Sections of New Bridge Set in Place

Howard W. Hewitt – Bridgeton, Ind. – Wabash College had a very small hand in the restoration of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge. But the Wabash students will be remembered along with hundreds of other volunteers who made Monday’s events possible.

The bridge was destroyed by arson April 28, 2005. The community, an army of volunteers, and two industrial sized cranes put the bridge back in place Monday morning. See photos from Monday here.

Wabash’s involvement started with the Present Indiana Summer Internship Program. John Meara ’07 selected the Parke County bridges for his summer project. A natural extension of his research became a work day. More than 20 students went to Bridgeton June 1 to volunteer. Those men spent the day stacking lumber.

Approximately 25 students returned Aug. 22 and cleaned the construction area and stained the wooden panels which will become the sides of the covered bridge.

There were no Wabash students present for Monday’s big event. Classes are underway on campus and the day in Bridgeton started around 9 a.m. But the students who went down Aug. 22 expressed an appreciation for the history and social significance, not to mention economic impact, of the covered bridges.

The school children present Monday were the first to let out a thunderous cheer when the first section of the bridge was set in place.

“Hopefully these kids will assume responsibility,” said elementary school teacher Susie Runyon. “Hopefully they’ll assume responsibility for preservation of landmarks like our bridges.”

You can read all of Runyon’s comments and thoughts from mill owner Mike Roe in a Wabash College press release. Just click here.

The Wabash contingent was small, just one Public Affairs representative. But there are at least 50 Wabash men who can take pride in lending a hand to a project of historic significance. The newest, historically accurate, covered bridge in America is rising in Parke County.

As for the rest of the Wabash Community, it should share in the pride that has helped restore something no arsonist can destroy – community pride.

A Return Trip to Help People of Bridgeton

Howard W. Hewitt – Bridgeton, Ind. – Wabash men just don’t leave a job undone. Nor do they wipe their hands after just one day of hard work.

For the second time this summer a group of Wabash students headed to Bridgeton in Parke County to assist with the reconstruction of the Bridgeton Covered Bridge. See complete photo album from Monday’s visit here.

Wabash students got interested in the project during the summer when senior John Meara selected covered bridges as his summer research project for Present Indiana. Soon the idea of the helping out the people of Bridgeton seemed like a natural extension of the project. Approximately 25 guys went down June 1 and helped stack lumber and clean up the lumber yard. 

Tuesday Meara organized a group of 23 to return to Bridgeton and again lend a hand. The guys spent the better part of two hours applying the familiar red stain to the side panels of the new bridge. 

The Bridgeton volunteers have constructed two large superstructures that will be the bridge’s foundation. Those two large structures will be moved to the location next to the Bridgeton Mill Monday morning and put in place by two huge cranes. Organizers expect the covered bridge to be in place and completed by time the wildly popular Parke County Covered Bridge Festival runs in early October. 

The summer group had been hearing about the bridge from Meara and seeing photos before their trip. Many of the guys on the trip Monday were less familiar with the bridges in general and had only heard about the arson fire which destroyed the Bridgeton landmark over a year ago. 

Still, after spending a day working with the Bridgeton locals and seeing the project first hand, they seemed to develop a legitimate interest. They even elected to take a little longer ride home to pass a couple of the county’s famous covered bridges. 

Living humanely can be defined in many different ways – but lending a neighbor a hand has to be near the top of that list. 

In photo: Dan Anglin puts red stain on one of the side panels which will become the covered bridge’s walls.

Giving the Bench a Peel Before School Starts

Howard W. Hewitt – Even long-time Wabash traditions need a little maintenance.

Sphinx Club member Ross Dillard ’07 joined other members and friends to begin taking three years of paint off the Senior Bench Thursday night. Ross was working on the bench Friday morning and was to soon have some buddies join him in the tedious task.

They were hoping to get the layers and layers and layers of paint peeled off, the bench cleaned, and then painted to welcome freshman Saturday.

The limestone bench, officially known as the Thomson Memorial Bench, was dedicated in 1905. The bench honors members of the Thomson family. James Thomson was a co-founder of the College and a trustee.

