The Spirit of Youth statue unveiled

Jan Garrison

Honoring Debra Dodds '78, CGA 50th


May 4, 2022

A new statue, The Spirit of Youth, was dedicated at the White-DeVries Rowing Center over Parents Weekend. The statue is a gift from Laura Dodds, Al Dodds ’80 and Darcie Dodds Schott ’83 in honor of their daughter and sister, Debra Dodds ’78.

The statue is in recognition of the 50th anniversary of Culver Girls Academy. Cheryl Bird ’90, chair of the CGA 50th committee, shared artist Kate Brockman’s vision for the piece during the April 29 ceremony:

“It shows a young girl, looking out over the lake before she prepares for the rest of her day at the academy. Her gesture and stance is elegant and simple, with the intention of taking an ordinary moment in time for one and expanding it into a meaningful timeless moment for all.”

“At first glance; she is a young student who has just finished her rowing practice. She loves to row. Before getting ready to start her academic day, she pauses momentarily, and looks out over the lake. She holds her oar up to the sky to be seen and acknowledges her fellow teammates as they finish their workouts. She takes in the scene in front of her and is filled with joy and appreciation. She embodies you.”

“At second glance, perhaps she is more than that. A young woman in the same scenario, but looking beyond the lake, she sees her future. Wide open and full of possibilities. A future the academy has prepared her for. She takes in the scene in front of her with excitement and readiness, filled with appreciation. She embodies the maturity of a young woman ready to make her mark on the world.”

“A simple gesture becomes a universal experience.”

Bob Nowalk, master instructor of Fine Arts and curator of the Culver Academies Art Collection, thanked Laura Dodds for “her vision and fortitude in seeing this project through. You are, without elaboration, a wonderful and generous person, wholehearted, and kind. It has been a pleasure working with you.”

He also thanked Darcie Dodds Schott and Al Dodds for their vigilance and support throughout the process.

Nowalk then told the audience, including members of the CGA rowing team,  that Brockman’s work “is an incredible recognition of the qualities and characteristics embodied in the Culver women of today. They are our future leaders, looking toward the horizon, aware of the space around them, resilient in the face of setbacks, and always seeking, in their pursuit of the best version of themselves, to put their mark on the world. They are women of service, women of strength, and the best of them are the best of us as inhabitants of this beautiful world.”

Plaque on The Spirit of Youth, which is located outside the White-DeVries Rowing Center.

Al Dodds said the family’s idea for the sculpture came from their Culver experience.

“I rowed here, then my sister Deb picked up rowing a few years after she left Culver. She later had the opportunity to row with the Class of ’43. That helped inspire her lifelong passion for rowing.”

He added that few high schools have rowing programs, and fewer yet have “a spectacular boathouse like the White-DeVries Rowing Center.” Plus, the opportunities to girls – during both the school year and summer – “don’t exist at this level elsewhere.”

The girl’s involvement with rowing “represents the uncommon opportunities available at Culver, her friendship with her teammates and her fellow coeds, and the joy of her Culver experience,” he added.

Darcie Dodds Schott said “there is such joy behind the inspiration for this statue. My sister Deb and I loved our time on campus and we made lifelong friends here. When my husband Paul and I knew that our daughter Josephine (Class of 2015) would be attending Culver, it began a new chapter of CGA for us.”

“To unveil this statue of a CGA rower in celebration of CGA’s 50th, and to know that our family will be forever woven into the fabric of the Culver campus means the world to us.”

Bird also passed along remarks from Dean of Girls Lynn Rasch, who was unable to attend.

“CGA students are leaders on campus, in their athletic endeavors, their academic pursuits and their extracurricular activities,” Rasch wrote. “It is my hope that many will pass by this statue and take time to reflect, ponder, see the beauty of Lake Maxinkuckee and be uplifted by what this statue embodies. They will see the bright future of CGA and the passion that many of our students have for the sport of rowing.”

Nowalk finished his talk with a bit of “conjecture on my part, but of its possibility, I have no doubt. Though the men of Culver hope, one day, to see a CMA grad in the highest office in the land, my money is on the possibility of a woman of CGA greeting him in the peaceful transfer of power.”

"I'm proud of CGA and proud to have worked here for the past 26 years," he said. "I firmly believe the development of strong, effective, and distinguished leadership will continue to blossom through the work of Culver Girls Academy. The Spirit of Youth embodies this well."

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