As President Stuart Gulley hurried up the walk with yard sign and goody bag in hand, he rang the bell a few times before a sleepy senior came to the door.
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Perhaps the last person McCoy Pace expected to see at his door was Gulley, but his smile showed the surprise was welcomed.
“I really missed Dr. Gulley and the teachers,” he said, still a little dazed. “I group chat with my friends regularly and we play X-Box and Facetime so I pretty much kept up with them.”
Many of the seniors had already received offers before school shut down for the year from colleges they want to attend.
Pace will be attending Columbia University where he’ll further his wresting career. He’s contemplating a major in political science.
“One of the great things about Columbia is that the core classes have you try out a lot of things. I might find something else that I want to do.”
Instead of focusing on what he was missing out on, he used the stay-at-home order to prepare for college.
“Taking calculus remotely was a challenge, but the teachers were great,” he said. “They stayed late and gave extra help to make sure we were getting it.”
Just two houses down, Isabelle “Izzy” Wheeler concurred.
The dog barking at the commotion outside might have tipped her off that something was going on, but she came to the door just as sleepy-looking as Pace.
“I was sitting in bed eating cereal,” she said, laughing.
Like Pace, she had nothing but praise for the faculty at Woodward for helping her and her classmates navigate through the rough waters of the last two months.
“It’s really sad, but I’m thankful for good neighbors and teachers that helped us stay on task,” she said.
Wheeler plans to attend college closer to home at Kennesaw State.
“I love the diversity there and that it better mirrors Woodward,” she said.
Wheeler added that she’ll miss the fun and creativity. She was allowed to make a Tik Tok (an app that allows the user to make short videos) for her social media final.
“That just make sense, right? I mean it is about social media!”
Gulley said he was amazed at how well the students transitioned. Woodward had several digital learning days for bad weather, but there was no rehearsal for what the world is currently going through.
“The students and parents were beginning to experience a weariness from the tedium, but they were troopers and stuck with it,” he said.
The lacrosse team was on the field when they learned that school was going to be online-only and they had a hunch that they wouldn’t be returning to campus.
“We used that opportunity as a chance to say good-bye,” said Gulley. “There were hugs and high-fives … and tears.”
The school has chosen to hold an in-person graduation ceremony on July 25, but summer camps will be in cyberspace.
“We’re focusing now on reorganizing for next year,” said Gulley. “What the world will look like then is still heavy on everyone’s mind.”
Fun facts about Woodward Academy Class of 2020 by the numbers
12 — students recognized by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation
3 — National Merit finalists
1 — National Merit semi-finalist
50 — students graduating summa cum laude,
38 — students graduating magna cum laude, and
38 — students graduating cum laude
2 — National Speech and Debate Association Academic All-Americans
1st — Boys Basketball State Championship, Georgia Gatorade Player of the Year, and McDonald’s All-American in school history
5 — area/region athletic championships
11 — teams qualifying for state playoffs
1 — Wrestling duals State Championship
1 — Wrestling traditional State Championship
23 — athletes recruited to play at the college level
12 — teams in competition for regional championships or playoffs when the spring season was canceled
5,000-plus — hours devoted to annual service projects
Source: Woodward Academy