I think the biggest takeaway we have had as a leadership team is that we do not need to provide all the answers. Our students come to us from a wide range of backgrounds and service can look very different to each of them. We have tried to be respectful and mindful of the burden placed upon some of them as they have been tasked with taking care of younger siblings or family members or may be working as essential staff. This acknowledgment has been greatly appreciated as these students have felt as if their contributions are valued and recognized. I think that we often take it for granted that our students are provided with support and structure at home--this experience has truly highlighted that this is not always the case and teachers have been much more mindful of what students may have going on outside of the four walls of their classrooms. I hope that this care and awareness continues as we move forward as I anticipate that we will never return to what we have all been accustomed to for so long. Rather, I expect that we see students, especially in high school, with increasingly flexible scheduling to better suit individualized needs.
Hi Rachel, We've focused on trying to keep as much "normalcy" as possible during a time that is anything but normal. We are a relatively large public high school (1600+ students) but have always had a strong sense of community and family. We've been working hard across many contexts to ensure that our "Viking Family" feels connected right now. We have seen many students gravitate toward service but we have also worked to connect stakeholders through other activities, both virtual and face-to-face, including a virtual spirit week with themes including Memory Monday (share a fave memory with a teacher), Teacher Twin Tuesday, and Viking Family Friday (virtual blue & gold day). Students, parents, and teachers all participated in this by posting their contributions to our social media pages. Additionally, we are planning a senior tribute next week in which our commencement activities will be shared remotely. We are setting up the graduation stage and are letting families book appointment slots so that they can see their graduate walk across the stage while maintaining safety protocols and social distancing guidelines. We've also tried to maintain regular club and extracurricular group meetings for students--I met with Key Club officers today who are starting to plan their service initiatives and fundraising activities for next school year.
Yes! Some students have taken this opportunity to reach out to those in their neighborhoods--dropping of notes of encouragement, care packages for elderly neighbors, planting community gardens, etc...
Most of these activities have been student-initiated. We have provided a rough framework but they have really taken the ball and ran with it. In fact, I have a meeting scheduled with a student tomorrow who would like to set-up a virtual tutoring club so that they can support younger students and their peers who may be struggling. It has been interesting to see how students identify issues and develop solutions to help--I hope that we see this trend continue as we move forward.