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Hill Winds Society 'Sets a Watch'

Students and alumni walk the path of Dartmouth tradition

There's scarcely a building or patch of turf at Dartmouth that isn't memorialized by legend, history, or tradition. From the Green, the site of the Dartmouth Night bonfire since 1891 and, before then, funeral pyres for sophomores' math books, all paths lead to tradition.

Mike Amico '07
Mike Amico '07 in front of the Dartmouth Pine (Photo by Joseph Mehling '69)

Charting a walking tour through some of this terrain has been the first project of the Hill Winds Society, an organization of 25 sophomores, juniors, and seniors created last spring to promote student and alumni interaction. The idea for the tour, which debuted in the fall, came from members Tom Healy '08, Mike Amico '07, and Leslie Adkins '09, who last summer attended a conference of such groups and saw nothing quite like it offered at other schools. After hearing from a panel of alumni about how their involvement with Dartmouth could be enhanced by student interaction, they knew they'd hit on a winning idea.

"Alumni care about students' experiences," says Healy, who coordinated the work of about eight Hill Winds students to produce the tour. "They told us they know Dartmouth has changed a lot in the past 30 years, even in the last five, and they want to see how." At the same time, he notes, many students are probably unaware of how much the College's history affects them. Dartmouth lore seems like a natural starting point for alumni and students interested in connecting with one another.

Before setting out on their walks, Hill Winds students hit the books—and the Web sites. They combed materials at Rauner Special Collections Library, spoke with College Archivist Peter Carini, surveyed hundreds of online resources, and spoke with faculty and administrators.

Amico made a surprising discovery while researching the story of the Old Pine, one of Dartmouth's most cherished icons. The venerable tree long stood the test of time on the rocky hill now named Observatory Hill, but eventually succumbed to storm damage. By 1895 all that was left was a stump. But the Class of 1927, 40 years after graduating, planted a new pine nearby in the Bema. The Class of 1927 placed the tree's care in the hands of the Class of 1967, which promised to transfer its stewardship after another 40 years to the Class of 2007.

"I almost got the shivers when I found out," says Amico. "I've now made it my personal mission to help the Class of 1967 transfer the guardianship of the New Pine to us at Commencement this year."

"History is especially strong at Dartmouth," says Adkins, who led a traditions tour during Homecoming. "Each student contributes to a common Dartmouth experience and that experience bonds us together for life. People are proud to say they attended Dartmouth, not just for the academic prestige, but because of the strength of the community."

To arrange a tour, contact the Office of Alumni Relations at (603) 646-2258.


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Last Updated: 9/16/08