Posts filed under ‘State College’
A kinder, gentler State Patty’s Day: The combined efforts of the university, State College authorities, local businesses, and many student groups seem to be working, as the fallout from this year’s State Patty’s Day festivities was largely minimized. For the third year running, crime was down in the borough, with State College police saying it was “similar to a football weekend.” As late-winter traditions go, it was nice to see the student-run Day of Service back for a fourth year.
Three for all: The women’s basketball team on Saturday claimed its third straight Big Ten championship, beating Michigan 77-62. The Lady Lions’ terrific senior class went out in style in its last regular-season home game, with Ariel Edwards, Talia East, Maggie Lucas, and Dara Taylor all posting double digits in the win.
And speaking of champs: The Penn State women edged Michigan over the weekend to claim the program’s third Big Ten Indoor championship. And Shane Ryan, just a sophomore, set the Penn State and Big Ten record in the 100 freestyle to earn Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships. He’s the first Nittany Lion so honored.
All aboard: Thirty-two alumni will vie for three open seats in this year’s Board of Trustees election. Our Lori Shontz ’91, ’13g has the scoop, including details about the Alumni Association voting guide, which we’ll publish within the next month.
Right said TED: The fourth annual TEDxPSU event was held Sunday at Schwab Auditorium. Onward State has the highlights.
Ryan Jones, senior editor
Fashion statements: It’s official: James Franklin merch is hitting stores in downtown State College. Among the new designs, inspired largely by social media: “Franklion” tees, and gear emblazoned with some of Franklin’s most memorable quotes, including “Dominate the State.” Managers from The Family Clothesline and Lion’s Pride tell The Daily Collegian that the response to the Franklin items has been “very good,” and that new designs are already in the works.
On Key: You don’t have to convince me that Keegan-Michael Key ’96g is one of the most creative people on the planet. I interviewed Key back in November for an upcoming feature in the March/April issue, and more than making me laugh (though he did that — a lot), he also made me think. That smart brand of comedy landed Key and co-star Jordan Peele the no. 18 spot on FastCompany‘s list of 2013′s Most Creative People. The article delves into the duo’s writing process, which is both surprisingly simple and incredibly intelligent.
From Hand to mouth: Penn State’s new offensive line coach Herb Hand had no idea that a simple tweet about his lunch would start an all-out firestorm. Coach Hand (@CoachHand) made a pitstop yesterday afternoon at Canyon Pizza for a slice and shared his whereabouts on Twitter (above). Local pizza purists shot back with comments questioning Hand’s choice and offering, shall we say, “suggestions” on where he might find better pizza in State College. (Onward State collected some of the most colorful tweets here.) Hand’s response: “I see a pizza throw down in the near future.”
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Coaching changes: Penn State’s longtime linebackers coach Ron Vanderlinden and second-year quarterbacks coach Charlie Fisher will not return for the 2014 season. Details of the coaches’ departures are still unclear, and Coach Bill O’Brien has not commented. Vanderlinden was one of only two members of Joe Paterno’s coaching staff to work under O’Brien. No word yet on possible replacements.
Here to help: Developmental psychologist Jennie Noll has been helping victims of child sexual abuse since she was a child herself, as Noll explains in a piece from today’s Philadelphia Inquirer. Noll, who started at Penn State in September as director of research and education for the study and prevention of child abuse, is one of five experts hired by the university to study and educate others about child abuse. According to the article, Noll is helping Penn State hire more experts in various disciplines to further examine the issue. Says Karen L. Bierman, director of the Child Study Center: “Penn State has grieved, but we’ve pulled together to try to make something positive and large out of this tragedy.”
That smarts: It’s not news to most Penn Staters that John Urschel ’12, ’13g is a smart guy. But thanks to this CBS News piece, more people know about the Penn State offensive guard—who also happens to have a masters in mathematics and is working on a second. In an interview with CBS, Coach Bill O’Brien talks about Urschel’s constant need for numbers: ”If you give him a percentage of how many times this team blitzes, he wants to know the whole survey size and what games we looked at and how many numbers related. John, just take it from us: They blitz a lot.’”
