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In the Time of...April
Eddie Davis

College Counseling Succeeds Despite Restrictions

by Eddie Davis

One can only imagine what a disruption the COVID-19 outbreak has been in the normal springtime rhythm of the Baylor college counseling office, but the staff – Stephen Jackson (director), Anders Swanson, Ann Katherine Taylor, and Liz Young – along with the Baylor students in the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 adjusted well to using remote meeting platforms.

In fact, the 193 members of the senior class received 217 acceptances and will enroll in over 90 colleges and universities all around the world.

“Our video conferences started to pick up in April as regular decisions were being released,” says Jackson. “Colleges were great about hosting virtual visits and question/answer sessions, and the National Association for College Admission Counseling has provided live updates for changes in deposit dates, among other issues.”

Jackson said that Baylor juniors were mostly “quiet,” heeding the college counseling department’s advice to focus on adjusting and studying. He has confidence that colleges, the College Board, and the ACT will work with students ensuring structure during what is sure to be a different admission process in the coming year. “We plan on moving forward with student and parent conferences – in person if we return to campus and via video conference if we remain at home,” says Jackson.

“I missed my colleagues very much and the students most of all,” he adds. “I know we will emerge a stronger and more grateful community.”

Easter's EF-3 Tornado Impacts Baylor Community

by Barbara Kennedy

On Sunday, April 12, the final hours of Baylor’s Spring Break were winding down, and faculty, students, and parents were preparing for a return to distance learning and working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the same time, tornadoes and severe storms were gathering momentum in the South and would soon impact hundreds of people, including members of our school community. Reports from the National Weather Service concluded that an EF-3 tornado with estimated wind speeds up to 145 mph was on the ground at 11:15 p.m. for 14 minutes and traveled 14.5 miles from Southeast Chattanooga to Ooltewah. It was approximately 1,500 yards wide. In addition to a swath of destroyed homes, at least 60,000 Electric Power Board of Chattanooga customers lost power.

Suzie Boyle (pictured below), school psychologist and learning specialist for the Upper School, was sheltering in a closet with her husband, Greg, when the tornado destroyed their home and two cars.

Middle School Head Jenn Lindsay awoke the following morning to emails that many students were without power and unable to login to classes. More unsettling news began to unfold that six families with students at Baylor had a complete loss of their homes and belongings while others would likely be displaced for many months.

Fortunately, there were no serious injuries reported among these families, but Lindsay recognized there would be plenty of need for assistance and volunteered to coordinate outreach efforts along with Susan and Scott Wilson ’75, Parent Alliance president Julie Garrett, and Parent Alliance grade representatives and many others who came forward to donate money or gift cards for groceries and household items as well as to provide services such as debris removal, tree cutting, help with securing housing, and meal deliveries. “I was in awe of the work and care of the individuals who provided services and compassion at a moment’s notice,” said Lindsay.

“Parent Alliance reps served as our communication network to make phone calls and send countless texts,” reported Lindsay. “Collectively, we provided temporary housing for several families, volunteered over 48 hours of clean-up help, delivered over 15 meals serving upwards of 40 people each time, and raised over $3,000 for groceries and gift cards. Our families hit the hardest felt Baylor’s love and care.”

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