Activity serves up happiness on the rocks for students

Who knew there was a national Collect Rocks Day?

Patti Carey, that’s who.

That’s why earlier this week there were Longwood students hunting all over campus for the very special rocks created by Carey ’82 and some of her friends in the College of Business and Economics (CBE).

Over the past few weeks, the CBE faculty, staff and students painted more than 150 rocks with cheerful messages and pictures, and then set them out for students to find. Some of the colorful rocks promised the finders CBE swag. The “mayor’s rock” entitles the finder to a key to the town to be handed over by Farmville Mayor David Whitus ’83, who wanted to participate in the event.

As director of student engagement and special initiatives in CBE, Carey is always looking for ways to spread some sunshine for students.

Sarah Kuzniewski ’22 (left), Dorie Walters ’21 and Rachel Wells ’21, all business majors, were some of the students who looked for rocks this morning.

“Last year we were brainstorming things we could do, and I ran through a list of some of those wacky days of the year. I also was aware of the Kindness Rocks Project, where people paint rocks with inspirational messages and leave them for anyone to find. The two just seemed to go together,” Carey said, adding that this is the second year she’s spearheaded the event.

Dr. Dawn Schwartz and Dr. Melanie Marks, both CBE faculty, were among the volunteers who painted rocks this year.

“We just want to show some college spirit and go the extra mile to create a fun activity for students. There are many beautiful rocks, so I hope they end up on desks to remind the students to stay focused and give it their all,” said Marks. “I love the things Longwood does to show students that they are our focus. I think it is especially important this semester that students know we want them to have the best experience possible.”

Some lucky students will get to take home these rocks, painted by Dr. Melanie Marks.

It’s all about happiness, agreed Schwartz ’03, MBA ’13.

“I do this because I want to spread happiness among our students,” said Schwartz. “I did it last year for the same reason. However, this year I can see the toll Covid-19 has had on our students (and really all of us), and I wanted to make it extra special for them.”

Schwartz said she hopes the inspirational messages on her rocks would give hope, joy and “maybe the strength to persevere through whatever they are going through. I know they’re just rocks, but sometimes the smallest thing can be the sign someone needs to keep going.”

If senior Will Watson’s experience is any indication—mission accomplished.

Watson, who is graduating in December with a concentration in accounting, hit the campus at 7 the morning of the “hunt” with the goal of finding the mayor’s rock. A few hours later he had it hand, saying it took a little of the sting out of some of this semester’s challenges and disappointments.

“Today,” he said, flashing a smile and holding up the coveted rock, “I have joy.”

—Sabrina Brown