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Archive for October, 2013

Oct 30 2013

I Go to the Hills

Posted by Mugs @ 1:00 pm in Family,school,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

A few years back, when talking to a friend about the college search process, she said she’d allowed each of her children to visit 10 university campuses during their college search. (Her youngest child is in Abby’s class.) “Ten campuses?” I thought, “That’s ridiculous.”

Last Saturday, we completed our 13th college visit with Abby.

Abby’s “wanting to make sure she has checked all possibilities” has worn out Dale, and during each O dark thirty Saturday morning departure, I expect him to say “Enough,” and be done with it.

Regrettably for him, Abby is standing by with either a pouty face to guilt him into it or a smile to win him over. Remarkably, Dale says he is willing to visit one final university, to cap the list at 14. Abby is his only daughter and he doesn’t like telling her no.

Telling her no is my job. However, my secret wish to be a high school counselor helping every student find the perfect university has worked in her favor.

“I can solve this problem,” I think, “Just let me do some more research and check some more options and make some more visits.”

Sadly, I have yet to find Abby the perfect university.

However, we have come across some great places to go to school. Bridgewater College is one of those.

Bridgewater is set in the Shenandoah valley in western Virginia. It’s a pretty place of old brick, mature trees, and a view of the hills. It is a private college established by the Church of the Brethren. Luckily for Abby, long skirts and head coverings were not required. Luckily for Dale, he made no militant protests against pacifism. I was keeping my eye on him.

Bridgewater is a small college with great professors who emphasize hands on experience. The students take anatomy tests using cadavers and get 3 different types of animal brains to dissect. Abby, who is a tad squeamish, was appalled by the science student’s reports. Dale was amused. (They don’t have guns, but they have scalpels!)

The classrooms were nice. They even provided left handed desks for the likes of Gabe and Dines. The food was decent, and it included 5 gallon buckets of ice cream. (We passed a dairy plant on the way in.) The mailboxes looked very familiar, but the metal sculptures around campus were amazingly unique. The dorms were sparse, but the opportunities to get involved were plentiful.

After each victory, the sports teams gather around the bell tower in celebration. The bell is rung for each point scored. The tour guide said this was great after home games, but when the basketball team returns from a tournament in the middle of the night, it isn’t quite as uplifting.

Dale and I saw a sign for moomaw hall and tried to decipher the name. Since Mummo is the name of a Finnish grandma and Mamaw is the name of a southern grandma. Dale concluded that moomaw is the name for a Finnish grandma that moves to the south.

The coordinator of the elementary education program answered all our questions. They have a terrific program with multiple opportunities for the student to be in the local elementary classrooms. Bridgewater students will be well prepared to teach when they graduate.

Everyone was friendly: students, professors, workers. I have concluded that if I had gone to the hills to attend a pacifist college instead of a militant encampment, my college days would have been filled with sighing, laughing, and singing.

Oct 24 2013

A Quiet Place to Study

Posted by Mugs @ 11:31 am in Church,Family,school,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

On the way home from ODU, we stopped by a small Christian college in Norfolk. We missed their open house because of the length of time spent at ODU, but the admissions office showed us grace by answering our questions and sending us on a tour of the campus.

Virginia Wesleyan College is a peaceful and pretty place. There was nothing loud and brash and pushy. Everyone we met displayed humility and grace. We even met the Dean, with his shirtsleeves rolled up, hauling a pile of boxes through the door.

I asked him, “Aren’t you supposed to be in some office in a suit and tie, sitting behind a desk, looking official?”

He laughed and asked if there were any questions he could answer or any way he could help us. It was encouraging to meet a personable Dean.

The dorm rooms, athletic facilities, dining hall, and library were nice. The grounds were beautiful. Because their mascot is the marlin, we bought Zeke a “Fear the Fish” shirt.

We saw the statue of John Wesley which revealed his short stature. Both John Wesley and his brother Charles made a tremendous difference in England as disciples of Christ.

Abby is considering both public universities and Christian colleges. As we visit each place, I’m always struck by their different tone. Some public colleges have Christian principles in their policies and Christian leaders in their offices and the positive encouragement to pursue honesty and service still holds sway. Other public colleges produce policies hostile to faith and the level of sin encouraged amongst the staff and students overwhelms me with grief.

Each time we walk onto the campus of a Christian university, I’m struck by the difference a proclamation to honor God through academic pursuit makes. They are places of peace and refuge.

My older brother and sister went to a Christian college, my younger brothers and I did not. God was faithful to work in our lives in each place. I know God will faithfully direct Abby’s path, be it to a Public or Christian University.

If she attends Virginia Wesleyan, she’ll have a quiet place to study.

Oct 23 2013

It’s the Hands You Shake

Posted by Mugs @ 10:50 am in Family,school,Sightseeing Print This Post Print This Post

It’s never over till it’s over. College visits have recommenced.

Abby is very thorough. She did not inherit thoroughness from her Dad or me. I suspect she inherited thoroughness from my sister, Marie. I’m more of a “That’s a great idea! Let’s go!” kind of gal. After I jump off the cliff, I experience a “maybe I should have thought this through” moment, but by then it’s too late. Dale, on the other hand, believes in the 80% solution and a person’s need for only 3 choices.

When it comes to college search, Abby is not willing to have only 3 choices, an 80% solution, or the possibility of a “maybe I should have thought this through” moment.

Abby has eliminated the places she does not want to go to school, has applied to places she may want to go to school, but has yet to set foot on a campus and say “this is the place for me.”

My college search was a “That’s a great idea! Let’s go!” moment. I wanted out of my tiny town in Minnesota, I wanted to see the world, and I had no money. My guidance counselor suggested that my grades and activities might be enough to get me into one of the service academies. The only cost to me would be years of service to Uncle Sam.

