Adidas and Puma to University of Oregon Frats: ‘Nice House, Bro’ | Big Indy News
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Adidas and Puma to University of Oregon Frats: ‘Nice House, Bro’



The fraternity brothers of Sigma Chi had company this spring. A construction crew would arrive for work each day with a small armada of drills and electric saws. It should be noted that the brothers of Sigma Chi are not known around the University of Oregon as morning people.

“It started a little rough; I’m not going to lie,” Scott Trempe, 50, the longtime chef at Sigma Chi, said. “It was definitely the boys against the contractors there for a while. Once the boys finally surrendered to what was going on, it worked out great.”

For a big event such as the track and field world championships, which are being held this month in Eugene, Ore., sneaker and apparel companies would ordinarily book a block of rooms at an upscale hotel to house staff and lease event space to entertain athletes and clients.

But Eugene is not a bustling metropolis with an abundance of lodging options like the host cities of years past. This is not Berlin, Beijing or Doha, Qatar. It is a quaint college town of 170,000, forcing companies to scramble for available hotel rooms. Others rented modest homes near campus, turning them into their operational headquarters for the meet.

Adidas and Puma tried something different: They moved into frat houses.

At the Chi Psi lodge, a few blocks from Hayward Field, Puma has made itself at home, transforming a stately 85-year-old fraternity house into “Puma House,” replete with a canal-side bistro, revamped basketball court, game room and 25 freshly painted bedrooms that feature Puma-themed bedspreads.

“It was a jigsaw puzzle,” said Menno Snel, an event manager for International Orange, the agency that worked with Puma on the project. “This was not your regular event in Paris, where every resource was available to you.”

At Sigma Chi, there is new furniture, a dedicated room for physiotherapy, a back office for product distribution, an ice cream bar and a cafe that, on a recent afternoon, was serving watermelon gazpacho from stemless glassware. (Good luck finding a keg.) Erriyon Knighton, an 18-year-old American sprinter who won a bronze medal in the 200 meters on Thursday, was chilling on a couch in the courtyard. Several other Adidas-sponsored athletes were engaged in a game of foosball.

Ethan Cupper, a junior advertising major and Sigma Chi’s president, recalled the day last winter when he heard that someone wanted to do a bunch of work on the place in exchange for a two-week stay in the middle of July.

“Wait,” he said, “the Adidas corporation wants to live in our fraternity house?”

In recent years, Adidas had used Sigma Chi as a hospitality center for various high-profile meets at Hayward Field. Before those meets, the company would spruce things up — a touch of paint here, a dab of plaster there. But the work was minor, and visitors never ventured upstairs to the living quarters.

For the world championships, Adidas spent months planning — and then executing — a massive makeover of the sprawling building that was worthy of its own time slot on HGTV.

“We took what we would have spent on hotel rooms and used it on this instead,” Spencer Nel, the head of global sports marketing for Adidas running, said as he gestured at the relative opulence around him. “And that’s what made it so attractive, because we’re going to be leaving something behind.”

Work at Sigma Chi began at the end of March, around the start of the spring term.

“There were definitely some things that needed repairs,” Cupper said, “like holes in the walls.”

While the improvements were much appreciated — “It seemed like every week we would wake up and there was something new going on in the house,” Cupper said — the fraternity brothers endured an occasional pang of nostalgia. One day, they watched as the construction crew went into the backyard to remove several strips of artificial turf that the students had purchased on Craigslist and installed themselves.

“That was all our hard work right there,” Cupper said. “But the new turf looks really nice.”

The long process of refurbishing the fraternity’s 40 bedrooms began while school was still in session, Nel said, which turned it into a game of chess. Workers started with a few that were vacant. Once those were repaired, a batch of brothers moved into them so that their bedrooms could be fixed up.

By the end of the school year, several of those revamped bedrooms were already in varying states of decay. (One resident — and you know who you are — left a fire extinguisher embedded in one of the walls as if it had been launched like a javelin.)

Adidas removed any and all foreign objects, replaced the bedroom doors, assembled new beds and modernized the bathrooms. The Wi-Fi network was also overhauled, which was a huge perk for the students and one of the reasons they were willing to put up with so much hassle this spring.

“Some of them are big gamers, and they were stealing each other’s megabytes,” said Sander Rodenburg, an executive with CIP Marketing, which managed the project.

