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Overcoming COVID-19 Requires Commitment

March 26, 2020
By Will Crossley, President

I felt some anxiety about writing this letter because the impact of COVID-19 initially felt so overwhelming. A few days ago, however, I took one of our new farmers to visit the founding site of our school.  There, standing next to the cedar tree where the first student learned to read, my commitment was renewed. I realized our mission of freedom through education means as much today as it ever has. 

With this backdrop, I write with gratitude for how you and donors like you have allowed our response to COVID-19 to be decisive and effective. Amid the uncertainty of COVID-19, we remain committed. We have modified access to our campus, but innovative learning  continues for our students. Here’s how:  

  • On the advice of health professionals, we have temporarily closed on-campus student housing, except for international students – faculty remain on site too;  
  • Our students, who were already using online curriculum materials, were able to transition to distance learning from their homes throughout the nation; and, 
  • Our faculty – true heroes in this transition – established video conference “classrooms,” revised protocols and expectations, and conducted tutorials for parents and students. 

When classes resumed this week, students seamlessly adapted to the changes. Our transition was designed, incubated, and executed in less than a week because of donor support like yours. Three years ago, you helped us launch a 1 to 1 technology program, providing a laptop to every enrolled student. Donor support spurred advancement that expanded our campus WiFi access and upgraded software systems. We firmly believe that distance learning holds much promise for our students. 

What’s coming next? The financial impact of COVID-19 challenges our ability to continue the work that we have pursued for more than a century. We need further investment in technology, which is now  essential to keep pace with distance learning requirements. Many of our families report layoffs and personal financial disruptions that no longer allow them to meet their parental contributions. As we enter the final quarter of our fiscal year, an existing gap in our oversubscribed  student scholarship fund is growing wider.  

At the founding site of our school, I was reminded we have overcome Jim Crow, the 1918 flu pandemic, the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the 2008 recession. At every turn, our success has been made possible by the support of others. To withstand today’s pandemic, we need your help. Please consider helping us close the gap by supporting our scholarship fund today. One hundred years from now, when our successors reflect upon our legacy, your gift will have made the difference. 

With deep appreciation, 

Will Crossley, President