By the end of the first day of exams, around 70 apples lay at Minerva’s feet and the statue’s base.
Also, there were two waffles. (One student’s way of saying “Hey, not sure this does any good – but no harm,” perhaps?) Some red petals from a flower. And a white shell with a red apple delicately painted inside it. (Hope that student got an A, especially if they’re Art student.)
Whether it really brings luck for the students, who knows. But those apples sure are a stroke of fortune for the Spartan squirrels in search of a quick meal.
At dusk, three students came with their apples. Brought them from the dining hall, apparently. They’d each had exams that day, they told me. One climbed up the base steps and placed an apple behind Minerva’s sandaled feet. (“Watch out for the waffle!” a friend told her. The other two studied where to place theirs. “Good luck,” I told them.)
In an evolution of the tradition, no one – as far as I could see – had left a note for Minerva or written anything on their apple this year. In past years, you’d see a course number on the apple – or a particular request, sometimes on the apples or on paper notes. Sometimes there’d be coins jammed into the apple. There were no coins at all last week. (There were some daisies and even a plush smiley face.)
I’d talked with Jim Barnhill this fall about Minerva. He’s the sculptor – a UNCG alumnus – who created the statue. He noticed a student placing an apple at Minerva for good luck as we chatted one afternoon mid-semester. They exchanged pleasantries. Barnhill encouraged him to study.
Point taken. I’m sure they all did, a lot. And here’s best wishes to all the students this time of year – doing their best to show their accomplishments and to prepare for making an impact on our world.
By Mike Harris