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Flat Stanley travels to Indiana

In Books, Children, Children's Literature, Comic Books, Education, Family, History, Lafayette Indiana, Literacy Month, Malavenda, NEA, NPR, Pablo Malavenda, Purdue, Reading Across America, Story Book Leadership, WBAA on June 1, 2014 at 1:26 am

Dear Mrs. Egan’s Second Grade Class,

Thank you for sending Flat Stanley to visit me in Indiana. Flat Stanley and I have had a great time going to many of my favorite places in my hometown of West Lafayette as well as Lafayette and Battle Ground, Indiana.

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First, I gave Flat Stanley a tour of our neighborhood, which is called Hadley Moors. It’s named after Hadley Lake which is near our house. Next, I brought Flat Stanley to see one of the many corn and soybean fields in Indiana. Indiana corn and soybeans are used all over the world for lots of foods like popcorn, tofu, corn syrup, soy milk, and even ethanol gas for your cars.

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In addition to corn, Indiana is known as the “Crossroad of America” for many reasons including having lots of trains going through here. Flat Stanley and I are pictured on a bridge above the Four Corners Depot along the Wabash River in Downtown Lafayette.

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I then took Flat Stanley to school with me. I am a freshman at William Henry Harrison High School in West Lafayette. Besides my classes, my favorite activity at school is band. This year I played alto-saxophone in the marching band, the pep band and the jazz band. I also am on the cross country team.

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My high school is named after President William Henry Harrison. President Harrison was from Indiana; and as the Governor of the Indiana territory, he led the Battle of Tippecanoe.

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The Battle of Tippecanoe is one of the most important battles in the history of our country – and it took place in 1811 (over 200 years ago) in the next town over from me – Battle Ground, Indiana.

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Battle Ground is named for the site of this battle – the site of the battle is now a Registered National Landmark, with a statue of William Henry Harrison (see us below).

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Today, the Battle Field Park is a fun place to go to learn about the Battle of Tippecanoe and to hike on the trails along the river — but it also has lots of festivals throughout the summer. Two of my favorites are the annual Indiana Fiddlers’ Gathering (music festival) and the Steam and Gas Power Show.

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The battle took place near the Tippecanoe and Wabash Rivers.

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Our county is now named Tippecanoe; and the Wabash River separates our two cities – West Lafayette and Lafayette.

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The Wabash River flows right into the Mississippi River. There are several trails and bridges that go along and over the Wabash River. Flat Stanley and I explored a few different parts of the Wabash River during his stay.

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Downtown Lafayette is a fun place to visit. Today Flat Stanley and I attended the “’Round the Fountain” Art Fair and the Farmer’s Market.

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The county courthouse for Tippecanoe County is in Lafayette, Indiana on the other side of the Wabash River.

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Above is a picture of Flat Stanley and me with the Tippecanoe County Courthouse in the background. On top of the courthouse dome is a 14 foot statue representing “Liberty.” In December the dome is filled with lights for the holidays.

Lafayette and West Lafayette were named after Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, who was a famous French General who helped President George Washington in the Revolutionary War.

Here is Flat Stanley with me at the courthouse fountain with a statue of General Lafayette.

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Lafayette also has several big factories that make lots of the things you enjoy in Connecticut —— like Subaru Outback cars, Caterpillar equipment, and Alcoa aluminum, which is used to make aluminum bats. Here are pictures of Flat Stanley and me at these three factories.

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My hometown of West Lafayette is best known as the home of Purdue University.

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Purdue University is the flagship university of the State of Indiana. There are 40,000 students enrolled at Purdue.

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Here, Flat Stanley and I are pictured under the Purdue Alumni Gateway Arch and the Bell Tower. Look carefully at the base of the Bell Tower and you will see us. The bells in the Bell Tower play music — even the Purdue Fight Song.

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Purdue is named after John Purdue who gave land and money to the State of Indiana to start this state university. Flat Stanley and I are sitting below with the statue of John Purdue in front of the oldest building on campus, University Hall.

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Some of the famous alumni of Purdue include Orville Redenbacher (the popcorn guy); three NFL Super Bowl winning quarterbacks Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints), Len Dawson & Bob Griese (Miami Dolphins); John Wooden, basketball hall of famer; Ryan Newman, winner of the Daytona 500; Olympic gold medalist in diving, David Boudia; and 23 astronauts including Neil Armstrong.

