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27 Road Trip IIb – The Class of 2024

When I was 17 I gave a speech to 1,000 high school juniors.
When I was 31 I gave a presentation to 300 Rotarians in Madison.
When I was 38 I asked a stunning women to marry me.

I was fine in front of each of these audiences (the ring helped at 38).

But the thought of teaching a class to 32 fourth graders is the definition of apoplexy.

This was Day Two of last October's visit to Cornell, Wisconsin.

Julie Kosher (service learning coordinator for Cornell and Holcomb school districts) helped plan a full day: the Camaraderie Club – a seniors social and service organization; Mayor Judy Talbot; Phil Harvatine (former owner of the Cornell Theatre); Rusty Sammon (current owner of the theatre for a tour); Virginia and Baldy Hakes (long time residents - seeing President Buchanan's followed by Ezra and Mary Cornell's names on their title abstract was a thrill), and Pat Kosher (Julie's husband) and the science teacher for the Cornell School District (for local delicacies overlooking a picture postcard Lake Holcomb).

But anticipating the fourth graders of Cornell Elementary was nerve-racking. Now I have a nine year old, so I strode into the second floor classroom of this contemporary school with confidence. My bravado lasted about 2 seconds after a perfectly polite young man asked, "Who are you?"

I needn't have worried. The 45 minutes with the class was a breeze. I spoke about why I was in Cornell, Wisconsin, Cornell University, a 4th grade version of the land grant act, the abridged version of the Ezra Cornell Story. I showed a 5 minute DVD of the Cornell campus and campus life.

The students asked a ton of questions: "Is the University still there?", "Is it hard to get in?", "Are any of the original buildings still standing?", and "Does it cost a lot to go there?"

They had as most enthusiastic response when I asked, "If you made a lot of money like Ezra and your family was taken care of, what would you do the the rest?" Altruists to the last one, they suggested building house for homeless, giving to the poor, feeding the hungry.

That day (and in a few more years) I think a few more students will be considering Cornell, Class of 2024. I think I just made my youngest's admission chances in 9 years a bit tougher.

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