Sheridan Road at about 9:20 a.m.

Willy the Wildcat is close behind…

…followed by the Northwestern Marching Band.

Off to Deering Meadow they go…

…where some stand…

…and others sit…

…while the band entertains…

…until with everyone in the meadow, President Schapiro welcomes them to Northwestern.

Some umbrellas sprout in the spitting rain until it’s time for the Class of 2016 to hunker down for their first year of studies and fun.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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