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I actually got to meet Drew Brees when he was a student and heard Neil Armstrong speak at the dedication of this building — memories I will never forget.

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Pictured below is Flat Stanley and me with my friends at the Neil Armstrong statue in front of the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering.

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Purdue sports play in the Big 10 conference. They have lots of sports teams including basketball, soccer, tennis, volleyball, track & field, wrestling, swimming, diving, baseball, softball, rowing, sailing, rugby, gymnastics, ice hockey, and football.

Flat Stanley and I are pictured below at the Ross-Ade Stadium where Purdue plays football.

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I performed here with my high school marching band during half time of a Purdue football game last September. That was a very cool experience.

Flat Stanley and I visited the Grand Prix Track (a student go-cart race), and the soccer and baseball stadiums.

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We then went to the Purdue Boathouse, home of the Purdue Crew Team, on the Wabash River.

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I also took Flat Stanley to see the Purdue Airport. If you look closely in the upper left hand corner, you can see the air traffic control tower.

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At Purdue, students can learn how to be pilots, airport managers, and air traffic controllers. All kinds of planes fly in and out of this airport including some really fast jets. The sports teams also use this airport to travel to games.

West Lafayette is also the home of the Indiana Veterans’ Home. The Indiana Veterans’ Home is a place that helps all US veterans from the whole state of Indiana.

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I have been to the Veterans’ home many times to serve the veterans and to sing to them with my school choir on Veterans Day each November.

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The day we visited the Indiana Veterans’ Home there were lots of flags on display to celebrate and remember veterans on Memorial Day.

Flat Stanley and I then did a lot of my favorite things in town.

We started by visiting the Celery Bog and Nature Center.

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They have lots of cool programs like “how to catch fireflies.” My family often walk our dog, Bailey, on the trails here and ride our bikes on the bike trails.

We then went to the Tippecanoe Amphitheater. They have an outdoor stage where we have seen shows. There are trails here, too. The trails at the Amphitheater are the official cross country trails for my high school cross country team — so, I run these trails a lot.

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There are lots of great restaurants in our town. While Flat Stanley was visiting, we ate at two of my favorite restaurants. Below, Flat Stanley and I are sharing Broccoli Cheddar soup in a bread bowl at Panera Bread.

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Below we stopped at the Dog N Suds Drive-in restaurant and had Coney Island chili dogs and Dog N Suds root beer in a frosted mug. My friend, Brett’s dad owns Dog N Suds.

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Flat Stanley and I then went Bowling…

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and Played some Air Hockey and…

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Played a little bit of pocket Billiards (pool).

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I then took Flat Stanley to Von’s, my favorite local store. Von’s sells lots of stuff including comic books, books, and records/CDs/DVDs.

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We then went to the movies — which I love doing. We saw the new X-Men movie.

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The next day we went to the Columbian Park in Lafayette. Columbian Park is named after Christopher Columbus. It is a great park.

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It has a train that looks silly but is a lot of fun.

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It also has a really awesome water park called Tropicanoe Cove, which has water slides and a lazy river.

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The Columbian Park also has a Zoo. The Columbian Park Zoo is free!

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The Zoo has hedgehogs, miniature horses, spider monkeys, prairie dogs, chinchillas, foxes, singing dogs, goats, porcupines, tamanduas, pot-belled pigs, armadillos, wallabies, polecats, llamas, gibbons — and a lot of birds, reptiles and other animals.

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Flat Stanley liked the spider monkeys and gibbons the best. When I was your age — I attended a Zoo camp and had to milk a goat. We visit the park, especially the zoo, a lot in the summer.

Before Flat Stanley went home to Connecticut, I wanted him to see where my mother works. She is a news producer on National Public Radio at WBAA radio station. Flat Stanley used the microphone in the radio studio where my mom works.

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Lastly, Flat Stanley and I went to Mass at our church, St. Thomas Aquinas. It also happens to be where my father works as the parish administrator.

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Flat Stanley and I had a blast. I hope you enjoy seeing the pictures of all of the places Flat Stanley and I visited in Indiana.

