As I write this note we are finishing our 86th day of school this year and all of them have been in-person. If you would have told me on August 13th that we would have made it through the semester without taking any unplanned breaks I am not sure I would have been in agreement.
Our students have been amazing this semester. Although we have occasional arguments about wearing a mask or making sure it is over their noses, it has been a very successful mask mandate. I am very proud of our young people, the world has thrown them into uncharted territory and they have had to make sacrifices but they have risen to the challenge. We end our semester with 12 of our students having tested positive for Covid and many quarantined due to contact outside of school.
To think about all of the positives, 13 of our students completed 17 college credit courses for a grand total of 58 college credits earned this semester. Our Play Production team competed with masks and brought home a conference championship, district championship and a state runner up trophy! Fall sports were able to complete their entire seasons, football made a playoff appearance and cross country qualified 3 for the state meet. And we are on our way in winter sports. Our student organizations are still active and are competing virtually in some cases, but they are still active. Our elementary kids have embarked on a new art program and decorating our halls, they are still singing just a little farther apart from each other. The afterschool program is up and running and I do mean running, because they have a lot of energy.
Our buildings are as clean and disinfected constantly and they look outstanding. If we could let people in the building you would be humored to see our custodians walking around with the Ghostbusters backpack filled with disinfectant each night. Each of them has put a great deal of effort into making sure our learning and growing spaces we call classrooms are safe for our students and staff! I appreciate all of the work they do.
Buses look a great deal different with skipping seats and new bus routes to allow for spreading out and wearing masks. Each of our transportation staff has taken care to make our buses and keep them clean for our students. Many times in our day the bus driver is the first and last school person our children have contact with and they care for all of their riders.
After serving over 16,000 meals this summer our food service did not miss a beat when we got back to the buildings. and with more kids eating now than ever with the USDA's decision to extend the summer free lunch program to all students. Our students enjoy breakfast of biscuits and sausage gravy, cinnamon rolls, banana bread, breakfast burritos and fruit. Today they are having the Christmas lunch of fried chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, but they still love the homemade buns, fresh grilled hamburgers, and the french dip sandwiches. They always feed our kids and treat them like they are theirs.
The building administrators and nurse spent a lot of the first part of their year working with health department regulations, procedures, and how to make this work for our students. The school board has been working to provide opportunities for our children in a year of turmoil. It has been an adventure but I am very proud t of the work they have done to make our buildings run smoothly and to work with families who are affected by Covid and the absences it causes.
It has been a challenging semester for our teachers and instructional paras. The unavoidable absences of students and fellow teachers has caused a lot of disruption but through it all we are seeing our test scores rise and our children meeting educational objectives. The long days of talking loudly through a mask and teaching kids who are in the classroom, out of the classroom and some on an iPad screen has not stopped them from being amazing people for our community. No one has a path to follow in this pandemic, they are being educational trailblazers and they do it each day with conviction. We are a lucky community to have so many people working to make our students better people.
I write this to all of our community to thank all of you for the outstanding support you have provided to our school system. But it is definitely time for a winter break. Please take some time as a family to be grateful for all that you have and get recharged to return in January, we will be here ready for all of our students to come back with Bells on!
See you in January,