We’re No. 3: State College is the third-best college town in the U.S., according to the American Institute for Economic Research, which based the rankings on how easy it is for students to get around, recreational opportunities, and cost of living, among other factors. Ithaca, N.Y. came in first, and Ames, Iowa took second.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Sandusky spending: According to progress.psu.edu, costs from Jerry Sandusky’s child sex abuse case have risen to $51.8 million. That’s $2.4 million more than was last reported in June 2013. A graphic in today’s Daily Collegian provides a breakdown of the total cost, which includes legal fees, the NCAA fine, and consulting services.
“Betsy”: You’ve likely heard the story of Betsy Aardsma, the graduate student whose murder in Pattee Library has gone unsolved since 1969. But senior film student Tommy Davis wants people to know more. “Establishing [Betsy] as a true person was important to me,” Davis told Onward State‘s Jessica Tully. Davis has been researching Aardsma’s story since his freshman year, collecting information from experts on the case and interviewing people who knew Betsy personally. Davis’ full-length film, “Betsy,” opens at the State Theatre on Jan. 19.
Still basking: Yesterday, we told you about Matt McGloin’s stellar NFL debut as starting quarterback for the Oakland Raiders. Last night, McGloin ’12 talked to StateCollege.com‘s Mike Poorman ’82 about post-game soreness, taking on Tennessee this weekend, and the flood of congratulatory texts (including one from Coach Bill O’Brien) he received after Sunday’s game: “My cell was blowing up after the game. And it still is even today.”
‘Tis the season: The State College Christmas tree is up downtown, which, depending on who you ask, marks the beginning of the holiday season. The tree lighting is still 10 days away (it’s scheduled for Nov. 29), but the big guy looks pretty good au naturel, don’t you think?
Mary Murphy, associate editor
Nifty gift: Penn State York received the largest gift in its history earlier this week thanks to Donald C. Graham, founder of The Graham Group. With the gift, Penn State York will establish the Graham Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership Studies, which helps students secure internships at top companies in the York area. Said Chancellor David W. Chown: “Don’s philanthropy will have a transformative impact and establish a magnificent legacy for him at our campus.”
A “very good guy”: We were all saddened last May to learn about the death of Kyle Chase Johnson ’12, the former Lion Ambassador who passed away at the Pittsburgh Marathon (his story is on p. 61 of our Sept./Oct. issue). According to yesterday’s Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Nittany Lion offensive guard Miles Diffenbach and his family were friends to Johnson, his mom, Mary Beth Deal ’87, and stepdad, Bryan Deal. After Johnson’s passing, Diffenbach reached out to the family, attending the funeral and, more recently, offering them tickets and field passes to last month’s game vs. Central Florida. He also presented the family with a jersey, featuring Johnson’s name and high-school football number, signed by the team. Coach Bill O’Brien wasn’t surprised by Diffenbach’s gesture; he told the Tribune-Review: “He’s a good player, he’s a good student, and he’s a very, very good guy.”
Zip it good: OK, so we’ve established that State College is one of the most walkable cities in America. But sometimes you just need a car. Onward State reports that, starting today, Zipcar car-sharing service is now available in State College, offering sweet rides —like a sporty Ford Focus, Toyota Prius, and more—for low hourly rates ($7.50/hour), and helping the car-less among us avoid grocery shopping trips that end like this.
Ring pops: I’m beginning to think there’s something in the air at Alumni Association events. Back in August, there was this elaborate proposal from the Syracuse pep rally in NYC (look for more on that in our Nov./Dec. issue), and last week, the Alumni Courtyard dedication ceremony inspired this rainy yet romantic moment just outside my office in Hintz. So, for those of you planning to pop the question, here’s the list of upcoming PSAA events. And don’t forget to invite me to the wedding.
