About 250 first-year, transfer and international students explored the shops and sights of downtown Athens during the second annual North of the Arch event on Aug. 11.
Sponsored by the University of Georgia Office of Government Relations and the Athens Downtown Development Authority, North of the Arch gave students a chance to explore the many businesses, restaurants and services that make Athens a vibrant and unique college town.
To participate in the event, students joined with hallmates and friends to form teams of two to six participants and visited a diverse group of 26 participating locations, including Washington Square Studio, Graduate Athens, the Athens Welcome Center and K.A. Artist Studio. Other downtown locations participating in North of the Arch included a number of alumni-owned businesses such as Zombie Coffee and Donuts, Onward Reserve, Rook and Pawn, and Frontier.
“It was nice that we could go and look around all of these different businesses in Athens,” said first-year student Jessica Drewke. “Now we know where the shops are, and I know we will go back to them.”
In addition to learning about many of the downtown businesses, students also learned about some of the services and amenities available in Athens-Clarke County. Representatives from the Oconee Rivers Greenway Commission set up an informational table on College Avenue to educate students about the river-oriented pathways that residents can run and bike on around Athens, while an adjacent table was hosted by the UGA Office of Sustainability, which provided information about the upcoming bike-sharing program on campus as well as campus groups students can join that help make Athens and UGA more sustainable. The ACC Board of Elections served as an official North of the Arch site and answered questions that students had about registering to vote in Athens.
“North of the Arch provides first-year and transfer students with an opportunity to explore Athens early in their college career and learn about the diversity of activities available to them during their time in this community,” said Alison Bracewell McCullick, UGA director of community relations. “This event officially welcomes them to Athens, and we hope they will continue to become engaged in their home-away-from-home during their years here.”
North of the Arch not only provided students with an opportunity to learn more about downtown Athens, it also was an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate their services to Athens’ newest residents.
“North of the Arch is a wonderful, fun event that encourages new UGA students — freshmen and transfer students alike — to come across Broad Street and explore the variety of businesses in downtown Athens,” said Linda Ford, executive director of the Athens Downtown Development Authority. “The Athens Downtown Development Authority and downtown Athens merchants welcome all UGA students, and we look forward to another great year together.”
Transitioning from high school to college can be challenging, but North of the Arch helped students engage in their new community and connect with their peers.