We have made it!  Today officially concludes the 2019-2020 school year!  Tomorrow staff will finish their year-end checklists, but today is a day to celebrate. 

It goes without saying that this is NOT the end of the school year that any of us could have predicted at the beginning of the year, nor is it the end of the year that any of us want.  There is so much uncertainty and fluidity regarding our future.  Over these past few months, we have remained engaged in conversations with health and government officials and other educational leaders.  We are continuing to maintain a growth mindset as we prepare to adapt to whatever education may look like in the fall.  Our staff is undergoing professional development to assist us with being better with blended learning, and we are trying to finalize some resources to provide students with educational opportunities this summer to reduce major losses.  Additionally, we are continuing to discuss measures to help students with social and emotional issues upon their return to school and are improving cleaning procedures to maximize student safety and health.

There is a quote that says, “Adversity does not build character…it reveals it.”  So, I think it is important to look at what character has been on display since mid-March:

—     -Upon hearing that students would not be permitted back in the classroom, staff had 4 days to say goodbye to students, pack up their rooms, and learn how to provide instruction.

–     C.A.M.P. in Farmersville and Farmer and the Deli in Germantown have opened their doors to assist with ensuring families in our community still had meals to eat.

–     Numerous stories of people going to stores for people unable to leave their houses.

–     A wonderful parade of staff through our community so that students and staff could see each other.

–     A majority of the community voting to place their trust in the school with one of the largest non-presidential election voter turn-outs in community history during a pandemic with no in person voting.

–     Recognizing our wrestlers and band students who were not permitted to show their abilities at state contest, along with recognizing our students who are entering the military.

–     Despite not being allowed to have mass gatherings, we have still recognized pre-school graduation, 6th grade clap out, and 8th grade clap out

–     We have been able to recognize our graduating class of 2020 in a way that was personal yet meaningful.  Countless individuals (including students) spent hours planning a ceremony that recognized the class for their hard work and achievements.  When each student is mailed their actual diploma, a 5 x7 picture compliments of the After-Prom committee will be sent to them.  

       First Church of God was gracious in allowing us to use their space and provided technical support the entire day of graduation.

       A $25 dollar gift card from First National Bank of Germantown for each graduate along with $25 from the After Prom committee was included for each graduate at the ceremony.

–     Personalized yard signs were given to each graduate thanks to the Academic Boosters and the After Prom Committee.

–     A number of special “virtual” lessons were conducted, including JH and HS music lessons with professional musicians.

–     Home visits were conducted by staff members to check in with students we hadn’t heard from in days.

–     Computers were loaned to students who needed them to stay connected with school

–     Pre-school teachers still had “book readings”, where they read books to their students.

–     And countless other stories of people going “above and beyond” to help their neighbors and others in need.

While it is easy to focus on “what we have lost”, or “what we may lose in the future”, it is important to recognize and celebrate what we have also realized.  About two years ago, my family and I moved to this community.  Numerous people told me “how special” our community was, yet, despite seeing glimpses of it, I did not truly understand just how special.  These past few months have shown a sustained portrait of a community with pride and purpose.  Just yesterday, Mrs. Gunter at the HS sent me videos from two students in her Video Production class.  They are short videos, but they show that our collective efforts to instill resiliency in our students is taking hold.  Memorial Day is a few days away where we recognize our brave men and women who died fighting to protect our country.  That spirit of pride and resilience was at the forefront of their sacrifice, and we should celebrate that what they fought and died for is very much alive.

While I sign almost all communications with “Proud to be your Superintendent”, these past few months have enhanced that to levels I did not think possible.  Thank you, to everyone in our community, for truly demonstrating “Spartan Pride”.

 

Proud to be your Superintendent,

Ben Richards