Boutique Schools

by YES! Weekly staff

Atany given time — except summer — more than 50,000 college students roamthe streets and bars of the Triad, a sizable demographic that affectsour culture and economy. Everybody knows who the big players are: UNCG is synonymous with its city, as is Wake ForestUniversity;NC A&T University’s history is entwined with that of Greensboro,and High Point University’s Nido Qubein has become a celebrity in hisown right. But among the high profiles are a handful ofsmaller schools that have no less an effect on our regional character.They have cozy classrooms and intimate cafeterias, along with enviablestudent-to-teacher ratios and, often, unique cultural perspective orniche programs of study that set them apart from the big guys. ThePiedmont Triad’s boutique schools don’t win a lot of athletic titlesand don’t grab a ton of press, but each one has a rich history andsomething special to offer — not only to its students, but to theentire community.

Notable alumni

GreensboroCollege: Actress Eileen Fulton, Class of ’55; US Representative CarolynMaloney (D-NY), Class of ’68; pro soccer player Ryan Nesling, Class of’99 UNC School of Arts: Actors Judge Reinhold, Mary-Louise Parker, Jada Pinkett-Smith, Chris Parnell; filmmakers David Jordan Green, Aaron Katz, David LaChappelle. Also Randy Jones, the original cowboy from the Village People JohnWesley: Bennett College: Greensboro Mayor Yvonne Johnson, among dozensof leaders in politics, business, education and the arts

_MG_6273.JPGUNC School of the Arts

(story and photo by Jesse Kiser)

UNC School of the Arts (formerly NC School of the Arts), Winston-SalemInfo: Established: 1963 Mascot: Fighting Pickles Undergraduateenrollment: 1,174 projected as of July 23 The Wolf-pack, the DemonDeacs, the Panthers… all pretty intimidating images right? How aboutthe Fighting Pickles? No it’s not a misprint — the Fighting Pickles arestationed not very far from these other ferocious school mascots, atthe UNC School of the Arts. How did they get such a name you might ask?Here starts the rumor mill, with each story just a little bitdifferent.

One story says it started in the late 1970s.Another says it was the early 1970s. Nevertheless, it began when thestudent body had a little extra money to spend but no good cause onwhich to spend it. They needed some compelling reason, so the StudentLife Department devised a plan: a big game. A football game. But having no football team was a problem. They assembled upperclassmeninterested in playing and players from the intramural football teams.Now here is a part of the story that varies: One version says thestudents asked some Wake Forest frat guys to create a competing team,while another says it was a part of Wake Forest’s homecoming and thatthe Fighting Pickles wore tutus.

Eitherway, after Wake Forest joined in, the NCSA, as it was then known, began asking for team name suggestions and came up with the FightingPickles.

The other story however said that NCSA was to besponsored by a local pickle company and they chose the mascot to showtheir gratitude, but the sponsor

shipwas pulled after the men in charge of the pickle company chose to votefor a senator who stood against the funding of institutions such asNCSA. Whatever the story might be, the Fight ing Pickles name stillcarries on. “So are we the dill pickles or what? What type of picklesare we exactly?” asks Melissa Horsman, whose husband, John Horsman, wasa grad student at NCSA in the ’70s. The school itself was establishedin 1963 and the first classes took place in 1965. In ’ 65 there werenot too many schools of the arts around the United States, but todaythere are more than 500. This one is still unique in that it is one offew schools that offer more than a high school diploma, offeringbachelor’s degrees and masters in their five-art school: dance, music,film making, drama and design, and produc tion. But just because youattend one school does not mean you miss out on everything else.Chancellor John Mauceri, now in his third year at NCSA, wants multidimensional students. “His vision is to complete a whole artist,” says Marla Carpenter, in the Office of Public Relations. “Becausethere is such a change in the arts there are not too many jobs anymore;so he wants to create artists who are multi-disciplinary. He encouragesthe schools to collaborate. Students need to be a triple threat.” Takefor example David McBride who studied filmmaking but is having asuccessful acting career. McBride plays the pot supplier inPineapple Express and the pyrotechincal expert with thunderboltsshaved into his head in Tropic Thunder. And of course this is tremendous exposure for the school. “We are better known outside of NorthCarolina than in our own back yard,” Carpenter says. And they’re stillplaying the name game. Last month, Gov. Mike Easley conferred on theschool the title of UNC, though it has been part of ther UNC systemsince 1972. “It really helps define who we are bet ter,” saysCarpenter. “Most people don’t understand we are a university, but wehave been a university for over thirty years now.”