Colorado looked like a pretty place, and my parents had served in the Air Force. It all seemed to be lining up until I went to the interview with my Senator. He strongly recommended I apply to the Army and Navy because my eyesight was dreadful and the Air Force needed people who could see to fly planes. I applied to all three academies and heard back from West Point. They offered me a place at the West Point Prep School and the chance to earn a spot in West Point’s next class. I took the offer. I had no other options. I hadn’t applied to any other colleges.

God’s providential direction and provision in my life is really quite amazing whenever I consider it. Dale and I met at the Prep School, and after we graduated from West Point, we married. Six years later, our beautiful, thorough daughter was born.

With application deadlines looming, Abby became disheartened that she had missed something, somewhere.

“The perfect school could still be found!” She thought.

Large school or small school, public school or private school, in-state or out-of-state are all still options for her. One college search criteria is certain. She wants to be an elementary school teacher when college is finished.  Holding on to the one definite criteria, we decided to check out the remaining in-state education departments that we had not yet visited.

Early Saturday morning we drove to Old Dominion University (ODU) in Norfolk much to the disbelief of Abby’s classmates and friends.

“You don’t want to go to ODU. ODU’s a party school. You’re not going to like ODU. ODU? Are you kidding me?” Those were a few of the comments.

Our Singular friends considered staging an intervention.

I’m always willing to go somewhere new. The occasional scandalously bad choice has yet to deter me. We dragged a reluctant Dale along with us.

The college briefing had all manner of unusual highlights. The admissions counselor talked of ODU as a “playground of learning” and told of the two malls nearby with “1 million square feet of retail delight.” He described the electronic trolley which leaves “no carbon footprint” and told of how students “rub big blue’s belly for good luck.” He projected made up words on the screen including “imaginability” and “whizdom.” He encouraged the applicants to “be the best person you can be.”

Our favorite quote, however, was repeated by a number of the students sitting on the panel.

“It’s not the grades you make. It’s the hands you shake.”

Dale immediately leaned over and told Abby sternly, “It’s the grades you make!”

Abby replied, “But Daddy, when I shook the hand of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, I got a coin.”

Dale mumbled “it’s the grades you make” a few more times. Then he heard the average SAT score of admitted students. After the number sank in, he stopped listening altogether.

Since he was no longer listening, he noticed Abby’s friend from middle school walk into the briefing. Abby’s friend had gone to a different school for high school. Abby walked over to say hi. She looked at Abby in complete shock.

“Why are you here? You’re smarter than this. Go back to William and Mary,” she said.

Next, we went to see the department of education. We sat down in the briefing room and the speaker said “Is there anyone here who wants to be a teacher?”

I thought, “That’s an odd question. Doesn’t everyone in the department of education want to be a teacher?”

Several students, including Abby raised their hands. “You’re in the wrong place. Teachers are not in the department of education. You have to go to the department of arts and letters,” the speaker said.

Who is in the department of education if teachers are not? I have no idea. We got up and walked back across campus.

Thankfully, the woman briefing in the college of arts and letters was very helpful. She answered students questions, gave them ideas for interesting majors, and talked of all the university does to make students more marketable. They teach Arabic and hope to offer Farsi someday. They offer ways to combine technology into your major. They stress internships and on campus employment.

There were bright spots and positive bits about ODU. It was the most racially and ethnically diverse student body we had seen in Virginia, the campus was pretty with its trees, ponds, and stones, and it provides assistance and opportunity for students who are set back by financial or academic constraints. ODU also provided a snack bag of trail mix, chips, apple, candy bar, and water when the tour was complete.

Was it the college for Abby? No, but it did give her another comparison point.

Dale felt justified in eliminating this option for Abby even though ODU is one of the few institutions to offer GIS certification. It’s about “the grades you make” with him.

Oct 22 2013

Heigh Ho! Heigh Ho!

Posted by Mugs @ 9:53 am in Family,school Print This Post Print This Post

In fourth grade, Zeke is learning practical skills: how to farm and how to mine. His second field trip was to a quarry.

We had a good tour guide who explained the process of mining the aggregate, and answered many questions. Both Zeke and I thought the tour was great. The quarry had a multitude of rocks with giant machines and trucks hauling and crushing the rock. It was fun to watch.

At the end of the tour, we walked through a display of various minerals and read where they were mined. Zeke was excited to discover sandstone from Aquia Harbour, mined just down the street from our house and another mineral mined in Nokesville, where his friend lives.

On the way out of the quarry, the bus rode through the wheel wash and was weighed to see if we were too heavy to travel the county roads. Because we hadn’t filled the bus with rocks, we passed the weigh in.

The whole tour was great fun for me. I love rocks, and at most places I pick up rocks to put in my pocket. My children never fail to lecture me when there are “no trespassing signs” and “take nothing with you” mantras.

Some day in the future when I get a truck , I’m going to drive to the quarry and have them load the bed with rock and bring it home just to have a rock pile to dig through.

Hopefully, the current effort to move the Manry Clan from “grumble while you work,” to “whistle while you work” will have paid off, and we can happily shovel rock together.

Oct 21 2013

Bang the Gavel

Posted by Dale @ 10:37 am in Family,school Print This Post Print This Post

A few weeks ago, Abby had the privilege of running the national honor society induction ceremony. She performed her duty with aplomb and enjoyed very much the banging of the gavel. Connor, her classmate and good friend, was inducted and I sat at the table with his family. They were very proud of the his hard work, but we all chuckled as Abby shook his hand in congratulations. It was all very professional and serious for two friends who have shared a lot of laughs.