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Some Students Still Remain at Southwestern Academy

Public schools may have closed their campuses in unison for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, but Southwestern Academy is still open for business, albeit through distance learning, with 25 students still boarded at the eight-acre campus on Monterey Road.
Classes were suspended on March 16 and many of the students were able to safely return to their homes, according to Russ Osmonson, the dean of students. Some of those who live in China were quarantined — some in hotels — when they returned to their home countries.
“The government was being very careful,” Osmonson said.
Founded in 1924, Southwestern Academy currently has a student body of 130, with 100 attending classes on the San Marino campus and 30 on its campus in Rimrock, Arizona, which is about a half-hour drive from Sedona. Twenty are “day students,” who live near the San Marino campus and commute to classes. Some of the international students have relocated to guardians who live in the United States.
Southwestern is conducting distance learning, according to Osmonson, through a series of online platforms. The fourth quarter of instruction began this past Tuesday, with “live” grading. The director of residence, dorm parents and other staff members remain on campus, and all are practicing physical distancing, according to Osmonson, who noted that meals are provided to all students and boarding staff.
“We are hoping to get back to school, but if that doesn’t happen, we will plan accordingly,” Osmonson said. “We are being very careful. The campus is closed and nobody is allowed to leave or enter.”
He also said there has been no decision on the status of prom or graduation.
Students on campus have a structured day with study hall and other activities. Osmonson said that the students he has been in contact with through distance learning “seem to be in good spirits.”
Count three juniors – David Gomez, Sota Ozawa and Jayui Sato – among those who are still on campus and smiling.
Gomez decided to stay in San Marino instead of returning to his home in Guadalajara, Mexico.
“My brother is a dorm parent here at Southwestern and we figured we would be locked up in our home,” said Gomez. “We have full use of the computer lab here and there are enough activities to keep us busy.”
A baseball player by trade, Gomez said he will miss the season as well as RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Awards), which he was scheduled to attend.
“I was really excited about the baseball season,” said Gomez. “We had a great baseball team and I am really upset the season was canceled.”
Sato, a junior from Nagoya, Japan, also made a decision to stay at Southwestern.
“I didn’t want to risk getting the virus by going to the airport or being on the plane,” said Sato. “I didn’t really have to go back to Japan and I have a lot of my friends here. Also, you can ask more questions of the teachers.”
Sato also missed out on the school’s girls’ volleyball season, which, unlike that for larger schools, is played in the spring instead of the fall.
“I was very upset when the season was canceled and I really miss the sport.”
Ozawa, of Tokyo, was also looking forward to the baseball campaign. His reason for staying at Southwestern was quite unique.
“I was sure that I was not going to study if I went back to Japan,” Ozawa said with a chuckle. “There are more rules here and I can do my homework in a better learning environment.”
All three serve as proctors, positions of responsibility that require them to enforce rules and regulations on campus and in the dorms. But, like most students, they will miss out on the fun.
“We are not sure if prom is going to happen,” said Ozawa, “but we have plenty to keep us busy.”


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