Cute x2: Not awwwing yet? Well, check out this quick GoPSUTV clip of Lady Lion Maggie Lucas’ adorable pups, Gypsy and Gus. Because we all can spare 20 seconds for puppies.
Mary Murphy, associate editor
“If it’s a turd, it’s a turd:” That’s the still-irrepressible Matt Millen, explaining why he didn’t shy away from discussing his … let’s be blunt, as he’s always been … awful tenure as president of the Detroit Lions in an NFL Films documentary about his career. (It’s part of the A Football Life series.) Millen talked with David Jones of The Patriot-News about the documentary, and Jones colorfully explained how unusual the NFL Films production is:
What comes across is something fairly rare among major sports figures: A guy with a fiery competitive nature driven by the sizable ego all such competitors must have, yet who speaks evenly and willingly of his failure with as much thoughtfulness and depth as his successes.
Think that’s not unique? Consider the response NBA TV would receive if its documentarians asked Michael Jordan to spend half his bio discussing his abject and continuing pratfall as chief basketball ops exec of the Charlotte Bobcats.
I’m walkin’: I love that I live close enough to campus to walk to work. It’s always beautiful, often peaceful, and good for the environment—I got an emissions waiver because I drove my car so few miles last year. So I wasn’t surprised to see that State College was ranked the No. 2 city for walking to work by MSN Real Estate. (Lots of college towns on that list, BTW.)
Gotta be the shoes: I’ve got a pair of plaid Chuck Taylors for strict fashion purposes, and I have no idea how anyone ever used those flimsy shoes for serious athletic competition. I bet they wouldn’t score very well on the tests that Penn State’s Center for Sports Surface Research does on athletic shoes. Interesting piece here from The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Musical chairs: This is fascinating. The student section for football games is oversold, thanks at least partly to a Ticketmaster glitch, so the athletic department offered some pretty amazing deals to students willing to move their seats for Saturday’s Homecoming game to the Upper South Deck.
Lori Shontz, senior editor
I’ve been to the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the arts many, many times in the 37 years I’ve lived in State College. But this year I saw it in a whole new way: as one of the five jurors for the festival’s Sidewalk Sale and Exhibition.
I wrote about being a juror in our May-June issue—click on the image at right to see a PDF of that story. Being a juror has two parts: First, we met on campus last February to review the submissions of about 900 artists who wanted to be in the show, and we essentially decided who’d be invited. Then, this past Thursday and Friday, we showed up the arts festival in person and stopped at each one of the 300-plus booths, to see the art up close and score it again. Late Friday afternoon we met for two hours to compare notes and argue over which artists should receive the various “best in show” awards—cash prizes totaling more than $17,000.
Of the two parts to being a juror, there’s no doubt which was the harder: what we did last Thursday and Friday. I never imagined that something so fun—strolling the arts festival booths—could make me so neurotic.
We reported to the arts festival offices on Allen Street, right in the thick of the festival route, on Thursday at 9:30 a.m., a half-hour before the artists would be opening their booths for the first time. Pam Lautsch ’81, ’88g, who chairs the sidewalk sale, and Anni Matsick, who’s in charge of the jurying (both are volunteers), issued us clipboards with score sheets listing the artists by location—one sheet for Pollock Road booths, one for the Old Main Mall, one for Allen Street, and so on.
We also met our escorts: Each of the jurors would be accompanied by a volunteer who would serve as a guide (helpful especially to the jurors who aren’t from around here), who would paste a sticker with our name on it on each booth to prove we’d been there, and who could extricate us if an artist was getting a little too chatty and keeping us from staying on schedule.
Staying on schedule: That was what made me so crazy. The goal was to get to all 300 booths by 5 p.m. Thursday, and, well, let’s just say I failed in spectacular fashion. I loved looking at the art, I loved talking to the artists, I loved bumping into and gabbing with other festival-goers whom I hadn’t seen in years. I loved taking a lunch break with a steak sandwich and lemonade from one of the food booths. I did not keep track of the time.