To comment on this story, e-mail Jesse Kiser at

bennet_chapel.jpgBennett College

(By Amy Kingsley. Photo by Jesse Kiser)

Info: Bennett College, Greensboro Established: 1873 Mascot: Belles Undergraduate enrollment: 678 women (655 full-time)

TheBelles of Bennett College march into the dining hall on heels and inflip-flops, take their places at long tables and fill the floor withwhite. They’re here at 8:30 a.m. for Bennett’s Casual WhiteBreakfast, an annual tradition welcoming students and faculty back toschool. It’s Student Body President Mesha White’s fourth casual white,and she’s dressed for the occasion in a white blazer, skirt andmatching heels. “It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate eachother,” she says. “It’s about being amongst each other and welcomingthe freshwomen.” It’s more than that, too. The Casual WhiteBreakfast has its origins in Bennett’s com munity service tradition,when students stayed on campus for Thanksgiving and made a day ofgiving back to the commu nity. President David Jones rewarded thestudents with an elaborate breakfast — the first White Breakfast. Thetradition vanished in the 1960s when Bennett’s Belles began leavingover Thanksgiving, but returned a decade later at the behest ofalumnae. Now the college celebrates a Casual White Breakfast at thebeginning of the school year and a Formal White Breakfast at the end.The two white breakfasts bookend a series of institutional traditionsthat include but are not limited to Founders Day, Hon ors Convocationand Charter Day. Provost Marilyn Mobley came to Bennett College lastyear from George Mason University, a state school with more than 30,000students. “I came from a big state university where there were hardly any ceremonial moments except commencement,” Mobley says. “I

likethe way these traditions create com munity. Past presidents were veryinterested into structural ways of building that commu nity into thecollege experience.” NC Rep. Alma Adams (D-Guilford) has taught at Bennett for 39 years, making her the most tenured faculty member at the school. “You’llsee how excited they are,” she says. “The new and returning studentswill hear what the expectations will be, what their responsibility assisters is. We stress sister hood here; we pair the incoming studentsas little sisters with big sisters.” The Belles load theirplates with breakfast and return to their seats. Meanwhile, Eric Coleconducts Bennett trivia. “How many acres are there on the main Bennettcampus?” he asks. “Fifty-five!” “How many buildings on campus have thename Pfeiffer?” “Two?” “Three?” “Five?”

“Four.”“It’s four,” Cole says. Bennett College President Julianne Malveauxexperienced her first White Break fast last year. “It’s an overwhelmingtradition,” she says. “A powerful tradition. And it’s a tradition Ididn’t know about a year ago. Since then I’ve been to about twelve ofthese all over the country. I’m excited to bring back a remind er ofthis school’s tradition of public service.” Bennett is a smallcollege, with about 700 students. Between 230 and 250 new sisters enterthe fold this year, and this breakfast will be the first of thetraditions that await them. At the same time, the school will begrowing and changing under Malveaux’s leadership. But everyoneknows you can’t achieve much in the way of change and growth on anempty stomach. At Bennett College, breakfast is the most important mealof the year.

To comment on this story, e-mail Amy Kingsley at

wesley_web.jpgJohn Wesley

(Story and photo by Jordan Green)

John Wesley College, High Point Website: Established: 1903′  Mascot: The eagle Enrollment: About 100

