The beginning of the school year is always an emotional time for students of Centre College, a small liberal arts institution in Danville, Kentucky. A time of reunion, regrouping, and reinvigoration, August at Centre also sees the induction of a new class, and every year that class is treated to an annual cookout at the president’s house, hosted by none other than Centre College President and Leslie Nielsen doppelganger Dr. John Roush and his wife, Susie. The event is characterized by good food, sunshine, and each new student shaking the hand of the President himself.

But while the occasion is novel, for many unsuspecting first-years it is an event of horror as the fresh-out-of-high-school students are forced to look someone in the eye and give an actual handshake.

“I was trembling in fear,” first-year student Hutton McKenna said as he stood in line, knees weak and palms sweaty. “There he stood, all smiles and genuinely interested in my life. It was terrifying.”

It was a difficult time for many as students were made to put down their phones, hold their heads up, and enunciate.

“My boyfriend back home nearly broke up with me when I didn’t reply for almost four minutes,” first-year Regina Reginald said. “He was devastated when he heard I was shaking another man’s hand.”

As the procession of first-year students filed through the President’s House the tensions only grew, culminating in one student fainting.

“I felt like such an idiot,” first-year and perpetual family reunion letdown Gregory Gregson said. “When I finally came face to face with him, his piercing eyes penetrated my soul. I mean, I haven’t had an authority figure I’ve respected that much since Ms. Castle wore a skirt in fourth grade English.”

Indeed, being forced to have substantive human interaction proved stressful for many, but for others it was just plain scary. One first-year student, who spoke on condition of anonymity, conveyed that he was worried for his safety.

“I was really excited to meet President Roush, and when he knew my name I was flattered. Then he rattled off my hometown and high school. Then my parents’ names. Then my phone number. My address. My blood type and birthday. Before he finished my social security number I was crying and ran back to my OL.”

What frightened this student above all, however, was his unending gaze that “seemed to drain [his] youth from [his] very bones.”

The Class of 2019 enjoyed an evening with President and First Lady Roush during the annual President's Picnic at the Craik House on August 27, 2015.

First-year students look on as President Roush absorbs their friend’s virility.
Photographer: Robert Boag

But not every interaction was bad, as resident assistants of first-year halls, orientation leaders, and school administrators were delighted to have an evening of Centre comradery.

“I remember my first time going through the line,” 3rd Yerkes RA Joy Joy Yang said. “Let’s just say, I’m glad it was hot outside, because it would’ve been pretty embarrassing to sit around after wetting myself.”

Nevin RA Emily Bickel was also complimentary.

“Sure, it’s a little intimidating the first time, but it’s a good crash course in basic communication. You know, interacting with real people.”

And in typical good fashion, Dr. Roush chimed in.

“Here at Centre College we give students our all,” the silver-haired fox said, between grasping first-year hands between his massive weathered paws. “If that means asking Susie to make flashcards of every student’s face and biographical information, then that’s what we do.”

“John works incredibly hard to make students feel welcome,” Susie Roush said. “But before these events even he gets a bit nervous. So I always kiss him on the cheek, make him look me in the eye, and tell him ‘John, you got this. You go out there and you take those hands the size of newborn babies and you welcome those kids. Don’t think about fundraising or milkshakes from the Grill. You do you.’ And it works!”

For the most part, it seems she was right. Among his myriad of ambiguous duties, Special Assistant to the President and would-be NBA basketball star Patrick Noltemeyer reported a marked increase in diversity, out of state enrollment, and a record 86.7% Roush Name Retention Rate.

“The release of the RNRR is probably the most menial and exciting task I have all year,” Noltemeyer said.

All in all, it was another great kickoff to another great year at the best ranked college in Boyle County. As first-year students collected themselves after the Eye of Roush set upon them, it seemed they collectively knew they’d join an institution like no other.


Editor’s Note: The previous article is from the CentOnion series, a satirical publication focused on parodying various subjects unique to Centre College’s campus.

As such, all content within this article is purely fictional and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Cento or Centre College.

In addition all quotations used in this article are purely fictional and do not necessarily reflect the views of the individuals quoted.

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