Archives—January 2014

Winter Carnival 2014

Hello again, parents. I hope you all had a great weekend and great start to the week. As you may have heard, the weather up here has been quite

A photo of a snow statue from Winter Carnival 2011. Photo Courtesy of Digital Creations
A photo of a snow statue from Winter Carnival 2011. Photo Courtesy of Digital Creations

unpredictable with wind chills plummeting to almost -40 degrees on Monday and Tuesday! Students have bundled up and braved the weather in one of the coldest snaps the UP has seen in quite some time. But that’s what we love about Michigan Tech!

In addition to this frosty weather, Winter Carnival also makes its chilly start next Tuesday, January 28, and runs through Saturday, February 8. Sponsored by the Blue Key National Honor Society, Winter Carnival has been a celebrated tradition at Michigan Tech since 1922, when a it was presented by a student organization as a one-night program called the “Ice Carnival.” The Ice Carnival was a circus-themed celebration that included bands, performance acts, and skating contests, and eventually became an annual tradition. The Winter Carnival Queens competition and Torchlight parade that we celebrate today were established in 1928. Blue Key took over Carnival in 1934, when it was extended to a two-night ordeal. The snow statues like we see today came into play in 1936, when local children and other community members joined the students to build the biggest and the best. During the early 1940s, Carnival activities came to a halt as World War II was in full swing. The festivities resumed in 1946, with the addition of the famous and beloved skits/Stage Revue. From then to now, a plethora of activities have been added to the Winter Carnival celebration. Today, students can participate in teams within their residence hall, student organization, or Greek organization in a wide variety of wacky activities. The following are some of the main events scheduled for Winter Carnival 2014.

Ice Bowling
One team member is “bowled” down the iceway in an attempt to knock down as many life-size pins as possible.

Teams gather at the Calumet Armory and maneuver granite stones along the ice in order to hit the target with the most accuracy.

Ice Fishing
Individuals and teams head out to Chassell Bay and compete in wrangling the most colossal walleye.

Snow Volleyball
Teams brave snow and ice while competing in outdoor volleyball matches.

Yooper Sprint
This bizarre sprint requires competitors to wear a cross country ski on one foot and a snowshoe on the other as they race toward the finish.

Queens Coronation
Queen finalists are chosen after an extensive interview process and perform a talent during the coronation ceremony. The Queen is then selected by a vote from students and community members who are present for the performance.

The All-Nighter is the the last night to complete all Winter Carnival statues. The campus hosts students and community members alike as teams put the finishing touches on their month-long statues or start and complete their overnight masterpieces. To add to the celebration, music, food, and broomball are a part of the night’s festivities.

Beards Competition
Clean-shaven contestants sign up in early December as either beard, goatee, or sideburn competitors. After months of preparation, they present their artistic facial hair and attempt to woo the judges with costumes, songs, and skits.

Human Dog Sled Rides
Each team has six runners that must pull four riders and a musher to the finish line!

Stage Revue
Teams present skits doused with edgy humor and represent the Winter Carnival theme to try to win over the judges and audience with hilarity.

Bob Saget—Student Entertainment Board Comedian
Bob Saget, best known for his role as Danny Tanner on “Full House,” will bring his comic stylings to Tech’s campus in honor of the Winter Carnival festivities.

Bigfoot Snowshoe Event
The annual Bigfoot Snowshoe event is celebrating its 17th year of participation and offers courses of approximately 2k, 4k, and 6k on the Tech Trails for students and community members to participate in.

Fireworks and Torchlight Parade
Torch-bearing skiers make their way down Mont Ripley to celebrate the end of Winter Carnival, followed by a spectacular winter fireworks show.

Winter Carnival sure has changed a lot over the years, but what hasn’t changed is the Husky Pride it inspires. We’re so lucky to attend such a charming campus! I hope your students enjoy this beloved tradition and have fun participating in these goofy events. For more information about Winter Carnival and its activities, please visit the Winter Carnival website.

That’s it for this week! If you have any questions regarding Winter Carnival or would like to see more information on a specific topic, please email me at



Hello, Parents!

The Heikinpaiva sign in front of the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia University in Hancock. The sign reads: "Welcome!"
The Heikinpaiva sign in front of the Finnish American Heritage Center at Finlandia University in Hancock. The sign reads: “Welcome!”

I hope your student is off to a great start this semester. It sure was nice having a three-day weekend after returning from the four-week break. It gives students a little extra time to get used to the new semester and the long hours of homework it demands. Everything seems to be off to a solid start: classes have begun, broomball has started off well—with the exception of the canceled games on Monday due to the severe weather—and Greeks and other student organizations have had a successful start in building their month-long statues for Winter Carnival.

This week also marks the start for the traditional Finnish festival, Heikinpaiva. The Copper Country has strong Finnish influences and celebrates many of its cultural traditions. Many Finns and other Scandinavian and Canadian immigrants migrated here in the 19th Century for the well-known copper rush of the western Upper Peninsula. Many of the UP’s traditions stem from this demographic, including the Cornish pasties, the beloved Finnish saunas, and even the hosting of last year’s Finn Fest USA in July 2013. Today, the UP has the largest population of Finnish-Americans in the United States! To preserve this strong heritage and culture in the Copper Country, Heikinpaiva has been celebrated in Hancock since 1999. Heikinpaiva is a Finnish holiday celebrated to commemorate St. Henrik, the patron saint of Finland, and marks the midpoint of the Winter season. Because of this, Heikinpaiva is sometimes also referred to as “Keskitalvi,” meaning “midpoint.” This year, Heikinpaiva will be celebrated in Hancock on January 25 with different events occurring throughout the weeks leading up to the big day. Some of these events include:

Nordic Film Series

Traditional cultural enrichment classes in areas such as:

Participants partaking in the Polar Bear Dive in the Portage Canal.
Taking the icy plunge during the Polar Bear Dive
  • Baking

  • Tablet weaving

  • Music

  • Wood carving

  • Finnish card making

Club Finndigo

Club Finndigo is a feature film presentation and authentic Finnish buffet. This year’s film is Backwood Philosopher.

