Falcon Family Update

January 2021 Newsletter

College Night and Homecoming 2021
How to Support Your Student During this Difficult Time
Re-entry Testing for Spring 2021
Important Dates to Remember

College Night and Homecoming 2021

In March, College Night will look significantly different than it has in the past, as the Purple and Gold leaders have developed a plan to celebrate the tradition while staying safe during the pandemic.

College Night leaders, in coordination with advisors from the College Night Committee and University administration, finalized the plan in early October.

During College Night, which will be held virtually from March 10-13, the Purple and Gold Sides will celebrate their 100th year and UM will celebrate its 125th. To honor past College Nights, the side leaders have chosen to return to a modified format of the late 1920s. In honor of the University weathering the unprecedented times of COVID-19, the side leaders have also agreed to play as one side — both Purples and Golds together. The ultimate winner will be College Night and the University.

College Night and Homecoming are being held one month later than normal in 2021 to allow students time to settle into the spring semester, complete necessary COVID-19 re-entry testing and to allow for a safer rehearsal schedule for the College Night participants.

This year’s side leaders will review scripts not chosen for previous College Night performances to create the untold stories of College Night. From those scripts, the collective sides will develop three original songs, three dances scenes and three scripted scenes with a minimal number of participants safely distanced. The normal one hour and 15-minute production will be cut in half to reduce exposure.

Purple Side leaders Lavaun Thompson and Brey Hamblin said they were determined to keep the College Night tradition alive for 2021 while showcasing the unity the Montevallo family has displayed while overcoming the pandemic. “Going into this, Brey and I both knew we had to make sure that College Night happened this year. During this time of uncertainty, when no one truly knows what is going on, we wanted College Night to be a constant in all of the students’ lives, something they didn’t have to give up. Keeping College Night alive safely became our biggest concern,” Thompson said. “We also knew that due to the current state of the world and especially the United States, that this year really begged for us to show love, compassion and unity. We wanted this year’s College Night to be a time of healing where we can all come together and make an amazing project.”

Gold Side leaders Abby Jo Askins and Jonathan Everheart echoed their Purple Side counterparts. “During these troubling times, the spirit of College Night has continued to shine through. As far as combining the sides goes, the unity between the two sides has truly been an incredible experience that no other set of leaders has gotten the chance to be a part of,” Askins said. “The College Night committee has been imperative to the planning of keeping everyone involved safe during the 2021 celebration. We’re excited to see where this year takes us, and GV to all of the loyal Golds.”

The side leaders’ plans have the full support of the College Night Committee.

How to Support Your Student During this Difficult Time

This year has been, let’s just say, quite a year. For just about everyone, 2020 has been filled with ups, downs, twists and turns. The certain now seems unpredictable. The safe now requires proceeding with caution. The easy now feels impossible. “Improvise, adapt, overcome” and “expect the unexpected” has had to become everyone’s mantra.

Life on campus is not immune from this reality. The busy dining hall has been replaced with a steady stream of to-go boxes. Students hanging out on the quad has been replaced by an odd stillness. The exhilaration of late-night group study sessions in the library has been replaced with energy-draining Zoom calls. Social distancing, masks and brief conversations have replaced social gatherings.

While at first these changes felt manageable, over time they have taken a toll on students. In a recent survey by Active Minds, at least 60% of college students reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and depression since the beginning of the pandemic, and 77% reported feeling isolated or lonely. While this “new normal” is not unique to college students, most have never had to navigate truly difficult circumstances in a perpetual state of exhaustion. For many, this is the first time their responsibilities are significantly greater than their time and energy. As a parent, watching your student deal with these things can be overwhelming, but you are in a unique position to support, teach and guide.

Here are five tips for supporting your college student during these difficult times.

1. Acknowledge their experiences. Reality and expectations aren’t matching right now, and that is causing many people to experience profound sadness and disappointment. One of the best things you can do is listen (I mean really listen) to what they are saying, acknowledge that this is difficult and unfair and reassure them that their feelings are valid. Remember, in moments of crisis people aren’t desperate for fixes. They want someone to care no matter what they are thinking, feeling and doing. They want someone to say “I see you, I hear you and you are important.”

