From the day they set foot on the Mary Baldwin University campus, the Class of 2013 had a connection to fire.

A student sketch of the bonfire pit.

As freshmen, the students began their college experience with the class motto, “Hearts on Fire,” and they ended their orientation week with the traditional candlelight service on Hunt Hill. Now in their final semester at Mary Baldwin, members of the senior class want to use that theme to help unite the seemingly disparate elements of the college — for instance, the different populations of students in the graduate and adult programs and the undergraduate Residential College for Women. They hope having a bonfire pit on campus will revive a sense of togetherness, and they have decided to make it their senior gift to the college.

“The bonfire pit will be a permanent symbol of the entire community coming together,” said senior class President Stephanie Cabacoy. “[The concept] is to melt away the barriers that divide us.”

Cabacoy and her classmates have held a series of “bonraisers” this semester in the hopes of raising $1,000 to build a gas-fueled bonfire pit on the Pannill Lawn.

Seniors hope the bonfire pit will be constructed by the end of the semester, so that they can dedicate it during Commencement weekend.

“My vision for the bonfire pit is to inspire classes after us to follow the tradition of togetherness; not just with their individual class but with the entire Mary Baldwin community,” Cabacoy said. “I believe the bonfire pit is the first step in melting away the barriers because it serves as a permanent symbol of students coming together. When I look to the future, I see the bonfire pit representing that we are not individual flames but we are one community fueling one fire.”

So far, Cabacoy said the class has raised about 20 percent of the necessary funds and she is hopeful they will reach their goal. As part of the process, they have enlisted the support of Staunton restaurateurs and retailers — who have agreed to donate a portion of their sales to the students’ effort — and have created a Facebook page to post information about upcoming fundraising events.

To make a donation to the senior’s bonfire pit, contact Cabacoy.