Turning 21 dinner continues for 10th year in a row

By Laura Smith

October 1, 2008


Aramark catered the Turning 21 dinner

Aramark catered the Turning 21 dinner

What comes to mind when thinking about that magical event of turning 21? Purchasing alcohol? Gambling privileges? Elon University Chaplain Richard McBride hopes to make the celebration more meaningful.

For the 10th consecutive year, The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual life held one of the quarterly Turning 21 celebrations on September 25.

McBride began these celebrations in the spring of 1998 as a way to honor the transitional milestone of turning 21 years old.

“I wanted to help people recognize the transition that occurs in life, “ he said. “It’s a marker. Our culture doesn’t do well with marking the transitions.”

Consisting of a dinner, an address to the students, and a “champagne” toast, complete with sparkling white grape juice, students are encouraged to bring a faculty or staff guest who has supported their journey at Elon.

“This is something I’ve heard about since freshman year,” said senior Chelsea Peabody. “I wanted to experience this Elon tradition.”


Seniors Liesl Klotzbach and Chelsea Peabody celebrate at the Turning 21 dinner

Seniors Liesl Klotzbach and Chelsea Peabody celebrate at the Turning 21 dinner

Chaplain McBride began the Turning 21 celebrations after attending an event years ago some family friends held for their daughter in recognition of her becoming an adult. At age 20, her parents felt as though she should be officially recognized as a legitimate adult and be able to be independent. They celebrated with family and friends to honor this transition. 

Chaplain McBride is aware that the predominant focus on turning 21 for most young people is being able to legally buy alcohol.

“It’s got to mean more than that though,“ he said. “It’s a transition into adulthood.”

The events are held four times a year, one for birthdays from January to March, from April to June, from July to September, and from October to December. Each time, the Truitt Center picks a different speaker to give some words of wisdom to the students.

“We pick professors or staff members that will help students reflect on this transitional movement, ” McBride said. “ Some give advice, some give personal stories, some give a look into the future.”

The speaker at the celebration last Wednesday was James Drummond, Chairman of the Leisure and Sport Management program at Elon. He shared several personal stories and a few morals to go along with them.

This celebration is something very special to Chaplain McBride and others at the Truitt center. It is their hope that the students take something away from it.

“During the college years, people get a stronger sense of who they are and what they have to give the world, but there’s more to be discovered,” McBride said. “It’s about thinking who I am and what I can give to the world.”

Last Wednesday night, McBride left the newly-turned 21-year-olds with some memorable advice.

“Sometimes folks say college is the best years of your life but I don’t want you to believe that,” he said. “Think that the best is yet to be.”


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