My escort, Martha Carothers ’77, kept trying to get me to pick up the pace (“Let’s see if we can do the rest of this block in a half hour”), but somehow I just couldn’t do it. By 5 p.m., after seven hours of looking at jewelry and paintings and mixed media and photography and ceramics, I had done only about two-thirds of the booths. I still had 100 booths on Pollock Road and the Old Main Mall to cover. Martha was willing to stick around a little past 5, but I didn’t feel right about taking any more of her time, and besides, my feet were killing me.
That meant that on Friday I’d have exactly three hours to cover the remaining booths, so that I could turn in my score sheets in by the 1 p.m. deadline. I lay in bed Thursday night and did the math: three hours is 180 minutes, and 180 minutes divided by 100 booths is one minute and 48 seconds per booth. And that’s assuming I need no bathroom breaks and don’t run into anyone I know.
At Pam Lautsch’s suggestion, I actually showed up on the Old Main Mall around 9:20 on Friday morning, and was able to catch a number of artists as they were setting up their booths for the day. That head start helped a lot. I also adopted a much more businesslike approach. I worked hard to muzzle myself around the artists and stop saying things like, “Oh, you’re from Pittsburgh—what part of Pittsburgh?” or “Did you take that photo at Greenmount Cemetery, by chance?” or “Hey, I think my brother-in-law bought one of your hats here a few years ago.” Instead, I’d just introduce myself as one of the jurors, spend a little time looking at their wares, then say something like, “Your work is terrific—thanks for letting me have a look,” before scooting off to the next booth.
And it worked. I turned in my scores by 12:50 p.m.—ten minutes ahead of the deadline.
Next year, I’m back to being just a civilian. I can stroll some of the booths, or all, or none. I can stop and buy a funnel cake if I want, or sit down on a bench on Allen Street listen to some live music. I can spend a half hour watching the sand sculptor do his work. I can go check out the Italian Street Painting. But I’m glad for the chance I had to play a role in this year’s festival, and the chance to experience the art and the artists in a way I never had before.
Tina Hay, editor
Depending on when you attended Penn State, you might remember two prominent players in the local music scene who, sadly, passed away in recent weeks.
Terry Whitlock, a mainstay of the band Tahoka Freeway in the 1980s, died Jan. 11 at his home in Twin Falls, Idaho. You can read his obituary in the Twin Falls newspaper here and read the comments—including reminiscences about Tahoka Freeway—in the funeral home’s online guestbook here.
Eleven days after Whitlock’s death, Jamie Rounds died in Nashville. Rounds also was prominent in State College in the 1980s, in such bands as Backseat Van Gogh and the Rounds Brothers, the latter with his brother, Jon ’87, ’94g. You can refresh your memory on Backseat Van Gogh by checking out their Facebook page, which has some photo albums that are fun to browse.
Jamie made a return appearance in State College last July, performing with Cartoon at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. The photo shown below (by Kelsey Brosnahan) was taken during that show in Schwab Auditorium; Jamie’s the guy in the middle on guitar.
Last night, Jon Rounds sent me an obit of his brother, a biographic sketch focusing on Jamie’s musical career, with a poignant personal note at the end. I’ll include the obit below in its entirety for those who may be interested; even if you don’t read the whole thing, you may want to read the last paragraph.
Tina Hay, editor
James Ralph (Jamie) Rounds
Oct. 16, 1951–Jan 22, 2013
Jamie was born in Tokyo, Japan, the third son of David and Elizabeth Rounds, while David was stationed there as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during the Korean War. The family returned to the States after the war and lived on Army bases in California, Maryland, and New Jersey, until David retired from active duty in 1955, took a job as director of training at a Navy jet testing facility near Trenton, N.J., and settled across the river in Yardley, Pa.