Thank you again for sending Flat Stanley to me. See you soon.

Your friend (& first cousin once removed),

Maximilian Xavier


My New BFF, Diane Rehm

In Diane Rehm, Howard Gardner, Kouzes, Leadership, Malavenda, NPR, Pablo Malavenda, Posner, Purdue, Uncategorized, WBAA on June 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm


Authentic & Incredibly Credible – Leader & Voice

We all love certain celebrities and have expectations for what they’re really like.  Occasionally we get the chance to meet these celebs and our expectations are tested.  I recently met one of my favorite National Public Radio personalities, and she far exceeded all of my expectations. The experience from beginning to end was such a joy! Diane Rehm is my NBFF.

Days after declaring Diane Rehm my new BFF — I was driven to figure this out.  How did she do it?  How do some people have the power to give us hope, make us comfortable and make us feel loved and valued — so deeply, so quickly? I immediately thought of Diane Rehm as our leader, our savior in a sense; someone who is authentic, smart, and forward thinking.


Diane Rehm, popular radio host of the daily NPR program, the Diane Rehm Show, came to town last week to be a part of the 90th anniversary celebration of our public radio station, WBAA, public radio at Purdue University-West Lafayette, Indiana.

WBAA Staff with Diane Rehm

WBAA Staff with Diane Rehm

Diane Rehm was the keynote at the hoity-toity Gala evening event and at the Women in Leadership breakfast. At both events, Diane Rehm shared stories of her life and career and then entertained questions from the audience. I was lucky enough to be able to attend both events — and was able to meet her both times. Diane Rehm is charming, gracious, witty, inspiring, visionary, passionate, honest, and very smart. Diane Rehm confided in and trusted us like friends. She shared stories of her personal journey, her worries, and gave us much to ponder on a local, national and global level. Diane is one of us; she understands our fears and gives us hope; and we are ready to march with her to fight for a better future for all. Diane is a charismatic, developed leader. Diane Rehm has Incredible Credibility. Diane Rehm is genuine and authentic. After a short time, everyone fell in love and truly felt like her new BFF. If you liked her before the event, you loved her like a dear friend after these events. 

After 25 years of hosting speakers and keynotes, I assure you this is not always the case — in fact, it is rare. When hosting a celebrity, I would meet with them before they hit the stage. Most of the time, I was unimpressed and found the pre-show conversation difficult and awkward. Often times the speaker was demanding, rude, and hard to please. I once had a speaker show up two hours late — missing the VIP dinner with student leaders before the show and making the audience wait an hour before starting their presentation. I have experienced and seen so much that I have become a bit cynical and often have very low expectations. That’s why when you meet someone like Diane Rehm it is worth shouting about (or at least blogging about).


I am not surprised.  The characteristics we admire in our leaders are embodied in Diane Rehm.  My theory for how Diane Rehm so successfully won us over has to do with her Incredible Credibility.

Diane Rehm & Kristin Malavenda, WBAA news producer

Diane Rehm & Kristin Malavenda, WBAA news producer

Credibility is complex because it  includes a variety of different characteristics like being honest, inspiring, visionary, and competent, to name a few. DR exudes trustworthiness, is dynamic, progressive, and knows her stuff. When you trust the messenger, you will believe in the message. We believe in Diane Rehm. If you are a regular listener of the DR Show, you know you can count on Diane Rehm being prepared with great knowledge and skill. Diane Rehm is genuinely excited personally and optimistic about the future of her show, her message, and our nation. Today, to be perceived as being Credible is rare; however, according to the research of James Kouzes & Barry Posner (2008), Credibility is a concept that every Leader must acknowledge.  Kouzes & Posner (2011) refer to this as The First Law of Leadership.

The First Law of Leadership: If we don’t believe in the messenger, we won’t believe the message.

If you don’t trust the messenger, the message is irrelevant.

