Springing Forward

On the first day of Spring, Ms. KT Secord (First-Year College Adviser, Boyne City and East Jordan High Schools) and I embarked on a twenty-mile bike ride from Petoskey to Harbor Springs and back. Bicycles had to be loaded and transported, tires had to be pumped full of air following the slow gas-leak of winter, and gloves had to be purchased at a gas station along the way because a chill was definitely biting at every extremity. The Little Traverse Wheelway wasn’t even properly cleaned entirely: parts of the pavement were buried in gravel, sand, pinecones, or slowly-melting glaciers of snow.

KT and Daniel

Despite the obstacles, KT were able to stand outside Harbor Springs High School and look out over Harbor Springs, the Little Traverse Bay (aka Lake Michigan), and the town of Petoskey in the background. Harbor and Petoskey are only ten miles away by road and sidewalk, but I remarked to KT that while looking at one town from the other across the bay, that distance seems simultaneously too short and too long.

I feel the same way about the end of the year. By my count, there are 46 school days left. At Pellston, the seniors have a paper in the hallway that says 64 total days left and I wonder whether Alanson’s countdown reads the same. Regardless of the actual time remaining, it feels both too much time and not enough. Personally, I’m ready for having my tonsils removed over Spring Break, summer vacation in Petoskey, and starting a new chapter in the fall with grad school or a new a job. I know my seniors are in the same boat: so many have spent their entire lives confined to Northern Michigan that they can’t wait to branch out and call somewhere else home for a few years.

We are all excited for the next step, but there are still so many components left of the current step. I’m currently working on a presentations covering “After the FAFSA,” including practicing analyzing financial aid award letters, some of which will probably not even be delivered to students until after we both are out of school; “Decision Day,” one of MCAN’s triad of college access events in which students will be publicly recognized in front of their peers for their commitment to higher education, but only if they complete my laundry list of Decision Day Actions (think housing sign up, orientation/enrollment deposits, arranging for final transcripts to be sent or dual enrollment credits); and “Pillars of Success,” which Ashley Justice (Second-Year College Adviser at Waverly High School) and I have presented two-soon-to-be-four times, and which I will be modifying and delivering to my students for a final discussion about the transition to college.

Those are the three major topics for the seniors for the rest of the year. Again, it seems like so little, and yet, so much. It’s been a privilege to get to know this class for the last two years and it will be bittersweet watching them cross the stage and graduate in a few short months.

Then there are the juniors: several of them are disappointed that I won’t be around next year and have started making requests of the “next Mr. Mitchell,” “or miss Mitchell,” I point out. The hiring process has begun for next year and I’m excited to meet with potential advisers and start passing down tidbits I’ve picked up from this experience. If it comes down to it, we will decide the next Alanson-Pellston adviser based on who can keep up with these students’ demands for cookies. I’ve set a dangerous precedent regarding baked goods.

On a serious note with the juniors, I am looking forward to taking them as far as I can in the college-going process before the next adviser takes over at the end of the school year. I think the discussions about “what are you thinking about for after high school?” are some of the most fun and interesting conversations you have as a college adviser. It’s a chance to hear students rave about what they’re passionate about, what opportunities they want to seek out, and what possibilities they envision for their future. We also have a slate of college trips lined up for the rest of the year: later today Pellston is going to North Central Michigan College. Future trips include Northern Michigan University, Lake Superior State University, Northwestern Michigan College, Saginaw Valley State University, Baker College of Cadillac, and hopefully Alma College as well. In fact, I’m going to wrap this up because our bus leaves in less than two hours and I am missing a substantial number of permission slips thanks to a snow day last week. A snow day in spring: not a fan of the snow, but I’ll take the sleeping in. Summer vacation can’t come soon enough! Actually, there’s a lot to do still: maybe it can.

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