200 Days in the Life of the College

Monday, April 18

From the shadows, Pentagon shapes a better Hamilton

By Kate Tummarello ’11

To many Hamilton students, the Pentagon is a strangely shaped building near the nation’s capital. But every year on the Hill, the name “Pentagon” takes on an entirely new meaning for five Hamilton rising seniors invited to join this secretive honor society. Today the group quietly conducts its clandestine weekly meeting in historic Kirkland Cottage, the primitive (and unheated) white clapboard house on campus that was the home of founder Samuel Kirkland. Gathered are current Pentagon Class of 2011 members Noah Bishop, Sonya Garcia, Sushmita Preetha, Rebecca Rowe and Cobus van der Ven.

The society has existed, primarily in shadow, for the last 110 years and was created to improve life on campus in subtle but effective ways. However, according to society protocol, the actual good deeds of its members must remain secret. “The point is to be completely anonymous in what we do,” van der Ven explains, “not who we are.”

In fact, the selection of members is incorporated into an annual public and well-attended event: Each new Pentagon member is selected at the Class & Charter Day ceremony, when the concluding year’s members silently move about the Chapel at a designated time and tap the shoulders of the new members.

Incoming member Tyler Roberts ’12, who missed the selection ritual because he was studying abroad, is eager to get started with the group in the fall. “I’m honored to be selected and excited to join,” he says, “because Pentagon seems like a great way to have a meaningful impact on Hamilton.”