No one knows exactly when students began painting the bench, but it changes colors, logos and such throughout the school year. The bench has been used to memorialize students and promote various causes.

Wabash Student Trying to Leave Lebanon

Howard W. Hewitt – Labaki returned to campus July 27, safely making the trip from Beirut to Damascus. Read more about it here.

7/24/06 – Wassim Labaki ’08 a Lebanon native is struggling to leave his home country and return to Wabash. The country has been war-torn for weeks now as the Israeli air force pounds Hezbollah strongholds trying to root out the Islamic terrorist organization. 

Labaki has been in communication with David Clapp, Director of International Students. In his e-mail correspondence, Labaki describes the situation near Beirut as “extremely difficult” and “dangerous.”

Wassim lives in the mountainous suburbs of Beirut, in a village called Baabdat. He went to the U.S. Embassy trying to gain help returning to the states but reports he was turned away.

Clapp also contacted Sen. Richard Lugar’s office seeking some sort of assistance but got no reply to an inquiry for help. On his own, Labaki has found a flight out of Damascus, Syria, later this week.

“Although the road from Beirut to Damascus in not 100 percent safe, I have decided to take the risk,” Labaki wrote to Clapp last week. “Many people here are doing the same. It might be better to take risks now than later. I am leaving Beirut Wednesday and should be in Indy Thursday if nothing bad happens. I will be traveling alone without my family because it is extremely difficult to find tickets now. It is so sad to leave them in such a bad situation but I have no other choice.”

We’ll update this blog entry later in the week with a report on Wassim’s attempts to leave Lebanon and make his way back to Crawfordsville.

Internship Been Great for Student, Alum

Howard W. Hewitt – Bloomington, Ind. – The summer road trips to visit current students and Wabash alums is always another great story waiting to be told.

Pat East ’00 graduated from Wabash College with what he calls “an almost accidental” degree in English. What has he done with Warren Rosenberg’s inspiration? He’s turned his degree into an internet marketing and business consulting business, of course!

East’s path is not unlike many Wabash graduates, he’s using his liberal arts education as a foundation for growing a successful business. He started Hanapin Marketing three years ago and its recent growth has him thinking about expansion. Part of that success this summer has been Wabash intern, Ben Esbaum ’07.

Esbaum is a Hamilton County native who spent the first part of his summer as a participant in the Ecuador program. It seems rare to find one of these internships where both parties aren’t satisfied, but Thursday in East’s small downtown office neither could gush adequately about the other.

East said he’s treated Ben as he would any full-time employee, giving him any task that needs completed on a given day. Esbaum has learned the level of commitment it takes for one man to start a new business.

Hanapin Marketing helps companies with websites increase the number of hits directed to their site. But then the business consulting portion of the small company kicks in and Pat helps the company turn the increased internet traffic into new customers and more business.

And business is good. East hopes the three-year old company will double from three employees to 8-10 in another three years. And has the internship been beneficial. East said he’s going to have to put someone on full time when Ben leaves because of the company’s growth and the intern’s contribution.

That’s quite a testament to Wabash interns!

Summer Months Have Strong Focus on Business

Howard W. Hewitt – Indianapolis, Ind. – Any young man considering Wabash as a foundation for a career in business should have tagged along this morning to Indianapolis.

Lu Hamilton, of the Alumni Career Office, was visiting Lilly Endowment interns working for Wabash graduates. I joined Lu to write a couple of student profiles about the unique business experiences the College can offer.

Our first stop was at Connecta Corp, owned by Alan Pyle ’67, a manufacturer of precision turned parts. Pyle is in his 18th year in the business with customers like Lilly, Boeing and AirBus.

Tyler Gibson ’07 and Udayan Chattopadhyay ’07 are working for Pyle this summer. They help with office work and special projects. 

Last summer Pyle hired Derek Turner ’06 as a summer intern. He was so pleased with Derek’s work he asked him back this summer though he graduated from Wabash this spring.

Turner has applied to medical school and is awaiting word on his acceptance. He was thrilled to go back to work for Connecta Corp this summer where he is using some of his biology skills in Pyle’s business.

