By: Dr. Rob Mullen
After seven quiet weeks, life slowly inched its way back onto campus in May. Schools are places of activity and movement, so it was really nice to see and feel others’ presence after Governor Beshear announced guidelines that allowed students and visitors to be on campus. These were signs of hope that life will return to the familiar and welcomed.
First, Michelle Walters H’17 of our Foundation staff organized CelebraTion volunteers to help patrons pick up auction items that had been in storage since the event went all online on March 14. Behind six-foot markings and masks, visitors came to the Communication Arts Center over several days. Everyone was pleasant and understanding.
Next, Sue Mattingly, our Campus Store manager, and her team organized a pickup of items that had been ordered but untouched for weeks. Most items were graduation materials that parents of seniors had ordered. There was a melancholy feel at times for graduation parties and school celebrations that were going to be delayed due to social distancing concerns.
Athletic Director Rob Saxton H’15 and his staff collected uniforms and distributed spirit wear to families over several days. These were for the spring sport teams whose seasons never got started. There were words of thanks and best wishes.
A highlight of the month was the senior class parade on what would have been the Thursday of graduation weekend. Meredith Dreher, mother of Bryce ’20, was the catalyst for the event. Nearly 200 cars met at the Trinity baseball stadium across from The Mall and made their way down Shelbyville Road where Trinity supporters and family members lined the street. A hook and ladder truck from the St. Matthews Fire Department was at the front of the procession. When they got to campus, they were greeted by teachers, staff members and more family members, all practicing social distancing. Each senior received the coffee mug they would have gotten at the Father-Son breakfast, an alumni window sticker and the composite senior picture. Smiles ruled the evening. It was the first time seniors had been on campus since they departed after school on March 12.
The month concluded with the traditional end-of-the-year locker cleanout and collection of textbooks bought in August. What usually occurs in about an hour after the last semester exam was spread out over eight days with morning and evening sessions. Book Manager Paul Diehl organized the process that included taking every visitors’ temperature before entering, one family at a time. There were more smiles and catching up to do. There was a constant refrain from parents and students of hoping we can return to school in August like we all are accustomed to. I wish that too.
While the presence of so many folks during May was a sign of hope, one comment made by a colleague remains with me. He told me of a senior who was unable to speak to him because of being emotional about being back in the halls. On one hand I am proud that our school can generate that deep affection. On the other hand, though, it was a stark reminder of what this pandemic has done to our lives.
I want to see the past weeks of May as a sign of hope. We will get through this together.