Jamie’s formative years as a musician were spent in the house at 119 N. Main St. in Yardley, where his parents would live most of their lives. The three Rounds boys, David Jr., Jon, and Jamie, all grew up there and attended Pennsbury district schools from kindergarten through high school. All began playing guitar in the 1960s, a wildly eclectic era with influences as diverse as the British invasion bands, Bob Dylan, the folk movement, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, and the Beach Boys. David Sr. was a Julliard-trained cellist who continued to play in string quartets, but his classical training did not prevent him from embracing the new wave of pop music, especially the Beatles, and the Rounds home became a haven for the boys’ musician friends.
By his early teens, it was clear Jamie had a rare talent for music. Most striking was his ear for complex chords and harmonies, such as those from artists like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, the Beatles, and the Beach Boys. He also became skilled at electric guitar, learning leads by the likes of Eric Clapton and Steven Stills note-for-note. In junior high school, he began forming rock bands with classmates, and from that moment on, music would shape his life.
While at Pennsbury High he played with a number of bands that performed at school functions and social events. Among these were The Great Society, The Sonic Falcons, and The Blue Berets.
Jamie graduated from Pennsbury in June 1969 and enrolled at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., that fall. With classmates Dave Newell (lead vocal), Chris Knopf (guitar), Bob Willemin (bass), Al Hershner (drums), and Steve Kenety (keyboards), he formed the band Bradley, which became a fixture at the college and went on to play reunion concerts there for decades. They played a gumbo of contemporary rock, from the Allman Brothers and CSNY, to the Beatles and the Who. Willemin recalls: “We played electrically for money, mostly on the weekends, but acoustically for fun, practically every night, for anybody or for ourselves. Jamie was the motor and the indispensable member. It was great to be a part of it.” The Bradley members’ friendships endured as well. Jamie kept in close contact with each one of them all his life, trading thoughts and licks in an ongoing musical dialogue, in person, over the phone, or online.
After graduating Dickinson in 1973, Jamie moved to State College, Pa., where he’d been recruited by brother Jon to play bass in Jack Smith, a rock band that was earning a living playing clubs in town. Thus began Jamie’s decade-long career as a working musician in State College, where he remained until the mid-1980s, playing in a number of bands, including the Rounds Brothers and Backseat Van Gogh. It was with the Rounds Brothers that he began writing songs seriously, and this period also launched a lifelong relationship with Jon as a co-writer. Jamie wrote several songs on his own for Backseat Van Gogh, an edgy, New Wave-influenced band with David Fox on guitar, Ken Mathieu on bass, and Rocco Fortunato on drums. They played a repertoire of mostly original songs, including Jamie’s “Catch a New Wave,” which became a regional hit.
In the mid-’80s, Jamie moved back to the Philadelphia area to be closer to the parents. He lived in Bristol and played gigs in Bucks County and on the Jersey shore, many with Pennsbury friend Jody Giambelluca. He also continued to write, and formed his own music publishing company, Bristol Music. In 1986, he was featured on a pop/rock album by The Metropolitans, a group that included Bill Rippon and old family friend Bob Scammel.
In 1988, he moved to the Los Angeles area and began pitching compositions to the film market, with some success, and also playing at downtown clubs. It was during this period he wrote “A Little too Soon to Tell,” for the ’50s star Charlie Gracie who had made a comeback and was touring in Europe.
In 1994 he moved to Nashville, where he began establishing contacts in the country music market, pitching songs to publishers, and playing at clubs, including the famous writers’ venue, the Bluebird Cafe. He was paired for a time with Carter Wood, an up-and-coming country artist, and the duo drew interest from record labels.
