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The following was written by Westford Academy Principal James Antonelli, followed by an announcement by Dean of Students Daniel Twomey.
I hope that all of you enjoyed the weekend, especially the beautiful weather on Sunday. I know this past week and weekend were very difficult for many of us, not seeing our loved ones all in one place. That said, I witnessed many creative celebrations and some wonderful virtual family gatherings. Our family hosted a Zoom with members of my wife’s family on Sunday at 3 p.m. It was very different, but it was a nice way to see everyone and to check in.
This morning I attended a virtual call with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) regarding “College Admissions: Impact of the Coronavirus.” There were over 1,000 people from around the world on this conference call. Everyone asked the same questions to several college admissions counselors and deans, who were from Mt. Holyoke College, University of Rhode Island, St. Anselm’s College, and Brown University. There were many messages that I took away from the meeting, but the overarching theme was that “these are unprecedented, unchartered waters and we are all in this together!” You could see the anguish in the eyes of each person who addressed us this morning. They too, like all of us, are in this business because they love kids! We love creating connections with our students. They all mentioned repeatedly that colleges and universities will need to do things differently because of Covid-19. Their plan is to look holistically at every student that submits an application to their college or university.
I heard multiple times from each of the contributing speakers that “your student will not be negatively impacted by a district decision, because we are all in this together!”
They each recommended reaching out to prospective schools and checking each school’s website. Colleges and universities should have links to Covid-19 updates for high school juniors and seniors on their admissions office websites that can provide information to families. Many of the schools have set up virtual tours in place of both on-site tours and orientation days. They also recommended reaching out to schools if finances have changed within your household. Each person who spoke today created a sense of togetherness during this most difficult time. I felt a sense of relief during and after the conference call. One of the counselors said, “I am just heartbroken for this senior class!” Again, you could sense the humanity in each one of their voices.
The admissions counselors also emphasized that this is “just a moment in time” and will not negate all of the good work that each student has done to date. They pointed out that colleges and universities will rely heavily on the school’s profile, the letter of recommendation from the guidance department, and individual teacher recommendations. It will NOT be just about G.P.A., but a holistic approach for each applicant.
Speakers today addressed the social and emotional support for everyone, recognizing multiple times that “we are all in this together!” They want to emphasize that they have the best interests of students at heart when reviewing each application. They want families to know that admissions counselors are human beings, too, and they are hurting as well during this worldwide pandemic. They wanted the juniors to understand that there is still a lot of time and that students should reach out to any school that they may be interested in at this time, and ask specific questions about how the school is dealing with Covid-19. One quote to the juniors was, “it is going to be okay, we as admissions counselors/officers know that things are different!” They also emphasized that colleges and universities have been through crises before, such as after the events of 9/11.
The next part of the discussion focused on ethics. They asked that families be transparent in the process. Particularly now, if you make a deposit to a school, please contact the other schools on your list and don’t “hold your place” at another school that may be your third, fourth, or fifth choice. Please don’t send deposits to multiple schools because you will be keeping another student on a waitlist. If you wait until August to alert a college or university that you will not attend, it creates major issues for schools. It also negatively impacts the reputation of the high school from which you are coming. They indicated that once a deposit is made to a college or university that “a lot happens” in a variety of areas (housing, finances, enrollment, etc.). It was respectfully requested by all four speakers today that “families do the right thing!”
Finally, the most important message from the admissions people was to find the best fit for your student. A good financial fit. A good academic fit. Students should connect now with any school they are curious about and ask questions. They also want to remind students that transferring later is an option; what a student thought was the “right fit” may not be the case next October, and admission counselors want to see students be successful. Again, that is why they are in this business!
I hope that this has provided you with the feeling that “everyone cares!” Colleges and universities recognize that “business as usual” has to change. Schools will be re-writing policies and procedures due to the pandemic. Westford Academy is here for you. Our guidance department is second to none! If you have questions about the college process, reach out. Please don’t let the question linger and eat at you! This, too, shall pass! We will get through this together!
Stay Healthy, Stay Safe, and Practice Social Distancing. We CANNOT let our guard down now for any reason.
Respectfully, Jim Antonelli
AND NOW… THE SURPRISE for the CLASS of 2020- read below:
Attention please, attention please!!!
CLASS OF 2020 LAWN SIGNS!
Some good news! We have Class of 2020 Lawn Signs for each of you!
Come pick up your Class of 2020 lawn sign at Westford Academy on Friday April 17th from 1:00-2:30. The signs were donated and are a great way to display our unity, pride and support of each other during this challenging time.
They will be available at the front of the building. Stop by and pick one up!
A few details for the pick up:
Only take one sign. There is enough for one sign for every Senior.
Please enter the main campus entrance at WA and pull to the end of the front of the building. The signs will be located on tables. Once clear, please exit the car and take your sign off the table, return to your car and exit the campus.
If there is a line of cars, please provide space to the car in front of you.
If you cannot pick up the sign Friday for any reason, please complete this form and a sign will be delivered to your residence. SIGN DELIVERY FORM
Dean of Students