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Hit. The. Bricks.

Today is the big day.  Hit the Bricks is here and it is awesome!  If you check out the Quad Cam, the best place you can see students running is as they cross the front of Wait Chapel.  You can catch a glimpse on the far left near the arch.

There is also a ton of activity in the Quad grass.  There are tents set up, lawn chairs, sofas, banners.  Students throwing footballs to each other, or frisbees.  And along the sides of the walkway, student organizations have set up tables and stations, sometimes as the ‘trade off’ place for the key card that is being used this year to track laps.  Other times they are selling food.  Everywhere you look, there is something cool to see, or eat.

A nice thing is that there are a lot of positive vibes from the student tables as you walk or run by them.  Some one made a sign saying something like “GREAT JOB! KEEP GOING!” and it was a sight for sore eyes as I was struggling my way around.

Some of your kids, let me tell you, are remarkably fast.  Ridiculous even.  They are in the best shape of their lives, and it shows.  I had no idea when I was their age that I was in the best shape I might ever be in.  I hope your kids realize it!  To be able to run that many laps with a backpack full of sand and still look refreshed is a miracle.

All through the day, music is played on loudspeakers.  Upbeat, popular stuff.  Pharrell’s “Happy.”  They are playing some older stuff too – everything from Beyonce to the Beastie Boys to the Beatles.  “Baby you can drive my car…”  Some of the students on the sidelines are singing along to some of the songs, and for a while there was a girl dancing in a tutu on top of the wall mid-Quad.

Occasionally the music is interrupted when they make an announcement.  Certain points in the day you can get extra laps for doing something special: going a lap without your feet touching the ground (we saw scooters and bikes), and there was a wacky costume lap too. Supposedly at 4 there will be a Danny Manning lap (not sure what will happen there).  I happened to witness four ROTC cadets run a lap while carrying a fifth cadet on a stretcher.  That was Impressive.

It is super fun to see what all the students are doing, as well as the staff and faculty teams.  Some groups are wearing matching shirts, or have some identifying logo or color.  The truly competitive teams have a lot of strategies they use to win.  The one that looks to be the most effective is to have each team member sprint a lap, then pass the key card to the next guy or girl, and then you recover until the other nine team members have run and it’s your turn again.  Some of the more recreational teams divide it up in time slots.  I ran some (but mostly walked) for my adopted department of the Z Smith Reynolds Library in a 50 minute shift.  Every team’s gathering point has a person or two there to cheer you on as you go by – clapping, yelling encouragement, etc.

It is a day of terrific camaraderie and no small amount of sweat.  But it is one of those events where you know you are contributing to the Greater Good, and it is a gorgeous sunny day and it makes you feel glad to be alive.

htb 2014 2htb 2014 2I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t tired.  I am exhausted.  My shift was in the midday heat and it took a lot out of my Class of 1992 body.  So I am recovering at the tables outside of Subway, drinking some Gatorade at a shady table.  Here’s a couple of pics from my vantage point.

Great job to all our organizers, all the students, faculty, and staff who ran/walked.  And here’s to all the people we know and love who are fighting cancer.  May we find a cure and heal you all.

Hit the Bricks Is Tomorrow!

20111006bricks3846Tomorrow is one of my very, very favorite days on campus: Hit the Bricks.  The Events Calendar describes Hit the Bricks as follows:

“Hit the Bricks is a Brian Piccolo Cancer Fund philanthropy now in its 12th year. Relay teams of students, faculty and staff will walk and/or run on the brick pavers around Hearn Plaza to help raise awareness and funds to find a cure for cancer.

Engraved Bricks are awarded to the winning teams for 5 separate divisions. Food, music and games are presented throughout the 8 hours of the event.

20100930bricks3115All participants who are present at 7 pm will walk a final remembrance lap to honor those family and friends who have fought the good fight against cancer.”

There is a Hit the Bricks website where you can read more about the history of the event, rules and FAQ, etc.  But I will give you the scoop here as well.