But there are reminders that it is still Sigma Chi and not the Four Seasons. For starters, Sigma Chi does not have central air. Adidas had hoped to remedy the situation with a fleet of air-conditioning units, but the building’s electrical circuitry could accommodate only nine of them. For the track meet, the rooms with air conditioning went to the bigwigs. Everyone else has made do with fans on days when temperatures exceeded 90 degrees.

Neighbors, meanwhile, are enamored with the fresh coat of dark green paint on the building’s exterior.

“They’ve actually come by to thank us,” Danny Lopez, a senior manager for sports marketing at Adidas, said.

Over at Chi Psi, Snel arrived this month as several fraternity brothers were in the process of moving out.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of your house,” Snel told them.

Puma chose Chi Psi in large part, Snel said, because it was in great shape, having already undergone recent renovations. But the project still required months of planning. Chi Psi handed over the keys on July 10, giving Snel and a 20-person crew five days to get it ready before the start of the world championships.

“Pretty much no room went untouched,” said Patrick Herbst, a former treasurer at Chi Psi.

One of the more rigorous parts of the process, Snel said, was a “deep clean” of the house that took nearly three days. It was a scramble toward the end, with caterers, movers and sound technicians bustling about. The house needed to be ready to accommodate about 33 guests — Puma staff, coaches, agents and family members — plus 2,500 Puma-branded ice cream treats that were delivered overnight from Los Angeles.

“Please take one,” Snel said. “They’re very good.”

At the same time, Puma sought to avoid erasing Chi Psi from the house. So dozens of annual fraternity composite portraits remained in place, lining the walls. The parents of the Norwegian hurdler Karsten Warholm stayed in a bedroom down the hall from the framed composite for the Class of 2015-16, which prominently features a handsome pup named Kaleo that was in charge of “sorority relations.”

“I think that’s the beauty of it,” Snel said. “We tried to build on the story of the fraternity house and not completely turn it into some sort of sports brand activation.”

As part of its deal with Puma, the fraternity will get to keep most of the new furniture while taking advantage of the refurbishments. Herbst, who graduated this spring, said he was envious of the basketball court.

But some of the changes are most likely temporary. For the world championships, the upstairs bathroom at Chi Psi is now coed, with female-only hours and urinals that are brimming with flowers.

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Four Students Are Injured in Shooting Near Philadelphia High School



Four teenage students were injured in a shooting near a high school in West Philadelphia on Wednesday, just after classes were dismissed for Thanksgiving break, the authorities said.

The students, two 15-year-old girls and two 16-year-old boys, were taken to hospitals and were in stable condition, John Stanford, first deputy commissioner of the Philadelphia Police Department, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

The shooting happened just after 11:30 a.m. outside a beauty salon and about a block from Overbrook High School. Deputy Commissioner Stanford said a group of students had been standing outside the salon when someone inside a passing silver S.U.V. fired at them.

The police did not name the victims. One 15-year-old girl suffered gunshot wounds to her left shoulder and left thigh, and the other 15-year-old girl suffered a gunshot wound to her left shoulder, the police said in a statement. A 16-year-old boy was shot in the left hand and had a graze wound on his face, and the other 16-year-old boy suffered a gunshot wound to his right leg.

The police said that no arrests had been made and no weapon had been recovered. Deputy Commissioner Stanford said it was too early in the investigation to know if the students had been targeted.

“Just another incident of gun violence in our city,” he said at the news conference.

Gun violence in Philadelphia has been particularly bad this year. More than 1,400 people in the city had been shot as of August, a higher toll than in the much larger cities of New York and Los Angeles. Officials are struggling to respond to the number of guns on the street. For every illegal gun seized by the police in Philadelphia between 1999 and 2019, about three guns were bought or sold legally, according to a city report released this year.

“We’re going to have to have some real serious help to get our arms around our city problem with these guns,” Tony B. Watlington, the Philadelphia schools superintendent, said at a news conference on Wednesday.

In September, a 14-year-old student, Nicolas Elizalde, was killed and four others were injured in a shooting near Roxborough High School. The five teenagers were leaving the field after a football scrimmage when the shooting occurred. Roxborough High School is about five miles north of Overbrook.

Four people between the ages of 15 and 21 have been arrested in connection with the Roxborough High School shooting.

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Sizing Up the First ‘Normal’ School Year



The busy holiday season is here, and before we know it, many of us will be gathering for parties, visiting relatives and ringing in the New Year with friends. (Now is a good time to stock up on at-home rapid tests and high-quality masks and to consider getting an updated booster, if you haven’t already.)