Family Fun Night

Families and kids of all ages are invited to join in traditional Finnish song and dance.

Tori Marketplace

The Tori Market is a Finnish-inspired farmers market that sells homemade goods as well as Finnish and Nordic collectibles.


The parade gives local residents an opportunity to show off their Finnish heritage and celebrate winter fun!

Wife-carrying contest

This contest is for husband-wife pairs. The husband who can carry his wife the fastest and farthest to the finish line wins.

Kicksled race

Children are invited to race each other in small sleigh-like contraptions.

Polar Bear Dive

With the supervision of safety professionals, participants are invited to dive into the icy waters of the Keweenaw Waterway on the Hancock waterfront!

Heikinpaiva Dance

This is the last event of the Heikinpaiva celebration. Residents and visitors alike are invited to celebrate the festivities with traditional Finnish dancing.

Heikinpaiva is a fun and quirky celebration for Finns and non-Finns alike. Heikinpaiva is a big part of the Copper Country tradition, and it’s a great way for non-locals to connect with the community. For more information on the Heikinpaiva events, please visit the official Heikinpaiva website.

That’s all for this week! If you have any questions about Heikinpaiva or would like to see more information about a specific topic, please email me at  Have a great week!


New Semester, New Year

Hello Parents,

I hope you all had a wonderful break with your student and enjoyed the holidays together! I’m sure it was great to hear about how your student’s semester went and what he or she is looking forward to in the new semester. I know I definitely enjoyed the break and took advantage of the time off.

The spring semester is a bit easier on students, both in that the break from the previous semester is shorter (three weeks compared to four months!), and that there are

Photo of hand-made broomball brooms. Photo courtesy of Dan Staudacher
Photo of hand-made broomball brooms. Photo courtesy of Dan Staudacher

more breaks this semester than in fall. The first break we have is on Monday, January 20, to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. There will be a service on campus sponsored by the Center of Diversity and Inclusion on Sunday, January 19, to honor Dr. King. The next break will take place Thursday, February 6, through Sunday, February 9, to celebrate Winter Carnival. Many events will take place during that week for students to participate in. Feel free to check out the Winter Carnival website for more information. Lastly, Spring Break is scheduled for March 10–16. There are many university-sponsored community service opportunities and Alternative Spring Break trips for your student to participate in through the Outdoor Adventure Program.

The new semester also means the start of the broomball season! The first game took place on Tuesday, January 14, and will continue through Thursday, February 20, when playoffs begin. Broomball is a sacred tradition at Michigan Tech. Sponsored by the Inter-Residence Hall Council, broomball involves more than 1,000 of Tech’s 7,000 students, making it the most widely participated university activity. Broomball originated in Canada in the early 1900s and is played professionally all over the world. It is very similar to hockey in play, but no skates are used and hockey sticks are replaced with wooden brooms that students design and make themselves. Michigan Tech’s broomball tradition began in the 1990s, and is still going strong today; there are 240 teams registered for the 2013–2014 season! If you are interested in watching Tech broomball games, IRHC has put up live-feed webcams for each of the three rinks, so you can watch your student play live from the comfort of your home.

With the start of the new semester, it’s also important for your student to make sure that he or she is aware of important drop dates. If your student plans to withdraw from the university, there are certain dates to keep in mind with respect to a tuition refund:

  • Withdraw between January 13 and January 15 to receive a 100% tuition refund

  • Withdraw between January 16 and January 17 to receive a 90% tuition refund

  • Withdraw between January 18 and January 24 to receive a 80% tuition refund

  • Withdraw between January 25 and January 31 to receive a 70% tuition refund

  • Withdraw between February 1 and February 7 to receive a 60% tuition refund

  • Withdraw between February 8 and February 14 to receive a 50% tuition refund

  • Withdraw between February 15 and February 21 to receive a 40% tuition refund

Please keep in mind that these refund dates are only valid if your student is completely withdrawing from the University. If your student is considering dropping a specific course rather than University withdrawal, Wednesday, January 22 will be the the last day to drop a full spring semester course for a refund.

The start of the new semester is also the time for you student to consider housing for next year. Students currently living in the residence halls can renew their housing contract for next year on January 20. If your student is considering moving out, it’s important for him or her to be aware of potential outcomes and obstacles. Because of certain scholarships that your student may have received from Michigan Tech, he or she may be required to live in the residence halls for at least two years. To see whether this is the case for your student, you can find details of the scholarships offered by Michigan Tech at Financial Aid. If you are unsure which scholarships your student receives, you can check via Banweb under Payments/Confirm Enrollment → Michigan Tech Student Bill. It’s also important to be aware of off-campus housing options. The Undergraduate Student Government (USG) sponsors a directory for students that outline available housing options within the community.

If your student has more questions about renewing his or her housing contract, there will be an information session offered to all students on Wednesday, January 15, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in their respective residence halls. Michigan Tech’s Housing staff will be present and snacks will be provided.

That’s it for this week! I hope your student is excited for the spring semester, because I know I am! If you have any questions or would like to see a specific topic discussed in more detail, please email me at  Have a great rest of the week!