Photo Credit Jan Garrison
From registration to orientation to matriculation, it's been a busy time for students
August 25, 2015

Two hundred thirty-six new students were officially welcomed to Culver Academies during the annual Matriculation Ceremony and Opening Convocation on Monday evening (Aug. 24). Classes started Tuesday, Aug. 25, with a total of 811 students enrolled.

There are 472 boys enrolled in Culver Military Academy and 339 girls enrolled in Culver Girls Academy. They represent 24 countries, 39 states, and the District of Columbia.

At the Matriculation Ceremony (photos and videos) each new student walked through the Logansport Gate and was welcomed by the Head of Schools John Buxton and his wife, Pam Buxton, CGA Dean Lynn Rasch, CMA Commandant Capt. Mike Neller, CGA Senior Prefect Meranda Ma (Geneva, Ill.) and CMA Regimental Commander Jacob Kanak (Marshall, Wis.).

A campus landmark, the Logansport Gate was a gift in 1914 from the city of Logansport in gratitude for the rescue efforts provided by the Culver cadets. The gate was refurbished as a gift from the Class of 2001. Passing through the gate represents the beginning of each boy and girl’s Culver experience. They will end their Culver experience by walking through The Iron Gate (CMA) or Graduation Arch (CGA) during commencement.

Monday morning new cadets got a real-life taste of how difficult the 25-feet long, one-ton cutters were to maneuver when they rowed the Culver Summer School & Camps crew boats to “rescue” people off different piers on campus. The cadets then listened to the story behind the Logansport Gate. A replica of Cutter 13 was also on display next to the Logansport Gate Monday evening.

In March 1913, Logansport city officials called upon Culver Military Academy to help rescue residents trapped by the flooded Eel and Wabash rivers. Culver sent a total of 60 cadets, 40 who were experienced in handling the summer Naval School’s four cutters, to take approximately 1,500 people to safety, many of whom were stranded on rooftops and second stories.

Following matriculation, students, faculty, and staff gathered for the Opening Convocation in Eppley Auditorium. During his remarks, Head of School John Buxton talked about commitment strategies. The concept comes from behavioral psychology, he said, adding that Dr. Christine Whelan describes it as “the ways in which we trick ourselves into overriding the urge to make myopic decisions, or how to we ensure we do not veer too far off course.

“As prospective or returning students and as faculty and staff, we believe in the Culver model, the philosophy of being our best selves and partnering with an organization that stands for something,” Buxton said. “In return for doing things the Culver way, we expect to be rewarded with something of value: a better education, a chance to improve professionally, more opportunities for success in life, or a more deeply engrained and stronger character.”

We believe in the Culver model, the philosophy of being our best selves and partnering with an organization that stands for something.

An example of a commitment strategy is Odysseus’ plan to outwit the Sirens, which is part of The Odyssey. By filling his men’s ears with wax so they would not hear the Sirens’ songs and then lashing himself to the mast of his boat so he could hear their songs and gain the knowledge they provided with endangering himself or his men, Odysseus had created a strategy with the help of the sorceress Circe. Circe warned Odysseus of the risks and provided him with a strategy for surviving this temptation. “We all need our friends or at least others’ point of view to support us,” Buxton said.

He also told the audience about Stanford researcher Walter Mischel’s Oreo cookie and marshmallow tests with children to measure their self-control. Conducted during the 1960s, the trial, young children were ushered into a room and seated at a table with either a marshmallow or Oreo cookies on a plate in front of them. If they could wait until the testing was over, they would receive additional treats. “The treats lasted on average, one minute,” Buxton said. For the children who passed the test, the strategy that worked best was thinking about something fun rather than the treat in front of them.

“The most interesting outcome from these experiments on self-control was a longitudinal study that showed those who ended up delaying gratification the longest and controlled themselves not to eat the treat, actually achieved better grades in high school and college and tended to be more productive during their lives,” Buxton added.

It is during those times of temptation, we need to employ these commitment strategies or we need to have smart, caring, and creative friends and mentors – like Circe – to remind us that the real reward is rarely something with a short shelf life, Buxton said.

“If we are successful, maybe another 100 years from now people will be telling the story of the amazing year of 2015-’16 and using it as the example of the way life at Culver is supposed to be; and it will be no myth.”

(Photos by Jan Garrison, Doug Haberland, Alyssa Smith, Bill Hargraves, Camilo Morales)

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