This time of year some folks may have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. This Buffalo, however, has visions of Antiochians dancing in his head. Sometimes they are folk dancing on Red Square and sometimes they are Antiochians who are dancing in the old caf and other places. Some are sugar plums in their own right! And some are simply beyond “com-pear”! What follows is a brief 2021 recap first from the Volunteer Work Project Poet Laureate, Penny Storm ‘65 and then a brief and very partial campus recap. And also a link to how some Antiochians from varying decades got through the pre-vaccine part of the Pandemic. Stories of resilience and more!
Thinking of all the things this year I did –
They can be summed up in the word co-vid.
Knowing me, I’m sure you don’t need to ask:
When I went out, I still wore my mask.
I went to the grocery plus out to eat
(only sat outside for that weekly treat).
My dinner pod had about seven peas.
We also had dinner at home with these.
January 6, cried most of the day
Gullible people, their country betray.
Quickly some people began telling lies
About what was seen with everyone’s eyes.
It wasn’t easy but I got the shot
The only problem was my arm got hot.
I counted the weeks till my 2nd jab,
Thanked scientists for their years in a lab.
Working with recombinant DNA
To get vaccines so they could save the day!
Some folks don’t understand science or tech;
They’d rather themselves or others infect.
When I thought we’d fin’lly the virus beat
Back to keep distance I had to retreat
While waiting for folks to sicken or die
For herd immunity, I’m asking, “Why?”
I don’t want people to die needlessly
Each one of their deaths impacts you and me.
Reunions cancelled, zoom visits kept on.
But by August, fin’lly hope came along.
Off to Ohio, passport in my hand
Plus a negative test. Isn’t life grand?
We start eating inside. Going out more.
Happy with boosters, not knowing the score.
Singing again and with others as well.
It felt sort of normal, felt really swell,
‘Till omicron came to tell us, “Hold on,
Coronavirus has never been gone.”
This is my hope for 2022,
Vaccinations will be all the world through.
Variants will be a problem no more.
While facts return to America’s shore.
And my friends will have another birthday
Laughing with pals, enjoying life’s buffet.
Have a very Merry Christmas during this season of hope.
All the best, Penny (Penny Storm ‘65)
It looks like 2021 is almost done and hopefully in 2022 the world will be in better shape than it has been for the last twenty or so months. A year ago at this time there were not yet vaccines and we were all trying to keep our sanity and keep our collective restlessness under control. Antiochians are so used to “getting around”; maybe more than most people. Many of us from varying decades continue to have what is referred to as the “co-op itch”, for decades after graduating. So a pandemic really makes that itch just itch more. On the other hand, as a group, Antiochians probably are accustomed to change and chaos and maybe as a result our collective resilience rises. A few months into the pandemic I asked the Antioch College Alumni and Community facebook page (with 2,700 people, one of the largest of more than 17 or more Antioch College related fb pages! ) how they all were getting through these uncertain times. The discussion was a quilt of survival mechanisms from many decades! You might have done something similar to what is in that conversation or maybe some wisdom lurks for you or some laughs. More than a year later I would imagine most Antiochians are vaccinated and boosted because we as a group do believe in science. So if one were to scan the Antiochian facebook hive-mind you would see that many people are again working with that innate co-op itch by travelling and some like Ben London ‘90 are again living their passion and working on a victory for humanity (or at least musicians) at the same time. More on this story to come!
Also there are Antiochian stories where a victory is just getting one’s health back from COVID as even some younger Antiochians are long haulers. Many of their cases happened pre vaccine.
In 2021 The College had a slight uptick in enrollment, only a handful or so of COVID cases overall among students and staff (great when you consider that students travel not only home but to far-flung co-ops like California, Hawaii and even Greece.) Some students have opted for local Ohio co-ops so they can live in the safe bubble that is campus and Yellow Springs, which of course, is also relatively safe (but I would still be vigilant on the weekends when outside tourists come to visit.)
