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Before classes start, Roanoke College freshmen build a house

Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:23:10 AM EST   Updated On: Aug 29 2013 08:11:52 PM EDT

Habitat for Humanity project is a Roanoke College tradition, part of freshman orientation for the last 8 years

SALEM, Va. -

 While some students were moving in Monday, and many were finding their way across the Roanoke College campus, others were learning how to handle a hammer and nails.

By Tuesday evening, every freshman will have worked on the R House, a partnership with Habitat for Humanity.

"I've really enjoyed myself today actually," said Roanoke College freshman Erik Weed. "It doesn't sound like a fun day, but it's different."

And the school hopes the experience will stick with them.

Students Kellie Fagan and Shelbi Holloman were working together Monday morning.  "I think it's very important to get involved in the community that you're going to be living in," Fagan told us, "and get to know the people around you."

"I'm excited to see it," Holloman said.  "I wanted to keep working. I didn't want to stop. When he was blowing the horn I was like, that's it?"

550 Freshmen aren't the only members of the Roanoke College community getting their first taste of campus life in Salem. Rev. Chris Bowen, the new Chaplain, was working alongside the students Monday.

"Our students come from all over the country," Bowen said, "so it's really about creating a sense of community with those who come from so many different places and backgrounds. And finding the things that we have in common that we can celebrate."

Now one of the things they have in common is construction of the R House. The two floors will be trucked to a Habitat for Humanity building site in Roanoke on Thursday morning.