I send this note to you at the end of the 2019/2020 school year very much with mixed emotions. As I’m sure you’re hearing from your children’s teachers, this is not the way we planned or hoped to end the year. A teacher mentioned to me that she feels sad, not getting to experience the excitement of June hallways and the anticipation of summer with her kiddos.
I know that this has been a challenging year for you for lots of different reasons. The Ministry’s recently released guidelines for schools in the fall are likely leading to questions about what next year will be like for your children.
Although there are good reasons to feel a little down, my feelings are mixed because I have observed so many things that are AMAZING and get me excited about the learning we can do together next year. Each week, I send out “Three Great Things” to our staff on Sunday night as a way to share and highlight the good work being done by staff and students at ACS. So, as a way to end our year, I’d like to share three GREAT things I noticed (as a brand new principal) during the 2019/2020 school year at ACS:
- We have nice kids. That doesn’t sound like much but I’ve been in quite a few schools and it has struck me how “nice” kids are to their teachers, to me and to each other. Sure, sometimes kids need help and sometimes they make mistakes, but overwhelmingly, kids at ACS look you in the eye, ask how you are doing (and seem to genuinely mean it!) and care about each other. This really struck me when we had the pie throwing assembly – as you can imagine, we all had some questions about how that would go (300 ish kids ranging from 5 to 17 years old in a gym throwing whipped cream around!). There was nothing but positivity, everyone cheered (appropriately!) for everyone else and money was raised for a great cause. Likely, this wasn’t really surprising to you but in my experience, having a whole school conduct themselves that way doesn’t just happen. It’s clear that there is a whole school community who has worked hard together to grow some really, really nice kids. It’s not a small deal.
- We have a staff that is committed to learning more about engaging families in learning. Our goal was to explore the question “How might improving family engagement impact student learning?” As we reflect on the year, we have learned quite a bit about family engagement as a staff and we’re looking forward to continuing to learn how we can work alongside you, so that your knowledge about your kids can continue to impact their learning. Here’s what we know: all families are different, all families want the very best for their kids and all families are of critical importance to their kid’s learning. You are your kid’s most important teachers from birth until forever. Thank you for sharing parts of your family with us this year and as we welcome our kids back to school in the fall, working together will be more important than ever.
- We are resilient. This year, we have faced situations none of us could ever have imagined. I noticed people who figured it out. Whether that meant finding the code to join the meeting, figuring out how to hand in the assignment or making the decision to focus on completely different (yet equally valuable) kinds of learning because that’s what was best for your family, we figured it out. Because of this pandemic, teachers are developing a whole new skill set and engaging in big questions about what matters most in learning. It’s been a great chance for all of us to really think about what matters, even though this has been hard. I can’t wait to see how that mindset translates once we all get to be back in the building.
On Saturday, thanks to this amazing community, our graduates got to experience a grad celebration like no other. We’d like to specifically thank Renee Horner and Diane Pilon for organizing a community parade of grads and a ceremony (even with swag bags) for the grads. We know that it has been challening for grads and their families to navigate the shifting plans around grad and we are thankful to each of you. Our school virtual grad will be shared with our Grade 12 students and their families later today. Congratulations graduates of 2020!
As you have likely heard, we continue to work on our planning for a return to school in the fall. We are anticipating some additional information from PSSD this week regarding the guidelines that have been offered so far from the Ministry of Learning. We know that the COVID situation has the potential to change significantly between now and the beginning of September. The good news is that we will have lots of time to plan over the summer for whatever “back to school” needs to look like. You can anticipate information from me with details of the plan for ACS as soon as those plans are made.
A few housekeeping things for this last formal week of school:
- You will have received a memo from me explaining our reporting process this term. Your child’s progress reports will be emailed home on June 25th or 26th. This email will include information about what class your child will be in next year.
- Students in Grade 9-12, please complete the course selection surveys that were emailed to your parents and are available on our school website. If I don’t hear from you, you may not be able to take the courses you want in the fall!!!
- If you have borrowed a Chromebook from the school, please return it to us any day this week between 9-3. It’s important that we collect those devices in order to take inventory and make sure that we have what we need for next year. Should we need to pivot back to online learning, these devices will certainly be made available to you again.
- If you have belongings at the school, they can be picked up any day this week between 9 – 3.
On behalf of Deane, myself and all of the staff at ACS, thank you for your continued support and patience as we finish off the 2019-2020 school year.