Eric Rowland ’86 is chairman of Rowland Design Inc., one of Indianapolis’ most prominent architectural firms. His company has had a hand in designing or renovating many Indianapolis landmarks. Rowland was the architectural firm that designed Trippet Hall.

Will Clarke ’07 is the third Wabash student to work with Rowland during the summer months. Clarke is entering his senior year as an art major.

The alums and students both talked about the benefit of gaining such business experience during the summer months. Both business owners lauded the students’ liberal arts education as a strong foundation for approaching tasks with an open and inquisitive mind. 

Our final stop was a brief visit to the two-day Entrepreneurship program presented by Indiana University’s Johnson Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Dr. Donald Kuratko led a group of Wabash students and alums through two days of evaluating business plans and ideas.

The bottom line to such an interesting morning is the wide variety of business opportunities presented to Wabash students. And as we wrap up this week, I should note the 8-week Summer Business Immersion program is wrapping up while the high school-oriented Opportunities to Learn About Business (OLAB) program runs July 9-15.

So we might not offer a “business program” at Wabash College, but we offer unique business education and opportunities for students hoping to pursue such a career.

In photos: Top left, Turner explains a chemical process used on Connecta Corp parts. Lower right, Kuratko listens to a class participant’s presentation. On homepage, Alan Pyle holds one of the finished parts his company makes in his Indianapolis plant.

Wallies Heading to Bridgeton Today

Howard Hewitt – The College mission statement says: “Wabash College educates men to think critically, act responsibly, lead effectively, and live humanely.”

Once in awhile a unique opportunity comes along to allow students the opportunity to practice the ‘live humanely’ portion of that brilliant statement.

Parke County suffered what is still an unimaginable loss last year when the beautiful Bridgeton Covered Bridge was totally destroyed by arson. The community is going to rebuild the bridge and needs a little help. 

Even though we have fewer than 80 students on campus, the Present Indiana program is taking approximately 25 young men to help rebuild the bridge today.

Over the past week we’ve recruited from the nooks and crannies of the summer campus to get students and staff to join the effort. We’ve rounded up t-shirts for the participants and planned the day. The folks down in Bridgeton are excited. The town women are cooking up lunch and the two project leaders have planned chores for the Wabash men.

Look to the College website tonight for a story and photos from the day in Parke County. Hopefully, those rain clouds stay in Illinois until late afternoon.

Present Indiana, funded by Lilly Endowment, gives 8-10 Wabash students a summer internship to study historical and cultural aspects of the Hoosier state. Oklahoma native John Meara ’07 is studying Parke County bridges.

I drove Meara down to Parke County for his first visit two weeks ago. The Bridgeton Bridge was, perhaps, the most photographed bridge in Indiana if not the Midwest.

It was startling and even emotional to take the last bend into Bridgeton and see the familiar red mill but the bridge was gone! The photos show the stark contrast.

In making arrangements to take the young men down for a day of sorting wood, stacking lumber, and cleaning up debris, the spirit of Bridgeton’s town people has really shone through. The town women are insisting on feeding our young guys as a thank you. On normal work days they feed a handful of men who are volunteering. We hope to deliver a small hungry army!

Noble words like lead effectively and live humanely are often easy to write and talk about. But teaching young men the meaning of such words often requires a little sweat equity. We hope there is a lesson of  “living humanely” in helping a tiny town rebuild an Indiana landmark.

And what could be more humane than helping out a neighbor?

Sophomore Hams it Up With Robin Williams

Howard W. Hewitt – While we spend lots of time noting the interesting student internships and summer jobs, often our Wabash students share other interesting experiences they’ve had away from campus.

Bryce Chitwood ’08 recently returned from New York City with several great memories of his trip. While in the Big Apple, the Oklahoma native visited MTV’s popular TRL program and met comedian/actor Robin Williams.

Chitwood was in New York with his family for his brother’s graduation from the Juilliard School. His brother finished with a degree in vocal performance, with a focus on opera. The family all flew in for his senior recital.

Chitwood’s mom had a brush with a pseudo-celebrity, of sorts, – with a Wabash connection. She was shopping and stopped by the David Letterman Show then visited the neighboring deli that Letterman often features on his program. The deli owner, Rupert, was in the store that day and just happened to be wearing a Wabash College shirt.

