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First ever accepted students' day flash mob is a surprising success

By Alyssa Pallotti
On April 18, 2012

What do you get when you combine hundreds of accepted Marist students, people screaming at each other from the stands, music blaring and dancers popping up from the bleachers in the McCann Center? Well, you get mass confusion... but you also get Marist College's first Accepted Students' Day Flash Mob.

On April 14 and 15, Marist College Admissions surprised the entire Accepted Students' Day population, including President Dennis J. Murray himself, with an elaborate flash mob performed by the college's performance clubs and ensembles.

The two campus a cappella groups, Sirens and Time Check, the Marist College Council on Theater Arts (MCCTA), the Marist College Dance Ensemble (MCDE), the Marist Band and the school's cheerleaders all kept the secret for weeks as they prepared to put on the seemingly spontaneous show.

"It was the first student event that the incoming class could feel that they were a part of because they were here to witness it," said Nicole Chin-Lyn, a junior who participated in both the Sirens and MCDE portions of the performance.

Brian Apfel, a Marist Admissions counselor, was one of the brains behind the operation. According to him, the Admissions office approached the college's performance ensembles months in advance to see if they would be interested in participating.

"Before we talked to the higher-ups, we wanted it coming from the hearts of the students," Apfel said.

"I want you guys to write it," Apfel told the student groups. "I want you guys to run it." He wanted the performance to genuinely showcase the arts programs at Marist, having been previously involved in the performing arts himself.

The flash mob began at the end of President Murray's welcome speech. Two students started arguing about how much they love Marist, which transitioned into a Sirens performance of "Heaven is a Place on Earth" by Brenda Carlisle and a Time Check rendition of "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by the Righteous Brothers.

"I didn't expect it at first and thought it was just some crazy, dedicated Marist fan, but it ended up being very entertaining," said Amanda Cantor, an accepted student from New Jersey.

MCCTA then joined in for a brief skit. This was followed by the band breaking into "Dynamite" by Taio Cruz as MCDE members ran from the stands to perform an impromptu dance number. The whole performance was wrapped up by the cheerleaders starting the "Marist College Fight Song," as everyone sang along.

"Initially, I was worried that it would fall apart, but it went better than I expected," said Time Check member Patrick Dillon. "You could tell the crowd was split between enjoying it and thinking it was a little over the top."

Reactions from the crowd were, for the most part, positive. People clapped, laughed, cheered and even filmed the performance on their smart phones.

"I think there was a charged excitement in the room," said Lindsay Mesh, one of the dancers. "I think a lot of families were shocked and overall were laughing and enjoying the performance."

President Murray's surprise and joy were evident as he smiled and laughed along as well.

Apfel and the Admissions staff  were originally going to ask President Murray for approval of the performance. However, they decided it would be more fun if he didn't know. According to Apfel, President Murray was so thrilled with the first performance that he invited his wife to attend the second day.

The enthusiasm of the performers also gave the accepted students one more reason to consider coming to Marist. The wide variety of performance skills and school spirit displayed during the performance could not be found elsewhere.

"I think the flash mob allowed the accepted students to see what being a Marist student is really about," said Dana Murano, the choreographer of the dance number. "Everyone who goes here really loves the school and the organizations that they've gotten involved in, and I think that was really apparent to the accepted students and their parents."

We will only know how the elaborate surprise impacted the students' decisions once the number of incoming freshmen is finalized, but it swayed some in favor of Marist as their college of choice.

"It made me more excited to go to Marist," Cantor said. "I love it more and more every visit."

Apfel reported that after the flash mob, one student came into the Admissions office and immediately submitted her deposit. Another accepted student, Julianna Saguero, shared these sentiments.

"The flash mob definitely influenced my decision," Saguero said. "I came to the campus that day 95% sure I was going to a different school where I was offered a $12,000 a year scholarship, but I threw all that away by the end of the flash mob. Marist is a place with truly passionate and involved students, and I can't wait to be part of a campus that's so united."

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