In 2021 thanks to Google Meet and a 360 degree camera, “the Owl” Hybrid Community Meetings happened every week. One meeting I counted what seemed to be 90, present and remote, as some went to 113 McGregor (masked) and others participated remotely. Maybe Pandemic Community Meeting attendance was even better than it used to be as we missed the breadth of interactions in the old everyday world. Despite the world’s chaos Antioch has kept quite a bit of positive Community going. People cheer each other on; you just have to make sure that for remote folks you have opened the chat function during virtual moments. During one Community meeting Antioch Commons’ classes gave presentations on what they were studying. So not only are they writing papers they also had to stand and deliver and then be subject to questions from either the masses that were present or there remotely. Of course with masks and mics and cameras and closed captions sometimes things said can be amusingly imperfect. I saw in Closed Captions during the presentation dealing with climate change…. “British Vernal Units”. I guess The United Kingdom might have some of those.
During the summer there were outside PIZZA parties near the old golf course. Gourmet homemade pizza in earthen ovens. There was even a DIV DANCE under the stars in the summer…which was also in hybrid mode thanks to the skills and hosting of April Wolford ’92…so you COULD dance in your own living room while you watched people dance outside under the sculpture annex roof.
In Fall the Volunteer Work Crew Came back after a hiatus. Everyone was vaccinated and pretty much worked outside as we had an absolute perfect week of weather. Perhaps it won’t be impossible to have some sort of in-person Reunion next year. Life and travels in general may be more expensive so plan way ahead! YS has become a hot spot for tourists so be sure to plan, plan, plan. There are also many places to stay!
Campus looks much as you may remember it. Although the Main Building is still waiting for a battalion of “angels” and the Student Union is beyond repair now. Fall was late and slow this year; maybe that is some subtle climate change. “Vernal units?” So a few stubborn oak leaves and sycamore leaves on the horseshoe are still hanging in there. Amazing that I remember the Sycamores as saplings and some are now as tall as North and South Hall and those white branches even seem to talk to each other.
Most faculty are on their break preparing for the next term but the Library, Admissions, Advancement and Physical Plant staff are hard at work on campus. Some students are also remaining over break and are working as well. When I arrived for a visit I bumped into a worker who was checking all the timers on the library parking lot lights as the days are now their shortest. And of course the one where we bumped into each other was acting up. All the others were perfectly lit.
There are some new faces here. And there are also some faces that are new but yet mighty familiar. In the Finance Office is Bob McKee ‘88. Elder that I am, I remember his parents, Jim and Maxine McKee. (many of you may remember the village of YS had two Jim McKees, one who was the police chief for twenty five years and the other worked in HR at the College.) Maxine worked in the business office. Many years ago around the early 80’s I had volunteered to work in the mailroom in the days between Christmas and New Years (when those end-of-the-year donations hopefully come flooding in; maybe you’ll be able to send us one this year!). One of those days between Christmas and New Year’s Maxine came into the Mailroom which was then in the basement of the Main Building. She came in with a big smile and a chicken sandwich. Maybe nothing says good community or caring like a surprise delicious chicken sandwich and a smile.
Bob McKee also, by the way, was a local celebrity of sorts as he worked back then as a volunteer firefighter in Enon or Mad River Rescue. I would see him on the evening news (replete with a firefighter’s coat and hat) if someone had had an accident on I-70 in Clark County there he was. It will be good to have someone like Bob in Finance. He could have gone to a much bigger Institution but chose us. I wonder if he will still rescue people in his spare time if ever gets any.
Some students are here working over break, I have seen them in admissions putting together care packages for new students. I have seen them in the OKLIBRARY gathering things for inter-library loan. Our library continues to be a net lender to the rest of the state. We lend tons to others including places like Ohio State and Kent State because we have a seasoned collection. Even when you look around and think things look quiet, they are not. Faculty are busy getting ready for winter term.
Good things are happening at Antioch College everyday, even in the midst of these uncertain times. Something good must be happening because most of the students with whom I have talked are happy to be at Antioch College.
As 2021 comes to a close this Buffalo hopes you will think of us. The students, faculty and staff have been so positive and stellar at times I thought I might have to pinch myself. Wishing all a healthy, positive 2022 and a Reunion in 2022 if the world behaves.
Please ponder an end-of-the-year gift for the Annual Fund which supports everything the College does. Stay in touch with the College and each other and again THANK YOU for everything. The world is a better place because we are still here.