Margaret Jaco, graduate of University School in Jackson, mother Pam.
Katrina plunges college students' plans into limbo By PETE WICKHAM pwickhamjacksonsun.com Nothing like your first weekend weekend at college. Weeks of anticipation. anticipation. Packing. Travel. Unpacking. Unpacking. Meeting the roommate. Getting those first warm words of welcome from your new school ... followed by a "please leave ... Now!" Not what any school advertises advertises in its guidebook but then this wasn't any weekend that any school in and around New Orleans had ever been through before. And because of it, and the fury of Hurricane Katrina, Katrina, six graduates of University School of Jackson's Class of 2005 are back home, or with friends, while their college career is on what could be indefinite hold. For Caroline Reed, Margaret Jaco and Tyler Smallwood, the career is at six hours and holding. holding. They arrived Saturday morning at Tulane for move-in, move-in, move-in, got their gear into their rooms and then were asked to go to the auditorium for a 1 p.m. meeting. meeting. There, they were told that New Orleans had been put under mandatory evacuation orders. "We knew that a hurricane might be coming Thursday or Friday, and that Saturday we knew it was coming, and that it was kind of serious," Caroline Reed said. "A lot of times it hadn't been a big deal, but this time it turned out it was. I spent about 10 minutes meeting my roommate, then they just told us to ... get out ... and they had no idea when they were going to start up again." Two of their USJ classmates Jayme Hogan-Yarbro Hogan-Yarbro Hogan-Yarbro and Michael Anton had spent less than 24 hours in their dorms at nearby Loyola-New Loyola-New Loyola-New Orleans when they got the bug-out bug-out bug-out order. And Jordan Phillips had finished her first week of classes up the road at LSU in Baton Rouge. As with almost everything else in storm-ravaged storm-ravaged storm-ravaged Louisiana, academic academic life is on hold. On Thursday, Thursday, Tulane's senior officials had set up temporary shop in Houston, Houston, with only a core of public safety and facilities officials left to tend to a campus that suffered some damage, but was in much better shape than the rest of the city. "I'm pretty bummed, but I've got to use my time now productively," productively," said Reed, a pre-med pre-med pre-med major who may do work for her mother's marketing firm, volunteer volunteer at a local medical facility and possibly audit a class or two at Union University while she waits word on what might happen. happen. "It doesn't do you any good to dwell on it." Mary Reed said her daughter "is committed to riding it out and going back to Tulane. We'll get through this." Smallwood, who will major in biology looking towards a medical medical career, said, "you feel bad. You have to put freshman on hold, and you're excited ... but for us this isn't the end of the world. We're surviving and we still have what we have. There are so many people down there who need help immediately." He's hoping to be able to go back when it's possible with a volunteer group through his church to help with cleanup and recovery. "I want to try and help out," he said. "My situation is frustrating, frustrating, but it's nothing compared to everything the people there have to deal with." Bill Smallwood said his son "stays tuned in with the TV and the computer." Tulane puts up twice-daily twice-daily twice-daily messages on an emer gency Web site. "I feel bad for him, because he was so State schools to accept students The University of Tennessee Martin will join other schools in the UT and Tennessee Board of Regents systems in accepting accepting students from colleges hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina, Katrina, according to a press release. The state's public colleges will find places for undergraduate, undergraduate, graduate, professional and medical students. Eligible students won't pay tuition or housing costs if they've already paid them at their schools. If they have not paid tuition at their schools, they will pay the in-state in-state in-state rate. UTM can accept 50 students and has housing available for 25. If demand exceeds the available space, the university will re-assess re-assess re-assess the situation. The University of Memphis Office of Admissions will serve as the facilitator for both Board of Regents schools and the University of Tennessee, according to the state's Web Site. Call (800) 669-2678. 669-2678. 669-2678. The number for the University University of Tennessee Martin is 881-7500. 881-7500. 881-7500. excited," Bill Smallwood said of the youngest of his three children. children. "We were so excited we were thinking of putting our house up for sale here and building building on property we have at Gulf Shores, Ala., to be closer to him." Phillips, an architecture major, said one week of classes "has . given me plenty of projects to keep me busy while we figure out what was going to happen next." She drove up Interstate 55 last Saturday. " "We would see cars with Louisiana Louisiana tags stuffed with everything everything they could pack on top, and in the back of the car," Phillips Phillips said. "By the time we got to Memphis, we stopped and there was nothing but Louisiana cars all around us." Debbie Anton had just left son Michael at Loyola on Friday as he prepared to start his studies as a music business major. "Had him all unpacked, he was ready for that stage of his life and by 10 a.m. the following morning, he's leaving with his laptop, a couple of T-shirts T-shirts T-shirts and a couple of pairs of shorts. "Everything he has is in his fourth-floor fourth-floor fourth-floor dorm room," said Debbie Anton, whose son is visiting visiting friends at the University of Tennessee Knoxville this weekend. weekend. "It should be OK from flooding. But there was a big tree outside. And we haven't seen any footage or heard anything anything from Loyola to know what's happened." She said that when her son gets back, "we've got to sit down and make some big decisions. Do we enroll him in classes at Jackson State, or head another direction? We don't want him to lose the entire semester." Hogan-Yarbro's Hogan-Yarbro's Hogan-Yarbro's parents were able to quickly get Jayme into Rhodes College in Memphis, where she will be a voice performance performance major. Pam Jaco said her daughter, Margaret, will be switching from Tulane (where she planned to major in psychology) to Rhodes. Like her USJ mates, however, Jaco has the same problem. "All her clothes are still back in the dorm room at Tulane, and it will be that way for a while." Visit talkback.jacksonsun.com and share your thoughts. Pete Wickham, 425-9668 425-9668 425-9668 Mm - ft Submitted photo. Six graduates of the University School of Jackson had just started college In Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina hit.