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Focusing on a bright spot

I was in the midst of covering Dr. Seuss Day last Wednesday at Hampden-Sydney College (H-SC) when Lesley Stimpert, the wife of H-SC President Dr. Larry Stimpert, mentioned that it would be nice to read my story when it was printed because it would be about something positive going on with the college. I understood what she meant. It has been a difficult time for Hampden-Sydney.

The H-SC community was sent into a state of mourning following a Feb. 22 single-vehicle car accident near campus that resulted in the death of H-SC senior Alexander Byrne and the hospitalization of three other Hampden-Sydney seniors.

Byrne’s fraternity, Theta Chi, held a vigil Friday night, and the college community gathered Saturday at College Church for a memorial service.

Prior to that, on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 27, the campus was put on alert when it was reported that an assault and robbery had taken place on campus around 2 a.m. Campus police noted they conducted a thorough search but were not able to locate the suspect. They said information they received indicated the suspect had left campus after the attack.

Stimpert said police had resolved the immediate emergency quickly enough that it did not hinder the successful operation of Dr. Seuss Day, which began later that morning.

As H-SC Director of College Events Cameron Cary told me, somewhere right around 600 second-graders from schools around the area poured into Hampden-Sydney College’s Kirby Field House between 9-11 a.m. that day, and another 400 were due to visit that afternoon.

The schools brought the children there so they could receive encouragement to become lifelong readers.

Stimpert noted that each child would leave as the proud owner of a Dr. Seuss book that they chose personally, giving them material to help ignite a passion for reading.

When I went into the room where students made their book selections, there were a variety of cool and exciting sights. Children flocked around Sid Allen like he was a rock star because he was dressed up as The Grinch. Tables with the soon-to-be-selected books were manned by Hampden-Sydney coaches and student-athletes, waiting to give out personalized autographs to the children. Some of the little boys smiled in excitement as they talked to a Tigers basketball star while getting their books signed.

This was, indeed, a very positive event that H-SC made possible amid difficult times, and I’m glad we were able to highlight it.

TITUS MOHLER is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald. com.