Miles Boone '23 has been keeping busy making art during the COVID-19 spring online term.Miles Boone '23 has been keeping busy making art during the COVID-19 spring online term.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, COA officials were forced to close the school’s waterfront campus and move all classes online for Spring term. Students dispersed to all corners of the globe — many returning home to their families, and others hunkering down with friends in Bar Harbor. The transition hasn’t been easy for any — but taking care of pets, art-making, and institutional flexibility have helped along the way. 

When he isn’t focused on his academics, first year Miles Boone ’23 has been entertaining himself during quarantine by drawing and watching cartoons. 

“When you’re stuck inside as a person who loves nature, it sucks,” says Boone. “I’m drawing the ultimate escapist daydream. I’m a huge day dreamer and I’ve always been attracted to whimsical and mystical stuff and fantasy world building,”

With a lack of wifi at home, Boone was able to switch his classes around to find Tess Moore '23 is using bamboo to build an outdoor enclosure for Aki, her Argentinian tegu li...Tess Moore '23 is using bamboo to build an outdoor enclosure for Aki, her Argentinian tegu lizard, while studying from home in Alabama.classes he didn’t have to use Zoom to connect with. One of these became an independent study where he is working on creating a graphic novel. 

The novel, Travel Mystic, is “about a man who’s trying to find his home but has no memory of it,” says Boone. “Roscoe is lost traveling through his own subconscious, which manifests as a fantastical, surreal landscape as he’s dying in the physical plane.” He says he’s looking forward to working on it. 

Tess Moore ’23 has returned to Birmingham, Alabama for the remainder of the Spring term and has been spending their free time taking long walks with their dog, gardening, and hanging out with their other pet, Aki, an Argentinian tegu lizard.

“I’m also working on building an enclosure for Aki,” Moore says. “She has a pretty decently large cage already but an outdoor one could be way bigger and nicer and she would like it a lot.”

They plan to build the cage with bamboo harvested from the edge of their property, Moore said, which they have already started collecting. 

Aki is around four years old, three feet long, and about ten pounds, and her favorite foods are quail eggs and crawfish. “The quail eggs are great,” says Moore. “She can eat a whole dozen in a sitting if you let her.”

Moore had to leave Aki at home for their first two trimesters and COA, and is glad to have her back. “It’s about to be summer and she loves being outside in the sun, and it’s definitely warm enough for her down here” says Moore. 

Moore came to COA with an interest in marine science, and was excited about their classes this term, including Oceanography and Social Arts Practice & Community-Based Conservation. They are still taking both courses, which have been modified in order to work in an online format. 

Jackson Day '22 enjoys playing guitar and piano and is keeping busy at home practicing the uk...Jackson Day '22 enjoys playing guitar and piano and is keeping busy at home practicing the ukulele with his sister.

“It won’t be the same, though, without all the hands-on stuff,” says Moore. “I was really looking forward to my field- and ocean-based courses, and now I’m back to being landlocked.”

For Boone, the transition to an online format has not been easy. 

“I came to COA because I have a hard time paying attention in classes when they’re big or the professor feels far away. This makes it really difficult,” he said. Struggling with access to technology also has not helped. 

“I mean, I have no internet,” says Boone. “I’d usually just go to Starbucks or the library and use their wifi, but I obviously can’t really do that anymore, so I just have my phone. It’s frustrating.”

Moore said that despite the frustrations, they are still finding things to look forward to. 

“I’m most excited about my online work study,” Moore says. “Now I’m getting to do stuff I wouldn’t have been able to do before. I’m getting trained to do collection work for the museum and I’m helping design an updated exhibit for the touch tank. I just hope I get to make the most out of this and find a way to enjoy being home.”

Art by Miles Boone '23Art by Miles Boone '23Nature and music are providing solace for Jackson Day ’22, who has returned to Camden, Maine for the term. “They help me feel alright. I think the woods are where I do most of my thinking, and inside on the computer is just a struggle to work through new information.” 

He has been enjoying taking walks in the forest and playing guitar and keyboard. “My sister is learning ukulele,” says Day. “It’s been great getting to practice together.”

Despite the computer work being his least favorite part of school, Day says he’s “amazed and inspired by everyone’s ability to be flexible in completely changing our class formats and overcoming great distances to maintain a kind of continuity and continued learning. Especially the teachers’ efforts to redesign classes.” 

Olivia Jolley ’21 echoed this sentiment. 

“While I miss COA, I’m grateful to see how wonderful and strong our community is in these trying times,” she says. 

Community has also been front and center for COA President Darron Collins ’92 in many of his messages to students this term.

We are a community that comes together for one another, that supports each other, and that learns, grows, and evolves together,” Collins says. “Doing so at a distance this spring will be challenging, yes, but…if we all continue to work together, we can not only accomplish what we need to do this term, but accomplish it really well.”