In 1972, a new class of undergraduate students was welcomed to Valparaiso University. Within this class was a group of girls who grew into women together in their four years at Valpo. These girls from different states and backgrounds all came together and met on the 5th floor of Lankenau. They were, and still are, social bugs who always attended campus events on Mound Street together. Throughout the years, little events were celebrated and mourned and everything was shared between the girls. Between the all-nighters with ear piercing and haircuts, to the Sunday morning excursions to church, they did everything together.
In the spring, the girls pledged Phi Beta Chi, now Kappa Kappa Gamma. Sorority life in Scheele included songfest, intramurals, formals, parties, palsy awards, and leading the sorority as officers. The nine girls spent their senior year living together on Brown Street.
After graduation, the group was scattered once again across the country, starting jobs, families, and continuing their education. Every year, however, they tried to make it back for Homecoming as often as possible and always traveled to every wedding. As the years progressed, and everyone was married, they began to have an annual family camping trip. At the height of the trips, there were 18 adults and 21 children all under 6 years of age in attendance. The weekend trips were filled with hiking, cooking over the campfire, swimming, running around and generally causing a ruckus on the campground, sometime causing other campers to move to campsites.
Counterbalancing the craziness, the adults had Winter Formals and planned a Girls Weekend in Chicago and a Girls Only Cruise. Every time they saw one another, they picked up right where they left off, adding, correcting, embellishing, and finishing each other’s sentences. Many years ago, they also started a “Beta Chain Letter.” Someone would write the first letter, place it in a large envelope and sent it out. The next person would add a letter and move it on and it would continue until all letters were submitted, and then began again.
Today, the women continue to support each other from afar when sorrows and struggles interrupt life as usual and also celebrate children’s weddings, new grandchildren, retirements and BIG birthdays together. No time or distance can strain the strong bond these Betas have formed.
Pictured above are the Betas, class of 1976, reconnecting on a Girls Only Caribbean cruise! Helene Covert ’76 Trout, Debbie Gehl ’76 Peyrot, Deb Schlifke ’76 Clark, Cindi Heinrich ’76 Nielsen, Rin Curtis ‘76 Seibert, Sara Hagemann ‘76 Schlichting.
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