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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Northern Star Treasure found, clues explained

Sean Reed
Caroline Menzer, a junior political science major, sits in the Northern Star office holding prizes donated by NIU and local businesses, valued just under $600, after locating the Northern Star Treasure Hunt paperweight Wednesday morning. (Sean Reed | Northern Star)

DeKALB – Utilizing the three clues published by the Northern Star each morning this week, Caroline Menzer, a junior political science major, found the Northern Star Treasure Hunt paperweight hidden in the awning of the now-closed Northern Television Center.

Menzer, who works as an alumni volunteer engagement intern at the NIU Alumni Association, was excited to win the prizes donated by businesses and organizations around DeKalb.

“I enter contests sometimes, but I’ve never really won anything before,” Menzer said.

Menzer followed the clues Monday and Tuesday but did not search until the third clue was posted at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

After seeing the word “alum” in the clue for Wednesday and solving Tuesday’s clue – which led them to the word “abandoned” – Menzer and her coworkers decided to look at the empty building outside their office at the Barsema Alumni and Visitor’s Center.

After a few minutes of searching, Menzer retrieved the paperweight with the help of her coworkers, who lifted her up on their shoulders.

The Northern Star did not require the finder to physically obtain the paperweight if it was out of reach. The finder was allowed to share a photo of the location in order to claim the prizes.

All prizes, collectively valued at nearly $600, for the treasure hunt have been donated by Vinny’s Pizza, NIU Foundation, Fatty’s Pub & Grille, Texas Roadhouse, Pittsley Realty, FNBO, Rosita’s Mexican Restaurant, Cast Iron, Huskie Books & Gear and other various items anonymously donated.




The first clue was written to exclude anywhere east of North Annie Glidden Road. The paperweight has historically been hidden on the older half of campus to the east, which prompted this year’s clue writer, Photo Editor Sean Reed, to stray away from that half of campus.



The second clue was written as a puzzle. Across the story were references to numbers; “Once,” “two,” “one,” “fortnight,” “XV,” “Fourteenth,” “fifth” and “afore.”

Using the numbers – 1, 2, 1, 14, 15, 14, 5 and 4 – along with the hint at the end of the clue, “I am counting on you to know your ABCs,” is intended to lead the reader to count through the alphabet to get the letters that correspond to those numbers.

The final solution is the word “abandoned.”

Northern Television Center has notably not operated since 2019.


The third clue involved wordplay. The partly out-of-format “Ring it out of the park,” was a reference to the ringing of a bell, in reference to Mary M. Bell Field.

“But toward the fall season,” is in reference to the most popular fall sport – football. A ball hit at Mary M. Bell Field would not typically be hit in the direction of the football stadium, hence the inclusion of the word, “but.”

Finally, the clue mentions not bothering alum, which points toward the Alumni and Visitors Center, but not going to the actual building.

This clue is intended to be read in one of two ways, the first being directions of a path to walk. The second – and likely more helpful way of reading it – would be to draw lines between each of the locations, which roughly centers the NTC when drawn from the furthest point of each location.

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