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Sarah Auer ’12

the more spectacular routes for a CDC-encouraged social distance walk. Trekking about campus, one might encounter the delightfully impassioned chatter of Mr. Micheletti engaged in a fervent discussion with one of his knee-high children. Taking out the trash is no longer the mundane nightly chore it used to be, but rather an opportunity for a pleasant dumpster-side chat with Mr. Calisto. And even though much of our time is spent indoors, my family has discovered a veritable menagerie right in our front yard - cardinals, turkeys, chipmunks, squirrels, a recalcitrant gopher, woodpeckers, a skunk, and of course the chickens from Señor Guerenabarrena’s coop that occasionally meander across our shared driveway. (Insider tip: if you’d like to see Dr. Bonin’s face alight with an expression approaching childlike giddiness, you need only ask him how many species of birds he’s seen on his daily bird-walk.) The point is that in the age of COVID-19, every human interaction (from six feet apart, of course) is a welcome one.

by Fletcher Bonin ’13

Despite the uncertainty and fear that governs much of the

Affixed to the wall next to the door in my parents’ house is

present, the Abbey campus remains a stunning outcrop-

an abrupt metal bar with short hooks extending from the bot-

ping of Aquidneck Island peopled with friendly individuals,

tom. Several limp masks dangle off of these hooks. Some

a fact not to be overlooked when so many people are suf-

are faded tie-dye colors while others bear small print images

fering. Fortunately, not all Portsmouth Abbey alumni come

like crossed oars or colorful lettering. These patterns, like the

back to live with their parents. In fact, the school has pro-

pandemic-mask accent piece neatly centered on the wall,

duced many men and women who continue to exemplify

are distinguishable as the high-water mark of taste in the CO-

Reverence, Respect, and Responsibility well beyond their

VID-19 era.

graduation dates and into their careers.

The reason for my intimate familiarity with the wall-

One such alumna is Sarah Auer ’12. Having completed

mounted pandemic accoutrement in my parents’ home is

her Master of Public Health degree at the Rollins School

because I (like many Americans fortunate enough to do so)

of Public Health at Emory University in May, Sarah entered

have fled from the hazards of the country’s metropoli to in-

the workforce with a highly applicable skill set given the

stead ZOOM from the safety of the suburbs. This flight has

ubiquity of the pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the demand for

landed me back on Portsmouth Abbey’s campus, where my

public health professionals has never been higher. She

parents - Dr. and Mrs. Bonin - continue to live and teach.

quickly landed a job with the Council of State and Territorial

However, the pandemic has temporarily ended the stigma of

Epidemiologists, or CSTE, in Atlanta. In her new role, Sar-

the twenty-something male moving back in with his parents

ah is deeply involved in the nation’s coronavirus response.

(or at least that’s what I’ve been telling myself).

For the next year or so, she will be working on CSTE’s epi-

That said, there are far worse places to be trapped during a global pandemic than Portsmouth Abbey - especially in the summer. Like many others, we have discovered that the train tracks at the bottom of Cory’s Lane offer one of

demiology capacity assessment. Generally speaking, this assignment will entail a detailed examination of how effectively health departments across the country addressed the virus in their respective communities.

summer Alumni BULLETIN 2020


Profile for Portsmouth Abbey School

Portsmouth Abbey School Summer 2020 Alumni Bulletin