I hope you are all bearing up through the pressure, anxiety and isolation of these unusual days. A few days ago, as I looked out on a radiant spring day, I wrote in an email that we were simultaneously experiencing the best of spring and the worst of relentless bad news. Today, the sun is still shining in Halifax and there are glimmers of good news in the reports that the physical distancing to which we have contributed is working. This gives hope that, in the midst of Passover and Easter, we are making progress toward the restoration of better days, mindful of the greater burden many are carrying to make it so. Meanwhile, we can take encouragement from the birds of spring who, ‘still bravely singing, fly.’
I write with one important COVID-19 academic update this week, and then to simply share some student news and more King’s recordings for your listening pleasure at Easter and Passover.
Earlier today our Vice President and Registrar sent an important message to students regarding end-of-term grade options, scholarships, academic standing and academic advising. I urge all students to read this communication carefully. It is now also posted on our Coronavirus page. It is important that you understand the evolving situation. If you have questions or concerns please contact the Registrar’s Office at firstname.lastname@example.org. They are there to help you.
Classes finished on Monday and I congratulate our students on their perseverance in completing a year like no other. I continue to be immeasurably proud of all of you, and your professors, for all the sacrifices you have made in the name of public health. We wish you well as you prepare for any exams and final assignments that remain.
This year, the final FYP lecture, released on Monday, was an imaginative compilation of short reflections from tutors on a range of FYP writers and themes. Of particular note are the reflections of Dr. Thomas Curran on Titian and devotion to the service of art, which he dedicated to Dr. Jannette Vusich. In the coming week’s Dr. Vusich’s time at King’s will sadly come to an end after her many years as our brilliant art historian in residence. I was honoured to participate by once again announcing our five FYP essay prize winners and congratulating all FYP students on what they have accomplished and contributed to the accomplishments of each other since they met on move-in day. I also encouraged them to consider how living through a hurricane and a pandemic in their FYP year might mean they have received not less but more of the FYP experience, especially if we recognize that FYP is a life-long experience.
Our Annual Athletic Awards were also celebrated online this week, with photos, write-ups and five short videos. If you have a look, you will see that King’s has become a badminton powerhouse and that we are making strides in women’s volleyball and basketball, and across the board by continuing to put friendship, academic achievement and the growth and development of each student-athlete ahead of our considerable desire to win. Congratulations to the winning Blue Devils, their teammates, coaches and all in Athletics who made this another memorable year for our athletics program.
Tuesday marked the last day at King’s for Céline Beland, our beloved Director of Food Services. While her job was food services, at which she excelled with flair, her calling was to be the heart and soul of our community. I think particularly of all the first-year students missing home who Céline helped to feel at home at King’s, the friendships she nurtured, and of her dedication and that of her team to caring for her students through snow storms, hurricanes and, most recently, with her successor Daniel Orovic, a pandemic. Our plans for celebrating and honouring Céline were disrupted before they could be fully realized but I am sure opportunities for expressing our love for her will present themselves in the future.
Following Dr. Rev Robert Crouse’s Inferno lecture of last week, Dr. Neil Robertson and Dr. Susan Dodd continue their Halifax Humanities series with Crouse’s Purgatorio and Paradiso. Neil explains that, “The events of these two canticles of the Divine Comedy begin on Easter Sunday and go to Wednesday of that week. So very appropriate to listen to and contemplate at this time of year.”
An additional gift for Easter, the King’s College Chapel Choir shares its 2019 performance of Lamentations of Jeremiah by Thomas Tallis. It is usually sung at their Tenebrae service on the Wednesday night of Holy Week. They also share a recording of the 9th-century Hymn of Kassia, which is sung by the women of the Chapel Choir every year at the afternoon Eucharist on the Wednesday of Holy Week.
To mark Passover, we invited humanities professor Dr. Daniel Brandes to make a recording for all of us to enjoy. It begins with a brief telling of the story of Passover, followed by a commentary on Jonathan Sacks’s Haggadah.
On Saturday many of you will receive the Alumni Newsletter, packed full of news and with a feature about some of our journalists and how they are experiencing and covering COVID-19.
This long weekend has new significance this year because it is a stay-at-home weekend. I hope all of you take time to enjoy each other’s company, near and far, using all contemporary communications tools you can deploy to safely keep family, friends and all those you love, close to you.
May your weekend be happy.