Not long after this first stint in Nashville, Jamie moved back to the L.A. area, but by 2000 was back in Nashville, where he remained for the rest of his life. He lived in the heart of the studio district and developed relationships with hit-song writers including Walter Egan, George Teren, Jon Ims, and Tim Buppert. He formed the duo Honey Don’t with vocalist Nicole Gordon, jammed regularly with Nashville veterans, and became a regular at The Bluebird, where he organized frequent songwriter-in-the-round gigs. At one point he reconnected with Lee Olsen, founder of the State College-based bluegrass band Whetstone Run, who had moved to Nashville and become an executive with the Keith Case talent agency. Olsen had signed the gospel quartet, The Fairfield Four, and hired Jamie as road manager of the group during their national tour with John Fogerty.
During his time in Nashville, Jamie was constantly working on new tunes, recording home demos, and working on projects with other musicians. He worked a number of day jobs—as an insurance agent, a recruiter for a local college, a representative for ASCAP—but music remained his passion, and the day jobs were less careers than practical necessities.
In July 2012, Jamie sat in with Cartoon at its farewell concert at the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. (Cartoon, of which Jon was a member, formed in 1980 in State College and had played reunion shows at the Festival each year since, but one of the members couldn’t make the final show, so Jamie offered to fill in.) Jamie practiced harmonies, bass, and guitar parts back home in Nashville in the weeks before the gig, and then rehearsed three days with the band in State College before the show at Schwab Auditorium. He also taught Bet Williams and Susie Kocher, guest artists from Bookends, the harmonies to one of his own tunes, “Down Down,” for that show. The evening was a rousing success and demonstrated to Jamie’s legion of fans in State College that he still had his chops.
Something else: Jamie had a unique ability to make any group better. He could hear harmony parts and distribute them to the right people. He could establish the rhythm and feel of a piece with his guitar or bass playing. As his lifelong friend, Rod Deck, puts it: “In all settings, whether with high school or college garage bands, a group of friends or relatives sitting around a living room with assorted guitars, or onstage at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, Jamie would be the engine that drove the performance.” He infused any group and any session with energy and joy. He made the music come alive. He made everyone better.
He is survived by his brother, Jon Rounds and his wife, Louise Rounds, and their children, Jamie Jone-Rounds and Molly Rounds; and by grand-nephews, Felix and Arlo, sons of Jamie and McKenzie Jones-Rounds.
We are planning a service on Memorial Day in State College to celebrate Jamie’s life and his music. We will post details as we know them.
A personal note:
Jamie left an empty place in my heart that I do not know how to fill. I know others felt the same way about him, and with the support of his many friends and my family, I’m finding it a little easier each day to deal with his memory. As you all know, Jamie took his own life, and one of the most troubling and heartbreaking things about this act was that he gave not one of us—even those who were in close contact with him right up until the end—any hint it was coming. In retrospect, we can speculate about issues of his health and his situation that must have contributed to a depression and hopelessness that became overwhelming. And so this next is a very, very difficult thing for me to say publicly, but I feel it must be said in case anyone reading this ever has a notion to do what Jamie did: I cannot respect the decision he made to take his own life and I cannot participate in any gesture that validates or glorifies it. Help is out there in the world and you can ask for it. Love is out there in the world and you can ask for that too. If you don’t, you leave us helpless.
Portland, Ct., February 2013
The first floor of the Hintz Family Alumni Center was in rare form Wednesday, as it was transformed from its usual serene and studious atmosphere to a bustling blood donor room –– complete with the aromas of Papa John’s pizza and cookies wafting out the doors.
In its 19th annual Penn State vs. Michigan State University blood drive competition, the Penn State Student Red Cross Club scrambled to get the blood drive back in order after Superstorm Sandy caused dangerous weather in the State College area on Monday, forcing the blood drive to end around 1:30 that afternoon. The blood drive resumed Tuesday, with a heightened sense of competition –– Penn State is losing to Michigan State, with the score standing at 202-373 in successful donations as of Friday morning. But there’s plenty of time for catching up, as the competition between Penn State and Michigan State is set to continue through Nov. 15. (For the record, Penn State has won the yearly competition twelve times; Michigan State, six).
