The new fire pit is made out of materials leftover from previous Bucknell construction projects, including the old Carnegie Building steps. Photo by Daniel Earhart
The Class of 2020 had three things in mind while planning their class tribute: sustainability, community and collaboration. This spring, those values coalesced to create Bucknell's newest outdoor learning and gathering space — a fire pit located steps away from the Bucknell Farm on South Campus.
"We wanted to follow in the tradition of past classes who had created amazing outdoor areas that students still utilize today," says senior class president Arianne Evans '20. "It was also important that we find a way to help other departments bring their projects to life. Our tribute is really the product of a lot of hands across campus coming together."
The idea for an outdoor classroom first blossomed in conversations between leaders of Bucknell's Outdoor Education & Leadership (OEL) program and directors at the farm.
"Diversifying learning spaces is proven to be effective and important," says Nate Smith, who directs the OEL program. "From an outdoor education standpoint, this type of classroom is one that we felt was needed on campus."
When Smith brought the idea to senior class officers, they immediately jumped on board. Drawing inspiration from past eco-friendly tributes — like the picnic tables near Academic West made from 100% recycled plastic — students partnered with Facilities to build the fire pit out of materials leftover from previous Bucknell construction projects.
This year's senior tribute was a collaboration between class officers, Outdoor Education & Leadership and the Bucknell Farm. Photo by Daniel Earhart
Incorporating the building blocks of Bucknell's past in this year's tribute was significant for Evans — not only as a managing for sustainability major, but also as a graduating senior.
"It's symbolic of the first generations of Bucknellians, and the legacy they left that we now get to pass on," she says. "Because the fire pit is for the enjoyment of future classes, I think pulling from the past to benefit the future is really powerful."
Having a new space on campus designed for gathering "is especially important in the midst of a pandemic," Evans adds. "It's great that everyone has a spot to come together once they get back to campus."
Before returning home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, senior class officers planned to unveil the fire pit with a s'mores-themed event. In a creative turn, they instead announced their tribute through a social media video in which each officer lends a hand in making the campfire treat.
The video — stitched together from clips the students filmed from home — begins with Evans buying a pack of marshmallows in her hometown of Orange County, Ca., and ends with President Bravman enjoying a fully prepared s'more at the fire pit, where he addresses the Class of 2020.
"Know that you are in our hearts, and that whenever we get to hold Commencement, it will be one of the most special occasions not only in your life but in the life of this University," Bravman said. "You are now and will forevermore be Bucknellians."
Stay up-to-date on this year's Commencement ceremony