Welcome to the 2020-21 academic year at Interlochen Arts Academy

Dear Students and Families,

In just a few short days, the promising young artists of Interlochen Arts Academy will convene on our campus. For those of you new to Interlochen, I am excited to meet you and experience your talent. For those of you returning, welcome back. All of us at Interlochen have longed to feel this special place come alive again with art, music, and passion as our students joyfully discover purpose in pursuit of their goals.

Over the past several months, we have been readying our campus to provide a safe environment. While Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Safe Start Plan currently places our region at Stage 5, just one phase away from “Post-Pandemic,” each member of our community—new and returning boarding students, day students, parents, faculty, and staff—must adhere to our Interlochen Community Pledge and embrace a shared sense of responsibility for one another’s wellbeing.

Because guidance and information about COVID-19 is changing rapidly, we must also be prepared to be flexible should protocols need to be adjusted. Our Campus Health Task Force will continue to refine and update our policies and procedures in the coming months as new guidance becomes available.

This academic year will look much different than any other time in our history. As you know from our Return to Campus Student Guide, many Arts Academy activities and events will be facilitated in new ways. Students and parents will say goodbye to each other off campus for an extended period. Small-group, outdoor, and virtual programs will replace large-scale events. Many classes and rehearsals will take place outside across our 1,200-acre campus or in spaces that have been reconfigured to create more distance between students.

Some of these changes will feel strange, but we will adapt to them together. There is a reason so many of our alumni call Interlochen home: We are a deeply caring and supportive community, and I truly believe that this historic time will strengthen our connection to one another.

We have also created many resources to support students and families throughout this academic year. Monthly “reflection periods” will give students a break from deadlines and tests, a re-envisioned approach to our Wednesday community meetings and advisory groups will lend added support, and new spiritual life programs will be available, in addition to counseling provided by our staff and a telecounseling platform. We will host two virtual family weekends, and provide regular opportunities for parents to join Arts Academy classes and enjoy student performances virtually.

Throughout this unusual time, Interlochen’s core values and traditions will prevail. Students, you will bond with your peers as you live by the motto emblazoned on the stage of Kresge Auditorium: “dedicated to the promotion of world friendship through the universal language of the arts.” Inspired by exceptional teachers, fellow students, and the pristine beauty of our wooded campus, you will discover a renewed sense of focus that will distill a clear view of all you hope to achieve.

Interlochen—and the art that you create—will offer solace and inspiration. Our campus community will deeply consider what it means to be a citizen artist during this remarkable moment in history.

This year will be like no other, but I am convinced there is simply no better place for a young artist to grow than at Interlochen. I look forward to seeing you soon.

With best wishes,