GradFest hopes to create tradition with senior block ‘I’ photo


The 2018 class stand together to form a “Block I” at Illinois Sights and Sounds event in August 2014. 

At this year’s GradFest on May 2, seniors celebrating their upcoming graduations will have the opportunity to recreate their 2015 freshman block photo to celebrate their progress as students at the University.

For years at the University, new freshmen during Illinois Sights and Sounds have created a giant “I” at Memorial Stadium as a class to celebrate unity and school spirit.

The University’s Student Alumni Ambassadors are responsible for organizing GradFest, an annual event with the goal of celebrating the strides students have made since first walking onto campus as freshmen.

“It is really a time to show the seniors what they mean to the Illini family,” said Alec Campbell, vice president of student engagement for SSA, in an email. “Although the event has changed throughout the years the meaning has always stayed the same: a celebration for the accomplishments of the senior class.”

Campbell said while the main focus of senior celebration at GradFest remains the same, the new block photo gives an opportunity to transform and add more excitement to the event.

“We are looking to start a new tradition that will continue to grow in the following years into something as big as Sights and Sounds has,” Campbell said. “This is an opportunity for the graduating senior class to be involved in a groundbreaking event, the reinvented GradFest.”

To show how four years at the University has transformed and enriched students, those participating in the block will be receiving blue shirts.

Campbell said in addition to the block and free shirts, the event will also feature a raffle, free food, refreshments and photo opportunities for graduates and their family members.

“We wanted to do blue shirts for the seniors because when they were freshmen they came into the University with Sights and Sounds with orange shirts, and we thought it was fitting for them to leave in blue,” Campbell said. “We will be taking a similar photo to that of the orange block from Sights and Sounds but with the blue shirts, then putting the pictures together to show the freshman year right next to their senior year.”

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