College Campus Visits: CAC is Family
Over the past month, a handful of faculty and staff piled in to an SUV armed with hundreds
of trivia cards and trekked to three college campuses across Arkansas to eat dinner and reconnect with recent CAC alumni. Teachers, administration and former students alike laughed over pizza and reminisced about their favorite Mustang Mountain memories.
At each campus the group visited (Harding University, Arkansas State University and Arkansas Tech) Danny Sullivan said he was encouraged to see the wide age-range of alumni who attended, from freshmen to graduate school students. Sullivan said that as soon as the students entered the room, their faces lit up with a sense of familiarity and comfortableness.
Melissa Leverett sensed the comfortableness as well, and said the word “family” was used multiple times to describe the Mountain.
“Even the kids who weren’t always actively involved in high school said that we shouldn’t change the family atmosphere. They kept saying that there is something different about CAC in a positive way, and that we should never lose the idea that we are a family,” Leverett said.
2012 CAC graduate Caleb Rowan said it was good to see familiar faces and to get to catch up with people he hadn’t seen in a couple of years.
“It’s always good to see the teachers. They’re what made the CAC experience so special. The relationships I have with some of them are the best kind of relationships because if we see each other after a year or two apart, it’s like nothing has changed. They still care about what’s going on in my life five years after I’ve graduated.”
To Sullivan, “former-students” is an important term to define these alumni, because over the years, they have become something more.
“These kids turned into the people we, the faculty, hoped they would be. They are faithful as they start careers, become great leaders at their colleges and continue doing well academically. They aren’t our students any more, they are our friends.”
At each dinner, the faculty led discussions and asked alumni to give honest advice on how to make the CAC experience better. They posed questions such as, “What should we never change?” and “What needs to be changed?” A common theme across all three colleges was the importance of building meaningful student-teacher relationships.
“I learned that we as teachers can push math and push English, but that’s not what the kids take away. What the kids take away five years later is the fact that we loved them and cared about them. We built relationships with them. While math and English are important, teaching God’s grace and showing them that we love them has really made an impact on who they are now,” Brittany Arnold said.
Collectively, the faculty said they were inspired and encouraged to listen to their former students talk about growth, hard times and memories. The dinners provided a unique opportunity for specific members of the CAC family to be reminded that even though they are no longer on the Mountain, they will always be a Mustang.