Schools are also winding down the first half of what, by many accounts, was the first truly back-to-normal school year since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

As we approach winter break, we thought we’d take a look at how the school year is unfolding during this stage of the pandemic. I spoke with my colleague Sarah Mervosh, who covers education.

What has the school year looked like so far?

Masks are not required in an estimated 99 percent of districts, according to Burbio, a school tracking site. I think by and large there’s a recognition in schools that the coronavirus is here to stay, and we’re learning to live with it.

Last year, we heard a lot about behavioral issues and mental health issues. Students were still adjusting from the traumas and the disruptions of the pandemic and adjusting to being back in the classroom. But this year, I’m hearing less about that and more about the urgency around helping students recover academically.

How are students doing academically?

During the pandemic, kids learned less. We got a sense of how seriously they were affected this fall with the results of a key national test, the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which tests fourth and eighth graders in math and reading. The results were pretty devastating.

Eighth grade math scores fell in 49 out of 50 states. Only about a quarter of eighth graders were proficient, down from about a third in 2019. Fourth graders fared a little better: There were declines in 41 states in math, with just 36 percent of fourth graders proficient in the subject, down from 41 percent in 2019. Reading ability declined a bit less across the board, but scores still fell in more than half the states. In both fourth and eighth grade, only about one in three kids were proficient.

The stakes are high for kids because establishing literacy in early elementary school is important for their future success in high school and beyond. Similarly, it’s important for eighth graders to be set up for success as high school freshmen, a crucial transition year. And districts and schools are on a tight timetable to use pandemic relief money to help kids catch up.

How so?

There were three rounds of pandemic relief funding, and the last one, at $123 billion, was the federal government’s single largest investment in American schools. That’s about $2,400 per student. At least 20 percent of the money has to be spent on academic recovery and needs to be allocated by 2024. This is a big year for actually spending the money and getting the interventions that kids need.

What approaches are working?

There has been a lot of focus on tutoring. When done in small groups of three to four students with a trained tutor multiple times a week during the school day, it can be quite effective. It can be even more effective than lowering class sizes, for example, or summer school.

Some experts have advocated extending the school day or year, and lots of places are doing summer school. No one strategy is going to be the thing that is potent enough to help kids recover.

What about the argument that every child experienced the pandemic, so if they’re all a little behind, it might make less of a difference?

This is a very important question. I can see why it’s appealing to say, “Well, everyone was affected, so why does it really matter? This whole cohort of children is sort of in a similar place.” But that’s not actually true.

We know that in fourth grade math, for example, Black, Hispanic and Native American students lost more ground than white and Asian students. This deepened divides in outcomes, because white and Asian students were already scoring at a higher level for many reasons, which include structural societal advantages. And we are also seeing a troubling drop-off among the country’s lowest-performing students, particularly among younger students and in reading. So it is the very students who were struggling most coming into the pandemic who were most affected, and will now need the most help.

What does the future look like?

The pandemic and everything that came with it disrupted kids’ lives in huge ways. So that means that this recovery is going to need to be long-term. I’ve talked to people who are concerned that one day, when this is all sort of in the rearview mirror, we’re going to forget that the pandemic happened and we’re going to blame some kids for being behind. Or we’re going to say, “Well, these kids recovered from the pandemic easily. Why didn’t those kids?” It’s important to remember that some kids have a higher mountain to climb. They have a longer path to recovery, and this is not going to be something that is fixed overnight.

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We recently asked students how being back in the classroom felt this year. Thanks to all of you who wrote in.

“It’s really stressful. I’m growing more nervous, anxious and stressed constantly. I sleep less, constantly worrying about everything and nothing. I feel like I have no relaxation time, that I can’t breathe. Covid times has made me incredibly anxious, and I don’t know how to calm down. My mind is too active.” — Yuxuan, Paris

“The school year started off really strong, but around mid-September the overall atmosphere of my campus changed drastically. Everyone began to suddenly slump into a deep depressive state and fall behind in their work. Professors were affected, too. Many of them would come to class drained and not even remotely enthusiastic about what they were teaching. I would hear students talk about failing back-to-back tests and just not caring.” — Nicholas L., Rohnert Park, Calif.

