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Adi Pavlovic
Adi Pavlovic at the Sombrilla Plaza fountain

FYI Features: 'We want our fountain back' -- Student tells story of UTSA's fountain of luck

By Adi Pavlovic
Student Writer, College of Liberal and Fine Arts

(Feb. 3, 2006)--By now, everyone has noticed the hibernation of UTSA's beloved Sombrilla Plaza fountain, located outside the John Peace Library Building on the 1604 Campus. I realized the fountain has been closed since last semester, and there weren't any signs of improvement or that it would be turned back on.

According to a Facilities Services staff member, the annual fountain cleaning started during the winter break, but they were set back by water residue buildup. A shortage of manpower and an overabundance of maintenance tasks has also delayed the reactivation of the fountain. The cleaning is done every year during the break because of the loud noise of the power washer.

It's rumored that touching the fountain with both hands brings luck to students right before finals week.

Faciities Services plans to start repainting the fountain in two weeks and the maintenance should be done within four. So, no need for panic among UTSA students -- the fountain will be revived long before finals.

The Fountain of Luck story

At Sombrilla Plaza, you will find a fountain some call the fountain of luck. It isn't an ordinary fountain, though. This fountain can make the difference between a 4.0 grade point average and failure.

Nearly 20 years ago freshman Brian O'Malley was not doing well in his studies. In fact, he was close to failing miserably.

Brian was not failing for lack of trying, though. He studied with friends for exams, but to no avail. He outlined chapters. He took copious notes. He asked his professors for recommendations on how to prepare for exams. Nothing worked.

Finals drew near. Brian knew he needed a miracle to pass. About a week before finals, he began to study nonstop day and night. Everywhere he went, he took his books with him.

At the barbershop, he studied for geometry. In line at the bursar's office, he read sociology. While waiting in his car for a parking space, he prepared for history. He left nothing to chance.

Often, Brian could be found studying near the fountain. He liked to sit outdoors and soak up the sun. A cool breeze would duck under the Sombrilla, making the South Texas summer heat bearable.

One day, Brian was studying with friends on a particularly hot and calm afternoon. His friend Jeremy was helping him study for the geometry final they would take Tuesday.

"Now remember," Jeremy said, "the sum of the interior angles of any triangle is 180 degrees. So if I had a triangle with interior angles of 26 and 54 degrees, what would the measure of the third angle be?"

Brian thought about the question for a minute. "Ten degrees, I think," he said. He became more frustrated as he answered each question.

"No, the correct answer is 100 degrees," Jeremy said. "You're going to need a miracle to pass this test. Or maybe just a bit of good luck."

"Thanks, Jeremy, but that really doesn't help." Brian couldn't keep the sarcasm out of his voice. He noticed a small child running for the fountain. Without taking off his shoes or socks, the child jumped into the fountain and started wading.

Jeremy turned his head in time to see the four-year-old splashing and with a big smile on his face. "That's a good idea," he said. He motioned toward the fountain. "But maybe we should take our shoes off first."

"I agree." Brian started to untie his shoes.

In the fountain, Jeremy turned to Brian. "This fountain reminds me of that big stone they have on the stage of the Apollo Theater in Harlem," he said. "You know, the one all the performers touch for good luck."

"Yeah, I've heard of it before. Does it really work?"

"I don't know," Jeremy said. :But maybe you should touch this fountain just in case. It might bring you good luck.

Brian laid both his hands on the fountain. What did he have to lose? The fountain was as ugly as sin, but maybe, just maybe, it had some luck in it somewhere.

Brian let his tingling hands rest upon the fountain for a minute or two. He felt a strange attraction. He could feel the flow of energy entering his body.

As it turns out, the fountain did have some luck in it. The geometry final Brian took came back with an A on it. In fact, Brain got As on all his finals that semester. Four years later, Brian received his diploma.

Since then, there have been rumors of students touching the fountain. It is often said by those who have tried and failed that the fountain's luck only runs during the week before finals. Touching it at any other time brings bad luck. But then, what have you got to lose?

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