I shared this in my report at our final Hanover School Board meeting last week, but I feel it is a fitting last letter to the community as well before we head into our summer break.
There’s a song on the radio right now that uses the line, “I feel like an astronaut in the ocean.” While I wouldn’t claim to know what the artist is referring to, I think this speaks to what this year was like. We re-created the Ray School into a space themed galaxy, where we were all astronauts navigating a new world. But even astronauts have protocols that they are well trained to follow before heading off into space. We were astronauts in an ocean- with protocols and measures to keep us safe, but far outside the environment we were trained to be a part of. And yet, in the midst of a global pandemic, social and emotional challenges, political unrest, and turbulence, we successfully have arrived at the end of a year like no other.
I remember back to some of our earliest meetings, and in one particular board meeting, I said something along the lines of, “I take this decision to reopen schools extremely seriously, because every day when I enter my office, I look around at the pictures on my walls and remember WHY we are making this decision. It is based on science, and it is for the students.”
And so, for the students, we all reopened schools for in person learning while simultaneously conducting remote learning in remote classrooms. It was scary, difficult, exhausting, and so absolutely rewarding. We can look back on this year as a district and honestly say that we did what was right, all year, for our students and for each other. That is an amazing accomplishment, and we owe it all to the collective strength, resilience, and perseverance of this community.
Our school board made the final and difficult decision to give us a chance based on science. Our SAU worked together to support the school reopening and all the bumps along the way. Our superintendent and assistant superintendent had our back, supporting our efforts while also helping to stay out ahead of ever evolving situations. Thank you to our PTO, for continuing to provide morale boosts, support, and funding for our projects. Our students arrived each day, masked and ready to learn or plugged in and ready to learn, hardly skipping a beat. Our staff not only survived the COVID school experience, but excelled. They took on DEI work, general curriculum work, and delivered engaging lessons and experiences despite the COVID restrictions for in person learning, and our remote staff took on a rapidly changing Zoom and digital education world. Thank you to our school nurse, Laura Perras, our bus drivers, our Ray Cafe staff, our panel of health experts, and our custodial crew. And to our community, we could not have done it without your support and vigilance.
I say all of this, undoubtedly with much more that could be said, to conclude my final Rays of Sunshine of the year with a tremendous amount of gratitude, a major sigh of relief, and a huge congratulations for the efforts that made this year possible. I hope that everyone does whatever they need to do to rest and recover this summer before we come back together in the fall, knowing that we can tackle just about anything after what we have overcome this year. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Hooray for Ray!