MEDIA, Pa. — Usually for students, “skating” through college is discouraged. But for Penn State Brandywine’s 50th anniversary kickoff celebration, the campus actually provided the skates. Roller skates, that is.
On Jan. 31, Brandywine’s gymnasium was converted into a roller rink as the campus paid homage to its roots. Penn State Delaware County opened in the fall of 1967 in temporary space underneath a roller skating rink in Chester. It remained there until late 1970, when the Main Building was completed at the current location in Middletown Township, about 10 miles away.
The campus name was changed to Penn State Brandywine in 2007.
For the first event of the yearlong anniversary celebration, special panels were placed on the gym floor and boxes of skates were brought in for use by more than 200 students, faculty and staff who glided around the rink inspired by music from the 1960s and 1970s. Even the Nittany Lion put skates on his paws for a few loops around. Many others opted to watch from the sidelines and enjoy the refreshments, a photo booth and a Brandywine trivia quiz.
Adding to the theme, the Penn State Bakery created a special cookie shaped and decorated like a roller skate.
For junior Nikki Poissant, the Penn State University Athletic Conference volleyball player of the year, it was a chance to see the gym in a new way.
“I probably haven’t roller-skated since I was in middle school!” Poissant said. “It was fun to skate with my classmates and other athletes. Most of the volleyball team was there. Since I spend so much time in our gym for practice and games, it was fun to see it transformed into a roller-skating rink.”
Junior Darryl Thomas enjoyed himself while learning about the campus’ history.
“Before the event, I had no idea that our campus started in Chester and was actually under a roller-skating rink,” Thomas said. “It’s kind of an odd location for a college campus, but I bet it was a lot of fun to skate on Fridays after class. I think I could get used to it!”
Anniversary events will continue through the year. During Black History Month in February and Women’s History Month in March, alumni will be on campus to share their experiences with current students. April and May will feature activities highlighting past uses of the campus property, which had been both a dairy farm and an apple orchard at times. In August, Brandywine will dedicate its first residence hall and new student union building. September will feature an open house for alumni, current students and their families, and other friends of the campus.