Longwood is buzzing with activity as we make plans for the upcoming academic year, as we make financial aid more flexible, and as our creative students go ‘virtual’ with events and traditions and prepare for final exams.
Commitment to Fall Reopening makes news
President Reveley this week restated his commitment to bringing students back to campus this fall in a Richmond Times-Dispatch piece co-authored with the president of Hampden-Sydney College, our neighbor to the south. Reveley and HSC President Larry Stimpert joined forces to describe how and why they are working toward reopening their campuses. They say both schools will be able to accommodate needed changes more easily because of their smaller size.
“Can we open campuses safely this fall? With careful planning and attention to public health, yes,” they wrote.
“Official public health guidance and society’s collective efforts to slow the spread of Covid-19 will determine the timeline for reopening. But because Virginia has been a leader in this work, barring extraordinary developments, we believe it is appropriate that we plan to reopen in the fall—with meaningful precautions and measured, creative approaches to resuming residential campus life.”
A Longwood task force is diligently working on a plan for fall.
Financial Aid Flexibility
Also this week, Director of Financial Aid Sarah Doheny reached out to let current and prospective students and their families know that Longwood understands they may be facing financial challenges and we want to help.
One concrete expression of that commitment to help is the university’s decision to waive the 30-credit-hour requirement for merit scholarships. That means merit scholarship recipients can keep their scholarships for the 2020-21 year even if they didn’t successfully complete 30 credit hours this year.
You can listen to Sarah’s complete message here.
If you have any questions at all—or just want to talk about financial aid options—please reach out to the Office of Financial Aid by phone or email. You’ll find a friendly, compassionate and knowledgeable person ready to help. You can contact the office at 434-395-2077 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Traditions and Events Go Virtual
Finally, our students are putting their creativity and skills to work this semester to reconfigure some of Longwood’s most popular events and traditions for the virtual realm.
Last night’s CHI burning is one example. CHI, founded in 1900, is the oldest service organization at Longwood and a revered and treasured part of Longwood culture. Its purpose is to promote and maintain a spirit of cooperation among students during every phase of college life.
Another great example is the Relay For Life fundraiser held last week.
Anyone responsible for converting an in-person event to a virtual format—a skill in high demand these days—could take a lesson from the Longwood students in charge of this year’s Relay For Life.
The event is one of the biggest each year for Longwood and the Farmville community. In its normal format, it spans 12 hours and draws hundreds of participants in an effort to raise money for the American Cancer Society and to recognize loved ones who have survived cancer—or fought the good fight and lost. In one of the main activities, participants walk around the indoor track at Longwood’s Fitness Center, earning donations for each mile.
Covid-19 precautions made all that that impossible this year, so the 11 students on the Relay For Life committee put their heads together to come up with an alternative experience.
The goals remained the same as in the past, but this year everything had to move into the virtual realm, said event chair Savannah Wright ’20, a business/marketing major. It wasn’t easy—but the committee dug in and made it work.
The committee didn’t do anything slick or polished—just authentic, heartfelt and genuinely touching. That was enough. In a time of uncertainty, they raised nearly $69,000, marshaling the support of 613 participants, 1,800 donors and seven sponsors*.
Here’s how they went virtual:
—They created a livestream video each day of the three-day event that included about 45 minutes of “programming,” including survivor stories, memorials to lost loved ones, a trivia contest, a scavenger hunt, individual “Why I Relay” testimonials and TikTok team videos.
—One particularly moving segment on Day 2 was about Caitlyn Martens-Baginski ’21, a Longwood transfer student and therapeutic recreation major, whose beloved father died from multiple myeloma. That wasn’t Caitlyn’s first experience with cancer, viewers learned. Years earlier, when she was just 6 years old, doctors discovered she had a life-threatening brain tumor. Treatment was successful—even miraculous, Caitlyn says—and she’s now been cancer-free for 12 years.
—They kept the walk aspect of the event, encouraging participants to sign up donor pledges as usual, but the walking took place away from campus, wherever participants were riding out the stay-at-home order. Wright said this had the added benefit of incentivizing people to get outside and exercise.
Relay For Life is personal for Wright, who got involved because of her family’s history with cancer. “My grandpa passed away in 2009 from cancer, and my grandma passed away in 2015 from lung cancer. This is such an awful disease, and it makes me hurt for anyone who has to go through it. I joined this organization because I want to create a world with more birthdays and where cancer is a thing of the past.”
*Relay For Life sponsors this year were Navona Hart at RealLiving Cornerstone, one19, Brenco Solutions, Walk2Campus, Southside Electric Co-op, Benchmark Community Bank and Waldy’s Ice Cream.