On Thursday, March 12, 2020, Interlochen Center for the Arts President Trey Devey took to the stage of Corson Auditorium and informed our Arts Academy community of COVID-19’s impact on the school year.
Good afternoon, students.
I have disappointing news to share with you today.
Every piece of my heart wants to carry on with the Academy as we know it. I hope you know that.
However, my head tells me that this crisis requires that we make significant changes to our schedule and how we complete this Academy year. In the past 24 hours since I last stood before you, I believe that we have reached a tipping point, one that we can’t ignore. Earlier today, we called an emergency meeting of our Board of Trustees to share our recommended plans.
Students, we are in the midst of a public health crisis and there are no easy answers. We have done our best to consider the full range of possibilities in this evolving situation and I believe it is best to reunite you with your families and make significant changes to our schedule.
This is not what you want to hear. I know. This is not what I want to be communicating with you. I realize this is a lot to take in, but I’ll now share with you some of the specifics of this change.
This was not an easy decision, but I believe it is necessary. I hope you understand that all of these difficult decisions were made with your best interests at heart, with the safeguarding of our community as our priority. As you understand, we are citizen-artists, and right now we must be conscious of our social responsibility and act as stewards of public health.
I’ll share a few final thoughts.
To our families, I also know that this is not how you expected this semester to unfold. As you can imagine, we have received a tremendous amount of feedback on what we should do in the face of this crisis. There has been no consensus and I expect that there will not be consensus on any decisions we might make, but I hope you know that we are trying to do the best we can.
There will be additional questions that will need to be answered. I pledge to you that we will do our best to answer your questions in a timely way to bring greater clarity to a complex situation. Thank you for your patience and understanding in the face of this extraordinary challenge.
To our faculty, I know and I see the passion that you have for teaching and for our students. I am inspired by you each and every day. The way that you teach and connect with your students next month will be different. I don’t underestimate the extraordinary energy that will be required of you to give your best to our students. Time and time again, you have risen to the occasion and brought out the best in our students. I know you will rise to the occasion once again.
To you, our students, this is not what you expected when you came back to campus in January. You came with great anticipation for performances, readings, exhibitions, showings and concerts. For this to be cut short prematurely is deeply painful. I know you feel that pain. I feel that pain. This administration and your faculty who care for you feel that pain as well.
But I hope you remember something and take this to heart. You have worked your tails off. And that expectation does not change. You will continue to work your tails off. You will just do this in a different way. All of us need to dig deep right now.
When we began the year at our opening convocation, I talked about bringing a growth mindset—how the challenges we face are an opportunity for us to learn and grow. Well, this is a challenge. It is this seemingly unsolvable puzzle that has been thrust in front of us. We didn’t choose this challenge. It chose us. You are the students of Interlochen Arts Academy. I have seen you conquer unthinkable challenges. I know that you are up to this. I know you are.
Let’s stand tall and make the best of this situation. And, as always, be kind, and be there for one another.
For more information about Interlochen Center for the Arts’ response to COVID-19, visit interlochen.org/covid19.