There are many things I love about our Longwood students: They’re friendly, kind, thoughtful, hard-working, unpretentious. Many of them also are really good sports, as the story I’m about to tell you will show.
Recently, 8-year-old Regan Vogel, the daughter of Longwood photographer Courtney Vogel, was on campus. She’d accompanied her mom to an assignment and kept herself busy collecting colorful leaves.
All was not exactly well, though. Regan noticed the smiles of students she encountered were hidden by their dutifully worn masks. Couldn’t they do something about that? Regan mused.
In a moment of collective creativity, the group drew smiles on the leaves and the students placed them in front of their masks for a photo op.
Regan was happy, and we hope these photos make you feel that way, too.
Humans are great at a lot of things, but one thing we find challenging is making a significant lifestyle change over the long haul.
We gain back that 10 or 20 pounds we fought so hard to lose. We pledge to be tidier, but we only do it for a while. We’re all in for recycling, but it’s time-consuming and we don’t keep it up.
That’s the reason I am so impressed that—more than halfway through the on-campus portion of this semester—most students are still conscientiously wearing face coverings on campus, even outside.
At one student event I attended, where every student was wearing a face covering, one young woman told me that a culture of mask wearing has developed on campus. She added that students who don’t cover their faces quickly find out from their fellow Lancers that it’s not acceptable behavior.
Please encourage your student to continue to follow the guidelines for wearing a face covering, observing social distancing and washing their hands. Their vigilance is key to remaining on campus until Thanksgiving—but, more importantly, to staying healthy.
Also, even though the weather is cooling a bit, we’re continuing to encourage students to spend time outdoors by creating spaces conducive to socializing (with appropriate distancing, of course). This includes 100 Adirondack chairs and four fire pits spread throughout campus.
The chairs and the fire pits seem to be a hit. Here’s part of a thank-you note one student sent to a staff member about the new amenities:
“I just wanted to say thank you so much for transforming the outdoor space into an easily accessible and welcoming atmosphere to get students outside. I really have thoroughly enjoyed sitting in the Adirondack chairs or picnic tables on Stubbs and look forward to testing out the new fire pits!”
The clouds moving across the sky at times decreased visibility but they did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the Longwood students who turned out recently for an evening of stargazing.
“Even with the clouds rolling in, we were still able to view the moon, Mars, Saturn and its rings, as well as Jupiter and its four inner moons: Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto,” said physics major Austin Hedges ’21, president of the Society of Physics Students (SPS), which co-sponsored the event with the Outdoor Club.
Giving participants that close-up view of “outer space” was an 8-inch telescope equipped with a GPS system programmed with the locations of thousands of celestial objects.
Leah Eick ’23, a nursing major and Outdoor Club media and equipment chair, got an eyeful thanks to the sophisticated equipment. “I’m fascinated by the planets. Just being able to look at something so far away and see the beauty of it is amazing,” she said.
Dr. Kenneth Pestka II, a physics professor and the SPS faculty advisor, said students received training and practiced using the telescope before taking it to the event. “Once the operator has correctly aligned the telescope, it can accurately track objects, and it can also find celestial objects for the user,” he said.
The Society of Physics Students and the Outdoor Club are just two of Longwood’s more than 175 student organizations. With adaptations for Covid-19 guidelines in place, these organizations are providing students with opportunities to get together to do things they love and make new friends.
Outdoor Club president Crystal Rosenbaum ’21, a nursing major, said her group has been “jam-packed with activities” this fall, including weekly bike rides, outdoor yoga classes and a sunset hike on the High Bridge Trail attended by 25 students.
The stargazing event is another facet of the club’s mission to “get students interested in the outdoors and to continue that interest past their college years,” she said.
The event put Ashley Roberts ’21, a sociology major and Outdoor Club member, in mind of camping trips with her dad where they would lie on their backs and look up at the stars.
“It’s something that’s always interested me,” she said.
Daniel Alvarez ’23, an English education major and treasurer of the Outdoor Club, is a nature lover who spends a lot of time at his home in rural Northern Virginia “down at the creek fishing” and exploring the woods with his dog. He had a telescope when he was a kid, but it was nothing like the one the physics students set up for the stargazing activity.
“It’s nice to be able to look through a telescope that lets you see so much detail,” he said.
That’s just the reaction Hedges was hoping for.
“I think the participants really enjoyed being able to get great views of these objects,” he said. “Especially with Mars, Saturn and Jupiter because with the naked eye they are just small dots in the sky. With the telescope, we could clearly see the red color of Mars, the beautiful rings of Saturn and the bands across Jupiter’s atmosphere.”
The event was such a hit that the two clubs are planning to do it again in the near future—hopefully when the weather will be more cooperative.
“Outer space is so vastly unknown to society as a whole,” said Rianne Woudsma ’23, a physics major and vice president of the Society of Physics Students. “I’m hoping we can get more people interested in what’s out there with these events.”
Just about four years ago, Longwood was in the international spotlight as the host of the U.S. Vice Presidential Debate.
Hosting the debate was an unparalleled experience for the entire Longwood community—especially students, who signed up in droves to volunteer for the event, putting them at the epicenter of an experience they’ll never forget.
We thought today would be a good time to look back on that experience and everything it meant for Longwood, including:
—Increased awareness of our university with more than 40 million viewers and the equivalent of more than $80 million in media exposure
—Career boosts for students who made important connections with those organizing and covering the debate
—Opportunities in Longwood classrooms to put an academic focus on the meaning of citizenship and democracy
I hope you’ll enjoy the videos below, which will give you a glimpse into the impact this momentous occasion had on our campus and our community.