Theparking lot is sparsely filled on the second day of fall classes atJohn Wesley College, now located on a wooded cam pus near the crook ofCentennial Street and Eastchester Drive in High Point. The college wasfounded more than a century ago as the Greensboro Bible and Liter arySchool in a fervent period following a revival led by the Revs. SethRees and Charley Weigle in the spring of ’03. It won’t be hard to findthe youth min istry class, Associate Dean John Lindsay explains. Allthe classrooms are on the first floor of the campus’ single brickbuilding while administrative office space takes up the second story.Intimacy is the Bible college’s hallmark: Seven students comprise astandard class size, while 15 pushes the max. Two students sitexpectantly on either side of the class room. Lindsay, an amiable manwearing a Mickey Mouse tie with golf themes, pops in and reports thatenrollment is holding steady this year, with about 80 day students, andenough night students to bump the total up to about a hundred. JohnWesley College is an institution of higher (in this case, meaning bothundergraduate and Biblical) learning for believers in a hurry, many ofwhom are already in the pipeline to youth-ministry jobs. A link on thecollege website to its online program reads, “Feeling a little short ontime? Earn your degree online.” As a religious institution,John Wesley is exempt from state licensure require ments but holdsaccreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Educa tion inFlorida. “I’m mainly here to get out of college and getmarried, to be perfectly honest,” says 22-year-old Ben Cranford, aTrinity resident with tousled blond hair who wears faded jeans andflip-flops. Cran ford and instructor Jeff Webster were previouslyacquainted, and the student credits his instructor with helping him

landhis first youth ministry job. If all goes according to plan, he’llgraduate next spring. Regardless, he intends to tie the knot in June.Webster received his bachelor’s degree from John Wesley College in1995, and then enrolled in Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary inWake Forest. With family and work commitments bearing down on him,he transferred to Liberty University in Virginia to get his master’sthrough its online program. He now heads the youth ministry program atPleasant Garden Baptist Church. “I’ve worked in studentministry for fifteen years,” Webster says. “I know what you’re thinkingis: That dude doesn’t look that old. And I appreciate that.” The otherstudent, 27-year-old Jamie Niven, relocated from Pennsylvania to attendJohn Wesley College. Now in her third year, she handles marketing forChick-fil-A’s two High Point restau rants, and aspires to go to work atthe Christian-oriented corporation’s Atlanta headquarters. “Somebodyin my church submitted my name, and [the college] sent me a packet,”says Niven, who speaks with an earnestness that contrasts Cranford’slaconic manner. “I literally sold all my belongings, packed up andmoved down here. I knew God wanted me here with out a doubt.” Shetells Webster that she grew up in a housing projects behind her homechurch in Williamsport, Pa., and inspired area children to attendservices with her. “I really don’t know where God wants me,” Nivenconfesses. “I’m taking a lot of classes to try to find out. Goddefinitely took me out of Pennsylvania for a reason. I don’thave a support system there. My family’s not really Christian, exceptmaybe an uncle.” “We’ll pray on that,” Webster replies, adding that hisparents were also un churched at the time he committed to his faith. Nivenhas said that a lot of classes at John Wesley College are like Biblestudy, and indeed Webster leads the two students in prayer beforehanding out copies of the syllabus. He announces that the students willtake turns opening each class “with just a word. Hey, we’re not lookingfor you to preach a sermon, just a little bit about how God has beenpresent in your life.” The course focuses on “ministry to teenagerswithin the local church set ting,” including budgeting, adolescentdevelopment and an exploration of “defining this generation ofteenagers” The students will read from three texts, two of which theymust purchase. A third, ***Re-Think***, by Webster’s friend Steve Wright, is handed out by the instructor as a gift to the students. Twenty percent of course credit will come from class participation, weekly reading reflections and personal wit nessing. Regardingclass participation, Webster says, “Basically, you just need to behere.” The personal witnessing part entails five evangelisticencounters documented with written briefs. “It may be some day you’resitting in the drive thru at McDonalds,” he says, “and you strike up aconversation.” Another 20 percent of credit comes fromattending a Saturday-morning seminar entitled “Understanding Your Teen”at Webster’s church, and submit ting a two-page personal reflection paper. Webster prefers personal, reflective writing to a mere rehashingof informa tion from texts. The remaining 60 percent comesfrom the students’ presentation of a 20-min ute mock teaching lesson, a10-minute presentation on eight different websites relevant to youthministry, and an 8-10 page youth ministry philosophy paper thatincludes some “theological and scriptural foundation.” “Thetwo greatest questions you need to wrestle with: Number one is, ‘Why?’”Webster tells Cranford and Niven. “Why are you here, and why are youdoing what you’re doing? The answer to that question will determine ifit’s a passion of your heart. The second question is, ‘Who?’ Who am Iministering to? You could answer the question broadly, by saying‘teenagers.’ The bigger question is, who is this generation? This is acall and a passion of God.” He pops in a DVD produced by an Alabamaoutfit called Student Life. It’s shot in black and white, and featuresa pastiche of multiracial teenagers. Float ing labels read: “ageneration unclear… comfortable with contradiction… a gen eration voidof the Bible.” Various talking heads make pronouncements such as “Wealmost marketed youth ministry; we almost marketed Christ…. We’veraised up a generation of kids who you might say are functionaldeists…. With ninety six percent who are not being reached by aBiblically-based Christianity, then we are losing a generation.” Afterthe lights come back on, Webster makes his pitch. “Why we do it isbecause if we don’t there will be a generation lost,” he says. “Thinkabout the impact of that. The boomers would confess that forty to fiftypercent are Christian. And look at the mess we’ve got now.”