It turns out the shirt was given to Rupert by Collin Lanam ’06 right after Colling graduated from Crawfordsville High School before starting his freshman year at Wabash.

Williams and Rupert weren’t the only celebs the Chitwood family encountered. Bryce also met JoJo during the TRL program then ran into Julia Roberts who was exiting a Broadway theater.

Dead Week and Finals: The Year Winds Down

Jim Amidon — Remember what it was like during final exam week back in your high school or college days?

I don’t remember a thing about my Wabash College final exams. I remember the week itself quite well, but the exams have long faded from memory.

Perhaps what I remember and what I don’t is due to the fact I’d been going hard for 16-18 weeks. Finals week meant finishing three or four papers; cramming hard to make up for weeks of procrastination; pulling all-nighter’s; and mixing coffee with hot chocolate and dark cocoa with hopes of getting an extra hour of studying in before falling off to sleep. (Recall that those were pre-energy drink days.)

We’ve changed a few things at Wabash over the years. Last week was what we now call “dead week,” which might be the most poorly defined week of the year. “Dead week” is anything but dead. It’s the most lively, thriving week of the year. From a tribute to donors on Sunday through club banquets, academic awards ceremonies, student films, senior cookouts, student art exhibits and installations, and even a faculty rock band concert, last week was jam-packed.

The term “dead week,” though, suggests something different. It’s a week when professors aren’t supposed to give extra tests or assign papers in advance of finals week, which started Monday. It was a great concept a few years ago when students actually convinced their professors to go for the idea.

Perhaps I would be more accurate in suggesting that “dead week” was a great idea in theory.

In reality, “dead week” does not provide for extra study time for final exams. In reality, students use the week to wrap up experiments, complete papers, and finish projects that were supposed to be done weeks ago.

As smart as our Wabash men are, they all hold Ph.D.’s in procrastination. The sunny and warm weather of the last month surely hasn’t helped.

So this is an odd week. The students will be going through a sleep-deprived ritual not unlike how I described my finals weeks of 20 years ago; all-night study sessions and copious amounts of caffeine-laden drinks.

For the students, it is the most important week of the year. But for administrators at the College, people like me, this is the deadest “dead week” of the year. Those of us who spend the year supporting, celebrating, and nurturing student excellence can only sit back now; sit back and reflect on the year. The students are now done with us.

President Ford, early in his career at Wabash, once told me that he didn’t like summers on college campuses. I thought it was a curious statement at the moment. Then he said something like, “When there are no students here, there is no energy.”

The energy that is Wabash is slowly slipping away this week; students holed up in their study rooms, library carrels, and secret study spots preparing for final exams. There are no activities, no art openings, no sporting events left this year.

We will have one final burst of energy before we close the books on the 2005-2006 school year: Commencement.

A week from Sunday, we’ll once again have our spirits lifted — our batteries recharged — when the president rings out the Class of 2006. He will say something like, “Go forth and be good men.” We will applaud with vigor to honor of these “good Wabash men.”

We shall be uplifted knowing they are well prepared to tackle any challenge life presents. And we will anxiously await the third week of August when it starts all over again.

Community Takes Advantage of Wellness Fair

Howard W. Hewitt – Wabash College’s Wellness Fair brought students, faculty and staff to Chadwick Court April 12.

The annual event offers plenty of information along with blood pressure checks, cholesterol screenings, and even a free massage.

It’s events like the wellness fair are a real value-added benefit to the College community. The early morning crowd was large and steady, the presenters said. The booths opened at 6 a.m. and closed at 1 p.m.

The participating services included: Dr. Louis Metzman, Kroger Pharmacy, American Red Cross, Athena Sports and Fitness, AHEAD Coalition, Russell Chiropractic, North Montgomery Parks & Recreation, SAMS Club, Industrial Credit Union, Cigna Healthcare, American Cancer Society, American Funds, Family Crisis Center, Crawfordsville Extreme Fitness, Massage Therapy Clinic, John Hancock Services, St. Claire Medical Center (Free Cholesterol Screenings), Northridge Chiropractic