2. Communicate your support. Students crave consistent, caring and unwavering support. Let your student know you are willing to help by asking if there is something you can do for them and offering specific ways to help (even if they reject it). Let your student know your support doesn’t have time limits by saying things like, “I don’t know when this will be better, but I am here for as long as it takes.” The simple acts of offering help and reminding them you are there creates a safety net that students need during this time.

3. Encourage connection with friends and family. During normal circumstances, the college environment helps students naturally find their people and build lifelong friendships. Right now, staying connected to people has become incredibly difficult. Help your student figure out ways to connect in a safe and responsible way. Group video calls, Netflix watch parties or hanging out with one or two people outdoors while practicing social distancing are good ways students can stay connected. Remind them that connection is important even if it is not perfect or exactly like they expected.

4. Talk about maintaining balance. Focusing on current events can be draining. Help your student figure out what a healthy amount of rest, food and exercise looks like. Work with them to create a realistic schedule that allows time for productivity and rest. Remind them that setting How to Support Your Student During this Difficult Time limits on the amount of news and social media they consume is a good thing. Encourage them to remember that this is a marathon and that taking care of themselves is essential.

5. Make asking for help easy. It is OK to remind your student that things will not always be like this, but avoid advice-giving and problem-solving. Instead, make yourself human and tell them about a time you really struggled through difficult circumstances, how it wasn’t easy, how you weren’t perfect, but how you kept trying. Let them know that everyone needs help. Let them know you are equally willing to celebrate their successes as you are to walk with them through their struggles.

You don’t have to be an expert or know all the right answers in order to support your student. More than anything, your student needs you. They need your support, your connection and your guidance. Remember, this too shall pass. It may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.

Works Cited Active Minds (September 2020). Student Mental Health Survey. Active Minds. https://www.activeminds.org/wpcontent/uploads/2020/10/Student-Mental-Health-Data-Sheet-Fall-2020-1.pd

Re-entry Testing for Spring 2021

Re-entry testing is a requirement for students who will be on campus during the spring 2021 semester. Students who choose to be completely online and who will not be living on campus or using campus facilities (dining, recreation, library, etc.) will not be tested.

The University distributed Everlywell self-administered COVID-19 test kits, prior to the winter break, to returning students who will be attending in-person classes or utilizing campus facilities during the spring 2021 semester. Students received instructions on how to self-administer the test which will then need to be shipped to a certified lab through the method indicated seven days PRIOR to their intended date of return to campus. Tests MUST be taken on a weekday and shipped on the same day. Everlywell results will automatically be submitted to the University. Students who misplace their free Everlywell test kits will be responsible for securing their own test at their expense prior to returning for spring semester AND will need to submit test results to covid@montevallo.edu.

Returning students who did not pick up a test kit prior to leaving campus for the winter break can choose to obtain a COVID-19 test at their own expense and email their test results to COVID@montevallo.edu or they can stop by the Farmer Hall meeting room Jan. 11-15 between 11 a.m.-2 p.m. to be tested.

Questions about testing should be sent to covid@montevallo.edu.

Important Dates to Remember

Jan. 6              Registration for new students
Jan. 8              Residence halls open for spring term
Jan. 11.           Classes begin/late registration/payment deadline for spring semester
Jan. 11-15       Drop/add period, Re-entry test kit distribution in Farmer Hall 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Jan. 15            Last day for refund for dropped course(s)
Jan. 18.           Martin Luther King Jr. holiday (University closed)
Jan. 19-22       Re-entry test kit distribution in Farmer Hall 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
March 1           Mid-semester week begins
March 10-13    College Night activities
March 17         Last day for course or semester withdrawal (all students)
March 19         Spring holiday for students and faculty begins at 5 p.m.
March 29         Classes resume at 8 a.m.
May 3-7           Final examinations