Alvis ready for change, growing together

Jan Garrison

'The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials'


November 10, 2021

One of the most impactful experiences in Mikel Alvis’ life to date was finishing last – dead last – in a cross country meet with hundreds of competitors her eighth-grade year. She got lost and fell down a hill.

But what it taught the (Norman, Oklahoma) senior (top photo, left) was that “we don’t have to get things right the first time. Or the second time, or even the last time.”

But as the Culver Girls Academy second rotation prefect, Alvis will be building off first rotation prefect Jenna Springer’s “Discover to Recover” theme to face the “The Trial of Miles; Miles of Trials.”

The theme comes from John L. Parker’s work, “Once a Runner,” she explained. Parker writes, “You don’t become a runner by winning a morning workout. The only true way is to marshal the ferocity of your ambition over the course of many days, weeks, months, and (if you could finally come to accept it) years. The Trial of Miles; Mile of Trials.”

Some of the questions she would like each CGA student to consider and discuss with others are:

  • Where do you feel most comfortable within the Culver community?
  • Where do you feel uncomfortable in this community?
  • How can we help you overcome and/or restructure personal or system-based aspects of your Culver experience?

Alvis said it is her hope for the second rotation that CGA students adapt to changes, grow together, and they are also willing to take risks. “To get things wrong, and to try them over and over again together.” By consistently “engaging ourselves and others with kindness and confidence we can accomplish this.”

She also thanked Springer (top photo, right) for her dedication to emphasizing self-care through the opening months of the boarding school.

During her goodbye speech, Springer (Indianapolis) thanked the students for embracing the “Recover to Discover” theme. “Self-care is super important, and it is something that we often overlook,” she said. “I encourage you all to remember yourselves and give yourself the same advice as you would your best friend here. In order to be there for each other, we have to be there for ourselves first.”


Head of Schools Doug Bird and Alvis honored instructor Nancy McKinnis for her 40 years of service.


McKinnis recognition

With a nod to Culver Girls Academy’s 50th anniversary, Head of Schools Doug Bird honored Nancy McKinnis for her 40 years of service to CGA and leadership instruction. During her career, McKinnis has taught ethics, oversaw the service leadership practicum program, advised the Community Service Council and the Culver Youth Community Organization, and is the founder of the Leadership Committee for Africa.

She has also served as dorm counselor, fine arts instructor, leadership instructor, CGA leadership coordinator, and basketball coach. She is a master instructor of Leadership Education, curriculum team leader, designated holder of the Richard W. Freeman Chair of Leadership, and a Patton Fellow.

“Mrs. McKinnis’ unwavering dedication to her students and her craft is inspiring,” Bird said. “No one has encouraged the hearts of more CGA leadership than Nancy McKinnis.”

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