“The school year hasn’t been completely terrible, but it hasn’t been perfect. I feel like lots of students lost the ability to socially mature, resulting in a kind of split between their maturity level and actual grade level. I was in the seventh grade when everything stopped so I missed a chunk of middle school. Returning to school has been hard especially because I lost so much motivation and I never had the desire to really get it back. My biggest concern is that I won’t be prepared to enter adulthood because there was a gap in adolescent socializing.” — Zen James, Miami

“Overall, I would say that I am thrilled to be back in school and am having a fun and enriching experience. Seeing the full faces of my teachers and peers — and being forced to roll out of bed instead of opening a Zoom meeting on my phone — has definitely helped concepts in the classroom stick. For me, the larger concern is the decay of my healthy habits. Covid (and the online school) enabled me to sit in my room for hours on end, practically developing an entertainment dependency. I often scroll through my phone or watch videos for hours, and there are many times I glance at the clock in awe at how much time has flown right by me.” — Jake Glasser, Mercer Island, Wash.

“My school year so far has been difficult. I’ve noticed that I’ve distanced myself from my peers. I’m usually a hard-driven student with a strict schedule that I push myself to follow. Ever since the pandemic began and my school was pushed online, my will to stick to that schedule diminished. I’ve never felt burnout this way before Covid.” — Presha Kandel, Conroe, Texas



Thanks for reading. We’ll be off Friday for Thanksgiving. Stay safe this holiday, and we’ll be back Monday. — Jonathan

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Gratitude for Arts and Science Educators



This month, as we’re thinking about gratitude, I’m reflecting on the tremendous impact that educators have had on my life. I would not be where I am today without the many teachers, counselors, librarians, and mentors that have lifted me up, and, now as an educator and mentor myself, I hope to pass that encouragement on to the next generation of students.

From the teachers that pushed me to do my best in class to the guidance counselors that helped me apply to universities, I am grateful that so many people in my life helped me become a first-generation college student, and now a successful artist and scientist. Despite attending a Title 1 school in Memphis, Tennessee with defunded arts programs and a 95% math proficiency fail rate, my educators were dedicated to ensuring my peers and I had every opportunity in STEM and the Arts that they could manage. In my senior year, I received a full scholarship to attend American University in Washington, DC as a Computer Science major.

I quickly realized that I was set up for failure. As a first-generation college student, 900 miles away from my family for the first time, I was already trying to get my bearings, but the real struggles came in my introductory STEM courses. I was an eager and accomplished learner through grade school, and I was in the university’s honors program on a scholarship, so why did it feel like everyone was miles ahead of me every time I stepped foot in a STEM class? Thankfully, I had many professors and advisors that took me under their wings and helped me ‘catch up’ in math and science while also fostering my interests in arts and design as a corollary to my STEM work. Because of their willingness to mentor me, I graduated with a B.S. in Computer Science and left DC for graduate school at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, where I earned an M.S. in Lighting in 2021 and am currently a Ph.D. student.

Through all of my experiences, I’ve found that both the arts and sciences are incredibly important components of a well-rounded education. I also understand that these programs are historically underserved, especially for low-income and disadvantaged students. The Arts[HA1]  teach students creativity and confidence, and STEM teaches students problem-solving skills and technological literacy. When these two subjects are left out of a child’s education, they miss out on key life skills and opportunities to explore potential passions and careers. I am so thankful for the educators in my life that enriched my educational journey with opportunities in STEM and the A[HA2] rts, and I hope to provide those opportunities back to more children.

As the reigning Miss United States, I am given the opportunity to nationally advocate for a cause of my choice. I have chosen to advocate for the importance of STEM and Arts education through my nonprofit Art Technically. Every child deserves a chance to grow as an artist and scientist regardless of their background. I have grown so much as an artist and scientist thanks to the dedicated educators that helped guide me. As a mentor to students in both STEM and the Arts, I am helping them grow as well-rounded individuals prepared to do great things for the world, just as my teachers did for me. That opportunity is what I am most grateful for.

Lily K. Donaldson is the reigning Miss United States and a Ph.D. student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute studying Built Ecologies within the Institute for Energy, the Built Environment, and Smart Systems (EBESS). Originally from Memphis, she’s passionate about advancing educational equity within traditionally underserved communities in the South and beyond, especially related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and Arts education. She’s the founder of Art Technically, a nonprofit dedicated to providing STEM and Arts educational opportunities to students at Title 1 and rural K-12 schools.

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