There are teams of 10 runners, and the goal is to run (or walk) a lap around the Quad.  Each runner has a baton that gets scanned at a station once a lap, so there is an autotally of your team’s performance.  If you are a hardcore person with a strong back, you can run with a backpack that has (I believe) 15 lbs of sand in it, and you get two scans per lap.  (Many of our students have those strong young backs and can run with backpacks.  I myself cannot.)

20100930bricks7117The event starts at 11 am, and throughout the day there are speakers, music, breaks to award prizes, and a big leaderboard that gets updated regularly.  There is a lot of genteel competition between the teams.  Some are quite competitive – both student teams and faculty/staff teams – and there are some more recreational teams.

20091001bricks3916One of the great parts is that students come out all day and watch, even if they are not running.  Student organizations bring lawn chairs or even sofas out onto the Quad to cheer on their teams.  It is an amazing display of school spirit and unity in the fight against cancer.

I can’t think of anyone who has not had a friend, family member, or loved one affected by cancer.  This event helps honor those who have the disease, and the money raised goes to cancer research.  It’s a win for everyone.

20100930bricks2606I’d urge you tomorrow to keep the Quad Cam up in a browser window.  You won’t be able to see all of the action, but you can get a sense of what it is like.  There will be a walking lane and a running lane on the Quad, and at 7 pm there will be a final, silent lap to honor those we have lost to cancer (or who are dealing with the disease right now).  Normally after the last lap there are luminaries and a speech on the steps near Wait Chapel.  You won’t be able to hear it but you’ll be able to see it.

If your Deacs are running Hit the Bricks, kudos!  And if yours are not, urge them to go to the Quad sometime between 11 am-7 pm to soak in part of the camaraderie of the day.

PS – The Daily Deac will be part of the ZSR Library team.  I am not a good runner.  My mantra is “not fast, but not last.”  I’ll never be able to hang with these 18-22 year olds who are in the best shape of their life (or some of our competitive staff/faculty teams of real runners), but I’ll represent just the same.   My hope is to be able to do some updates from the Quad when I am not running.  If not, a recap the next day.

Go Deacs!

Back to Nice Temps

This started out as an extremely foggy day, but it quickly improved and the sun was not only out by 11 am, but it was downright hot if you stood outside for too long.  It is nice to have good weather again.

Fall is beginning to emerge on campus with clumps of reds and yellows appearing on trees.  We’re still probably a good 2 weeks before the colors start to get really amazing, and that is something to look forward to.  Every fall I am sure that fall is Wake’s prettiest season, and then when it comes to spring and summer, I think no, that one is the prettiest one.  It’s a good problem to have.  Basically everything but winter is pretty gorgeous.

There is a huge banner that hangs on the wall near the Manchester (aka Mag) Quad advertising flu shots.  It would be hard for your students to miss this sign – but just a reminder, Student Health has multiple options you can see here.

Some parents have been asking about Family Weekend game time.  It’s still not out – likely won’t be until 10 days before game time.  You can bookmark the Football Schedule web site, or we’ll post it when we know it.

together tuesdays 3Today at 11:50 was our Together Tuesdays, when any interested members of the campus community can come to Wait Chapel and stand for Unity and Respect.  The ranks are growing, as you can see here.  Today I saw what looked like some current students, which was nice.

Awareness – and a Bonus Five Senses

9 26  2This is a carry over from Friday, Deac families.  I was making my way back to my office following my observations in the ZSR Starbucks for Friday’s Five Senses post, and saw some signs and daffodils in Tribble Courtyard and on the Mag Quad (aka Manchester).  I was curious and stopped to read the signs.

The signs tell the story of September being National Suicide Awareness Month.  This is a subject near and dear to my heart.  One of my best Wake friends lost a spouse to suicide several years ago, and several of my most beloved Wake friends and family members have dealt with the illness that is clinical depression.

9 26 69 26 5It is good to see these signs out there.  While the statistics can be jarring, sad, and frightening, it is important to raise awareness and talk about these issues.

I was reading an article on Facebook last night about depression, and this line struck me: “Self-care is not gluttonous. I repeat to…everybody: SELF-CARE IS NOT GLUTTONOUS. It is mandatory for happy, healthy living. Do it. Seriously, do it.”

