Doctors, reporters, contact tracers, essential workers, teachers, business owners, parents, and caregivers. The experiences of Fay alumni during the COVID-19 pandemic have run the gamut, and when we issued our call for stories and reflections from the spring, alumni shared moments large and small.
We learned about medical professionals working overtime to save lives, such as Haleigh Sullivan ’12, who began her nursing career this year at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut and spent the spring working 60-hour weeks and dealing with a shortage of personal protective equipment as she cared for COVID-19 patients. “You come home late at night, and go back the next morning to do the same thing all over again,” she said. “We’re all working hard to make sure the patients get home safe.”
We heard the perspective of an entrepreneur pivoting in the moment to get a new business off the ground just as everything else was shutting down. Just as Dixon Oates ’94 was gearing up to open a third medical dispensary, he had to strategically rethink all of his manufacturing and retail operations. He shared, “Ensuring the new staff was trained in new sanitation, delivery, and pickup procedures was an ownership and managerial challenge. We acted quickly to purchase sanitation supplies in bulk, utilized the manufacturing site's 55-gallon drum of 99% isopropyl alcohol to manufacture hand sanitizer and sanitizer sprays, hired a local seamstress to sew washable face-masks, and installed acrylic guards at all retail locations.”
We heard about educators like Matt Karis ’04, a teacher at Austin Prep in Massachusetts, who harnessed the power of technology to bring normalcy and routine to the lives of his students. “We are posting on Google Classroom, using Zoom, and trying to be online teachers in this crazy new world,” he wrote. “It is challenging, fun, new, exciting, and scary all at the same time.”
We heard about milestones, such as the birth of Jessica Mariah Wade, the daughter of Patrick Wade ’88, just as families were headed into self-isolation. We heard about art inspired by the spring’s events (such as the poem on this spread by Pulitzer- nominated author Tony Abbott ’49). And we heard about the small moments that gave texture to the experience of quaran- tine, such as Dave Veron ’84 driving 65 miles per hour on the Mass Pike into Boston during “rush hour,” or a tale shared by Paul Hertelendy ’45 of trying to pet a socially-distancing dog during a walk in the hills of Berkeley, California: “He made a big semi-circle to avoid me....in some ways, dogs were way ahead of the humans!”
Perhaps most noteworthy, we heard stories of connection in the midst of isolation— whether it was like Marcus Spagnoletti ’00 cherishing the additional time with his young daughter, or Josh Futterman ’82 building a virtual Fay community while self-quarantining in New York City: “One of the first things I did after we locked down was set up a Facebook Messenger group with nearly sixty Fay alumni from my class and folks from the surrounding classes,” he wrote. “We’ve all been supporting each other through the Facebook group, group Zoom calls, and individually.”
Dark Side of North
The dark side of north, or is it the north
Side of dark, looms strangely over
The upturned world.
Hurricanes without Wind, tornadoes without clouds
(yet the red buds blossom obscenely)
Times Square deserted except for two
Japanese tourists in masks.
Restaurants, bars, Theaters, libraries all dark. Trucks with bodies
In the streets outside the hospitals
(red buds laugh in our shocked faces)
In Florida millennials frolic on the beach.
Primaries postponed, churches, schools
Learning to Zoom. Conferences cancelled.
Bath tissue shelves empty, but why?
(Daffodils multiply like yellow square roots)
So stop, whoever you are, and look around you.
Perhaps I will be here, perhaps not. I am, they say,
Among the most vulnerable. This is my remembrance.
I cannot touch you except with broken words
(Azaleas pink and white quiver in the breeze)
We are on the dark side of north, the north side of dark.
Tens of thousands one doctor says. At the Bronx Zoo
Even a tiger has tested positive for the virus.
Wipe the railings, wipe the doorknobs, wash your hands
(In Washington the cherry blossoms smile to the empty paths)
Perhaps you are reading this ten years from now
And I say to you we are like whales stranded on the beach.
We can sing from our balconies, but we cannot touch.
We die in tens, then hundreds, then thousands.
(The crosses on the dogwood blossoms tremble in terror)
We wonder what there will be when we walk
Once more on the open streets. What price the touch
Of a friend, a grandchild? On Palm Sunday, the Pope spoke
Alone to an empty St. Peter’s Square. No cardinals.
(The fingers of love beckon through the greening leaves).
—Tony Abbott ’49, Spring 2020