Welcome back and I hope all is well with everyone. Collectively we have embarked on what is likely the most turbulent and uncertain return to school in our nation’s history. There has been no playbook to follow. The last pandemic was in 1918. That was the era when Babe Ruth was a Red Sox. A lot has changed since 1918.
When we started school it had been 179 days since our kids were last in school. I can think no greater time when our kids have needed us more. The great unknown is where kids are in terms of education, socially and emotionally. I want to thank everyone for all of their effort and support last spring in completing the school year with our remote platform. I realize it was not perfect, however, it served the purpose.
Our students have done a fantastic job to begin the school year. Our young people are resilient. They did not miss a beat and hit the ground running from day 1. It was great to see students in the 3 buildings. Things just are not the same when students are not here.
In the coming weeks our focus needs to be on celebrating the return to school and channeling our energies into teaching and learning. Please know that much planning and consideration has gone into our return to school plan. As superintendents both on the county level and IU level we have met weekly since March. 10 of 12 county schools are doing some form of face to face instruction. The rules for 2020-2021 are much different than they were to close out last school year. This year there will be no waivers on 180 days of instruction, the 990/900 hourly requirements, or rules on attendance. In addition the mantra oftentimes from Harrisburg has been one of local decision making both in terms of return to school plans and athletics.
Currently, the gathering limitations are still in place. These limitations make what we have come to know as normal and regular activities impossible. Events like concerts, plays, homecoming, and regular attendance at athletic events are either temporarily put on hold or have been severely altered.
The value of athletics, activities, and the arts in schools is significant and cannot be overlooked. It has a profound impact on individuals, schools, and communities. These programs are powerful because they can bridge gaps, bring people who otherwise might not interact together, and provide opportunities not available elsewhere. Athletics, arts, and academics create what I call the trifecta for our students.
Activities can also provide opportunities through relationships. Participants often grow close and form lasting bonds, bonds that can support students well beyond high school or college. Staying connected can also afford people job and mentorship opportunities or it could simply provide them with life-long friends. Involvement also helps to foster and cultivate school pride.
Athletics, arts, and activities can serve as a powerful academic motivator for all students, especially those not otherwise inclined to perform to the best of their ability in the classroom. This can serve as motivation not only to perform at a certain academic standard but also to stay out of trouble. Participants know that if they get in trouble, there is a reasonable chance that they will be suspended for all or part of an upcoming game or activity by their coach/advisor or school administrators.
Our students learn a litany of life skills by participating in activities. Effort is defined as giving it everything you have in both practice, games, and tasks. Effort can overcome many obstacles on and off the field. Students learn to apply themselves to challenges and always do their best through sports and activities. Life lesson: Give your all no matter what and always believe in yourself. Next is determination. It is the preparation you put into becoming a better player/person before the game is played that ultimately determines how well you will play. Life lesson: Preparation is key to succeeding in anything. If you work hard to prepare, you will achieve.
Self-discipline is the ability to maintain and carry out the role coaches and teachers have assigned you within a game plan or routine. This includes understanding your own individual strengths and weaknesses enough to capitalize on what you do well and improve where you fall short. Life lesson: Stay on task to get the job done.
Teamwork involves working with others to achieve a goal. A team is only successful when each individual fulfills their role. Life lesson: Working with others is an essential part of life and something to learn to do well. Cooperate to avoid problems and reach goals.
Time management is the ability to fulfill all obligations to practice, homework, family, friends, extracurriculars, and more. This skill does not always come easily to students and might take time to cultivate. Life lesson: You must be well-balanced and learn to juggle all aspects of your life or you will not be able to fulfill every expectation you have on yourself and placed on you by others.
Thank you for all of the support in making our back to school a success.
Once a Blue Devil always a Blue Devil!