Pedal Power for Director of College Guidance
Annual Tour d'Admission allows Blackard to broaden his knowledge
Kirk Blackard rarely draws a blank when a student needs information about a prospective college. Christ School's Director of College Guidance prides himself on this, having seen colleges in 22 different states over the past 14 years. And not in the most conventional way, mind you.
Blackard saddles up on a bike and cycles hundreds of miles each summer with other nationwide counselors on the annual Tour d'Admission. There is no yellow jersey or punishing sprint to the finish. Only the satisfaction of spending time with peers and visiting institutions of higher learning in a unique fashion. This year's Tour, which lasted from July 17-23, originated from Dickinson College in Pennsylvania.
Blackard estimates he has pedaled more than 4,000 miles over the years. "I share the Christ School story with everyone I meet," Blackard said. "We bounce ideas off one another, share ideas and thoughts. We're treated really well by everyone. We had dinner with three college presidents on this last Tour."
Blackard confesses to not having a Tour-ready bike of his own, so he has borrowed one from other Christ School faculty in the past. The Pennsylvania Tour was "hot and hilly," he said. The counselors put in about 40 to 50 miles a day, and that was with all their luggage strapped to the bike.
Other states that the Tour has covered are North Carolina, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin. Last year there were enough riders for two separate Tours.
The Tour began in 2002 and has run continuously, with the exception of a year in which founder Taylor Smith retired. Blackard has been involved in college admissions and college counseling since 1991. He oversees a three-man department at Christ School that also includes counselors Jeff Depelteau and Thomas Becker.