We are working so much on campus on Thrive and helping people maximize their wellbeing.  We just had the hugeThrive kickoff.  Seeing these signs, it seems like a great time to remind everyone that we have a terrific University Counseling Center that is there to see students, or concerned friends, etc.  They have a website with lots of good resources on it.  Self-care is not gluttonous.

And on the subject of Thrive and self-care, the Daily Deac is bringing you a bonus Five Senses (well, four senses really).  This time it is from the Meditation Group that takes place every M W and F from 8:00-8:25 am in the Interfaith Meditation Room (23 Reynolda Hall).  This is one of many options your students have to nurture their spiritual wellbeing.

I see…

– when I first walk in the room, I see square mats on the floor, with circular mats on top of them.

– benches along the walls for people who don’t wish to sit on the floor.

– a tall, Japanese style floor lamp.  It provides the only light in there, sort of a dim, amber light.

– shoes in piles.  You take your shoes off as you enter the room.

– new faces in the group, which is nice.  I am a novice, but it is nice to see some new folks taking advantage of this offering.  They appeared to be students.

– when the meditation starts, I close my eyes.  I see nothing for 25 minutes, just the blackness of closed eyes.

– at the very end, when the meditation is over, I see the others in the group as we form a semicircle facing each other.  We bow to each other.


I hear…

– the room is silent when I enter.  As people arrive, if they speak at all, it is in hushed tones.

– three tinny chimes of the meditation bell that signifies the start of the meditation period.

– the soft, gentle voice of the leader of the meditation.  He speaks some words to invite people to be present:  “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.  Dwelling in the present moment.  I know this is a wonderful moment.”

– silence.  For the next 25 minutes, there is no speaking at all, only people breathing deeply.

– occasional breaks in the silence – the entrance doors to Reynolda Hall (which are nearby), open and shut.  I can hear workers in the food service loading dock (on the other side of the meditation room) talking to each other about deliveries.

– a low, buzzy electric hum is coming somewhere from the room, or the ceiling.  It sounds like an old fluorescent light and the hum that it makes.

– two tinny chimes of the meditation bell to signify the end of the meditation period.


I smell…

– incense.  There is one stick that is lit and it wafts through the room, occasionally reaching my nostrils.  It is not an overpowering smell.


I feel…

– a bit warm.  The room is tiny and there is not a ton of air circulating.

– peace.

– calm.

– the cushion against my back as I sit on the bench.

– my hands come together as we bow to each other at the end.

– cushions in my hand as we all work together to put away the cushions and stack them neatly so the room can be used by others later.

– better when I leave than when I did when I entered.  I feel calmer, happier, like I will be less inclined to be stressed today.  I feel more at peace with myself and the world.

– The present moment is a wonderful moment.




Five Senses of the ZSR Starbucks

It’s Black and Gold Friday in the Parent Programs office – and, we hope, with your family as well.  We encourage you to dress in black and gold colors or in WFU apparel every Friday to show your school spirit.  And because it’s Friday, we send you the reminder to talk to your students sometime today; if you forget why, here’s the reason.

9 26 3 Your students woke up today to this (see picture at right).  Overcast, needle-fine drizzle.  It’s not cold but not hot either.  Just sort of an icky day weatherwise.   The Daily Deac hadn’t done a Five Senses in a while, so this morning I strolled over to the ZSR Library and after taking a look around the stacks and the atrium (and seeing not a ton of activity), I decided to perch myself in Starbucks.

Here’s your Five Senses of ZSR Starbucks, 8:40-9:05 am.

I see…

–   all but two downstairs tables are occupied.

– one of my advisees.  Later, a second one comes in.  One of the two stops to chat with me, and I am happy to hear this advisee self-reports doing well in two difficult classes.

– all of the people seated downstairs are women, save one guy.

– lots of workout gear, sneakers, and rainjackets.  I’d say 90% of the female students are dressed on the grungy side.  I don’t mean unclean – they all look good – just very casual tshirts and exercise pants.

