Baylor’s website states that each school year the Joe Key Award honors “twelve rising seniors with admirable character whose selfless efforts might otherwise go unrecognized by the school or by their peers,” and Walkabout instructor Tim Williams echoes the same sentiment about the recipients of the Joe Key Award: they just “do good things for each other and are not trying to get a trophy for it.”
After numerous nominations by both members of the faculty and the student body, a selection committee chooses the 12 recipients for the award from these nominated students. And in March, 12 juniors received a personally-addressed envelope in the mail from Baylor congratulating them on their selection. The 2021 Joe Key Award recipients are juniors Spratt Allison, Nicholas Bajestani, Alex Coley, Emily Dotson, Ibilola Esho, Maren Johnson, Connie Ni, Caleb Nuñes, Kara Anne Smith, Couriyah Stegall, and Tina Zheng.
This group of students, along with faculty members Jennifer Clemmer '07, Tim Laramore '99, Ashlee O’Steen '00, and Williams, will board a plane in late July to enjoy a week-long stay in the state of Maine. Fortunately, excluding personal belongings and some necessary equipment, all trip expenses are paid for by the Baylor School, so these rising seniors may freely enjoy all that this special opportunity has to offer.
A highlight of the Joe Key Trip is the sea kayaking journey to Isle Au Haut— an island within Acadia National Park. The teachers and students will paddle four to five hours for seven miles in order to cross the saltwater with all of their belongings and reach the island where the main portion of trip is spent. Although the details may sound concerning, Williams assures the 2021 Joe Key recipients that the crossing is simply a leisurely paddle that students with no prior kayaking experience can easily complete.
Isle Au Haut is an “incredibly beautiful place” with the “best surprises,” says Williams, remembering the past Joe Key trips he has had the honor of chaperoning. He loves the location and the experience as a whole, stating that the trip is his favorite award out of all the awards Baylor has to offer to students. Furthermore, Williams also claims that the island, with its unique location off the east coast of Maine, is the first place one can see the sunrise in the United States. Imagine a beautiful, golden dawn— painting the sky an orange hue— and the sun rising above the horizon and over the vast expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. A truly spectacular sight to see!
Not only will the Joe Key recipients view breathtaking sunrises, but they may also see a bald eagle soaring overhead or seals stretched out upon wet rocks. Additionally, the group of rising seniors may enjoy summer weather that is cool and not humid as they camp in a field of raspberries, hike the picturesque landscape, and swim in the freshwater lake on the island. And another highlight of the Joe Key trip, thanks to the location’s proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, is the lobster boil; the four faculty members and twelve students will feast upon thirty or more fresh Maine lobsters as one of their meals on the island.
In order to remain safe, all of the aforementioned people will be required to complete a COVID test a few days before the trip, the morning of departure, and during the trip if he or she begins showing symptoms. Due to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic last year, the current seniors whom were selected for the Joe Key Award in 2020 unfortunately had to postpone their trip. Thankfully these recipients, seniors Rosa Anderson-Barrera, Creighton Arrington, Frances Brantley, Carson Chaplin, Sam Christiansen, Ellis Coffelt, Ava Echard, Starr Hinton, Ashleigh Huang, Jackson Powell, Steven Yao, and Lauren Yim, finally will have the chance to go on this trip during the summer prior to the other Joe Key Trip.