Thursday, April 28, 2011

Untold stories

Yesterday I wrote about my freshman class's decision to create a project aimed at increasing pride and a sense of ownership on campus.  Team Random focused on random acts of kindness, culminating today in chalked messages of encouragement all over campus sidewalks.

The other team decided to focus on the dearth of knowledge about the intriguing stories surrounding our campus.  Team Mystery took their inspiration from a strange block of granite inscribed "CRESTOMATH" that sits next to McAlister Hall, devoid of explanation.  Knowing what these mysterious artifacts are, why they exist, and what kind of bizarre histories surround them -- Team Mystery felt this would help students feel like they had the inside scoop into their campus's secrets.


So they created a Campus Mystery Tour, with nine stops encompassing the most enticing stories they came across in the archives.  On Wednesday they deployed white document boxes around campus filled with the colorful flyers they designed to tell those stories.


Did you know that Old Main, the centerpiece of campus, contains an entrance to a series of tunnels?


Or that this recent monument to alumni and students killed in World War II commemorates a set of oak tress planted as the original memorial -- the significance of which were then forgotten over the years, with some of them eventually removed in building projects?


Or that Harrin Hall, originally the campus's first freestanding library, once contained holding cells for troublemakers nabbed by the night watchman?


Or that Coach Guy Estes, for whom the football stadium is named, was the honoree at the only funeral ever held in Old Main's auditorium?


Team Mystery even unearthed the meaning of Crestomath -- a cryptic gift from a women's literary society named for a legend about a love story between Cres and Math. After months of research and planning, it was a thrill to see the tour stops installed and the fliers starting to be read. There's nothing I love more than a set of questions meeting a group of students with the wherewithal to find the answers, and a reason to do so.

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