As if that isn’t enough competition, other Penn State organizations, both big and small, compete for the Alpha Epsilon Delta “blood cup” trophy, which is given to the org that provides the most donors during the drive. Anyone who donates to the Red Cross also gets a free T-shirt and a coupon to a downtown State College business.
“What’s really fun is, we’re all driven by competition,” says Divya Ghorpade, vice president of the Penn State Student Red Cross. “But at the end of the day, no matter who wins, it’s all going toward a great cause. It’s fun that competition can drive something so good.”
Ashley Tidd, a junior studying international politics, was lying on a hospital bed Wednesday after donating blood, looking a little weary but overall feeling OK (the whole process takes about one hour). She admits the free T-shirt incentive might have lured her in, but it’s ultimately the good cause and sense of competition that spurred her to donate.
“I’ve never done it before, so I figured I should try it,” she says. “Beating Michigan State is another incentive.”
So what does Penn State receive if we beat Michigan State in the blood drive this year?
“We just get pride,” says Ghorpade with a laugh. “We get to say we won.”
-Erika Spicer, Intern
Our intern for this fall semester is senior Erika Spicer. We asked her to introduce herself, and here’s what she wrote:
I remember my parents waking me up at 7 a.m. on fall Saturday mornings. Though groggy and squinty-eyed, I would meticulously pick out my blue and white outfit for the day, stick a few paw print stickers on my cheeks, and secure ribbons in my hair. It would be another football Saturday in Beaver Stadium.
Since before I could remember, my family has spent several weekends each year loading up the car with what seemed like 70 bags of chips, wings, a mini grill, drinks, and Penn State-themed plasticware in preparation for daylong football celebrations. When I wasn’t attending dance lessons or marching on our Bubbler football field –– the fact that my high school mascot is a bubble is another story for another time –– my parents, both spirited Penn State alumni, made sure I was tailgating and rah-rah-ing at Penn State football games. (Humiliating photos of 3-year-old me wearing a Penn State cheerleader uniform are still lurking around the house.)
I loved how grown-ups acted like kids and the half-mile radius of the football stadium was a blanket of blue and white. And when we took a break from tailgating and cheering for the Nittany Lions, we were exploring what I thought was the big city of State College, with convoluted, confusing streets and magical toy stores.
It’s hard to comprehend how much my perception of this place has changed.
I grew up in tiny Carlisle, Pa., where car shows are the annual attraction and the local Walmart is considered a hot spot. Graduating with about 150 classmates, I had friendships that are still not rivaled as I enter my final year at Penn State.
But once I started my freshman year here, the “big city” of State College morphed into a small town, and it felt even more like a second home. The transition was so smooth, and I really understood why my parents always called this place Happy Valley. But nothing is perfect –– so I discovered last November during my junior year.
I was serving as an editor at The Daily Collegian when the Sandusky case broke. Even when I didn’t want to, I had to know every sickening detail of the case that was released and, when necessary in my role as an editor, be critical of my second home. I don’t know how long I’ve known the name Joe Paterno, mostly because I don’t know if I ever didn’t know it. Like many other alumni and students, I felt as if my community had shattered.
I’ve had only a handful of classes so far this semester, but three of my professors have already given the “good decision-making” lecture; partying and drinking just isn’t worth it, they say, because our university’s reputation is at stake. To work at The Penn Stater, I had to fill out an agreement form stating whether I knew anything about suspected abuse on campus. As we were warned, things are changing.
These are reminders of what has happened in the past year. But I still can’t shake the feeling I had as my parents drove me down Atherton Street for my last college move-in day. I felt giddy, finally being reunited with the infectious energy of this place. As a journalist, I’m always looking for all sides of the story. I know some bad things have happened here. If needed, I’ll cover them. But I’ll also make sure that alumni will stay updated on the lively campus activities and classes. There’s a lot to be proud of, and I’ll be sure to bring that, too, to the forefront this fall.
Erika Spicer, intern