– one young woman in a very bright shirt-and-scarf combination.  The colors are very becoming on her.

– some guys finally trickling into the line to order.  Still, I see only one other guy that’s taken a seat downstairs.

– a girl in a cute dress.  Later I see a couple of girls come in jeans and dressier shirts.  I am starting to suspect that the workout clothes I am seeing are from women who have already been out and exercising and are grabbing coffee post-workout.

– surprisingly few ZSR staff in line.  They must have come prior to my arrival.

– two tables have students with open laptops.

– most guys dressed pretty casually.  One guy has a great pair of nautical looking shorts that I want to compliment but don’t.

– the line growing longer as it gets closer to 8:50 and people are trying to get to 9 am classes.

– a couple of people in earbuds as they walk through toward the exit.

– baristas filling empty milk gallons with steam to clean them out; presumably they will squash them to make the containers smaller for recycling.

– a tall, thin student holding his phone high.  Can’t tell if he is checking messages at an oddly high angle or taking a selfie.

– lots of splashes of hot pink as accessories on women – scarves, backpacks, coats, water bottles.

– one of my favorite baristas and one of my favorite managers.  They always knew my drink order and I loved being a regular.


I hear…

– the crackle of Starbuck’s pastry bags as they are being opened.

– ice cubes hitting the bottom of the plastic drink blender.

– the ssssfffffffttttttt sound of the coffee steamer being used.

– bits and pieces of conversation; occasional laughter; one student talking about the various counties near his hometown up north.

– the clickety-clickety of a girl’s fingers on her laptop as she types.

– laughter of a girl who is retelling a story about something that happened at lunch.  I can only hear snippets.

– the loud and metallic CLINK of the door as it latches as people walk out of it and leave it to close on its own.

– a long and lingering squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeak from the door in the back of Starbucks.  It needs oil or something.

– people greeting each other as they see friends in line or at tables.

– a nasal and tired sounding female voice telling her male companion “because I have a test in an HOUR!”

– the scrape of the wooden chairs across the tile floor as people sit down and scoot the chair in.

– soft and jazzy music.  I try to use the Shazam app to tell me what it is, but there is too much background noise.  It is reminiscent of Sade, but it isn’t her.

– favorite barista telling people “have a good day, baby!” as they get their drinks.  I swear, stuff like that always made my day as a student.

– same person telling students to watch out for the rain, because it’s ‘sick weather’ and they need to stay healthy.


I feel…

– hot.  I just hoofed it across campus and had to drop something off on the 8th floor of the library.  Heroically, I took the steps for exercise, and now I am sweaty.

– a merciful cool breeze as students walk by me on the way in or out of Starbucks. This does not happen nearly enough.

– another breeze (THANK YOU!)


I smell…

– coffee.  When I first arrive, it just smells like the generic Starbucks coffee smell.

– a much stronger smell of coffee as I am about to leave.  There have been a lot more students arriving the closer it gets to 9, and it smells like they have just opened a lot more bags of coffee.  (Strangely, I never heard them grind any, but there was definitely a stronger smell).


[No taste this time – I was too hot to drink a coffee]


There’s your Five Senses on a Friday morning.  I actually have a bonus Five Senses from another location, as well as some other pictures of campus, but since this post is long enough I’ll leave that as a teaser and bring it to you on Monday.

9 26 8I took this shot of the ZSR hallway as I exited.  There are a ton of places all over campus where they have these kinds of handouts.  Have a great weekend, Deac families!


Cold and Grey

The weather forecast has not been particularly reliable thus far.  We’ve had a couple of days that were supposed to be in the low 70s that struggled to get past the low 60s, and while we were not forecast for rain this morning, it’s been drizzly and gloomy and gray all day.

Took a stroll up to the North Dining Hall today for lunch.  Rumor has it that the students are referring to it as “New Pit” instead of whatever official name it was given.  This would be consistent with students still calling the Reynolda Hall cafeteria “The Pit” and not “The Fresh Food Company.”  I am a traditionalist, so it will always be The Pit to me.