To comment on this story, e-mail Jor dan Green at

dolls_web_1.jpgGreensboro College


(Story and photo by Brian Clarey)

Greensboro College, Greensboro Website:; Established: 1838 Mascot: Lions (team name: the Pride) Undergraduate enrollment: 1,106

Since1845 Greensboro College’s Main Building has sternly faced the longgrassy promenade to Market Street, seven years after the charter wasgranted by the state legislature and just three years after thecornerstone was laid. It cost $25,000 to build. It’s caughtfire three times since then. An August 1863 blaze took it down to theground, and rebuilding materi als were confiscated by the federal government. By 1872 the building was up again, with an antebellum fa’ade. Thefront hall caught fire in 1904 and the entrance was rebuilt as arotunda, which caught a lightning strike in 1941. The Roman columns yousee there now were a part of that rebuilding. “It has had acombustible past,” says Lindsay Lambert, director of the college’sBrock Historical Museum. The Main Building has housed both classroomsand dorms over the years and now contains some administrative offices,a performance space, a row of tranquil parlors and the museum, whichoccupies the bulk of the third floor and was conceived by Mary Brock,one of three sisters who attended the college. Upon graduation in 1924, Mary, the youngest and most dynamic of

thethree, stayed at the university as secretary to the president. It wasshe who established many of the school’s modern traditions andpractices. “She really became an institution within aninstitution,” Lambert says. “There weren’t too many people on campuswho would say no to her for anything.” The museum containsartifacts and chronicling the school’s 170-year-old history — a mock-upof a dorm room from the 1950s; a tribute to the African- Americanexperience at the school; graduation dresses from 1909 and 1969 drapedon mannequins — the one from the ’60s is sexier. And in a backroom, in display cases and shelves, the fruit of another Greens boroCollege institution: its collection of class dolls. It beganin 1938, Lambert says. “For our centennial celebration, the alumniwanted to do something special. From then on, each class made a doll.[They make] from one to three [dolls]. Some years they go with athematic approach; sometimes they go more traditional.” Thefirst class doll was presented in 1939, a bob-haired kewpie with acrocheted green dress. 1944’s doll wears bobby socks and saddle shoes.1961’s wears pink Chanel like Jacqueline Ken nedy. Though men werefirst admitted to the school in 1963, the first make doll makes hisappearance in 1967, in a skinny tie and three-button suit with a womanwho looks like Mary Tyler Moore from “The Dick van Dyke Show.”“”Probably it took a few years before the men were interested andbefore the women were willing to share this tradition.” Alumnihave filled in the back years with dolls of their own creation; theearliest dates to 1861, a baby-faced porcelain doll with hoop skirt andstraw hat. The Jazz Age is represented by a flapper in beads and aflowered dress. Things go loopy in the ’70s — 1070 sees Barbieand Ken in Technicolor attire. In 1973, students submitted Rag gedy Annand Andy without alteration. The 1976 man wears a denim suitand a bug bushy mustache, and the couple of 1977 is represented byaction figures of Steve Austin and Jaime Sommers — theSix-Million-Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, respectively. The firstAfrican- American dolls make their appearance in 1980. In 1982,students presented Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy. The 1986 entry is aCabbage Patch Doll. Planning for the 2001 dolls started on 9-11, so thefigures wear EMT and Red Cross uniforms. “I always tell the students, ‘This is your tradition — you can do what you want with it,’” Lambert says.

To comment on this story e-mail Brian Clarey at