Every fall, Florida braces itself for the brunt of hurricane season. In particular, this time of year is stressful for the Residential Life program at WPS. Student safety is at the heart of our mission, so the thought of one of Mother Nature's more powerful storms posing a threat to us can be nerve-racking. Fortunately, WPS Residential Life has developed a clear plan to deal with these potential threats and keep the students safe. The key is to keep them busy and distracted. When Hurricane Dorian was just a Tropical Depression in the Atlantic Ocean, the ResLife Admin Team began to monitor the storms projected strength and track. As the storm approached Puerto Rico, there were already plans for which hotels could accommodate us and keep us safe. And when the storm was nearing the Bahamas, had increased to a Category 5, and was uncertain whether it would come toward Orlando, the buses were ordered and everyone prepared for our imminent evacuation.
Beyond the logistics of getting 100 students, 20 adults, and 2 cats out of the hurricane's path, the Residential Life staff knew that keeping the students engaged and together would help everyone deal with these stressful times. So, rather than just sitting around, we took off to see the sights of Atlanta and our neighborhood. Students enjoyed exploring the Georgia Aquarium, the World of Coke, Centennial Olympic Park, and the College Football Hall of Fame. Students also managed to get their steps in as they navigated Lenox Square. In the evenings, a simple movie night, pool party, card games, and even an impromptu dance party kept the students entertained. Those looking for some Americana and time out of the hotel got to enjoy a baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and the Toronto Blue Jays. Each night as we put the students to bed, their laughter, smiles, and simple desire to just be together reminded us that the WPS family is strong and always sticks together. It was so great to see that in less than a month, students were looking out for each other, wanting to be together, and not letting our temporary situation take away from their spirit or fun.
After making the most of their evacuation to Atlanta, GA, in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian, the boarding students are happy to be home again and enjoying a normal week of school. Recently, the Residential Life community has spent a lot of time in the newly opened clubhouse and pool area. We are looking forward to a great year...without any more hurricanes, please.