Centre family bands together to support students during winter weather woes

Posted by Centre News in Campus, News 10 Jan 2014

When the headline-making “polar vortex” dumped rain, snow, ice and frigid single-digit temperatures on a large portion of the country, Centre College students bound for international destinations and returning to campus were left stranded at airports nationwide. The Centre family, whether staff, faculty, parents or alumni, rose to the challenge, providing a personal connection for transportation, overnight housing and any other help necessary for students.

mona_wyattDirector of Parent Programs Mona Wyatt (right) utilized Facebook throughout the week to provide constant weather and travel updates for stranded students and families. She has seen countless examples of the strong Centre community in action.

“One student was stranded at the Louisville airport at 10 p.m. because of flight delays and had nowhere to go,” she says. “Area Centre parents picked her up and gave her a place to stay for the night. Other parents offered to help students with rides to other airports, or wherever they needed to go.”

Wyatt also worked closely with the entire Student Life Office staff, including Director of Student Life and Housing Ann Young, Associate Dean and Director of Residence Life Sarah Scott Hall and Assistant Director of Residence Life Jacob Raderer to allow students to return to campus early to beat the bad weather.

“I monitored the parent Facebook page constantly,” she says, “I’d say 72 hours straight—answering questions, reporting information. I was listening to the Weather Channel all day and contacting airports to get updated flight information. I honestly don’t know when I’ve worked a crazier time.”

Director of International Programs Milton Reigelman (right) reigelman_miltonalso dealt with his fair share of delays and problems with international flights taken by the 300-plus students studying abroad for CentreTerm.

“Professor Haigh’s class was headed to Manchester, England, but the flight from Louisville was cancelled,” he says. “A family who lives in Louisville invited five or six students to stay with them and hosted a meal for the entire class the following day.”

Reigelman also mentioned a group of students headed to Strasbourg for Professor Keffer’s Art of Walking class who were stranded in Louisville.

“The airline let us know that if we could get all the students to the Cincinnati airport, they could catch a direct flight to Paris,” he explains. “Area parents shared rides and all students made the Cincinnati flight—and are now happily in Strasbourg.”

The overwhelming response of the entire Centre community illustrates just how strongly connected students, families, alumni and staff truly are. The best evidence can be found all over the Centre College Parents Facebook page, which is overflowing with posts, comments, shares, and above all, unflagging support for students and their families.

Centre Parent David Harbison wrote in one post, “It’s easy to want to help our students. In part because that’s what parents do. But at Centre, it’s more than just that…it’s because as parents of Centre scholars, we also have the best, most caring staff and faculty in the country. I know I speak for every Centre parent when I say thanks and Godspeed.”

By Mariel Smith