Blackard Bikes Northwest U.S. on Annual Tour

Blackard Bikes Northwest U.S. on Annual Tour

Director of College Guidance has visited colleges in 24 different states

Professional development can be a mental and physical endeavor.

Just ask Christ School's Director of College Guidance, Kirk Blackard.

Every summer for the past 15 years, Blackard has climbed atop a bicycle to explore universities across the country in a unique way. And Blackard hasn't been alone for rides through 24 different states.

The Tour d'Admission is an annual gathering of high school counselors – always in a different part of the United States, but with the same purpose – to learn about that particular region's colleges from admissions officers.

Blackard even blogged about the Tour for The New York Times in 2010.

Cyclists on this year's Tour, which lasted from July 8-15, biked 15 to 90 miles per day. They visited eight colleges in Oregon and Washington state, doing it all through an untimely heat wave for the Pacific Northwest.

"It is as much about the journey as it is about the destination," Blackard said.

"Outside of the normal tour and information sessions we experienced on each campus, our group had the pleasure of getting to know our colleagues on the other side of the desk over breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the goal of discovering more about each school as well as their learning more about our schools and students. Faculty, staff, administrators, and even alumni went out of their way to assist us and to make us feel welcome on their campuses."

The colleges that Blackard saw this summer were the University of Washington, University of Puget Sound, Portland State University, Reed College, Lewis & Clark College, Willamette University, Oregon State, and the University of Oregon. The counselors also had a "power lunch" with representatives from Seattle Pacific University, Cornish College of the Arts, the University of Washington-Bothell, and Seattle University.

The bicycle wasn't the only mode of transportation that made the Tour possible. Along with flying out west, Blackard said that he and the counselors also hopped trains, ferries, busses, and Uber along the way.

Blackard has been with Christ School for every year of the Tour. The College Guidance office is a three-man team that also includes Jeff Depelteau and Thomas Becker.