Though the weather outside was dreary, North Dining Hall was nice.  Students were huddled up at the high tables or in booths, some studying, others eating.  I didn’t make it downstairs to Starbucks but I bet they were doing brisk business.  Cold grey weather tends to do that for us.

Here’s hoping for some sun tomorrow.

A Beautiful Night

I had reason to be on campus lastnight from around 6 pm to maybe 7:15 or so.  There was a spectacular, amazing sunset.  A great picture of it is available on the WF Parents Facebook page.  It was just a beautiful night to be outdoors.  The sunset was gold and pink and purple and glowing, and the light was constantly changing, making the sky prettier from one moment to the next.

You see a lot at night that you don’t see in the day.  I caught the intros to the women’s field hockey game (we beat Appalachian State 3-0).  There were not a ton of folks in the stands, so urge your students to come out and support our Deacs and Coach Averill and her staff!

On the Quad, there was a sign at Zick’s advertising specials each night – some food, some activities.  There were some students sitting in the grass reading, some coming and going to dinner.  Many seemed destined for the library as well.

I suspect that it didn’t get really busy and active until well after dark.  Our students are mostly nocturnal.

Hope they enjoyed the beautiful evening.



Tuesday Thoughts

This past weekend was Homecoming – and from all the accounts I heard, it was a beautiful and fun weekend, capped off by a win over Army.  This was the first Homecoming I had missed in ages, but I was still with a lot of Wake Foresters, as my niece (’05) was getting married and was surrounded by her WFU friends.  You can catch up on some of the action via Tagboard, which compiles some of the best of Homecoming as seen via social media.

There are a couple of events that students may want to take note of and attend.  These are activities that might expand your students’ minds and perspectives, or help them exercise Pro Humanitate.  Feel free to share these and discuss with your Deacs:

– The World Cultural Festival is this Friday, September 26th.  “The sound of West African drums and laughter will fill the airwaves and the scent of food from around the world will tantalize your taste buds as you anticipate the first bite at the Office of Multicultural Affairs’ 6th Annual World Cultural Festival.  The much anticipated event will take place on Friday, September 26, 2014 at 5:30 pm-8:00 pm on Manchester Plaza (rain location: Benson 401). World Cultural Festival is free and open to the entire campus community.”

israeli palestinian conflict- Israeli/Palestinian Conflict: A Forum for Understanding will be held Thursday, October 2 7:30-9:30 pm in Wait Chapel.  There will be a panel discussion of expert WFU faculty, faculty emeriti, and chaplains.  This sounds like it will be a very strong program, and might help your students understand some of the complex issues at the intersection of politics, religion, and geography.

- Project Pumpkin will be held October 29th, 2014 from 3-6 pm on the Quad and in Wait Chapel.  This is an amazing community day where our students come together to create a carnival atmosphere for local students to have a safe place to trick-or-treat.  Students can volunteer as an escort to take children around campus to trick-or-treat in the dorms, carnivals, and haunted houses.  They just sign up, come to a training meeting, and then show up on the day of Project Pumpkin!  Students must attend one training meeting in Wait Chapel:  October 22, either 7-8 pm or 8-9 pm, or October 23, 6-7 pm or 7-8 pm.

- Every Tuesday at 11:50 am, there is a “Together Tuesdays” photo on the steps of Wait Chapel. “We stand for Unity & Respect,” they say on the Z Smith Reynolds Library Facebook page.  This was started – I think – as a collaboration between Faculty Fellows and the ZSR Library.  Last week there were only about 10-15 people in the photo.  When I went up there today, there were tons more folks.  This is available to all on campus, so we welcome students interested in unity and respect to join us.  You can compare and contrast the first two pictures at the end.

Finally, this one is more about you, parents and families.  Midterms and access to grades: there is a new system in place for parents to have access to their students’ grades.  The old paper forms that were on file in the Registrar’s office no longer exist.  Instead, there is an online Proxy Access process where students can choose to share grade and other information with their parents or other designees.  The student is the one who has to grant access – so if it is important to you to be able to see midterm grades etc., you need to talk to your student about granting you proxy access.