Developed Leader

I loved hearing from and meeting Diane Rehm. Days after her visit I kept referring back to things she shared about her philosophy and values. At one point I felt compelled to listen to her Women in Leadership breakfast keynote again online — which I never have done before. If DR fans or more generally NPR fans are a community then Diane is our leader, and she epitomizes a Developed Leader. From her opening remarks it was clear Diane Rehm was a legitimate part of our community and she immediately connected with everyone.  Diane spoke about WBAA’s 90 anniversary and the importance of giving to public radio as if we had known each other and struggled together for a long time.  Her story of how she ended up in public radio and how she approaches producing a daily, two-hour show demonstrates congruence between her message and her values and philosophy.  Diane Rehm’s credibility is enhanced by the fact that she has chosen to be in public radio, hosting the DR Show, and being a vehicle for the rest of us to get engaged in the important conversations of our time. Consistent with Howard Gardner’s research (1995), Diane Rehm is a leader of a society — albeit a society of NPR nerds, but a community just the same.  She has chosen our cause and we have chosen her as our leader.  Howard Gardner in his text, Leading Minds, refers to this as a Developed Leader. A Developed Leader has a tie to the community and relates stories that are consistent with the values and vision of the community (Gardner, 1995).

Her Stories

The real power behind Diane Rehm and her presentation in celebration of the 90th anniversary of WBBA is her stories. There were a few themes in her remarks and in her answer to the audience’s questions.  A few of the more powerful insights, sage advice and wisdom from Diane Rehm’s remarks are as follows:

  • One of my complaints I have about my station is that communication, even important communications, are done via e-mail. I don’t think that helps for cohesiveness, for the kind of creation of a strong team effort. We all need to be together in some way, in some form, in order to help each other — sending out that message orally, verbally — ’cause that’s the way you help people.
  • During these times we have been caught up in a plethora of sources of information and focused to the next thing – the next message – the next tweet – the next message on Facebook. We are forgetting about the importance of conversation. Conversation enriches life — it is important to sit and talk and to really engage. Conversation creates meaning and depth.  Conversation is what keeps us human — is what keeps us relating with each other.  And that’s my worry that we are so focused on these gadgets and so focused on the illusory connection that these gadgets provide that we will forget how important it is to relate on a human level.
  • The most interesting dinner parties are those where people are willing to engage — where real conversations begin by asking each other questions and listening to the answers with genuine interest.
  • Media today is often designed to tell you what to think.  At the DR Show our goal is to give you enough information to engage in the interview. The DR Show will not tell you how to think but rather will all you to think for yourself. This is true for public radio in general and why we all need to support public radio and advocate for funding.  Stations like WBAA send out messages of hope, of encouragement, of good news, of good conversation around the Indiana area.  And the message is coming from a local personality that you trust and with who you are most comfortable. A person who allows you to think rather than tell you how to think or what to think.
  • Young professionals must follow their passion — especially women. When you are starting out, don’t hesitate to volunteer.  While volunteering you are learning and being trained.  This is how I, Diane Rehm, learned about public radio. People would ask me why are you volunteering without pay.  My answer was and remains — I was learning. Any opportunity to learn is a gateway to a new career.  If you love that volunteer work, want to pursue it more, and are willing to put in the time and effort to pursue it — it becomes a dream.  I can tell you from experience that it doesn’t come easy.  I carried my own equipment; I had to report to work at 3 a.m. — and these were two part-time jobs. You have to work your bottom off.  Too many young professionals have dreams but are not yet realizing how much effort they have to put into the work part – the self training part – the relationship part — in order to achieve those dreams.

As you can see, Diane Rehm’s message is consistent with the vision for her show and her role in public radio.  Diane Rehm is a leader with credibility and a talented interviewer.  Diane Rehm is excited about her work, intelligent, authentic, inspiring and forward thinking. When Diane Rehm made her entrance at the WBAA Gala Dinner and Leadership Breakfast, we all wanted to be her friend; when we left the event, we all felt comforted, filled with hope, re-energized, and ready to face the future — what ever it may bring.

Diane Rehm is our new BFF — and everything in the world is going to be fine.


  • Gardner, Howard (1995). Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership. New York: Basic Books.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2011). Credibility: How Leaders Gain and Lose It, Why People Demand It. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Kouzes, James M. & Posner, Barry Z. (2008). 4th Edition. The Leadership Challenge. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Rehm, Diane (2012, May 17 & 18). WBAA 90th Anniversary Keynote at Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN.

For more suggestions on must-read LEADERSHIP books, check out this PCPop blog post: