KST Cover

The Owl and the Scholarship

by Mark Reynolds

Richard Rogers, President Helen Giles-Gee, Charlie Manos, Norma Walker, Stan Johnson

The Class of 1951 has given a lot to the college. They're proud of their alma mater and have remained engaged with the school for more than 60 years.

In 2001, for their 50th Reunion, they donated the sundial that sits between the rear of the library and the Elliott Center parking lot, and the plaque remembering Dr. Lloyd Young at the Lloyd P. Young Student Center.

During his tenure as president (1939-1964) of what was then Keene Teachers College, the beloved Dr. Young personally went out of his way to help many students on campus, including members of the Class of '51, and they haven't forgotten.

The year 2011 marked their 60th Reunion – another big milestone that they wanted to commemorate with something special. When their reunion-planning committee met, they proposed three ideas:

  1. an owl sculpture to sit near the Alumni Center
  2. a scholarship
  3. support for freshman-orientation activities

Committee member Norma Walker '51, often described as the glue that holds her class together, said that since the class had donated the sundial and plaque, "it would be nice to have something on the other side of Main Street beside the Alumni Center. There wasn't an owl statue outside anywhere on campus, and that's been our mascot since 1922 – there should be one."

The committee sent out ballots to the rest of the class and when the votes were counted, the owl and the scholarship were the clear winners. "We are all very interested in scholarships," Walker explained, "so we decided to contribute money to scholarships, plus have an owl created."

An appeal went out prior to Christmas 2010, and with the money the class raised then, and had in its treasury, there was enough to fund the owl and add $10,000 to the Teacher Education Scholarship Fund.

The class contracted Keene Monument Company to create the sculpture, which arrived in mid-September and now graces the Alumni Center courtyard between the Barry Alumni Center and Centennial Hall. The three-and-a-half-foot granite owl, sitting atop a two-and-a-half-foot granite pillar, greets everyone who passes by.

The members of the Class of '51 are pleased that they could contribute the new statue, which gives them a presence on both sides of Main Street. "No matter where anyone looks," noted Walker, "they're going to see the Class of '51."

"I'm especially pleased about the scholarship," Walker said, "because I needed help when I was here, and I'm sure most of my classmates did, too." So many of those for whom Keene State made a difference back in 1951 are now in a position to make a difference in current students' lives. And that really is wisdom to make a difference.

   Keene State College, Wisdom to Make a Difference