Together Tuesdays 1 together tuesdays 2


Bringing Back an Old Favorite

One of the fun things about writing the Daily Deac is when we get feedback from readers about what you have enjoyed or what you want to see in future blog posts.  We also can get some insights from the number of hits we get on a particular post.

A post that appeared to resonate with a lot of families was from last October, and it was entitled “The Worry Letter.”  It is reproduced below.

Would writing a Worry Letter be something you’d enjoy? Or something your Deac would value and treasure?  Something to ponder anyhow.


The Worry Letter

October 15th, 2013 | Edit

Worry has been on my mind lately.  First of all, I am a weapons-grade worrier myself (it’s part of my genetic makeup; I come from a long line of women who worry).  Second of all, I heard a statistic about a week ago that a study showed that 30% of college students felt so depressed within the last 12 months that it was difficult to function and 50% felt overwhelming anxiety.  For those of us who work with, care for, and love college students, those statistics can be – well – worrisome.

This morning I stumbled upon a letter that American author F. Scott Fitzgerald is said to have written in 1933 to his 11 year old daughter, Scottie.  It reads as follows:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

What am I really aiming at?

How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,



Granted, this is overly simplistic (re: bugs) and appropriate for an 11 year old.  But in a sense this is a beautiful thing to try to do for a child – help them separate the wheat from the chaff in the world of worry, and focus them on the things that feel the most important.

I don’t know if your specific student worries or not, but I can tell you some of the general worries that I hear when students confide in me:

– Grades

– Disappointing parents and families – by choice of major, by grades, by going Greek (or not going Greek and they think their parents want them to, or not getting into their mom or dad’s Greek organization), in their choice of romantic partner

– Not earning as much money as their parents do/taking a lifestyle backslide after college

– Not feeling any great academic passion/difficulty in deciding on a major

– Not getting into the WFU business school (or any med school, law school, etc.)

– Getting a job after college


So, Deac families, I offer you this as a point to ponder in the coming days and weeks:  if you were going to write a Worry Letter to your student, what would you say?  What would you want them to know about life, and how to differentiate the small stuff from the Really Big Bad Stuff?  What advice would you give that they might cherish?

Do you think your student would want to have this kind of letter from you?  Do you think it would help ease his or her mind in times of worry when they are far away from you?  Maybe this is just me, but there was nothing in the world that made me feel better than knowing I had mom and dad’s love and approval, no matter what.  Especially when I made a mistake, got a bad grade, did something foolish.  They were still there for me.

A few years ago, my mom gave me the nicest present I ever got from her in my life.  She had handwritten “I give you my mother’s absolution for the rest of your life, no matter what the circumstances” and framed it.  It hangs on my kitchen window and I see it every day.  It’s one of the handful of things I would grab if my house was on fire.  Whenever I have a bad day, I can look at that and feel better.

I invite you to write your own Worry Letter to your student.  It may mean more than you can ever imagine.

Support the Arts at WFU – These Shining Lives

Here’s another programming note for your students.  We have an incredibly talented University Theatre, and the Daily Deac is a huge fan.  We have a production opening this week and running through the end of September, and we want to encourage your students to go and show their support for the actors, directors, scene painters, costumers, and every one in the WFU Theatre family who make magic happen on stage.

Details below.  There is also a beautiful brochure about the 2014-15 season.

THESE SHINING LIVES20140909theatre0634 by Melanie Marnich

Directed by Cindy Gendrich

7:30 pm September 19-20 & 25-27, 2014

2:00 pm September 21 & 28, 2014

In the 1920s and 30s, “girls who wanted to work” could get good-paying jobs painting the radium dials on watch- and clock-faces. Part fairy-tale, part tragedy, These Shining Lives chronicles the stories of these “radium girls,” and their life-changing friendships. A luminous play about curiosity, greed, heroism, health, time, money, and hope.

The picture at right shows (from left), Wake Forest students Alyssa Gera, Johanna Beach, Natalie Brashear, and Hayley Greenstreet.